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Laugh, cry, dream, get inspired... Read!

Ever have trouble finding a book you like? Below is a list of books, articles, poems, and other wonderful reading material some SWWAN has personally reviewed.

Send us your reading suggestions, tell us why you love them, give us a "sneak peak " (a favorite line or quote), and we'll grow our list.

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Where to find it
A sneak peak
Now is the Time to Open Your Heart Alice Walker About an older woman's complex spiritual journey--away from old roles in her past and towards her new self Novel, drama your library or

ISBN: 0812971396
"He thought he needed a perpetual victim...to feel like a winner. He thought he was incapable of being himself on equal terms with a person of color. What he had is by definition an inferiority complex."
Cleveland/Akron Family Magazine syndicated Regional publication focusing on resources, information and hints for families - great for SWWAN mothers, too! News magazine, family online Each month new articles on health, childcare, adoption, disabilities, school fun/school traumas, and so on. SWWAN mothers may find some good tips.
The Washington Post single article Transgendered male scientist writes about life as a female scientist Newspaper online
ASIN: B00006L1LF
Someone who didn't know he'd had the operation told him his work was great...much better than his sister's.
The Position Meg Woltizer How a revolutionary book about sex affects the kids of the parents who wrote it--and posed for the illustrations Novel your library or Amazon.com
ISBN: 074326178X
"Coupling aged you...You formed a couple in order to be in love, to stay away from loneliness... But no one told you that it would add age to you quickly..."
You Can't Keep a Good Woman Down Alice Walker Powerful stories about being a woman, a black woman, a daughter, lover, friend Short stories your library or Amazon.com
ISBN: 015602862X
"Before she told me about the rape...we had assumed a lifelong friendship...the kind one dreams of having with a person one has known in adversity..."
All That Lives Melissa Sanders-Self Classic tale of haunting with great details that bring you right into the early-19th century home of a young girl and her God-fearing family afflicted by an invisible force of evil Novel, horror your library or Amazon.com
ISBN: 0446526916
"...there came the metal tapping at the glass and a wind entered and blew out every candle...'Please, no!' I cried...for I wished to communicate with my torturer...assuming it had human character and could understand my pleas."
Atlas Shrugged Ayn Rand Epic story of a man who fights against the mediocrity of mainstream society and the woman who fights for her place, too. Shake-up-your-world stuff. Novel, drama your library or Amazon.com
ISBN: 0451191145
After asking for a dime, "Who is John Galt? ...the bum had said it simply, without expression. 'Why did you say that?' asked Eddie Willers, his voice tense. 'Why does it bother you?" the bum asked casually. 'It doesn't.'" But there was a causeless uneasiness within him...
Two for Joy Patricia Scanlan Slice of life about 20- and 30-something young women in modern-day Ireland - love, lust, greed, friendship, jealousy, betrayal, baby-need. Love the Irish slang! Novel, drama your library or Amazon.com
ISBN: 0553813919
"It was horrible getting up in the morning with nothing to do and no job to go to. She hadn't left the house, reluctant to walk through the town, apprehensive of seeing Neil, and hating the idea of people talking about her. Her mother's cake box was a constant temptation..."
Manifesto for a new medicine James S. Gordon, M.D. Your guide to healing partnerships and the wise use of alternative therapies. A powerful examination of how western medicine needs to get the lessons about healing that eastern traditions have known for ages. Beautiful stories of healing both spirits and bodies. Non-fiction, self help Amazon.com
ISBN: 020148384
"Social dislocation and alienation at work and in the world...dramatic...important and pervasive contributors to ill health. ...Japanese immigrants to the US who kept close ties to family in Japan maintained some good health even if they ate the conventional high-fat AMERICAN DIET.  ...deprivation of membership in a close knit and supportive group is dangerous to our health. Work satisfaction and employment status also have definite effects and illness."
