Great books to help us discuss difficult topics
Last Tuesday we published Part I of our list of books to help us all have conversations about difficult topics. Today, we tackle Part II. Both parts are in response to a recent conversation during which one of our teens lamented, "Why can't I have parents who don't talk about uncomfortable things?", a conversation that has us thinking -- How does one develop comfort talking about uncomfortable topics?
Our answer, of course, is reading great books helps get these conversations started. So today, we are again recommending more books to help you think, and ideally talk, about some uncomfortable topics - this time race, grief, sexual identity, gun violence, and politics (with another bonus book for mental health already tackled in Part I). May they all lead to great conversations
Grief Is The Thing With Feathers by Max Porter (2015) - Imagine a 5-foot-tall bird knocking you over when you answer your front door. This is not only how we are introduced to the book’s actual avian character “Crow” but also how the author invites us to think about the power of grief. This very original novella provides a snapshot of the year following the sudden death of a young family’s mother and wife. At once poetic and profound, it is a journey through loss and healing. It is beautifully written, funny, immensely sad, and true. Fans of the poet Ted Hughes will appreciate the frequent references to his work. I missed this when it was first published in 2015 and am grateful for the wise friend who put his feather-light masterpiece into my hands. ~Lisa Cadow
Sex and Sexual identity
Sexploitation by Cindy Pierce (2015) - Ms. Pierce tackles the issues surrounding the fact that today's teens are immersed in porn culture everywhere they look -- Internet porn, gaming, social media, marketing, and advertising. This exposure means that teens today have a much broader view of social and sexual possibilities, making it difficult to establish appropriate expectations or to feel adequate about their own sexuality. This book will help you talk to the teens in your life about sex and more. ~ Lisa Cadow and Lisa Christie
It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris (2014) - A SUPERB book for pre-teens. Provides excellent fodder for conversations if you read it together. We sincerely hope it helps your family discuss sex as much as it helped ours. Thank you Dr. Lyons, and White River Family Practice. ~ Lisa Cadow and Lisa Christie
Fun Home by Alison Bechdel (2007 - We hope someone does a ten year anniversary edition soon) - This graphic memoir by Vermont's own Ms. Bechdel bravely tackles how sexual identity is formed, the costs of suppression, and well, "coming of age" for lack of a better phrase. We also highly recommend the Tony Award winning Broadway play now on tour in the USA. ~ Lisa Christie
Marbles by Ellen Forney (2012) - Forney's brilliant account of her experience with bipolar does not shy away from sharing intimate details in her life from the diagnosis of this condition in adulthood, to her exhausting manic episodes (including hypersexuality), to the long struggle to manage her multiple medications. She grapples deeply with whether or not she needs the bipolar to feed her artistic creativity and how it has effected other artists throughout history. This unique format invites readers to engage with subject matter through pictures and images. I find graphic novels actually help me to remember stories more vividly, the words pictures lodging themselves differently in my memory than mere words. This memoir does a great service by educating readers about a prevalent condition and expands the conversation about mental heath support in our society. Excellent, excellent for book groups. ~Lisa Cadow
The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race by Jesmyn Ward - Ms. Ward, a 2017 McArthur Genius award winner, recently collected a essays from prominent authors of color on race in the USA. A great way to approach how the color of your skin affects your lived experiences. ~ Lisa Christie
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (1970) - Probably one of the most powerful fictional books about life inside black skin we have read. ~ Lisa Cadow and Lisa Christie
A Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds (2017) - Mr. Reynolds tackles gun violence in an unique and powerful novel. The story unfolds in short bouts of powerful insightful verse over the course of a 60 second elevator ride when Will must decide whether or not to follow the RULES - No crying. No snitching. Revenge. - and kill the person he thinks killed his brother Shawn. With this tale, Mr. Reynolds creates a place to understand the why behind the violence that permeates the lives of so many, and perhaps hopefully a place to think about how this pattern might end. ~ Lisa Christie
Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance (2016) - This was first recommended by DAILY UV founder Rob Gurwitt during the Holiday 2016 Pages in the Pub, this best-selling memoir by a prominent conservative thinker Vance. In his six-word review Rob said - An afflicted, troublesome America, piercingly explained. ~ Lisa Cadow and Lisa Christie
Unbelievable by Katy Tur (2017) - An up front and personal account of the 2016 presidential race from a MSNBC and MBC reporter who followed Trump from the time when everyone thought his candidacy was a long shot all the way through his election. As Jill Abramson said in a New York Times book review - "Compelling... this book couldn't be more timely." ~ Lisa Christie
The Long Haul by Finn Murphy (2017) - A trucker offers insights into life on the road, the intersection of blue collar and white collar work over a moving van and observations of how humans interact in the USA. Mr. Murphy's perspective is rather unique to American literature, and one that may help us think more often about the people on the other side of the border (states, or jobs or..). ~ Lisa Cadow and Lisa Christie
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