The best books on celebrating this one precious life with humility, honesty, and a generous amount of humor

Cheryl Oreglia Author Of Grow Damn It!: The Feeding and Nurturing of Life
By Cheryl Oreglia

Who am I?

So here’s the deal. I’m old enough to receive the senior discount every Tuesday at Lunardi’s Market, and I believe that qualifies me to write what I really think, no sugarcoating or banal reiterations. I host an extraordinary blog (according to my mother) with the coolest name, Living in the Gap. I have a book that came out this year, Grow Damn It, and when you calm down, you can order a dozen or so copies on Amazon! Other interesting facts. I’m tall, I blame the Neanderthals, but the important thing is I have an insatiable passion for writing. Come find me. I think we’re supposed to be best friends.

I wrote...

Grow Damn It!: The Feeding and Nurturing of Life

By Cheryl Oreglia,

Book cover of Grow Damn It!: The Feeding and Nurturing of Life

What is my book about?

An honest and uproarious read! Grow Damn It! is a captivating work by Cheryl Oreglia, who uses uncommon honesty and arresting humor to draw you into her cantankerous life, forty-year marriage, and revolving empty nest. She claims the space between past and future is where our potential is created or destroyed.

If you don’t like where your life is going, dig deeper, and write a new story. Oreglia’s provocative writing dares us to confront our lives with optimism, courage, and, if all else fails, unruly laughter. She uses her experience to explore what matters most in life... the degree to which we love and are loved.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Why did I love this book?

Bird by Bird is Anne Lamott's guide on how to achieve your dream of becoming a writer.

She offers sound advice and her personal perspective on how to improve your writing and, at the same time, enhance your life. Lamott effortlessly guides aspiring writers through conceptualizing what they want to say, writing a “shitty first draft,” and polishing off their work for publication. I read it every single year.  

By Anne Lamott,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked Bird by Bird as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • An essential volume for generations of writers young and old. The twenty-fifth anniversary edition of this modern classic will continue to spark creative minds for years to come. Anne Lamott is "a warm, generous, and hilarious guide through the writer’s world and its treacherous swamps" (Los Angeles Times). 

“Superb writing advice…. Hilarious, helpful, and provocative.” —The New York Times Book Review

For a quarter century, more than a million readers—scribes and scribblers of all ages and abilities—have been inspired by Anne Lamott’s hilarious, big-hearted, homespun advice. Advice that begins with the simple words of wisdom…

Book cover of Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake: A Memoir of a Woman's Life

Why did I love this book?

Unforgettable memoir by Anna Quindlen that celebrates and explores the process of aging.

Quindlen writes about how we change as we age. We’re kinder, more thoughtful, sometimes wiser, and willing to live at a pace that allows us to smell the roses. This book honestly tackles a range of subjects, from marriage, girlfriends, parenting, faith, grief, and so much more.

Quindlen shares her personal stories to illuminate her ideas helping us to discover a life that can be both satisfying and joyful. After reading this book, I decided to write my memoir.

By Anna Quindlen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


“[Quindlen] serves up generous portions of her wise, commonsensical, irresistibly quotable take on life. . . . What Nora Ephron does for body image and Anne Lamott for spiritual neuroses, Quindlen achieves on the home front.”—NPR
In this irresistible memoir, Anna Quindlen writes about a woman’s life, from childhood memories to manic motherhood to middle age, using the events of her life to illuminate ours. Considering—and celebrating—everything from marriage, girlfriends, our mothers, parenting, faith, loss, to all the stuff in our closets, and more, Quindlen says for us here what…


By Nora Ephron,

Book cover of Heartburn

Why did I love this book?

Nora Ephron and I share the same birthday, although years apart. Heartburn is a novel by Ephron that explores the breakdown of her marriage through fictitious characters.

The novel is based on a six-week span of time in the life of Rachel Smstat, who is married to Mark Feldman. Heartburn is a fictitious narrative of events that mimic Ephron’s real life when she discovers her husband, Carl Bernstein, has fallen in love with her best friend, Margaret Jay, while she is expecting their second child.

Ephron uses the complexity of humor to camouflage or maybe expand life’s most painful moments with humility and grace. 

By Nora Ephron,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Heartburn as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

If I had to do it over again, I would have made a different kind of pie. The pie I threw at Mark made a terrific mess, but a blueberry pie would have been even better, since it would have permanently ruined his new blazer, the one he bought with Thelma ... I picked up the pie, thanked God for linoleum floor, and threw it'
Rachel Samstat is smart, successful, married to a high-flying Washington journalist... and devastated. She has discovered that her husband is having an affair with Thelma Rice, 'a fairly tall person with a neck as long…

Book cover of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Why did I love this book?

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is a 1969 autobiography by Maya Angelou that describes her coming of age as a black girl in the American South and then on to California.

At age sixteen, when she becomes a mother, to discovering her own voice as a writer and poet. Angelou is forced to face racism, extreme trauma, abuse, and poverty, but she also discovers the ability to love and finds the strength to liberate herself from these oppositional forces.

The title is from a poem by Paul Laurence Dunbar that expresses her longing for freedom. It is a powerful novel, and one everyone should take the time to read.

By Maya Angelou,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Maya Angelou's seven volumes of autobiography are a testament to the talents and resilience of this extraordinary writer. Loving the world, she also knows its cruelty. As a Black woman she has known discrimination and extreme poverty, but also hope, joy,achievement and celebration. In this first volume of her six books of autobiography, Maya Angelou beautifully evokes her childhood with her grandmother in the American south of the 1930s. She learns the power of the white folks at the other end of town and suffers the terrible trauma of rape by her mother's lover.

Book cover of Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Why did I love this book?

Wild is a memoir by Cheryl Strayed that follows her as she hikes 1100 miles across the Pacific Crest Trail in the summer and fall of 1995.

I gave birth to my fourth child that year, and this book depicts the birth of Cheryl Strayed as she labors along a dusty path in order to travel beyond complicated relationships, drugs, divorce, and the death of her beloved mother, who is diagnosed with late-stage lung cancer at only forty-five years old.

She draws the reader into her story through a series of flashbacks to her prior life that led Strayed to begin her journey. You will be forever changed by her story.

By Cheryl Strayed,

Why should I read it?

22 authors picked Wild as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A powerful, blazingly honest memoir: the story of an eleven-hundred-mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe—and built her back up again.

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the…

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