10 Books to Help You on Your Journey (Part 1) - Steve's Reading Corner

Updated: Feb 15

Many themes in The Music Between Us have been addressed by very skilled authors. Some of their books are long-time general audience best sellers; others are more obscure but nonetheless powerful pieces of both fiction and non-fiction. They deal on various levels with personal healing, end-of-life care, growing up with family mental illness, and music and the brain.

End-of-Life Wisdom


The Unexpected Journey of Caring: The Transformation from Loved One to Caregiver, Donna Thomson, 2019

The Unexpected Journey of Caring is a practical guide to finding personal meaning in the 21st century care experience. The author is clear: personal transformation is usually an experience we actively seek out—not one that hunts us down. Becoming a caregiver is one transformation that comes at us, requiring us to rethink everything we once knew. Everything changes—responsibilities, beliefs, hopes, expectations, and relationships. Caregiving is not just a role reserved for “saints”—eventually, everyone is drafted into the caregiver role.


The Thing About Life is That One day You’ll be Dead, David Shields, 2009

The author undertakes an original investigation of our flesh-and-blood existence, our mortal being. Weaving together personal anecdote, biological fact, philosophical doubt, cultural criticism, and the wisdom of an eclectic range of writers and thinkers - from Lucretius to Woody Allen - Shields expertly renders both a hilarious family portrait and a truly resonant meditation on mortality. The book provokes us to contemplate the brevity and radiance of our own sojourn on earth and challenges us to rearrange our thinking in crucial and unexpected ways.


Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life's Greatest Lesson, Mitch Albom, 2002 Edition

There is a reason this book is one of the top selling memoirs of all time. When the author discovers that one of his college professors from twenty years earlier is dying, he seeks him out and rediscovers the questions he had been asking as a young man when he sat in his teacher’s classroom years earlier. He also gets the wisdom and advice that he as an older man can appreciate in new ways. Morrie visited with Mitch in his study every Tuesday Their rekindled relationship turned into one final “class”: lessons in how to live.


"I Don't Have Time for This!": A Compassionate Guide to Caring for Your Parents and Yourself, Katherine Arnup, 2015

This book provides a roadmap for the journey into aging, illness, and dying that we will all travel-ourselves and the people we love. With gentle persuasion and moving stories from her family, her clients, and her years as a hospice volunteer, Dr. Katherine Arnup shows how to overcome the fear of aging and loss so we can show up for the challenges in our lives.


Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant?: A Memoir, Roz Chast, 2016


In her first memoir, New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast brings her signature wit to the topic of aging parents. Spanning the last several years of their lives and told through four-color cartoons, family photos, and documents, and a narrative rife with laughs and tears, Chast's memoir is both comfort and comic relief for anyone experiencing the life-altering loss of elderly parents.



When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalanithi, 2016


At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon,

Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. And just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. This book chronicles the author’s transformation from a naïve medical student, into a neurosurgeon at Stanford, and finally into a patient and new father confronting his own mortality. What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when the future, no longer a ladder toward your goals in life, flattens out into a perpetual present? These are some of the questions Kalanithi wrestles with in this profoundly moving memoir. The author died as he was completing the book.

Surviving In a Family With Mental Illness


Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family, Robert Kolker, 2020

A broad-ranging, highly readable, and deeply unsettling book tells the story of a family beset with schizophrenia, and in doing so provides meaningful insights into the devastation caused by the disease. It is, equally, a study of the multiple ways in which familial denial can exacerbate the inherent pain of mental illness, and of the courage required both of those who are themselves diagnosed with it and of those who choose to help and support them.


Educated, Tara Westover, 2018

Some autobiographical memoirs of traumatic childhoods are self-pitying and self- absorbed. This one is not. The author gives a balanced picture of her troubled family, in which madness is combined with ingenuity, intelligence and grit… It provides a fascinating insight into the complex effects of mental illness on family relationships and the individual. It is also a moving story of one individual's successful struggle to overcome those effects and live a satisfying life.


This Much I Know is True, Wally Lamb, 2008

Dominick Birdsey, a forty-year-old housepainter, finds his subdued life greatly disturbed when his identical twin brother Thomas, a paranoid schizophrenic, commits a shocking act of self-mutilation. Dominick is forced to care for his brother as well as confront the dark secrets and pain he has buried deep within himself. Coming to terms with his life and lineage, Dominick struggles to find forgiveness and finally rebuild himself beyond the haunted shadow of his troubled twin.


Breaking Into My Life: Growing Up with a Bipolar Parent and My Battle to Reclaim Myself, Michelle Dickinson-Moravek, 2018

Breaking Into My Life is a brutally candid memoir that chronicles the impact that growing up with a mentally ill mother and how that experience continues to compromise the author as an adult. The book is as painfully revealing as it is uplifting and hopefully will inspire many to realize that they can overcome adversity in their lives as well.

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"Truly, music is medicine for the soul."

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