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The Gift of Reading

Reading is one my favorite pleasures. It nourishes me, enlightens me, and in a split second can take me into another world. When I was a caregiver, it was also an essential respite.

One of the quickest and easiest ways to get respite as a caregiver is to pick up a book! 

Even while stuck waiting in the hospital or sitting isolated at home, a book provides a simple way to transport you to another place and provide nurturance for your soul. Reading to your loved ones also may be just the salve they need. In the busy world of cell phone apps and ever-present electronic media, sometimes books can be forgotten, but they can be sustaining in so many ways. They can nurture your health, help alleviate depression, reduce stress, improve memory, and enhance empathy, according to research. And they’re a fun escape into another world or perhaps a new way of thinking.  

With summer upon us, here are some suggestions for your summer reading:

The Rainbow Comes and Goes: A Mother and Son on Life, Love, and Loss 
by Anderson Cooper & Gloria Vanderbilt  

In honor of Gloria Vanderbilt who passed away this week, I recommend this mother and son memoir. I read it and listened to the audiobook as well and found it to be especially poignant hearing both Gloria and Anderson sharing their correspondence to each other in their own voices. It is an intimate and touching memoir of both happy and sad times that offers inspiration and wisdom to readers. 

Healing Light: 30 Messages of Love, Hope, and Courage
by Alexandra de Borchgrave

My friend wrote this book about love and life in honor of 9/11. It is a collection of prayers in the form of poems that can be helpful to anyone experiencing tragedy. I pulled it off my bookshelf one day when I was rushing to the hospital to see my husband Don, who had suffered a stroke. The poems gave both of us courage and lifted our spirits immensely.

Make Your Bed: Little Things that Can Change Your Life… and Maybe the World 
by Admiral William H. McRaven

Making the bed was always an important ritual for Don and I. Sometimes, before Don had his stroke, we would even compete as to who could make the bed better. This simple tenet on how to start your day can have a powerful effect on how you approach everything in life. Admiral McRaven’s inspiring compilation of stories offers wisdom, advice, and encouragement.

Nanaville: Adventures in Grandparenting 
by Anna Quindlen

This is on the top of my to-read pile this summer. I have three wonderful children and nine amazing grandchildren, so a book that celebrates the love and joy of being a grandmother sounds like the perfect accompaniment on our exploits this summer.

Together: A Memoir of Marriage and a Medical Mishap 
by Judy Goldman

Just like me, Goldman suddenly found herself as the caregiver to her husband, who had been paralyzed during a routine outpatient surgery. In her memoir, she tells their story both looking back on life before the mishap and looking ahead to aging, love, and the bonds of marriage.

Where the Crawdads Sing 
by Delia Owens

This new novel features a vibrant female heroine growing up in the swamps of North Carolina. The New York Times Book Review describes it as “a murder mystery, a coming-of-age narrative, and a celebration of nature.” It was also Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine Book Club Pick, and I can’t wait to dive into it this summer.

Time After Time 
by Lisa Grunwald

This is another novel that I hope to lose myself in this summer. Both historical fiction and magical love story, Time After Timewas inspired by the legend of a woman who vanished from Grand Central Terminal. Kirkus Reviewssays “the characters come alive and make us want them to stay that way…. An ingenious and winsome novel.”

Alone Time: Four Seasons, Four Cities, and the Pleasures of Solitude 
by Stephanie Rosenbloom

Part travel memoir, part contemplation on the nature of happiness, Rosenblum’s book on her solo travels to Paris, Istanbul, Florence, and New York “makes for a richly rewarding guide for any explorer, whether of distant lands or one’s own backyard,” according to Booklist. I am reading this one right now and find that to be true. It’s a lovely exploration of both the self and the outer world. 

Hope for the Caregiver: Encouraging Words to Strengthen Your Spirit
by Peter Rosenberger

I wish I had read this book while my husband was still living. It would have brought both comfort to me and a knowledge that I wasn’t alone in my caregiving journey. Whether a caregiver or not, this is a wonderful and inspiring read. 

The Aviator’s Wife
by Melanie Benjamin

I was captivated by the retelling of the story of Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Both well-written, and fascinating, The Aviator’s Wife delves into the scandals, tragedies, and great accomplishments of the Lindberghs. 

Passages in Caregiving: Turning Chaos into Confidence
by Gail Sheehy

I read this book while I was a caregiver to my husband. It delivered needed emotional support and even helped spur me to write my own book, Kick-Ass Kinda Girl: A Memoir of Life, Love, and Caregiving

Kick-Ass Kinda Girl: A Memoir of Life, Love, and Caregiving 
by Kathi Koll

My hope is that in sharing my story I will provide assistance, inspiration, and maybe a few laughs along the way. I am incredibly honored that my book has won a National Indie Excellence® Award and an Independent Press Award, specifically in the caregiving category. It has also been selected as a Summer Reading pick by Bookreporter.com, and its discussion guide is showcased by ReadingGroupGuides.com for book groups.* 

And if delving into a book feels too much to manage, magazines of all types can offer a nice respite too. After my husband had his stroke, there would be times when friends would come to visit and read to him. One friend shared with me, “Kathi, I thought he would enjoy a story from The Wall Street Journal or The Economist. No, he wanted me to read The National Enquirer!” 

Remember taking a moment to read is a special gift to yourself, so make sure it’s a gift you will enjoy.   
                                                                                  — Kathi Koll 

*I have enjoyed attending several book clubs since my book was released and welcome invitations to join others, I love to travel! So please don’t hesitate to ask me. Also if you do read Kick-Ass Kinda Girl, I would very much appreciate if you would share a review on Amazon and Goodreads. Thank you!

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