moai mamas literary list 2023

Moai Mamas Literary Group is a supportive community of women–with or without children–who believe that awareness & connection are vital in caring for ourselves, family, friends, society, animals, plants and mother earth. We come together through our shared love of learning, discussion, and taking positive action towards a more equitable and compassionate society.

This year we focus on health (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, societal) with a heavy dose of women writers. Join us when it aligns with your schedule and your interests.

Join us Thursdays from:
7:20 pm – 8:00 pm MST

january: health
eat for life (science)
“In this exciting new book, Dr. Fuhrman takes a fresh new look at the science of longevity, the effect of food on your hormones, plus strategies for preventing cancer, eliminating type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and achieving sustained weight loss. The book includes targeted meal plans to help prevent and reverse type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, migraines, autoimmune disease, and to help prevent and aid recovery from cancer.”

related media:
what the health (entire movie linked)
forks over knives (trailer)
the game changers (trailer)

january schedule:
jan 5: social
jan 6-11: read Intro- chapter 2
jan 12: discuss Intro-chapter 2
jan 13-18: read chapters 3-5
jan 19: discuss chapters 3-5
jan 20-25: read chapters 6-8 and closing
jan 26: read chapters 6-8 and closing

february: self acceptance + love
taking the leap: freeing ourselves from old habits and fears (personal transformation)

In this book Pema Chödrön shows us how to break free of destructive patterns in our lives and experience a new sense of freedom and happiness. Drawing on the Buddhist concept of shenpa, she helps us to see how certain habits of mind tend to “hook” us and get us stuck in states of anger, blame, self-hatred, and addiction. The good news is that once we start to see these patterns, we can begin to change our lives for the better.

The key is learning a new way of facing the inevitable difficulties and insecurities of our daily lives: we must learn how to stay present and open our hearts. “This path entails uncovering three basic human qualities,” explains Pema. “These qualities have always been with us but perhaps have gotten buried and almost forgotten. They are natural intelligence, natural warmth, and natural openness. Everyone, everywhere, all over the globe, has these qualities and can call on them to help themselves and others.”

This book gives us the insights and practices we can immediately put to use in our lives to awaken these essential qualities. In her friendly and encouraging style, Pema Chödrön helps us to take a bold leap toward a new way of living—one that will bring about positive transformation for ourselves and for our troubled world.

february schedule:
february 2: social
february 3-8: read
february 9: discuss
february 10-15: read
february 16: discuss
february 17-22:
february 23: discuss

march: self-acceptance + renewal
untamed (memoir + counseling)
“Untamed is about memorist Glennon Doyle’s journey to freeing herself and allowing herself to be a truer form her herself. It starts with her being “caged” in by the world’s demanding telling people (but especially women) how to be and act and goes on in a series of short essays to explain her journey to becoming “free.”” source

april: self-acceptance + renewal
get untamed: the journal: how to quit pleasing and start living (workbook)

Full of thought-provoking exercises, beloved quotations from Untamed, compelling illustrations, playful and meditative coloring pages, and an original introduction, in Get Untamed: The Journal, Glennon guides us through the process of examining the aspects of our lives that can make us feel caged. This revolutionary method for uprooting culturally-constructed ideas shows us how to discover for ourselves what we want to keep and what we’ll let burn so that we can build lives by design instead of default. 
A one-of-a-kind journal experience, Get Untamed proves Glennon’s philosophy that “imagination is not where we go to escape reality, but where we go to remember it.”

may: equality
a doll’s house (play)
A Doll’s House is a 3-act problem play written when a revolution was going on in Europe. The play is a landmark in the development of a new genre-realism, which depicts life appropriately, thus going against, idealism and utopian thoughts of the preceding ages. The play deals with the fate of a married woman, who lacked opportunities for self-fulfilment in a male dominated-world at that time. Henrik Ibsen describes the story of a married woman who considered her life to be quite satisfied with her husband in their “doll house” of which she is the doll. However, with the development of the play, she is insulted by her husband for a forgery that she did for his sake, even after knowing the truth. When the matter is solved, her husband tried to calm her down, but she becomes aware of her status in the “doll’s house” and at once leaves it. Thus she is the modern woman who fights against gender discrimination.” source
* themes presented in A Doll’s House play

hedda gabler: (play)
“Hedda, the daughter of a general, has just returned to her villa in Kristiania (now Oslo) from her honeymoon. Her husband is George Tesman, a young, aspiring, and reliable academic who continued his research during their honeymoon. It becomes clear in the course of the play that she never loved him, but married him because she thinks her years of youthful abandon are over.” source

june: equality + bias awareness
invisible women (investigative research)
“Imagine a world where your phone is too big for your hand, where your doctor prescribes a drug that is wrong for your body, where in a car accident you are 47% more likely to be seriously injured, where every week the countless hours of work you do are not recognised or valued.  If any of this sounds familiar, chances are that you’re a woman. Invisible Women shows us how, in a world largely built for and by men, we are systematically ignoring half the population.  It exposes the gender data gap – a gap in our knowledge that is at the root of perpetual, systemic discrimination against women, and that has created a pervasive but invisible bias with a profound effect on women’s lives.”

