The Storytellers’ Gifts

Have you ever been so captivated with a great book that it was nearly impossible to put it down? There is nothing like a well written book chock full of intriguing characters and steeped in layers of the complexities of life to hold us captive from beginning to end. A truly great read will have you contemplating about its message long after you have finished that last page.

Encouraged by my engaging seat mate, Allison, on a recent flight from Chicago, I’m sharing a few of those impactful books that I read most recently.

In her best selling book, Melinda Gates shares the gut wrenching, inspiring and triumphant stories of women she’s met from around the world. At this critical moment, it will ignite your sense of urgency, leaving you convinced that equality can’t wait. –New York Times

Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates was so incredibly moving, informative and timely that I highlighted something of significance on almost every page. As a woman, you will even see yourself in some of the stories that she tells about her own life, her career, being a mother and being encouraged by other women who are making a difference. But it is her stories of women and children living under extreme conditions that will open your eyes in a profound way.

I loved this passage from her book so much it has become a daily mantra for me:

Love is the effort to help others flourish. It begins with lifting up a person’s self image.”

An unforgettable memoir about a young girl who, kept out of school, leaves her survivalist family and goes on to earn a PhD from Cambridge University

Educated by Tara Westover is admittedly not an easy read. There were times I had to put the book down and simply process what this remarkable young woman had experienced in her childhood. Tara is the same age as my daugher, and I often reminded myself of this as I read her heart wrenching story. I could not imagine not protecting my child from the atrocities she experienced at the hands of her own family members. At the same time, I found her story of survival, resilience and raw determination to change her life to be relatable and inspiring.

I have watched Tara’s interviews with Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey and highly recommend watching these also. Tara doesn’t flinch at those tough questions about vulnerability and she is very open about how she coped by “normalizing” what was unfolding in her life. Tara has tremendous courage to share so publicly her personal story of pulling herself out of a very toxic family dynamic and building a much better life for herself. Tara’s story provides inspiration and encouragement for anyone who is trying to better their life.

You can love someone and still choose to say goodbye” — Tara Westover during her interview with Oprah Winfrey

A charming novel that prompts reflection on the stories we all should carry to the next generation

The Red Address Book by Sofia Lundberg was an absolutely delightful and heartwarming read though the message was poignant.

When Doris was a young girl, her father gave her a red address book and following his instructions she documented everyone she met and loved throughout her years. Now Doris is 96, living alone in Stockholm and reflecting on those who had an impact on her (many who are now deceased). She begins to write the stories of her colorful life (as a maid in Sweden, a model in Paris, fleeing to Manhattan at the onset of World War Two and of the men she loved). Her beautiful memories and her detailed memoir shed light on unanswered questions for her beloved niece (and just in the nick of time).

“I want to give you my memories. So they don’t just disappear,” Doris says to her niece in her final moments

Creating a love of learning in your family is as easy as lighting a fire. You just need a book of matches. The Brave Learner is that book!

My daugher who is home schooling her two small children inspired me to read this book when she exclaimed that she simply couldn’t put it down. The Brave Learner by Julie Bogart had my attention and stirred my imagination from the very first page. You don’t need to be home schooling childen to benefit from the enchanted lifestyle of education that Julie inspires. If you are a parent or grandparent, an aunt or uncle, you will be awakened to the incredible learning opportunities surrounding us each and every day. Most importantly Julie helps us to avoid accidentally dampening a child’s wild-fire interest and instead fan the flames of their unique passion.

To maximize the value of the practices and attitudes I share, I invite you to be a brave learner yourself. Pay attention to your journey — to what incites your enthusiasm and provokes your skepticism. Be interested in your reactions. Journal. Jot questions in the margins. Recognize the child in you longing for freedom and support. Translate those experiences into empathy for your children’s learning adventure. — extracted directly from Julie’s book.

As I wrap up my book review for you it seems fitting that I am closing with The Brave Learner. May we all be motivated and inspired to learn all that we can from each other, from books and discussing them and from the experiences that unfold in our lives every day. Happy reading 🙂

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