The best novels exploring the transitions through life

Who am I?

I have always been interested in people—specifically exploring what makes us human from different angles and often different disciplines. Overtime, this has taken the shape of writing novels, studying biological anthropology, psychology, and medicine, and sometimes even just people watching. My novels have explored topics such as nonsuicidal self-injury, the pains of growing up, and growing up multicultural. I am currently pursuing a PhD in Psychology.


I wrote...

The Seventh Miss Hatfield

By Anna Caltabiano,

Book cover of The Seventh Miss Hatfield

What is my book about?

11-year-old Cynthia knows she shouldn't talk to strangers. So when her mysterious neighbor Miss Hatfield asked her in for a chat, Cynthia wasn't entirely sure why she said yes. It was a decision that was to change everything. Miss Hatfield is immortal. Thanks to a drop of water from the Fountain of Youth, Cynthia is as well. Cynthia is beginning to suddenly grow up and take on the aspects of her neighbor. She's becoming the next Miss Hatfield. Cynthia must travel back in time to turn-of-the-century New York and steal a painting, a picture that might provide a clue to the whereabouts of the source of immortality. The Seventh Miss Hatfield is a story of the sudden loss of one’s childhood and the painful creation of a new adult identity.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Anna Caltabiano Why did I love this book?

Most people would probably not think of The Unbearable Lightness of Being as being a coming-of-age novel. Coming-of-age novels often center around younger characters dealing with first crushes, forming an identity, finding a self, separate from family—The Unbearable Lightness of Being is none of that. Instead, I think of it as about a second “coming of age.” This “coming of age” deals with recreating an identity after you do not recognize what your life has become. I find it’s one of those books with something for everyone, though I find myself recommending it the most to college students or those feeling a little lost post-college. Love, the struggle with modernity, the meaning of life—you name it, chances are, Kundera has covered it. For this reason, this is probably my all-time most recommended book.

By Milan Kundera,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Unbearable Lightness of Being as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A cult figure.' Guardian
'A dark and brilliant achievement.' Ian McEwan
'Shamelessly clever ... Exhilaratingly subversive and funny.' Independent
'A modern classic ... As relevant now as when it was first published. ' John Banville

A young woman is in love with a successful surgeon; a man torn between his love for her and his womanising. His mistress, a free-spirited artist, lives her life as a series of betrayals; while her other lover stands to lose everything because of his noble qualities. In a world where lives are shaped by choices and events, and everything occurs but once, existence seems…


Book cover of The Schopenhauer Cure

Anna Caltabiano Why did I love this book?

Dr. Irvin Yalom is a writer and clinical practitioner who is beloved by many in the field of mental health and therapy. I, like many, admire the way in which he tackles the most difficult human dilemmas through intimate stories highlighting the universality of many of these topics. It was difficult for me to pick which of Dr. Yalom’s books to recommend, as I have thoroughly enjoyed each one I’ve read. However, The Schopenhauer Cure is particularly about confronting mortality—the realization of the ephemerality of life and the limitations and acceptance of what we can achieve. Through Dr. Yalom’s adroit depictions of Philip Slate and Julius Hertzfeld, we see the blurred edges of philosophy and psychology, where some of our most basic questions may best be addressed by the melding of the two.

By Irvin D. Yalom,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Schopenhauer Cure as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the internationally bestselling author of Love's Executioner and When Nietzsche Wept, comes a novel of group therapy with a cast of memorably wounded characters struggling to heal pain and change lives

Suddenly confronted with his own mortality after a routine checkup, eminent psychotherapist Julius Hertzfeld is forced to reexamine his life and work -- and seeks out Philip Slate, a sex addict whom he failed to help some twenty years earlier. Yet Philip claims to be cured -- miraculously transformed by the pessimistic teachings of German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer -- and is, himself, a philosophical counselor in training.

Philip's…


Book cover of Speak

Anna Caltabiano Why did I love this book?

High school tends to be a difficult time for a lot of people. There are growing pains, hormones, and heightened emotions, all while trying to establish who you are independently and in relation to other people. For some, this time is made even more difficult when the unimaginable happens. Speak explores healing in the aftermath of violence and rebuilding a part of oneself.

CW: Sexual assault

By Laurie Halse Anderson,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Speak as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

A fiercely authentic, critically acclaimed and award-winning modern classic.

'Speak up for yourself - we want to know what you have to say.'

