Sunday, September 7, 2014

seven. reading list.





I love to read. I come from a family of readers and library book lovers. I read myself to sleep almost every night. I love memoirs, historical non-fiction, and stories of triumph, survival, and redemption. 
If a book makes me cry, it's probably going on my favorites list.  

Forever Favorites:
 
01. Little Women by Louise May Allcott
Little Women is one of the best loved books of all time. Lovely Meg, talented Jo, frail Beth, spoiled Amy: these are hard lessons of poverty and of growing up in New England during the Civil War. Through their dreams, plays, pranks, letters, illnesses, and courtships, women of all ages have become a part of this remarkable family and have felt the deep sadness when Meg leaves the circle of sisters to be married at the end of Part I. Part II, chronicles Meg's joys and mishaps as a young wife and mother, Jo's struggle to become a writer, Beth's tragedy, and Amy's artistic pursuits and unexpected romance.

Freidrich: “But I have nothing to give but my heart so full and these empty hands."
Jo: (entwines her hands with his) "They're not empty now.”  
Best line ever.

02. Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World by Tracy Kidder
In medical school, Paul Farmer found his life’s calling: to cure infectious diseases and to bring the lifesaving tools of modern medicine to those who need them most. Kidder’s magnificent account takes us from Harvard to Haiti, Peru, Cuba, and Russia as Farmer changes minds and practices through his dedication to the philosophy that “the only real nation is humanity.” At the heart of this book is the example of a life based on hope and on an understanding of the truth of the Haitian proverb “Beyond mountains there are mountains”–as you solve one problem, another problem presents itself, and so you go on and try to solve that one too.

Paul Farmer is an amazing doctor, advocate of social justice, and founder of Partners In Health. This book changed how I viewed healthcare, medical missions, modern medicine, and developing countries for the better.

03. Fly A Little Higher: How God Answered a Mom's Small Prayer in a Big Way by Laura Sobiech
“Okay, Lord, you can have him. But if he must die, I want it to be for something big. I want someone’s life to be changed forever.” This is what Laura Sobeich prayed when she found out her seventeen-year-old son had only one year to live. With this desperate prayer, she released her son to God’s will. At that point, Zach Sobiech was just another teenager battling cancer. When his mother told him to think about writing good-bye letters to family and friends, he decided instead to write songs. One of them, “Clouds,” captured hearts and changed not one life but millions, making him an international sensation. But Zach’s story is not just about music. It’s a testament to what can happen when you live as if each day might be your last. It’s a story about the human spirit. It’s about how God used a dying boy from a small town in Minnesota to touch the hearts of millions—including top executives in the music industry, major music artists, news anchors, talk show hosts, actors, priests and pastors, and school children across the globe. Zach once said, “I want to be known as the kid who went down fighting, and didn’t really lose.”

Read this book on a flight to Seattle. Tears flowed the entire flight. I'm pretty sure the guy next to me was worried about me. This book really helped me see beyond the hospitalized patient and understand how a cancer diagnosis affects a whole family. Have you watched Zack's video?

04. The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult
Sage Singer is a baker. She works through the night, preparing the day’s breads and pastries, trying to escape a reality of loneliness, bad memories, and the shadow of her mother’s death. When Josef Weber, an elderly man in Sage’s grief support group, begins stopping by the bakery, they strike up an unlikely friendship. Despite their differences, they see in each other the hidden scars that others can’t. Everything changes on the day that Josef confesses a long-buried and shame­ful secret and asks Sage for an extraordinary favor. If she says yes, she faces not only moral repercussions, but potentially legal ones as well. With the integrity of the closest friend she’s ever had clouded, Sage begins to question the assumptions and expectations she’s made about her life and her family. In this searingly honest novel, Jodi Picoult gracefully explores the lengths to which we will go in order to keep the past from dictating the future.

So twisty. With the biggest game changer at the end. Love these kind of books.

