Everything Happens for a Reason 

Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved – Kate Bowler I read this book in one sitting. It’s about the author getting stage four cancer in her 30s, but it’s also about how she started thinking about religion and the prosperity gospel (she’s a professor at Duke Divinity School.) She also has a really interesting podcast)

Being Moral 

Being Mortal – Atul Gawande. The author is a physician who has written a number of books about the medical field. This one is about end-of-life care and how we might find a better solution than traditional nursing homes. It sounds slow. It isn’t.

When Breath Becomes Air

When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanathi. The author, who died in 2015, chronicles his life as a doctor and a patient in this gripping memoir. When this book came out, my head of school bought it for all the teachers at our school. I had no idea that years later, I’d use the lessons he taught me as I cared for my dying husband.

The Bright Hour 

The Bright Hour – Nina Riggs. Similar to “When Breath Becomes Air,” this book chronicles the author’s cancer diagnosis which ultimately took her life in 2017. Riggs is a writer, so in addition to a gripping story, the prose is beautiful. I also appreciate that she writes about parenting through cancer.

Once More We Saw Stars 

Once More We Saw Stars – Jayson Greene. I heard this author on Kate Bowler’s podcast (see above) and bought the book on the day it came out. Greene was a writer in NYC when his 2-year-old was killed by falling debris from a building. Greene chronicles his life before and after the accident in gripping detail. It is a difficult read, but as someone who has experienced tragic loss, I recognized so much of what he discussed about his emotional state.

From Scratch

The book chronicles Locke’s marriage to an Italian man, her attempts to break through the racial and cultural boundaries between their families (she is African-American and from West Texas, he was from a tiny town in Sicily), her husband’s death from cancer and her subsequent trips to Sicily after his death. I could not put it down. It’s not just about loss, but also about the human capacity for change.

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This inspiring, exquisitely observed memoir finds hope and beauty in the face of insurmountable odds as an idealistic young neurosurgeon attempts to answer the question What makes a life worth living?

Poet and essayist Nina Riggs was just thirty-seven years old when initially diagnosed with breast cancer—one small spot. 

Through eye-opening research and gripping stories of his own patients and family, Gawande reveals the suffering this dynamic has produced.

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One of the best books about faith, prosperity, and failed dreams.  Spoiler: She survives.

“A gripping and beautiful book about the power of love in the face of unimaginable loss.”
 --Cheryl Strayed

From Scratch chronicles three summers Tembi spends in Sicily with her daughter, Zoela, as she begins to piece together a life without her husband in his tiny hometown hamlet of farmers.