From my first day at Merryweather High, I know this is a lie.

Nobody will even talk to me, let alone listen - all because I called the cops on an end-of-summer party.

But if I could only tell everyone why I called the police that night...

If I could explain what happened to me...

If I could speak...

Then everything might change.

'With the rise of women finding their voices and speaking out about sexual assault…


Book cover of Wide Sargasso Sea

Anna Caltabiano Why did I love this book?

Many people are familiar with Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre and her mad woman in the attic. Wide Sargasso Sea, written as a prequel to Jane Eyre, turns this on its head and lends another perspective to the Victorian mad woman trope. Throughout this novel, I couldn’t help but ask myself what constitutes madness. How much of what we think of mental illness is societally determined? As we grow up and conform to society's expectations, are those that refuse to completely conform considered “mad?”

By Jean Rhys,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked Wide Sargasso Sea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Wide Sargasso Sea, a masterpiece of modern fiction, was Jean Rhys's return to the literary center stage. She had a startling early career and was known for her extraordinary prose and haunting women characters. With Wide Sargasso Sea, her last and best-selling novel, she ingeniously brings into light one of fiction's most fascinating characters: the madwoman in the attic from Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. This mesmerizing work introduces us to Antoinette Cosway, a sensual and protected young woman who is sold into marriage to the prideful Mr. Rochester. Rhys portrays Cosway amidst a society so driven by hatred, so skewed…


Book cover of The Hours

Anna Caltabiano Why did I love this book?

The Hours tells a story of three women throughout time and their connection to Mrs. Dalloway as they deal with death, sickness, and growing old. In this snapshot of these three women’s lives, we see their meditations on their various life transitions, including their contemplations of death.

CW: suicide

By Michael Cunningham,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Hours as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the 1999 Pulitzer Prize and Pen Faulkner prize. Made into an Oscar-winning film, 'The Hours' is a daring and deeply affecting novel inspired by the life and work of Virginia Woolf.

In 1920s London, Virginia Woolf is fighting against her rebellious spirit as she attempts to make a start on her new novel.

A young wife and mother, broiling in a suburb of 1940s Los Angeles, yearns to escape and read her precious copy of 'Mrs Dalloway'.

And Clarissa Vaughan steps out of her smart Greenwich village apartment in 1990s New York to buy flowers for a party…


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The Vixen Amber Halloway

By Carol LaHines,

Book cover of The Vixen Amber Halloway

Carol LaHines Author Of Distant Flickers: Stories of Identity & Loss

New book alert!

Who am I?

The anthology form unites diverse voices around a common theme—in the case of Distant Flickers, identity and loss. The stories in the anthology explore intense personal relationships—of mother and child, old lovers, etc. Some of the stories are in the moment and some recounted with the perspective of time, some are fable-like, some formal, and others more colloquial. Reading them the reader is struck by the variety of approaches a writer might take to a subject. The device of the contributor’s notes enables the reader to see the story behind the story and how life informs art—life furnishing the raw material or day residue of the story.  

Carol's book list on themed anthologies

What is my book about?

Ophelia, a professor of Dante, is stricken when she discovers that her husband Andy has been cheating on her with a winsome colleague. What follows is Ophelia’s figurative descent into hell as she obsessively tracks her subjects, performs surveillance in her beat-up Volvo, and moves into the property next door to Amber’s, which has gone into foreclosure.

She spies on the lovers, growing more and more estranged from reality. Andy’s betrayal reawakens the earlier trauma of abandonment by her mother at the age of eight. When Andy and Amber become engaged, Ophelia snaps. The story is a jailhouse confessional, a dark comedy, an oeuvre of women’s rage, a suspenseful revenge fantasy, and a moving portrait of one woman’s psychological breakdown.

The Vixen Amber Halloway

By Carol LaHines,

What is this book about?

Ophelia, a professor of Dante, is stricken when she discovers that her husband Andy has been cheating on her with a winsome colleague. What follows is Ophelia's figurative descent into hell as she obsessively tracks her subjects, performs surveillance in her beat-up Volvo, and moves into the property next door to Amber's, which has gone into foreclosure. She spies on the lovers, growing more and more estranged from reality. Andy's betrayal reawakens the earlier trauma of abandonment by her mother at the age of eight. When Andy and Amber become engaged, Ophelia snaps. The story is a jailhouse confessional, a…


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