The Essential Charlotte Libby Schmais Young single woman overshadowed by a highly eccentric and dramatic sculptor mother chooses a quiet life of unremarkableness--until her mother's untimely death reveals a provision in the will that forces her to spend a year living with her formerly lost father. They're forced to get to know one another--and Charlotte's mother keeps talking to her from beyond. Then Charlotte begins to know herself in new ways, including her desire to be an actress. Novel, drama Amazon.com
ISBN: 0312311656
At the reception honoring her dead mother's art: "Charlotte expected her mother to have more comments, but there was absolute silence on that score... Well, she got what she wanted, thought Charlotte, so she's probably having a big old margarita wherever she is."
The Double Jose Saramago Strange tale of a history teacher who discovers he has an exact double. This writer leaves out a lot of punctuation and uses long strung-together sentences to tell of the protagonist's tortured efforts to find his duplicate (he sees him in a bit part in a B-movie video) and the twisted turning of relationships and events after they do meet. Novel, mystery Amazon.com
ISBN: 0151010404
"Tertuliano Maximo Afonso put a sheet of paper in the typewriter and paused to think. The letter would have to look as if it came from an admirer, it would have to be enthusiastic, but not too...after all the actor Daniel Santa-Clara was not exactly a star capable of provoking hysterical outbursts of feelings..."
The Night Journal Elizabeth Crook Early American history buffs--or just readers who like lots of detail--will enjoy this story of a young woman who's forced to look back into her family's past in order to come to grips with the life and loss of the grandmother who ruled her throughout her life. Told in present time but interspersed with vividly detailed entries from her great-grandmother's journals from the early 1900s. The description of how single women could find employment and some sort of protection by becoming Harvey Girls (basically servants in luxurious hotels) is fascinating. Novel, historical drama Amazon.com
ISBN: 0670034770
"The piano and victrola were at odds with each other all evening, the men were intoxicated, the women drank sarsaparillas and opium concoctions--prohibition is all talk and no conviction here. One woman who pretends she is devout uses uterine morphine wafers in her private parts, supposedly to relieve the painful monthly periodicals though I would guess her to be nearly sixty years of age."
Miss Giardino Dorothy Bryant Retired schoolteacher is found unconscious in front of the high school where she once taught and can't remember what happened. The story unfolds as her memories slowly return. She begins to realize how estranged she has been from people and from her own life, gradually discovers new truths about herself, and begins an exciting life transformation. Novel, drama Amazon.com
ISBN: 1558611746
"Arno is exciting. So completely different from anyone I know, like a man from another planet. Arno makes me understand what it means to be poor, for he is not poor. He is so far removed from poverty that when he talks about abolishing poverty, he sounds as if he is talking about abolishing a strange, foreign odor."
Man and Boy Tony Parsons A guy cheats on his wife because "he's turning 30." She walks out, leaving their son in the care of family, to find work in Japan, which is what she wanted to do before she gave it up to marry the guy. Guy takes kid in, can't believe that his "minor indiscretion" was enough to make his wife to leave. He learns to be a good dad. Wife comes back for child; he struggles to understand and accept and learn. Very engaging book. Novel, drama Amazon.com
ISBN: 0743225082
"I went out into the kitchen with my mom and Pat, wondering why all the decent citizens in the world have it in for single mothers. After all, I thought, the single mother is the parent who stayed."
Black Coffee Tracy Price-Thompson Meet this tough black single woman serving in the Army who came from loving and devoted, though poor parents. Hear her ethnic slang ringing through scenes of trying to ignore men after making many mistakes, falling in love and sex with a guy who loves her deeply--though he has some pretty heavy baggage, putting up with the prejudice and abuse of commanding officers, and finding her way through. The author even gives you her EMAIL address! Novel, drama Amazon.com
ISBN: 0375757775
"It didn't matter that I'd arrived on base late Saturday night. In the Army every day was a workday... Yes, some soldiers had it good and some not so good and if today's orders were indicative of what was to come, then Sgt. Sanderella D. Coffee was about to have it pretty damn bad."
Postcards E. Annie Proulx By the Pulitzer Prize winning author of Shipping News, this dark story set in rural America uses rich and complex imagery to examine the mind of a man who abandons family and farm and spends his life running away to escape the consequences of an unintentional action. Each chapter opens with a picture of a handwritten postcard from one of the characters in the story--each saying just enough to whet your appetite for what's to come. Novel, drama, romance Amazon.com
ISBN: 068480087X
"'In my family the men die young. You'll never know what stories I might of made up. Big elk hunts! Mine disasters!' They laughed, but the thought of the Hat Man's reeling, loose-mouthed age drove them to a panic of kissing, of slamming each other with their spongy pelvic bones."