05. The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis
After the Bible, The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a' Kempis is the favorite book of Catholics throughout the world and has been the spiritual guide of the saints since it first appeared in 1418. This book speaks to the soul of every true Christian, reminding him of the fleeting nature of earthly joy as opposed to the eternity of happiness with God. Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange asserted that the true mysticism of which it speaks is accessible to all, if they are willing to follow the way of humility, the cross, continual prayer, and docility to the Holy Spirit.
 
Such wise words. Almost every word is underlined in mine.

06. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
In boyhood, Louis Zamperini was an incorrigible delinquent. As a teenager, he channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics. But when World War II began, the athlete became an airman, embarking on a journey that led to a doomed flight on a May afternoon in 1943. When his Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean, against all odds, Zamperini survived, adrift on a foundering life raft. Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater. Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.

Epic. I read this book in one day. to clarify, it was a very long summer day. It seems like it can't be real but it is. Super excited for the movie coming out this December.

07. Critical Care: : A New Nurse Faces Death, Life, and Everything in Between by Theresa Brown
"At my job, people die," writes Theresa Brown, capturing both the burden and the singular importance of her profession. Brown, a former English professor at Tufts University, chronicles here her first year as an R.N. in medical oncology. As she does so, Brown illuminates the unique role of nurses in health care, giving us a deeply moving portrait of the day-to-day work nurses do: caring for the person who is ill, not just the illness itself. Critical Care takes us with Brown as she struggles to tend to her patients' needs, both physical (the rigors of chemotherapy) and emotional (their late-night fears). Along the way, we see the work nurses do to fight for their patients' dignity, in spite of punishing treatments and an often uncaring hospital bureaucracy. We also see how a twelve-hour day of caring for the seriously ill gives Brown herself a deeper appreciation of what it means to be alive. Ultimately, this is a book about embracing life, whether in times of sickness or health. As she takes us into the place where patients and nurses meet, Brown shows us the power of human connection in the face of mortality. She does so with a keen sense of humor and remarkable powers of observation, making Critical Care a powerful contribution to the literature of medicine.

I have lent this book to countless friends in the past few years. It is the best description of oncology nursing that I've ever read. This book describes exactly what I do. "Doctors heal, or try to, but as nurses we step into the breach, figure out what needs to be done for any given patient today, on this shift, and then, with love and exasperation, do it as best as we can."

08. To See You Again: A True Story of Love In A Time of War by Betty Schimmel
In the romantic city of their youth, two lovers face the most heartwrenching decision of their lives--can they leave their families and begin a new life once more? This true story of love and devotion begins in Budapest during World War II. Two wartime lovers vow that, if ever separated, they will find each other no matter what happens, and no matter the cost. Thirty years later--having survived life in a concentration camp, and now married to another man--Betty Schimmel returns to Budapest to confront her past and rediscovers the lost love that has shadowed her life for decades.

It's like a real life Nicholas Sparks novel set during the Holocaust. My mom found this book at the 99 cent store when I was in middle school and I think I've read it at least once a year since.

09. Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immaculee Ilibagiza
Immaculee Ilibagiza grew up in a country she loved, surrounded by a family she cherished. But in 1994 her idyllic world was ripped apart as Rwanda descended into a bloody genocide. Immaculee’s family was brutally murdered during a killing spree that lasted three months and claimed the lives of nearly a million Rwandans. Incredibly, Immaculee survived the slaughter. For 91 days, she and seven other women huddled silently together in the cramped bathroom of a local pastor while hundreds of machete-wielding killers hunted for them. It was during those endless hours of unspeakable terror that Immaculee discovered the power of prayer, eventually shedding her fear of death and forging a profound and lasting relationship with God. She emerged from her bathroom hideout having discovered the meaning of truly unconditional love—a love so strong she was able seek out and forgive her family’s killers. The triumphant story of this remarkable young woman’s journey through the darkness of genocide will inspire anyone whose life has been touched by fear, suffering, and loss.
 
This book will change you and you'll never pray the rosary the same.

0 friskies: