Holly Richardson: A summer’s worth of non-fiction reading

(Courtesy of Tara Westover) Tara Westover as a student at Cambridge

In spite of the March-like weather, summer is (hopefully) just around the corner and can be a great time to catch up on some reading.

If you have fiction books you love to recommend, send them my way. My bookshelves are sadly lacking in fiction! I do, however, have some great non-fiction reads to recommend, including books from two “taboo” genres: politics and religion. Here they are, in alphabetical order:

“An Accident of Geography: Compassion, Innovation and the Fight Against Poverty,” by Richard C. Blum. The author, founder of the American Himalayan Foundation, believes as I do that everyone has something they can contribute; everyone has something they can do to actively help others less fortunate, even if they were born somewhere geographically disadvantageous.

“Carried,” by Michelle Schmidt. I loved this sweet story of Michelle’s experience looking for and then finding the body of her daughter, Annie, in the Columbia River Gorge. Annie’s dad is Jon Schmidt of the “Piano Guys” and Michelle is the sister of Utah state Sen. Jake Anderegg. As a bereaved mother, I could relate to so much of the process of grief, being “carried” and then moving toward healing.

“Educated: A Memoir,” by Tara Westover. Heart-wrenching, difficult and moving. As a mom who homeschooled for a dozen years and is a homebirth midwife, I took the opportunity to examine my own views through Tara’s lens. It was uncomfortable and yet gripping reading.

“Favorite Scriptures of 100 American Leaders,” by Mike Winder. I quite enjoyed this enchanting book. People that I don’t have much in common with politically, I find that I do scripturally. For example, former California Gov. Jerry Brown loves Luke 12:48, “where much is given, much is required,” and Bill Clinton’s is Galatians 6:2-9, “Bear ye one another’s burdens” and “let us not be weary in well-doing.”

“Holy as You Are,” by Christie Gardiner. From the best-selling author of “You Are the Mother Your Children Need,” Gardiner has another great book aimed towards LDS women. Ladies, we are enough. This little book will fill your cup when you are feeling depleted and will encourage you to greater holiness when you are whole. Consider it a present to yourself.

“In Defense of Troublemakers: The Power of Dissent in Life and Business,” by Charlan Jeanne Nemeth. Another excellent book. Full of research by a social psychologist on why we make better decisions when there’s a “troublemaker” in the crowd. Compelling reasons why it’s important to avoid “groupthink” and why dissent should not be feared but cherished.

“Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed by Men,” by Caroline Criado Perez. Fascinating (and depressing) read on how gender bias is baked into research, treating men as the default and women as not typical, at home, in the workplace, the public square and the doctor’s office. Chapter 1 begins by asking “Can snow-clearing be sexist?” With data in hand, the answer is... (read the book and find out!)

“Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption,” by Bryan Stevenson. The best book I read in 2018. Powerful, powerful, powerful look at today’s criminal justice system and how justice is often not served if you are black and/or poor.

“Love Your Enemies: How Decent People Can Save America from the Culture of Contempt,” by Arthur C. Brooks. Can you believe one in six Americans has ended a close relationship because of politics?! That is not right. The tribal feuding taking over our country can be transcended, Brooks says, through learning to disagree “better” and loving more.

“Them: Why We Hate Each Other - and How to Heal,” by Ben Sasse. Excellent book about the need for community and not letting politics destroy us. Goes great with the previous book.

“Unworthy: An Autobiography of the Imposter,” by Paul Mero. This book is a deeply personal and insightful look at how debilitating “Imposter Syndrome” can be. Mero, known in Utah political circles, is authentic and candid in describing the damage that can result from imposter syndrome and shares how he works to overcome it.

Bonus fiction recommendation: OK, OK, I have two. “A Handmaid’s Tale,” by Margaret Atwood, and “1984,” by George Orwell. Read them. Seriously.

| Courtesy Holly Richardson, op-ed mug.

Holly Richardson, a regular contributor to The Salt Lake Tribune, loves to read and has met her goal of 100 books a year for the last five years or so. She is not picky about the format — digital, audio, hardback or paperback — they all work just fine.