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READ MY MIND © Book Reviews by Michael G. Harris, OD

Jan 29, 2017 09:50PM ● By Michael Harris

Over the last several months, there have been numerous books written by women about women. I’m highlighting some of the more interesting ones in this column. They range from heartfelt memoirs to insightful advice books.


Perhaps the most insightful and controversial book is Amy Schumer's memoir, The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo. Schumer is the raunchy standup comedian made famous by Saturday Night Live and her 2015 movie,Trainwreck. A good deal of the book deals with her standup comedy routine about her body parts and sexual encounters. A word of warning: this book is not for everyone! The language is raw and, at times, rather filthy. If you can get over that, you'll find the book touching and unbelievably funny.


Schumer led no charmed childhood. Her parents were in an unhappy marriage that ended with an affair and divorce. To make matters worse, her father, once a successful businessman, became an alcoholic and an embarrassment to his family. Schumer bore the scars of this childhood for many years. Her story is a deeply moving glimpse of family love told with great humor.


TV journalist Elizabeth Vargas tells her story of drug addiction in Between Breaths. Having suffered from chronic anxiety since childhood, Vargas “turned to alcohol for relief.” While not a great book, I appreciated her strength and courage in fighting this never-ending struggle with addiction and how important the help of family and friends can be.


“Julia Greenfield has a problem: she's 26 years old and still a virgin." To restart her life, she visits her Aunt Vivienne in Emma Rathbone’s novel Losing It only to learn that her 58-year-old aunt is also a virgin. Their relationship is the crux of this story and the start of Julia's journey to true happiness. This is “chick lit” with a message for all who are trying to find themselves.


Peggy Ornstein's Girls & Sex explores the “new sexual landscape” girls are facing today. With astute interviews, Orenstein gives “readers comprehensive and in-depth information to understand and navigate this complicated new world.” Truly informative reading.


"The dominant force in the lives of girls coming-of-age in America today is social media." This is the theme of Nancy Jo Sales latest book, American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Life of Teenagers. It doesn't take a genius to figure this out. Wherever I go, I see teens texting each other on their cell phones rather than talking to each other. This has led to "a culture in which teenagers are spending so much time on technology and social media that they are not developing basic communication skills."  This does not bode well for the future.


So what can we do to help our daughters? We can turn to Nina Tassler’s new book, What I Told My daughter: Lessons from Leaders on Raising the Next Generation of Empowered Women. Tassler “brought together a powerful, diverse group of women to reflect on the best advice and counsel they have given their daughters either by example, in character building, or teachable moments between parent and child."


World leaders, entertainers, renowned professionals, and everyone from Marie Osmond to Ruth Bader Ginsburg contributed short lessons they taught their daughters to help them grow into principled women.


“In a time when childhood seems at once more fraught and more precious than ever, What I Told My Daughter is a wise book no one concerned with connecting with a young girl can afford to miss.” (And, by the way, its lessons apply to sons as well.)