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From our hearts and our heads


MINDThe summer’s not over yet, which means there’s still time to squeeze in some last-minute summer reading. But with so many killer new releases and old standbys to choose among, where’s a girl to start? Look no further. Below are three book recommendations to cram into your last month of summer, and they satisfy a wide range of interests, from a chef’s memoir to a TK beach read to heavier but endlessly important non-fiction about the history of women’s health.

1. Give a Girl a Knife by Amy Thielen: Amy Thielen weaves together a few narratives in this deftly crafted chef’s memoir that’s as delicious as the food she describes. On the heavy end of Thielen’s recollections, she does the important work of pulling the curtain back on what it takes to survive as a woman chef in the aggressive, hyper-masculine, and often sexual-harassment-laden world of haute cuisine. But she also brings to life the beauty behind this world and how food lets her come full circle in her life: raised in rural Minnesota, Thielen was fed on the heavy, family-sized, and German-influenced food of the Midwest, later moving to New York City with her then-boyfriend to pursue a professional cooking career that included stints at some of the most highly-rated Austrian, German, and Chinese restaurants in the city, only to tie it all together in the end by pulling the flavors of her childhood together with the fine dining techniques she cut her teeth on. Thielen is as skilled with words as she is with food, making this is a story of love, food, devotion, sacrifice, blood, sweat, and tears that you’ll gobble it right up.

2. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart: What would summer be without at least one young adult novel slash beach read? Look no further. As Barnes & Noble describes on its list 10 YA Books Starring Strong Female Characters: Arm candy? I don’t think so. Brainy and beautiful, Frankie wants in on the antics when her Big Man On Campus boyfriend Matt joins an all-male secret society at their posh boarding school, so she decides to beat the boys at their own game. A feisty, feminist heroine, Frankie’s out to show readers everywhere that smart girls rule.

3. Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick by Maya Dusenberry: This incredibly well-researched work of non-fiction science writing is certainly not a joyful, light read, in contrast to TK, but it’s perhaps one of the most important books about women’s health ever written. Author Maya Dusenberry has done all the hard work for us of digging back in time, through countless research papers, news articles, original interviews, and first person accounts to explain why today’s medical industry so often fails women, whether it’s being sent home in the middle of a heart attack because women’s heart attacks present differently then men’s, or suffering with endometriosis for over a decade because the pain is often dismissed as “just” period camps instead of a debilitating chronic illness, Dusenberry follows the trail to show us that one of the root causes behind this type of problem is that for most of history health researchers have only been studying men. Dusenberry also repeatedly makes the fine points that “women’s health” doesn’t refer only to reproduction and fertility, but any medical issues that can affect women, something that is often squeezed out of the conversation. She is also careful to affirm throughout the book that any of the jarring statistics she shares with readers about the rates of various types of negligence in the medical industry are almost always worse for transwomen and women of color. This is an important book whose seriousness can help you transition back into the school or work frame of mine as the summer winds down.