The Smoke Thief Shana Abe A story of romance and daring set in a fabled land of beautiful costumes and creatures that can turn at will into smoke and then into dragons. The heroine escapes from the tyranny of the Village to London, only to be hunted down by the handsome, virile alpha male--whom she has loved unrequited since girlhood--and then go adventuring with him to reclaim the stolen Diamond, which she hopes will buy her freedom forever. Novel, romance Amazon.com
ISBN: 0553588044
"It hurt because she loved him. Because Letty was all that Rue was not, fair and forward and tinkling bright. Because, in the darkest chambers of her heart, she was afraid that was all he wanted, and ultimately he would be disappointed in her. He said he knew her. How could that be, when she hardly knew herself?"
Don't Even Think About It Lauren Henderson Best chums Sally, Jude and Michael are living the single life in cool flats within a stone's throw of London. Twists and turns in relationships, Sally unable to let go of Michael, the notorious womanizer, even though they broke up years ago. Brunettes galore, including serious past loves, the latest girlfriend pregnant...and on and on. Fun, witty, perceptive. Novel Amazon.com
ISBN: 0-7434-6469-9
"They had that dreamy post-coital look...and as if their clothes had been thrown onto them from a great distance."
Female Intelligence Jane Heller Dr. Lynn Wyman is a star for her unique method of getting hopelessly uncommunicative men to relate better to the women in their lives by teaching them Womenspeak. When her own superbly communicative husband is caught cheating and the press hears about it, her business goes to hell. She dreams up a scheme to gain public approval again by getting a high-profile businessman as a client after his Board has warned him that his poor communication skills are losing the company's finest female employees. Real insights into men, women and relationships. Novel Amazon.com
ISBN: 0-312-261594
"Do you remember the words Tom Cruise's character [in Jerry Maguire] uses to tell Renee Zellweger's character he loves her?" He shook his head. "No, I must have put my hands over my eyes at that point. I do that when movies have scary parts."
Portrait of an Artist, as an Old Man Joseph Heller Acclaimed author of Catch 22's last book. He wanders all over the map looking for a storyline for his aging-author protagonist, in the process demonstrating how fiction writers might go about finding their muse and generating stories. Novel Amazon.com
ISBN: 7432-0200-7
"you'll find in this book a bunch of names of interesting and challenging fiction titles, in case you're always looking for reading ideas."
The Power and the Glory Graham Greene Famous book. Dark and heavy. Set at a time of great corruption and crime in Mexico, this book examines the role of religion in the largely Catholic country. Accepting the respect and almost adoration of the people comes hard to a priest who's being hunted by the authorities (no priests allowed anymore), for becoming an outcast has made him aware of his own failings--a whiskey priest they call him. Dramatic novel Amazon.com
ISBN: 0-670-56979-8
"The beetles had disappeared; the rain had apparently washed them away: it came perpendicularly down, with a sort of measured intensity, as if it were driving nails into a coffin lid. But the air was no clearer: sweat and rain hung together on the clothes. The priest...had nowhere to go. ...he had believed it would be possible just to hang on somehow, sleeping on benches or by the river."
The Goodbye Summer Patricia Gaffney Wonderful, delicately woven story of the emotions a single woman faces as her aging grandmother, who raised her when her rock'n'roll mother left, goes to a convalescent home for a while. Beautifully drawn portraits of the characters inhabiting the home who eventually come to inhabit the heroine's heart as well. Living alone for the first time since college opens her eyes to startling truths about her past. Finding love, mistaken, and love, right. Wise, moving, and reassuringly real. Dramatic novel Amazon.com
ISBN: 0-06-018529-5
"She asked Caddie not to let her forget--because she knew she would. 'Don't leave me, Nan, I'm not ready!' She'd been planning to tell Nana about the baby tonight. ...the woman who might as well be her mother. Now she couldn't; she wasn't sure why but she couldn't, not now. And maybe it was just the beginning of not telling Nana things."
