Shannon's blog

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande

Death is not a topic that most people want to think about, but in this fascinating book, bestselling author and respected surgeon Atul Gawande discusses how we can face the end of our lives with dignity and grace. In the United States, we are all too familiar with nursing homes for the elderly, intensive care units for the very ill and astronomical medical bills when faced with a terminal illness. Gawande believes there is a better way and provides eye-opening examples.

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

This moving memoir, written in free verse, follows Jacqueline Woodson through her childhood as a young, black girl growing up during the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. The use of poetic verse allows Woodson to capture poignant moments in her childhood and share them in a way that really resonates with the reader.  She talks of growing up with her mother, grandparents, and siblings, first in South Carolina and then in New York City.

Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned” by Lena Dunham

Even if you’ve never heard of the hit HBO show “Girls” or its creator & star, Lena Dunham, there is much to enjoy in this collection of biographical essays. Focusing on sex, love, friendship, and work, Dunham happily shares all the details of her privileged NYC upbringing, awkward sexual encounters & her lifelong struggle with her body image. Some of the most enjoyable stories are about her mother, a well-known artist who may or may not have invented the selfie.

10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works – A True Story by Dan Harris

Who would have thought that a popular TV journalist, who also happens to be agnostic and pretty skeptical of meditation, would write such an accessible and enjoyable book on mediation? Part memoir, part self-help guide, Harris covers everything from his background as a network TV news anchor to his journey in the world of meditation & self-help. His skeptical voice really helps make this book palatable to people who have been interested in trying meditation, but have been too intimidated by the seemingly unattainable path to enlightenment touted by the Dalai Lama.

A Nice Little Place on the North Side: Wrigley at 100 by George Will

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist & lifelong Cubs fan George Will celebrates Wrigley Field’s 100th birthday with this wonderful collection of stories, anecdotes and statistics. If you are a Cubs fan, you will enjoy Will’s passion for the Cubs, despite their rocky history. And if you are a Sox fan, you will read about the blown leads and numerous losing seasons with a sense of schadenfreude.

Dance of the Reptiles: Selected Columns by Carl Hiaasen

Carl Hiaasen is most well-known for his wacky novels that take place in Southern Florida. Most of his villains are greedy developers ruining the Florida coastline with their condo developments or tourists who do not respect the ecosystem. However, Hiaasen has been a columnist at the Miami Herald for over 25 years and has used his column to express his disdain for Florida’s crooked politicians and damaging environmental policies, among many other topics.

The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World's Greatest Piece of Cheese by Michael Paterniti

As a struggling writer in Michigan, Paterniti comes across an article about a cave-aged Spanish cheese, Paramo de Guzman, which changes his life forever. Made in a small village by Ambrosio Molinos it has been enjoyed by kings, celebrities and even the Pope.  Paterniti travels to Guzman to meet the larger-than-life cheese maker and his family.  It is here that he is drawn into the story of love that inspired the creation of the cheese and the betrayal that caused its demise.

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