The best books for Alzheimer’s caregivers seeking to cultivate mental and emotional flexibility

Tanya Ward Goodman Author Of Leaving Tinkertown
By Tanya Ward Goodman

The Books I Picked & Why

The House on Beartown Road: A Memoir of Learning and Forgetting

By Elizabeth Cohen

The House on Beartown Road: A Memoir of Learning and Forgetting

Why this book?

I was a new mother when I read this Alzheimer’s memoir and immediately felt that I’d found a friend. Elizabeth Cohen is funny, lyrical, and sometimes (understandably) frustrated as she takes on the bruising balance of managing a career while simultaneously caring for her aging father and her young daughter. The book is a testimony to the healing power of story and provided a valuable model to me as I sought to make sense of my own family experience by committing my memories to the page.


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Dementia, My Darling

By Brendan Constantine

Dementia, My Darling

Why this book?

The title poem in this collection, (made from lines spoken by the poet’s mother,) manages to embody both caregiver and loved one as Constantine gives gentle structure to a string of seemingly disconnected utterances. Each poem in the book explores themes of loss, memory, and family through a different lens, creating an almost kaleidoscopic vision of the world. The collection is a rumination, a celebration, and a beautiful example of how poetry can expand our perspectives and teach us to speak and hear new rhythms.  


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The Wide Circumference of Love

By Marita Golden

The Wide Circumference of Love

Why this book?

When 68 year-old Gregory Tate is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, his family members reckon with the past and try to move toward an unexpected future with love and honesty. This beautifully written novel offers readers a chance to see the crisis from varying points of view and encourages empathy for every member of the family. In addition, Golden works to raise awareness of the way Alzheimer’s disproportionately affects Black and Latino communities. African Americans are more than twice as likely as whites to develop the disease, and yet, are gravely underrepresented in research and clinical trials. Part of a diverse chorus represented by #AlzAuthors, Golden is a vital voice to follow.


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The Authenticity Experiment: Lessons From The Best & Worst Year Of My Life

By Kate Carroll De Gutes

The Authenticity Experiment: Lessons From The Best & Worst Year Of My Life

Why this book?

Akin to peering into the pages of a private journal, The Authenticity Experiment, is an unvarnished reaction to a series of heartbreaking losses. Tired of the way social media has forced us to create a relentlessly curated and cheerful version of ourselves, de Gutes presents a museum of true emotion. The consecutive deaths of her mother, a dear friend, and a beloved mentor move de Gutes to map her own identity around the absence of three critical landmarks. Musing on perfectionism, guilt, joy, love, and success, de Gutes finds the route to self-compassion is a long and winding one. We readers are lucky enough to be able to walk beside her.


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The Girl in the Flammable Skirt: Stories

By Aimee Bender

The Girl in the Flammable Skirt: Stories

Why this book?

My father’s neurologist described Alzheimer’s as “a real weird city.” It was as apt a description as I’ve found. This collection of magical, strange, and hilarious short stories kept me company as I navigated the shifting landscape of Dad’s illness. At that time, I could not have found a better reflection of my own stew of emotions than the “reverse evolution” chronicled in the first story in the book. “The Rememberer” saved me. Bender’s graceful tale of the acceptance of inevitable loss is suffused with love, and the way her writing lets imagination spring the bonds of reality encouraged me to respond with flexibility and curiosity as Dad loosened his grip on time, space, and identity.  


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