Memoirs and biographies
Finding Lina: A mother's journey from autism to hope by Helena Hjalmarsson. The subtitle ends with "hope," but I'm not sure I felt that hopeful at the end of the book. It was exhausting to read of this mother's efforts to help her daughter live with autism. I was struck by how much privilege Hjalmarsson had: her financial situation allowed her to live in New York City, hire nannies to help with her children, and devote herself full-time to intensive play and therapy with her daughter Lina. What happens to all the people without the resources or time for a myriad of therapies? Who can't afford innovative private schools? Who can't spend 8+ hours a day of floortime with their autistic child?
The World's Strongest Librarian: A memoir of Tourette's, faith, strength, and the power of family by Josh Hanagarne. Thoroughly enjoyable read by a librarian with a very, very bad case of Tourette's.
Catherine the Great: Portrait of a woman by Robert K. Massie. I had no idea what a fascinating, complex woman Catherine the Great was. Massie quotes extensively from Catherine's own memoirs. His translation makes her seem very much alive and relevant today, even though she lived over two centuries ago.
Orange is the new black by Piper Kerman. I haven't seen the Netflix series, but the book was quite fun to read.
Cut It Out! The C-section epidemic in America by Theresa Morris. Absoutley fantastic. While much of her subject matter is well-known to me, the way she put it all together and made sense of this huge mess that we call maternity care was brilliant. You realize that physicians are just as trapped and constrained as pregnant women are in navigating American obstetric care. You must buy a copy and read it right away!
Born At Home: cultural and political dimensions of maternity care in the United States by Melissa Cheyney
What's Mine Is Yours: The Rise Of Collaborative Consumption by Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers. I loved learning about all the ways we're figuring out how to share our time and resources. (Of personal interest since we're currently sharing a house with a family of 10.) Felt a bit long for a book...would have been better as a long article, I think. I'd love to have a neighborhood tool library, for example, so we don't have to buy and own so many tools. At least we put ours to good use! I love the idea of car sharing, especially with all the smartphone technology that simplifies logistics.
Death, American Style: A cultural history of dying in America by Lawrence R. Samuel. Just started. Seems quite interesting.
When we were on fire: A memoir of consuming faith, tangled love and starting over by Addie Zierman. A memoir of growing up Evangelical, of finding and then losing (and finding again) her faith.
Sarah the Priestess: The First Matriarch of Genesis by Savina Teubal. The Abraham/Isaac/Jacob stories make SO much more sense if you read this book and realize that Sarah was likely a priestess in a competing matriarchal culture and religion.
If the church were Christian: Rediscovering the values of Jesus by Philip Gulley. Written about Christianity in general, but definitely applicable to Mormonism as well as other Christian denominations.
A Cultural History of the Book of Mormon (multi-volume series) by Daymon Mickel Smith. I have to admit, it's been hard going wading through the first volume. His thought processes and writing style are tortured at times, yet I'm sticking with it because I hear that it gets better in subsequent volumes and because his ideas are just so fascinating (I only wish they were easier to follow!).
The street-legal version of Mormon's book by Michael Hicks. Hilarious. Puts a fresh face on the Book of Mormon narratives by retelling the stories in modern-day language and syntax. I'm cracking up over how uber-self-righteous Nephi is. (Shout out to Michael Hicks: you need a better cover!)
By the Hand Of Mormon: The American scripture that launched a new world religion by Terryl Givens. An eloquent counterpoint to Daymon Smith's brilliant but very meandering history of this religious text. Givens looks at how various groups inside and outside the Mormon church have used, interpreted, understood, and viewed the Book of Mormon.
Thea Gallas Always Gets Her Man by Kristen Panzer. Loud-mouthed, pregnant lactation consultant meets murder mystery. The first of its kind, and highly entertaining.
Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs (7 books out so far, 8th forthcoming next year): Moon Called, Blood Bound, Iron Kissed, Bone Crossed, Silver Borne, River Marked, and Frost Burned. Fun series with a spunky mechanic-shapeshifter heroine who's likely to be beating her foes with a tire iron, when she isn't having (mis)adventures with her vampire friend or her werewolf neighbor/lover/husband. She'd probably laugh at the cover illustrations--she's more likely to be in a greasy t-shirt with dirt under her fingernails than lounging around looking alluring.
Circle Trilogy by Nora Roberts: Morrigan's Cross, Dance of the Gods, and Valley of Silence. Great fun. It's like Lord of the Rings, but sexy and very woman-centric.