The Society Michael Palmer You feel almost like you're at the movies. Like the best action thrillers, this one takes you on a ride of suspense, intrigue, and murder. It's got gory surgical intricacies, a love affair between lady cop and a doctor who's accused of using drugs he never took, clinical details only a doctor could give about torture and injuries. Novel, thriller Amazon.com
ISBN: 0-553-80204-6
"when the itching first began, it seemed like it was happening to the Grace in the dream. ...it got more intense...the burning, especially on her face, was getting frightening. And something else, she was beginning to have trouble breathing..."
The Secret Life of Bees Sue Monk Kidd Set in the early-civil-rights-era South, this is a profoundly compelling story of loss and abuse in a little girl's young life--but even more of her courage and the love she eventually found in a new home where beekeeping is the means of income. Perceptive looks at race relations in those turmultuous times. Woven through with fascinating details from the life of the honeybee. Novel, Drama Amazon.com
ISBN: 0-14-200174-0
"'I'll write this all down for you,' I said. 'I'll put it in a story.' I don't know if that's what he wanted to ask me, but it's something everybody wants--for someone to see the hurt done to them and set it down like it matters."
The Tavern on Maple Street Sharon Owens A sympathetic glimpse into the lives of several single and married characters who end up coming together around a medieval-age tavern in modern Belfast, Ireland. Told with marvelous attention to detail and lots of food-related descriptions. Interweaves sadness and joy with the colorful lives of those affected by it. A slice of life novel Amazon.com
ISBN: 0-399-15343-8
"Her own doctor had been trying to get her to counseling for years. But Trudy's phobias, or her little notions as she liked to call them, were not really a problem. Everyody had something wrong, she reasoned. Some perfectly law-abiding women went shoplifting when they thought their husbands were having an affair." And then she saw him--her roommate's ex-boyfriend that she'd screamed at on the phone that night...
8 Minutes in the Morning for Extra Easy Weight Loss Jorge Cruise I'm just reading a very interesting book called "8 Minutes in the Morning for Extra Easy Weight Loss." In it author Louis stresses the importance of asking for help---connecting with others, improving your ability to reach out---as a critical weight loss aid. Which is, of course, the idea behind Weight Watchers' group meetings and weigh-ins and so on. It's also a big factor in the 12-step approach. But in this book, he tells you how to create your own team from among people you know. Health, Mind & Body Amazon.com
ISBN: 0-06-058085-2
Atonement Ian McEwan A masterfully told tale that delves profoundly into the minds of its pre-war and war-time characters. This story captures the nuances of teenage, male and female thought processes, perfectly depicts intense sexual desire and experience, and spins a spellbinding plot wound in with vivid details of living through WWII. Novel, drama Amazon.com
ISBN: 0-385-72179-X
"She had learned her patience through years of sidestepping migraines. Fretting, concentrate thought, reading, looking, wanting---all were to be avoided in favor of a slow draft of association, while the minutes accumulated like banked snow and the silence deepened around her."
The Garden Angel Mindy Friddle A moving story of a single woman struggling to keep her grandmother's vintage home. She exhibits loyalty and generosity and extraordinary kindness even as she works her jobs and sabotages her siblings' efforts to sell the house.. Beautiful language. Vivid characters. Novel Amazon.com
ISBN: 0-312-32674-2
"We would manage, I told her (her sister). She didn't even need to tell him. We would live in this house, the baby, too, and I would work and we would do fine, all of us. Why there were even baby clothes in the attic." "Oh, please... Those things are so old they should be burned.. You're so...God, look at the stuff you wear--it's like a hundred years old."
