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400 reads: Giving back can be as simple as passing on the right book
Becky Cahill
Becky Cahill is a career educator and an avid reader. She reads extensively in her free time and tracks her favorites (and those that aren’t even close) on her blog at tobereadlist.home.blog. Becky is the host of ‘Read It or Leave It!’ a weekly reading podcast available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

This article appears in the November issue of 400 Life.

By Becky Cahill, for 400 Life

Giving back to those around you is an important part of maintaining strong relationships. The gesture you choose doesn’t have to be a big one — it can be as simple as passing on the right book.

Short essay collections for the readers in your life  

I’d Rather Be Reading by Anne Bogel is a set of essays that examines the challenges of the reading life in the modern world. Bogel tells stories in which readers can recognize themselves, from reading under the covers with a flashlight to the catastrophe of your library holds all coming in at the same time.  

Southern Lady Code by Helen Ellis is a series of personal and satirical essays examining Ellis’s life, as well as situations faced by women. She subscribes to the long-held Southern tradition, “If you don’t have something nice to say, you say something not so nice in a nice way.”

As a Northern transplant myself, this book made me think of the years it took for me to understand the multitude of meanings when someone says: “Bless your heart.”

Southern Lady Code
Books for moms and women over 35 

I Miss You When I Blink by Mary Laura Philpott examines the choices the author faces as a woman who seemingly has everything but is still struggling. Philpott shines a light on the common practice of losing sight of who you are when you are responsible for supporting so many other people. Philpott shares the decisions she made to ensure that she maintains her identity within her family, profession, and community.  

Why We Can’t Sleep: Women’s New Midlife Crisis by Ada Calhoun (publish date January 2020) is a research-based examination of the life trajectories of women from Generation X (born 1965-1980). These women are the first to deal with new expectations due to the great strides achieved by women of earlier generations, as Calhoun states, “The belief that girls could do anything morphed into a directive that they must do everything.” This book examines the ever-increasing demands that Gen X women are facing and delves into these various areas of responsibility (children, aging parents, financial demands, career aspirations, and physical changes). 

I miss you when I blink
Non-fiction for Friends Dealing with Grief and Self-discovery 

No Happy Endings by Nora McInerny is a memoir about the uncertainty of life and dealing with grief. McInerny became a widow in her 30s and believes that life doesn’t have happy endings, just endings and beginnings. Her path was unexpected, but pushed her to start a foundation, find love again, and form a unique family. She deals with her grief openly, has formed the Hot Widows Club for women and men who find themselves in this difficult situation, and hosts a podcast called “Terrible, Thanks for Asking.” 

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb is a look at therapy from both sides of the couch. The author is in therapy to deal with her recent break-up, but she is also a practicing therapist working with her own patients. Gottlieb’s honest look at dealing with the crises of life shows us that we are more alike than we are different. 

Becky Cahill is a career educator and an avid reader.  She reads extensively in her free time and tracks her favorites (and those that aren’t even close) on her blog at tobereadlist.home.blog. Becky is the host of ‘Read It or Leave It!’ a weekly reading podcast available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. 

Maybe you should talk to someone