just before the semester starts
The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd
Memoir of a Southern Baptist preacher's wife who starts to see that the feminine and more specifically women in general are left out, excluded, even denigrated by her all-male-god religion up to this point in her life. And then she starts to radically re-envision her relationship to the church, to the divine, to the world. Parts read like a feminism primer, but she doesn't bog down too much in definitions. This book made me appreciate both the era in which I came of age (thank you 1960s/70s feminists!!!) and my own early feisty intuition (at the age of 13) that there was something deeply amiss about the use of the pronoun "He" to refer to God in the Christian tradition.
And I came to that book via my new favorite book...
Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
I'm not alone in loving this book, but I do truly love it. It's another memoir, but this one of a woman who comes to a turning point in her life after a messy and nasty divorce when the pieces fall into place for her to spend a year traveling to Italy (Eat), India (Pray), and Indonesia (Love). I won't give too much away on this one. Please just go read it.
One quote: "Heck Groceries, you have the capacity to someday love the whole world. It's your destiny. Don't laugh." -Richard from Texas
The Skeleton Man by Joseph Bruchac
I'm teaching this one this fall, and it's a good elementary and middle-grades read for kids who want scary stories but aren't ready for adult horror. Bruchac draws on his Native American heritage and on research he has done about other groups to craft a tale that incorporates Native legends but uses an entirely contemporary setting, with a main character who is a Native American child (you don't find out she's a girl until some pages into the book). Though I'm a fan of story, I'm not always a fan of the trope of inserting a traditional story into a novel, and indeed the opening is slowed down significantly by a detour retelling of the Skeleton Man legend. (I've heard it told as the Skeleton Woman by Janice Del Negro.)