Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Identity: Essential Reading

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With each New Year's Eve come promises to refine one's life in a simple or complex way. But what about our core: our identity. Who we are in the center of our life. This month, Literary Mamas share titles that shed light on this topic.

Download the list here to find it fast at your local bookstore or library.

Columnist and Creative Nonfiction Editor, Susan Ito, nominates A Question of Balance: Artists and Writers on Motherhood by Judith Pierce Rosenberg. "I read this book over and over like a bible when I was a mother of young children and trying to figure out how to make a writing life. While this title is out of print, you can still find used copies online or in second-hand bookstores."

Kristina Riggle, Fiction Co-Editor, recommends Bird By Bird by Ann Lamott. "This book helped me understand the life of a writer. As I grew to consider myself as such, her no-nonsense, hilarious guide to the writing life helped me make sense of this new aspect of my identity."

Literary Reflections Editor, Kathy Moran, suggests two titles: Living with a Perfectionist by Dr. David Stoop and Healing Grace: Let God Free You From the Performance Trap by David Seamands. "The first provided a diagnosis of why I was depressed and unhappy -- revealing my unrealistic expectations, 'all or nothing' thinking, and other destructive thought patterns. The second taught me how to substitute grace for performance. Reading these books was truly a life-changing experience for me, giving me the freedom to be my authentic self. Both titles are out of print but can be found online or in used bookstores."

Literary Reflections Editorial Assistant, Merle Huerta, shares Sue Monk Kidd's Dance of the Dissident Daughter. "She writes a personal account of her break with a conventional religious life. Raised in the strict doctrine of Southern Baptists in the 80s, Kidd reports feeling a sudden awakening in her feminist self in the aisle of a drugstore. During an altercation with a male customer who attempts to placate her with sexist remarks, Kidd, with a young daughter watching, realizes she can no longer raise a daughter in a patriarchal religion that minimizes the importance of the female voice. In this deeply personal account, Kidd embarks on a journey that shifts her entire foundation--her religion, her marriage, her writing, and the way she chooses to raise her children. This is an inspirational memoir, one that reminds me of the importance of women learning to trust an inner voice and an inherent spirituality."

Fiction Co-Editor Suzanne Kamata, says, "I'd like to suggest Poster Child by Emily Rapp. Due to a congenital defect, Rapp's left foot was amputated when she was four. She was later chosen to be a poster child for the March of Dimes, thereby serving to represent the kind of kids the March of Dimes hopes to eliminate. Growing up, Rapp was caught between wanting to feel special and wanting to be like everyone else. In this book, she writes about being a "willing stranger in the country of her own body" and her struggle to come to terms with that body - a struggle that many of us contend with, able-bodied or not."

Ezine Co-Editor, Jessica DeVoe Riley, says, "I felt very introspective after reading The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. Lahiri captures the experience of the first generation growing up in the US among foreign-born parents by exploring the sense of belonging, and the distinctions between one's heritage and one's home. While her story revolves around Indian culture, anyone who is the child of immigrants will understand the main character's dilemma."

Christina Marie Speed writes poetry and creative nonfiction. Her work has appeared in a variety of online and print publications, including Caper Journal, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune Online, and The View From Here. She lives with her husband and two sons in a sunny fourth-floor walkup in Brooklyn, New York.

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