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November Book Reviews

November is here already! It's hard to believe that Thanksgiving is around the corner and we are plunging into the depth of fall. The themes of November are typically gratefulness and community, and in this month's books, we see these themes pop up again and again, in incredibly difficult circumstances.

Both the books that we reviewed this month are centered on specific circumstances: alcoholism and preterm births. Both of these elements have significant impacts on one's health and wellness. Even if you have not been touched by either of these circumstances, they are still worthwhile reads because the final thoughts of each book are things that you can use in other situations.

Now onto the reviews!

All books reviewed in this post were received from NetGalley. We were able to receive these books in exchange for a fair and honest review.


Ballad of a Sober Man by J.D. Remy, M.D

Trigger warning for alcoholism and self-harm. If you are concerned about these topics affecting your recovery, then please do not read this book.

This is the full journey of one man's trip from high-functioning alcoholism that cost him his marriage and family to recovery and sobriety, with all the lessons learned along the way.

This book is perfect for those who are concerned that they have a problem with alcohol, or for those who want to understand have more compassion for those who deal with alcoholism and the recovery process. Remy details very well the cost of his addiction and the difficulties of recovery, but also the gains that he was able to make both physically and mentally through the process.

The key focus of this book is the recovery process. Remy makes the deliberate choice to not speak about his spiral into alcoholism until the very end after he had already made significant progress in his recovery process. There is no sugar-coating in this story, but that is what is needed.

There are lessons though within this book for those who are not alcoholics about how to cope with life challenges. Things like practicing mindfulness and gratitude, reducing the authority of the ego, and moderating our reactions are all heavily discussed. Each of us can relate to our egos getting in the way of our happiness, letting self-pity and selfishness crowd our thoughts and resentments grow. This book prompts us towards self-reflection and improvement so that we can have a more healthy, less ego-centric, view of the world.

4.5 out of 5 stars

What We Didn’t Expect edited by Melody Schreiber

A perfect collection of short stories about parents who have been through premature birth, the fears and guilt that comes along with the experience. This is a perfect book for all parents to read, but especially those who have experienced preterm birth. Premature births touch so many new parents, and after the experience is over, there is rarely the opportunity to talk about it because of the feelings of relief to have made it through and not wanting to revisit painful memories.

The short story format is great for this book because it is shorter little nuggets of reading, without the pressure to reading the whole book. Especially for new or long-time parents, or busy people in general, this is a great way to be able to get the story without having to remember what happened 50 pages ago. Also, if certain stories connect more to you, you can read those more often and skip ones that don’t interest you. The sheer number of stories discussing this story can help heal the feelings of isolation that come from premature birth because you will have read about all of these people who have experienced the same difficulties as you.

5 out of 5 stars


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