Books Read in December

December 2014 books

“Drink- The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol” by Ann Dowsett Johnston

For me, it happened this way: I took a geographic cure to fix what I thought was wrong with my life, and the cure failed.

Part memoir, part research, this book really hit home for me. I have often joked that I am so grateful that it never occurred to me to keep alcohol in our house when my kids were little and I was a stay-at-home mom. I’d probably have a serious drinking problem by now.

For some reason, we only had alcohol in our house if it was leftover from a party. I would drink when we went out to dinner or at a party. If we had kept bottles in the house I think it would’ve been just too easy to have a glass or two or three of wine each night after a long day of giving giving giving to my kids. Just a glass to take the edge off. To smooth out my rough emotional edges.

According to Dowsett, that’s exactly what booze companies banked on when they started marketing to women, specifically wine to moms with names like “Mommy’s Time Out.” She also explains how alcohol is much more dangerous for women: we are more easily dependent, we get drunk faster, it affects our health more aversely.

She also delves into the culture of alcohol, especially on college campuses and with one daughter of legal drinking age already at school and my youngest leaving in six months, it really shook me up. When I was their age I wouldn’t have stopped drinking because of any potential health risks. It just wasn’t on my radar and I am sure it is not on theirs either.

With all the research and statistics, Dowsett also shares her own dark journey with alcohol, revealing how insidious it can be as it seeps into all the crevices of your life.

“Drink” is a the perfect balance of personal and universal and it gave me a lot to think about. Alcohol can truly become an intimate and intricate relationship. I find myself thinking twice about why I am pouring or want to pour that first, second or third glass of merlot.

What I learned: Women are 70% more likely to experience depression than men and twice as likely to experience anxiety.

“Going Om- Real-Life Stories On and Off the Yoga Mat” edited by Melissa Carroll

We unroll a mat and, unexpectedly, we fall in love.

That’s how it was for me!

So when I read that first sentence that completely resonated with my own experience on the mat, I knew I had to read it. It’s a lovely collection of essays that explore the experience of yoga both on and off the mat. That has always been key to me—bringing my yoga off the mat. This book is filled with compelling insights that delve into many aspects of yoga from caring for an elderly parent and pets to the sexiness of yoga.

I came away with a deeper appreciation for my own practice as well as nuggets to share with my own yoga classes.

What I learned: There are so many layers to not only doing a yoga practice but living your yoga.

“What We Talk about When We Talk about God” by Rob Bell

I realize that when I use the word God in the title of this book there’s a good chance I’m stepping on all kinds of land mines.

I’m just going to get this out of the way: I have a bit of a soul crush on Rob Bell.

I’m one of those “I’m not religious, I’m spiritual” people and he lets me be that. In fact, he embraces it and encourages me to embrace it as well.

He makes God accessible.

He writes about God, Jesus, Einstein, physics and Hooters (yep, the restaurant) and I never once felt like he had lost me.

He challenges old ideas, offers new ideas all while keeping it all so real. So accessible. And so relevant to daily life.

That has always been important to me. I was never interested in a Sunday only kind of God or spiritual practice. I want it/Him/Her to permeate my days and nights. All of them, not just Sundays.

So, yeah, I kinda loved this book.

What I learned: Atoms are 99.9% empty space.

“Signs of Life” a memoir by Natalie Taylor

Matthews walks in the door.

I remember picking this book up when it first came out in 2011 but being afraid it would remind me too much of my sister’s story of being widowed at a young age. I guess I wasn’t up to reliving all of that at that time. Recently, for some reason, I was.

I was right. It did remind a lot of those first days, weeks and months after my brother-in-law died. I was crying within reading the first few pages and thought, “Well, this is gonna be a long read.”

It wasn’t.

It wasn’t easy but as I slipped into Natalie’s story, my sister’s slid into the background. Oh, it was definitely there the whole time, but it didn’t keep center stage.

Natalie’s voice is honest, funny and real. You read it and think, I wanna be this girl’s BFF.

The book is structured month by month after her husband’s death. She is a high school English teacher so there are many literature references as she struggles with her grief which I appreciated.

Throughout, we see her real grief, not the polished up for a memoir version.

What I learned: What the photo at the end of the book is and why it was included. Brought tears to my eyes all over again.


2 thoughts on “Books Read in December

  1. A great variety of books. The first I think is so relevant for today when so many families struggle with the addiction of loved ones. Like you said, it’s so easy to get started, and seems like something good, to help ease the stress and get relief from one’s worries. But if that’s why someone drinks or uses drugs, it doesn’t usually stop there. Unfortunately.

    The other book on you list I found interesting was the one about God. Like you, I’m more spiritual than religios, and I rarely speak of “God” since people have such diverse definitions of him, most which would not match my own understanding. I’ve never read Bell. May have to give him a try.

    • Deborah- Thanks for leaving such thoughtful responses here. I really appreciate it. Yes, I highly recommend the Rob Bell book. I think he actually has several books published but this is the only one I’ve read.

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