The best books for inspiring resilience and change in the face of adversity

Why am I passionate about this?

Whether I read fiction, non-fiction, poetry, or prose, I especially love books by authors whose voices resonate with authenticity and originality, and who write imaginative page-turners about characters who change and grow personally, regardless of the difficulties they face in life. When their changes lead to creating conducive conditions for others to thrive, I feel gratified and inspired by them. As a practicing psychotherapist and writer I have devoted my career to supporting people in discovering and nurturing the creative sparks within themselves. My PhD in psychology and Post-Doctoral studies, presentations, and publications over the past 45 years have focused on the healing aspect of the creative process.  


I wrote...

Healing with Nature

By Susan S. Scott,

Book cover of Healing with Nature

What is my book about?

When a back injury prevented me from continuing my work as a psychotherapist, I had to change how I worked and how I lived my life. Because I could no longer sit for long periods of time as my back healed, I scheduled walking/talking sessions with my clients outside the office. This change gave us the opportunity to experience more diverse possibilities in the healing process. As we walked through the neighborhood near my office, we noticed how the natural world adapted and changed in order to thrive beyond wounds and blocks to its growth. Nature began to inspire fresh ways for us to see and to access our own creativity for healing, and the courage to grow beyond our own limitations, as well. 

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of Faith's Reckoning

Susan S. Scott Why did I love this book?

Barbara Small’s novel is about the interwoven lives of a Black family and a White family facing the challenges of surviving while raising their children in the Jim Crow South during the Great Depression.

The vivid language and sense details of Faith’s Reckoning transported me completely into the very different worlds the characters experienced in this riveting page-turner. What I loved most was how they transformed their suffering into a desire to improve the worlds they inhabited, not only for themselves but also others. The personal reckonings they made by changing their lives evoked a depth of empathy that has changed me.

These characters continue to stay in my heart, and like friends I cherish them still. In fact, I hope to see a sequel and a movie one day!

Book cover of The Sentence

Susan S. Scott Why did I love this book?

Louise Erdrich, herself, epitomizes what I love most about reading her stories.

She inspires resilience and change in facing adversity, and does so with humor, laser beam intelligence, and a depth of understanding humanity that is breathtaking, all the while bringing together disparate ideas with the ease of a magician.

As an avid reader of her writings about Native American life, I usually consider her most recent fiction to be my favorite, which is how I feel about The Sentence. Erdrich highlights the non-fictional horrors of 2019-2020 with the COVID pandemic, George Floyd murder, and violent protests.

Her fabulously imagined characters were connected through a haunted bookstore allowed to stay open as an essential business, thus providing a creative place for the inspiring personal transformations that occur with each other.

By Louise Erdrich,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

SHORTLISTED FOR THE WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION 2022
PULITZER PRIZE-WINNING AUTHOR OF THE NIGHT WATCHMAN

-----------------------------------------------------

In this stunning and timely novel, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning author Louise Erdrich creates a wickedly funny ghost story, a tale of passion, of a complex marriage and of a woman's relentless errors.

Louise Erdrich's latest novel, The Sentence, asks what we owe to the living, the dead, to the reader and to the book. A small independent bookstore in Minneapolis is haunted from November 2019 to November 2020 by the store's most annoying customer. Flora dies on All Souls' Day, but…


Book cover of The Secret Life of Bees

Susan S. Scott Why did I love this book?

The Secret Life of Bees is a tender coming-of-age story revealing how nature is a guiding light for the 14-year-old protagonist in despair over her ‘ruined’ childhood. 

She is trapped at home with a cruel father after her mother died ten years before in a domestic violence tragedy.

Nature guides her into another life, but first she and her Nanny, must escape the ‘dark hive’ of misogyny and racial prejudice of their old home before landing anew by a series of synchronicities into the care of three sisters who own the Black Madonna Honey bee business.

They find good mothering, living harmoniously in community, and affective communication similar to beehives. The protagonist becomes truthful and wise as she discovers friendship and a voice of her own. 

By Sue Monk Kidd,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Secret Life of Bees as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The multi-million bestselling novel about a young girl's journey towards healing and the transforming power of love, from the award-winning author of The Invention of Wings and The Book of Longings

Set in South Carolina in 1964, The Secret Life of Bees tells the story of Lily Owens, whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed. When Lily's fierce-hearted Black "stand-in mother," Rosaleen, insults three of the deepest racists in town, Lily decides to spring them both free. They escape to Tiburon, South Carolina-a town that holds the secret to her mother's…


Book cover of Solito: A Memoir

Susan S. Scott Why did I love this book?

