Here is My Second Annual Favorite Book and Podcast Review!




Meghan Carr, Contributing Writer

Made For This Moment by Madison Prewett

Genre: Biography/Christian Literature 

Summary: A finalist on Season 24 of The Bachelor, Madison Prewett tells how she stood firm in her beliefs while opposed by much criticism and temptation. Her story transcends a reality TV show, encapsulating how to “stand firm with strength, grace, and courage”. Madi shares her experience from her involvement with many homeless and catholic outreach programs in her hometown, Auburn, AL, and she continues to talk on podcasts and speeches about her convictions. She guides readers through the plagues of comparison, jealousy, resentment, and being stuck in the past. Instead, she says you must use your tough times to help others with theirs. 

Favorite quote: “Who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this? Or as we might say today, ‘Maybe you were made for this moment.’” 

Untamed by Glennon Doyle 

In her memoir and empowering feminist novel, Glennon Doyle preaches to all women who have been confined by society’s standards of perfection. Glennon shares anecdotes from her life in short chapters under simplistic, metaphorical titles. She recalls doubting herself and her body as a young girl, feeling helpless in her fight for sobriety in her early 20s, and feeling caged in her marriage to her husband. Glennon finally broke away from all that was constraining her and became “untamed”, in which she married a woman and showed her kids that staying true to your heart always pays off. She now runs an organization called Together Rising that helps migrant and struggling families. Glennon shares her own story urging other women to do the same, to break free from the cage of perfectionism, in whatever context that applies to the notion, “We can do hard things”. I found this book super motivating and reflective. I wanted to highlight every line as they all contain powerful meanings. All-female and male readers can see parts of Glennon’s struggle in themselves because all people feel pressured to conform to ideals of femininity or masculinity ingrained in our culture. 

Favorite quote: “When a woman finally learns that pleasing the world is impossible, she becomes free to learn how to please herself.”

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

A Thousand Splendid Suns is a historical fiction writing about life in Afghanistan under Soviet control in the 1980s through the Taliban rule in the early 2000s. The story is written in parallel plots following two women almost a generation apart whose lives connect because of the war and both endure, fight to survive, and try to find happiness living together under the ultimate control of a violent man. The two women are from very different backgrounds and geographies, one an illegitimate child who is sold off to marry at a young age and the other an educated daughter of a professor, yet both stories show the oppression and limited options available to women during this harsh time. Most women were illiterate and without any rights, while some were abused by husbands and otherwise shut in their houses and banned from employment. I started this book in the early summer of 2021 because it had been on a list I keep of book recommendations. Thus the story behind it, while historic fiction was just that at the time. However as I continued to read the story, the unfolding of the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan in late summer and the Taliban taking over control in Afghanistan, this story became all too real and significant. This country is facing the same issues today as it did when the story took place. The Taliban or the fundamentalist Islamic Governments are again imposing strict rules restricting women and violating basic human rights. Again, the Taliban closed schools for girls in August. Interestingly, Hussein illustrates how Laila, the educated main character in the story, fights back against her abuses from him because she has been taught differently. These Afghanistan girls today have been empowered by education, and together with the support of the international community, I hope their enduring fight for education eventually wins. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a better understanding of Afghanistan life and culture, war, or who enjoys stories about enduring, the power of hope and love, and friendship.

The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates

Moment of Lift is written by Melinda Gates and chronicles the experiences and lessons she has learned as a philanthropist about the inequities of women and how we can make changes to lift women up and in turn, benefitting society as a whole. Melinda shares her journey into philanthropy and the Gates foundation work and sees the inequities and challenges across the globe and the steps it takes to educate and create change. The book focuses mostly on women’s inequities and empowerment. Readers journey along with Melinda to rural villages all over the world but mostly in third world countries where she saw firsthand women’s daily struggles and oppression. Readers feel as though they are in the rural homes of women seeing inequities that most westerners would view as ancient rules with cultures and beliefs leaving women with hopeless futures. For examples child marriage, sexual mutilation, no access to birth control, abuse by husbands, and more. Recognizing that I live in a first-world country and that most are not as fortunate as me, I was still shocked and saddened learning of what exists today for some girls my age on my globe. Melinda shares how these oppressive cultures lead to poverty because half of society lacks opportunities to rise. Yet when we work to help women, we lift all of society. Readers see how making change requires connecting people with different skill sets and talents together to work in cooperation in tackling these issues. Melinda shares these along with the backdrop of sharing her struggles and conflicts. As many readers, I now understand the endless cycle of women’s suffrage stemming from something as simple as no or inadequate access to family planning. 

Wolfpack by Abby Wambuch

Wolfpack written by women’s soccer champion Abby Wambach is a short read about women recognizing and unleashing their powers to lead. Abby urges women to dribble past the personal and societal hurdles facing women while building other women up finding women’s faces and how they can come together The main goalposts Abby writes include creating your path, believing in yourself, and demanding the ball, failure means you’re finally IN the game, Lead now from wherever you are in, be for each other, lead with humanity, cultivate leaders and that you’re not alone, you’ve got your pack. Favorite quote: “There is a wolf inside of every woman. Her wolf is whom she was made to be before the world told her who to be. Her wolf is her talent, her power, her dreams, her voice, her curiosity, her courage, her dignity, her choices—her truest identity.” Readers get to know the courageous and powerful Abby who experienced moments of doubt and roadblocks in her journey. Her positive and powerful outlook makes readers feel as if they are ready to take the field with the Olympian and she’s giving us all a pep talk. I believe this is a book all women would enjoy regardless of their age. I gave it to both my mom and my younger sister to read and even told my Dad he would like it too. It’s a light read but still packs a motivating punch.

Favorite Podcasts: 

10000 No’s by Matthew DelNegro 

This is a favorite podcast of mine. Actor Matthew DelNegro created this podcast, with the premise that actors typically receive 10,000 no’s in their acting careers and what it takes for anyone who has received a no in their life to continue to endure through all the No’s to finally find your yes. It’s filled with stories of resilience and interviews with people from all walks of life, from entrepreneurs to Athletes, Navy Seals, musicians, and more. My favorite episode is about Jason Redman, a retired naval officer, and US Navy SEAL. He also wrote the book The Trident: The Forging and Reforging of a Navy SEAL Leader and Overcome: Crush Adversity With the Leadership Techniques of America’s Toughest Warriors. His inspiring life story is full of adversity, failures, near death, successes, incredible courage, hard work, and resilience. All listeners could benefit from his story and his experience of needing to “Get off the X” when amidst a “Life Ambush” (regardless of what kind of big or small disaster one is experiencing).

How I Built This by Guy Raz

Guy Raz interviews founders and leaders of prominent companies of today and dives into their upbringing and rise to where they are today. Through Guy’s curious spot-on questions, listeners learn about the various struggles, missteps, failures, revamping, and overall resilience, perseverance, and even the luck that it takes to get to the top. My favorite episodes included interviews with the founders of Stitch Fix, Soul Cycle, Khan Academy, and Sweet Green.

Conversations With Olivia Jade 

Influencer and media personality Olivia Jade hosts friends, professionals, and Dancing With the Stars co-stars for fun, yet real conversations spanning topics of girlhood and feminism, to mental health and current events. I love Liv’s youthful take on the world and hearing her resilient personality shine through. After being in the headlines for over 2 years because of her parents (Lori Laughlin and Massimo Giuliani) after a college admissions scandal with her and her sister. Olivia now works to help underprivileged students and reflects on how the privilege she grew up with turned into appreciation and a desire to help others. She reviews the lessons she has learned in the past two years about proving yourself in the world with integrity.