The Best a Man Can Get John O' Farrell A guy who makes you laugh can't be all bad, right? Well, John O'Farrell will make you laugh, and laugh. His English humor descriptions of "just being a guy" are irresistiblly charming. Even if you can't stand guys who drink beer and engage in sports trivia, you'll be able to relate. Novel, drama Amazon.com
ISBN: 7679-0713-2
The Long Walk Home Will North Set in a lovely back county of Ireland, the story is about grief and hope and love lost and love found. Lots of details of scenery and cooking. A bit slow, but a nice love scene. Romantic novel Amazon.com
ISBN: 978-0-307-38302-0
The Granny, The Mammy Brendan O'Carroll Wonderful Dublin stories about strong Irish working-class women and the men they raise. 2 novels Amazon.com: The Granny, Amazon.com: The Mammy Quote from The Granny:
"'If you say he's not yours, okay! What do you want me to say?' 'I want you to say, of course he isn't your son, or yes, I know he's not.' 'How can I say that? I've looked down into his face. And when he looks up at me, what do I see? I see you!'"
Days of Awe Achy Obejas Exotic language, rich history of Cuba, and vibrant emotions. Obejas explores the duality of being Cuban and Ameican, Catholic and Jewish. Challenging to read; the angst feels very personal to the author. Historical novel Amazon.com "Imagine the genuine sounds made by the deaf, before they're taught how to pop their lips specifically for Ps, or humming for Ms. Theirs is our sound, all of ours, before it's contaminated by the world and by each other.... In their most authentic, uninhibited form, [the sounds of the deaf] are about desire and need: the most direct, the most religious kind of communication."
The Tattooed Girl Joyce Carol Oates Rough lives delineated next to lives of privilege, each with its own set of tortures and contradictions. With a backdrop of the Holocaust, the story unfolds of a wealthy intellectual who invites a young, attractive but lost young woman to be his assistant. Engaging, raw emotions powerfully described. Novel Amazon.com "Jew-money it must be Seigl had inherited. Because you never saw the man work. Never any actual work. Not even teaching you'd expect someone like him to do. (Some mail came to Dr. Joshua Seigl but he was no medical doctor. He'd told her why he was called Dr. but she couldn't remember.)"
The Best a Man Can Get John O'Farrell A guy who makes you laugh can't be all bad, right? Well, John O'Farrell will make you laugh, and laugh. His English humor descriptions of "just being a guy" are irresistiblly charming. Even if you can't stand guys who drink beer and engage in sports trivia, you'll be able to relate. Novel Amazon.com
ISBN: 7679-0713-2
A Lesson Before Dying Ernest J. Gaines Powerful portrait of 1940s still-echoing-from-slavery Southern America when black people still had profoundly limited opportunities and young innocent black men could still be executed for murder without proof of any kind. An educated man is tasked with making a condemned black boy become a man before he is executed. Dramatic novel Amazon.com "You belive in God, Mr. Wiggins?" Yes." "How?" "I think it's God that makes people care for people, Jefferson. I think it's God makes children play and people sing. " I belive it's God that brings loved ones together.... "Who make people kill people, Mr. Wiggins?"
Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After Bella DePaulo, PhD A precise scientific look at the factors in American society that add up to a subtle but powerful prejudice against singles. Non-fiction Amazon.com
ISBN-13: 978-0-312-34082-7
ISBN-10: 0-312-34082-7
Listen to our podcast interview with the author: Singles--happier than ever! by Bella DePaulo
At Some Disputed Barricade Anne Perry A deeply real picture of what it was like to be a soldier in combat during WWI. Riveting scenes of carnage along with secrets and intrigues that reveal the consequences of war and the confusion caused by human frailties. Dramatic novel Amazon.com Must soldiers follow every order of an incompetent leader, no matter how much injury and death it causes?
What I Loved Siri Hustvedt A study of human emotion set in a jewel-like setting of art and literature. Ordinary details are exquisitely described to render human emotions like the joy of deep loving, and the years-long agony of losing a child. Novel Amazon.com Are parents always to blame when a child grows up pathological? Where do damaged psyche and mental illness diverge and/or overlap?
Secure in Heart Robin Weidner A Christian perspective on gender issues, the book uses quotes from scripture to build a case that insecurity is the ultimate female issue, and purity is the ultimate test for males. Lots of stories of troubled childhoods, difficult relationships, abuse, and emotional struggles. A Christian self-help book Amazon.com "How can we feel protected when we've prayed about something for months, years, even decades, and still haven't seen the fruition of those prayers?"

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