july: mental health
yellow wallpaper (short story)
“”The Yellow Wallpaper” details the deterioration of a woman’s mental health while she is on a “rest cure” on a rented summer country estate with her family. Her obsession with the yellow wallpaper in her bedroom marks her descent into psychosis from her depression throughout the story.” source

a molecule away from madness (science + history)
“Our brains are the most complex machines known to humankind, but they have an Achilles heel: the very molecules that allow us to exist can also sabotage our minds. Here are gripping accounts of unruly molecules and the diseases that form in their wake. A college student cannot remember if she has eaten breakfast. By dinner, she is strapped to a hospital bed, convinced she is battling zombies. A man planning to propose marriage instead becomes violently enraged, gripped by body spasms so severe that he nearly bites off his own tongue. One after another, poor farmers in South Carolina drop dead from a mysterious epidemic of dementia. With an intoxicating blend of history and intrigue, Sara Manning Peskin invites readers to play medical detective, tracing each diagnosis from the patient to an ailing nervous system. Along the way, Peskin entertains with tales of the sometimes outlandish, often criticized, and forever devoted scientists who discovered it all. Peskin never loses sight of the human impact of these conditions. Alzheimer’s Disease is more than the gradual loss of a loved one; it can be a family’s multi-generational curse. The proteins that abound in every cell of our bodies are not simply strings of oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, and carbon; they are the building blocks of our personalities and relationships. A Molecule Away from Madness is an unputdownable journey into the deepest mysteries of our brains.”

august: life journey + self acceptance
a drop in the ocean (novel)

On her 49th birthday, Anna Fergusson, Boston neuroscientist and dedicated introvert, arrives at an unwanted crossroads when the funding for her research lab is cut. With her confidence shattered and her future uncertain, on impulse she rents a cabin for a year on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. However Turtle Island, alive with sea birds and nesting Green turtles, is not the retreat she expected. Here she finds love―for the eccentric islanders who become her family; for Tom, the laid-back turtle whisperer; and for the turtles whose ancient mothering instincts move her to tears. But Anna finds that even on her idyllic drop in the ocean there is pain, and as the months fly past her dream for a new life is threatened by a darkness that challenges everything she has come to believe about the power of love. Evocative and thought-provoking, A Drop in the Ocean is a story about second chances and hard lessons learned in the gentlest of ways.

september: culture & society
bad feminist (memoir)

In these funny and insightful essays, Roxane Gay takes us through the journey of her evolution as a woman of color while also taking readers on a ride through culture of the last few years and commenting on the state of feminism today. The portrait that emerges is not only one of an incredibly insightful woman continually growing to understand herself and our society, but also one of our culture.

Bad Feminist is a sharp, funny, and spot-on look at the ways in which the culture we consume becomes who we are, and an inspiring call-to-arms of all the ways we still need to do better.

october: bias awareness
guns, germs, and steel (history)
“In this “artful, informative, and delightful” (William H. McNeill, New York Review of Books) book, Jared Diamond convincingly argues that geographical and environmental factors shaped the modern world. Societies that had a head start in food production advanced beyond the hunter-gatherer stage, and then developed writing, technology, government, and organized religion—as well as nasty germs and potent weapons of war—and adventured on sea and land to conquer and decimate preliterate cultures. A major advance in our understanding of human societies, Guns, Germs, and Steel chronicles the way that the modern world came to be and stunningly dismantles racially based theories of human history.”

november: social + environmental awareness
simply sustainable: moving toward plastic-free, low-waste living (guide)

“Lily Cameron shows readers how to gradually transition away from plastic and curate a minimal, beautiful home in the process. Her approach teaches you how to “make plastic-free living work for you, savor your progress and celebrate that with each small change, you are making a positive impact on the environment, your health and your family’s well being.”

december: rest + peace
wintering: the power of rest and retreat in difficult times (memoir)
“Sometimes you slip through the cracks: unforeseen circumstances like an abrupt illness, the death of a loved one, a break up, or a job loss can derail a life. These periods of dislocation can be lonely and unexpected. For May, her husband fell ill, her son stopped attending school, and her own medical issues led her to leave a demanding job. Wintering explores how she not only endured this painful time, but embraced the singular opportunities it offered.

A moving personal narrative shot through with lessons from literature, mythology, and the natural world, May’s story offers instruction on the transformative power of rest and retreat. Illumination emerges from many sources: solstice celebrations and dormice hibernation, C.S. Lewis and Sylvia Plath, swimming in icy waters and sailing arctic seas.

Ultimately Wintering invites us to change how we relate to our own fallow times. May models an active acceptance of sadness and finds nourishment in deep retreat, joy in the hushed beauty of winter, and encouragement in understanding life as cyclical, not linear. A secular mystic, May forms a guiding philosophy for transforming the hardships that arise before the ushering in of a new season.”

*Moai Mamas Book List 2022