Mother’s Day is nearly here! Flowers and breakfast in bed are nice, but for the ladies in your life who would rather escape with a good read, I have some recommendations. The mother-child relationship provides seemingly endless opportunities for exploring topics like gratitude, trust, love, the ways we communicate (or don’t) and what it means to be a family. Some of these books are funny and irreverent. Others are thoughtful and heartfelt. Some are both. Whatever her taste, I think you’ll find something on this list a mom would be grateful to receive.
“The End of Your Life Book Club” by Will Schwalbe
Yes, the fact that this book centers around a mom who is dying of pancreatic cancer makes it a tricky gift book. However, the main themes that shine through are ultimately uplifting. Books allowed Schwalbe and his mother, Mary Ann, to talk about difficult issues, big questions and draw closer to one another. The loving portrait Schwalbe paints of his extraordinary mother shows the importance of a well-read life and the ability of books to make us more empathetic people, willing to do good work in the world.
“Everyone is Beautiful” by Katherine Center
Center’s books have a reputation for being populated by characters that feel real, women and circumstances you recognize from your own life. Lanie, a mother of three small boys, moves with her family across the country so her husband can attend graduate school. She begins to feel a bit lost in her own life and launches a campaign to find who she is besides someone’s wife and someone’s mother. Center’s sometimes funny, sometimes heart-wrenching, but always spot-on descriptions of managing the chaos that comes with parenting small children will have moms nodding in recognition.
A number of events occurred recently that motivated me to do some spring cleaning.
The first was a crash in the middle of a Saturday night as my husband and I were sleeping. He got up to investigate and discovered he couldn’t open the closet door. Had the ceiling collapsed? No, the 11-foot wire shelf/hanging rod on my side of the walk-in closet had disconnected from the wall, dropping boxes and clothes onto the floor. My husband “suggested” that once he reattached the shelf, I should not place more than one level of boxes on it. I had managed to get three levels on it – there was all that wonderful space, so why not use it? Okay, now I know why not.
Sunday I spent the day moving clothes and boxes into my sewing room. Time to decide what to keep and what to toss. And if I kept things, what other space could be reallocated for their storage?
The next event occurred at work. Someone returned the book “The Clutter Cure“ by Judi Culbertson while I was working the circulation desk. It seemed appropriate, so I checked it out. It was the right book at the right time. Culbertson doesn’t just tell you to review your possessions and get rid of anything you haven’t used in x amount of time. She wants you to think about your goals, dreams and expectations for a room. Now remove anything that does not contribute to these goals. “But I received it as a gift,” you say. Take a photo of it. A photo takes up less space than the object. “But I might need this.” Will you be able to acquire something similar at a later date when you really do need it? Is it worth taking up space now that could be used some other way? Culbertson helped me rethink why I was keeping certain things. Friends’ daughters were happy to take some dolls off my hands, and I donated other items to my favorite charities.
Fiction portraying characters with a mental illness can increase a reader’s understanding of what it might be like to live with depression, anxiety or other disabilities. That understanding can create compassion. For a person living with mental illness or caring for someone with mental illness, reading about people like themselves can also bring comfort and hope.
May is Mental Health Month, and the fine folks at Librarian411.org compiled the following list of recommended fiction for understanding mental illness.
Wellness – it’s essential to living a full and productive life. We may have different ideas about what wellness means, but everyone can agree it involves skills and strategies that prevent the onset or shorten the duration of illness and promote recovery and well-being. It’s about keeping healthy as well as getting healthy.
Pathways to Wellness, this year’s Mental Health Month theme, calls attention to strategies and approaches that help all Americans achieve wellness and good mental and overall health. The organization Mental Health America provides the following suggestions for creating and maintaining wellness.
- Connecting with others can help you to enjoy the times when you are alone.
- Staying positive can improve your mood and your health.
- Exercising in “spurts” can be just as effective as continuous exercise.
- Helping others may help you experience less depression.
- Creating joy and satisfaction can be easy with little things such as making a gourmet meal while listening to your favorite music, treating yourself to a massage or even taking a few moments to admire nature.
- Spirituality can give you a sense of purpose and meaning.
- Writing down your problems can help shift your thinking about the issue and ultimately improve your mood.
- Stress management techniques are important because chronic (long-lasting) stress can change your brain and the way you function.
Your library has many resources for learning more about mental health.
I don’t know about you, but I can smell summer vacation from here. I’ve already started a “vacation books” list in the library’s catalog where I’m stashing links to all of those titles I’ve deluded myself into thinking I’ll have time to read during my family’s upcoming road trip. Chances are I will actually be spending my hours in the car distributing snacks and breaking up my kids’ backseat squabbles. Hmm. Maybe I should focus on audiobooks…
Most of us read a little differently in the summer. Usually you can find me with my nose in a work of literary fiction, but during the summer I want faster reads. Fun reads. Thrillers often fit this bill.
Who says Armageddon has to be upsetting? If you have the right set of writers, it can be hilarious! Famous fantasy authors Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett teamed up to write ”Good Omens,” an intricate and entertaining novel about an angel and a demon that try to prevent the end of the world.
The book plays mainly on a collection of common human errors. The best laid plans can go awry, even if those plans are put in place by Heaven and Hell alike. Prophets get can misdirected, and all the witch hunting training in the world can’t prepare you for love at first sight. Miscommunication can cause mishaps like being pummeled by nuns with paintball guns, and assumptions can cause one to misplace the Antichrist.