The summer reading season is upon us, and MomMD has come across a handful of great books to share.
This Won’t Hurt a Bit (And Other White Lies): My Education in Medicine and Motherhood by Michelle Au (Grand Central; $24.99)
“The problem with combining medical training with parenthood is that neither deserves anything less than your full attention, and to attempt to do both simultaneously is to feel that you are doing neither well.” Such is the constant push and pull in Michelle Au’s funny, poignant memoir of modern medical training and what it takes to become a doctor. Opening with humorous tales told from her early, more idealistic days in medical school and detailing the growing relationship with fellow resident Joe who becomes her husband, Dr. Au shares the sometimes hilarious and often grueling stories of life in the trenches of becoming a doctor. What’s most enjoyable about This Won’t Hurt a Bit is her openness to discuss the many challenges of becoming a mother early in her residency. And what sets it apart from most medical memoirs is Dr. Au’s honesty about trying to build a satisfying life away from her hospital work.
KaBOOM!: How One Man Built a Movement to Save Play by Darell Hammond(Rodale; $24.99)
This powerful, uplifting memoir details the vision and efforts of Darell Hammond, the man behind the national nonprofit KaBOOM! that helps communities build playgrounds for some of the neediest communities in the nation. “Handouts don’t help,” Hammond writes. “Even the power and resources of the U. S. government don’t compare with what a small group of dedicated, passionate people can do in their own neighborhood by working together.” Growing up with the odds stacked against him in a group home with seven brothers and sisters, Hammond was inspired to start KaBOOM! after reading about two young children who suffocated in an abandoned car because they had nowhere else to play. Since its inception, his nonprofit has created more than 2,000 playspaces and mobilized more than a million volunteers. All for the sake of kids and play. It’s about the power of one person with one good idea, and the impact he or she can have on the entire world. Inspirational.
Bossypants by Tina Fey (Reagan Arthur Books; $26.99)
We’ll confess to laughing to the point of tears over many of these chapters. But then we’re Tina Fey fans. It might be a different reading experience if her humor is not your cup of tea. But more than just a comedic memoir, Fey’s Bossypants serves up social commentary amid some terrific one-liners. “My ability to turn good news into anxiety is rivaled only by my ability to turn anxiety into chin acne.” Fey writes honestly and hilariously about sexism, workplace issues, and hopes for her daughter. Her stories about being a new mom and managing a burgeoning career is where Fey shines brightest. “One night I put my daughter to bed, worked with the writers all night, and it the morning when she toddled out, the writers were still there. It was the best worst thing ever.” A laugh-out-loud read, Bossypants reminds us why Tina Fey is so popular and universally beloved: Despite being a tad graceless, bumbling, and inappropriate, she’s living the crazy juggle of Career Mom just like the rest of us. But her razor-sharp wit gets her through. And, thankfully, with Bossypants, it can get us through too.
A Bittersweet Season: Caring for Our Aging Parents–and Ourselves by Jane Gross (Knopf; $26.95)
Longtime journalist and health writer Jane Gross writes candidly about the unspoken burdens borne by the adult sons and daughters who care for their infirm parents in A Bittersweet Season. “But imagine the shock and humiliation when someone like my mother,” she explains in one passage, “hardworking and self-sufficient all her life, finds herself out of money and, as a result, wheeled from the first-class section of the plane (this is how one administrator defended the practice to me) to the economy class, to sit in a middle seat in a row adjacent to the overused bathroom?” Gross unflinchingly examines the final chapters of her mother’s life and death, offering readers insights into the weighty issues all of us will have to face one day. Within the personal narrative Gross weaves, she includes practical lessons she’s picked up along the journey. Written with wry humor, A Bittersweet Season can help middle-age children prepare themselves and their parents for the difficult conversations that must be spoken. Through her personal, painful experiences caring for her own mother, Gross has produced a memoir that is vital and helpful to all of us.