• Paula Present

Summer Reads

Quirky Heartfelt Fiction Read – Anxious People by Fredrik Bachman

You know those books you finish reading truly ends with a big sigh of complete satisfaction? This book is one of those. Bachman’s unique writing feels like joyfully clicking pieces of a puzzle into the big picture of a whole story. How can a story about a bank robbery be so funny, compassionate, and heartfelt? There are many laugh out loud moments, delving into strangers brought together through circumstance, and bond as a community, helping each other gain a little more understanding of relationships and life.

Mind Blowing Non-Fiction Read – Empire of Pain by Patrick Radden Keefe

If you have watched the HBO two-part documentary “Crime of the Century” about the creation and repercussions of the opioid crisis, you have already met Keefe. His book deep dives past the center of the earth as he spans three generations of the Sackler Family, tracing parent’s immigration to the United States. The second generation of three brothers, Arthur, Mortimer, and Raymond, managed to get through medical school despite rampant anti-Semitism. In their early doctor years, it seems they genuinely wanted to help and succeeded in stopping the abuse of mental health patients. They freed them from horrible asylums to just a doctor’s visits including medication that significantly helped their symptoms. With a blinding ambition, Arthur Sackler discovered as a teenager how skillful marketing sold more products. He started with successfully selling Cod Liver oil. The taste of money and greed was ignited. Money at any cost. He three brothers were responsible for creating Valium, suppressing any information of side effects in order for the drug to sell. This helped pave the way for the unscrupulous third generation Sacklers as they started marketing OxyContin. False claims of the drug not being habit forming or addictive, unlimited bonuses for their aggressive sales team, and gift incentives for doctors to prescribe OxyContin helped create the opioid crisis. That being a simplistic view, the book goes into much more detail. It’s a fascinating read, and important to witness how big pharmaceutical companies can cover up life threatening facts and knowledge for profit.

Left Brain Body Read - The Body by Bill Bryson

This book made me chuckle, squirm, and gasp in awe of our magnificent body. It’s a trivia night goldmine of all things body, sometimes more than I need to know when it comes to microbes and bacteria. I don’t want to know there are critters on my scalp crunching dead skin like corn flakes. Understanding how complex the blood is - riveting. A chapter on the importance of exercise (always good for Winsor Choza Pilates). It’s straight science, so you won’t hear anything about the chakras here. It’s not a creationists cup of tea either. It’s a fantastic read (or audio book listen, as the author narrates beautifully). I highly recommend jumping into the miracles that occur every day, many we don’t even have to think about.

Radical Body Read - The Body is Not an Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor

Body shame is so prevalent that we don’t even notice it, yet it has a unconscious and conscious psychological impact. This progressive book looks at bodies and unpacks body/race/ableism politics. The cover is truly unapologetic. The book discusses the importance of loving ourselves first, then we will know how to love and honor other bodies. Sonya Renee Taylor states her book’s purpose is “the transformative foundation of how we make peace with our bodies… the bodies of others, and ultimately change the world.” She talks a lot about body shame. I was thinking how many other people I know have body shame. But I realized as comfortable as I am in my body; I discovered I have shame for certain things as well. It starts when we are little kids, and never quits. Time to get radical and live unapologetically in our bodies! I read it and listened to the audio book. The audio book is narrated by the author in a passionate, joyful way.

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