It’s Nonfiction November! Here are a few of my favorite nonfiction books from my collection:
🌻 The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur (poetry, mental health)
GoodReads Synopsis: Divided into five chapters and illustrated by Kaur, the sun and her flowers is a journey of wilting, falling, rooting, rising, and blooming. A celebration of love in all its forms.
this is the recipe of life
said my mother
as she held me in her arms as i wept
think of those flowers you plant
in the garden each year
they will teach you
that people too
in order to bloom
👩👧 What We Carry by Maya Shanbhag (memoir, family)
GoodReads Synopsis: In caring for her aging mother and her own young daughter, writer Maya Shanbhag Lang–“a new voice of the highest caliber” (Rebecca Makkai)–confronts the legacy of family myths and how the stories shared between parents and children reverberate through generations: a deeply moving memoir about immigrants and their native-born children, the complicated love between mothers and daughters, and the discovery of strength.
How much can you judge another woman’s choices? What if that woman is your mother?
Maya Shanbhag Lang grew up idolizing her brilliant mother, an accomplished physician who immigrated to the United States from India and completed her residency, all while raising her children and keeping a traditional Indian home. She had always been a source of support–until Maya became a mother herself. Then, the parent who had once been so capable and attentive turned unavailable and distant. Struggling to understand this abrupt change while raising her own young child, Maya searches for answers and soon learns that her mother is living with Alzheimer’s
When Maya steps in to care for her, she comes to realize that despite their closeness, she never really knew her mother. Were her cherished stories–about life in India, about what it means to be an immigrant, about motherhood itself–even true? Affecting, raw, and poetic, What We Carry is the story of a daughter and her mother, of lies and truths, of receiving and giving care–and how we cannot grow up until we fully understand the people who raised us.
🚦 Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey (memoir)
GoodReads Synopsis: I’ve been in this life for fifty years, been trying to work out its riddle for forty-two, and been keeping diaries of clues to that riddle for the last thirty-five. Notes about successes and failures, joys and sorrows, things that made me marvel, and things that made me laugh out loud. How to be fair. How to have less stress. How to have fun. How to hurt people less. How to get hurt less. How to be a good man. How to have meaning in life. How to be more me.
Recently, I worked up the courage to sit down with those diaries. I found stories I experienced, lessons I learned and forgot, poems, prayers, prescriptions, beliefs about what matters, some great photographs, and a whole bunch of bumper stickers. I found a reliable theme, an approach to living that gave me more satisfaction, at the time, and still: If you know how, and when, to deal with life’s challenges – how to get relative with the inevitable – you can enjoy a state of success I call “catching greenlights.”
So I took a one-way ticket to the desert and wrote this book: an album, a record, a story of my life so far. This is fifty years of my sights and seens, felts and figured-outs, cools and shamefuls. Graces, truths, and beauties of brutality. Getting away withs, getting caughts, and getting wets while trying to dance between the raindrops.
Hopefully, it’s medicine that tastes good, a couple of aspirin instead of the infirmary, a spaceship to Mars without needing your pilot’s license, going to church without having to be born again, and laughing through the tears.
It’s a love letter. To life.
It’s also a guide to catching more greenlights – and to realizing that the yellows and reds eventually turn green too.
🛋 Maybe You Should Talk To Someone by Lori Gottlieb (memoir, self help)
GoodReads Synopsis: One day, Lori Gottlieb is a therapist who helps patients in her Los Angeles practice. The next, a crisis causes her world to come crashing down. Enter Wendell, the quirky but seasoned therapist in whose office she suddenly lands. With his balding head, cardigan, and khakis, he seems to have come straight from Therapist Central Casting. Yet he will turn out to be anything but.
As Gottlieb explores the inner chambers of her patients’ lives — a self-absorbed Hollywood producer, a young newlywed diagnosed with a terminal illness, a senior citizen threatening to end her life on her birthday if nothing gets better, and a twenty-something who can’t stop hooking up with the wrong guys — she finds that the questions they are struggling with are the very ones she is now bringing to Wendell.
With startling wisdom and humor, Gottlieb invites us into her world as both clinician and patient, examining the truths and fictions we tell ourselves and others as we teeter on the tightrope between love and desire, meaning and mortality, guilt and redemption, terror and courage, hope and change.
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone is revolutionary in its candor, offering a deeply personal yet universal tour of our hearts and minds and providing the rarest of gifts: a boldly revealing portrait of what it means to be human, and a disarmingly funny and illuminating account of our own mysterious lives and our power to transform them.
What’s one of your favorite nonfiction books to recommend?