Javier Zamora’s Memoir, Solito, reads like an action thriller!

He describes his months-long experience as a 9-year-old traveling alone with other immigrants from El Salvador to the United States. ‘Coyotes’ were paid huge sums to guide them across 3000 miles of harrowing border crossings into the United States, where Javier hoped to be reunited with his parents after 4 years of separation.

Written from the perspective of an observant, sensitive child, this memoir has a notable absence of judgment and politics, emphasizing instead how the immigrants could persevere through adversity and unrelenting dangers together by taking care of each other like family. 

Javier’s dream came true and he became a well-educated American citizen and author whose creative works focus on understanding empathetically the complexities of immigration. 

By Javier Zamora,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

New York Times Bestseller • Read With Jenna Book Club Pick as seen on Today • Winner of the Los Angeles Times Christopher Isherwood Prize for Autobiography • Winner of the American Library Association Alex Award

A young poet tells the inspiring story of his migration from El Salvador to the United States at the age of nine in this “gripping memoir” (NPR) of bravery, hope, and finding family.  

Finalist for the PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction • One of the New York Public Library’s Ten Best Books of the Year

Longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence…


Book cover of Deacon King Kong

Susan S. Scott Why did I love this book?

James McBride has an enormous gift for evoking the goodness in characters whose lives are perceived to be beyond redemption. 

They inhabit the down and out realms of addiction, impoverishment, life on the streets, in housing projects rife with crime. And yet, he also reveals the faith and spirituality that binds them with love and humor, and provides them with the endurance for facing the ugliness and miracles in everyday life.

What I love most about Deacon King Kong is the surprising affection I feel for the characters that James McBride describes in hilariously creative ways, revealing the depths of their souls as well as the sins they rectify or try to cover up.

Never pious or self-righteous, these characters offer the heart of change and give us love!

By James McBride,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Deacon King Kong as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER AND OPRAH'S BOOK CLUB PICK
CHOSEN BY BARACK OBAMA AS A FAVOURITE READ
TOP TEN BOOKS OF THE YEAR, NEW YORK TIMES & WASHINGTON POST

'Brilliantly imagined, larger than life, a tragicomedic epic of intertwined lives.' JOYCE CAROL OATES

'Deeply felt, beautifully written and profoundly humane.' JUNOT DIAZ, New York Times Book Review

The year is 1969. In a housing project in south Brooklyn, a shambling old church deacon called Sportcoat shoots - for no apparent reason - the local drug-dealer who used to be part of the church's baseball team. The repercussions of that moment…


You might also like...

Book cover of Leora's Letters: The Story of Love and Loss for an Iowa Family During World War II

Joy Neal Kidney Author Of What Leora Never Knew: A Granddaughter's Quest for Answers

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm the oldest granddaughter of Leora, who lost three sons during WWII. To learn what happened to them, I studied casualty and missing aircraft reports, missions reports, and read unit histories. I’ve corresponded with veterans who knew one of the brothers, who witnessed the bomber hit the water off New Guinea, and who accompanied one brother’s body home. I’m still in contact with the family members of two crew members on the bomber. The companion book, Leora’s Letters, is the family story of the five Wilson brothers who served, but only two came home.

Joy's book list on research of World War II casualties

What is my book about?

The day the second atomic bomb was dropped, Clabe and Leora Wilson’s postman brought a telegram to their acreage near Perry, Iowa. One son was already in the U.S. Navy before Pearl Harbor had been attacked. Four more sons worked with their father, tenant farmers near Minburn until, one by one; all five sons were serving their country in the military–two in the Navy and three as Army Air Force pilots.

Only two sons came home.

Leora’s Letters is the compelling true account of a woman whose most tender hopes were disrupted by great losses. Yet she lived out four…

By Joy Neal Kidney, Robin Grunder,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Leora's Letters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The day the second atomic bomb was dropped, Clabe and Leora Wilson’s postman brought a telegram to their acreage near Perry, Iowa. One son was already in the U.S. Navy before Pearl Harbor had been attacked. Four more sons worked with their father, tenant farmers near Minburn until, one by one, all five sons were serving their country in the military. The oldest son re-enlisted in the Navy. The younger three became U.S. Army Air Force pilots. As the family optimist, Leora wrote hundreds of letters, among all her regular chores, dispensing news and keeping up the morale of the…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in drug trafficking, immigrants, and South Carolina?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about drug trafficking, immigrants, and South Carolina.

Drug Trafficking Explore 13 books about drug trafficking
Immigrants Explore 172 books about immigrants
South Carolina Explore 47 books about South Carolina