What I've Read So Far: Q2 2018
Katie Breen
November 2, 2017

We're back! At the end of the first quarter of 2018, I detailed in the post, "What I've Read So Far: Q1 2018," the back-story on why I'm posting what I've read this year, and the list of books I read in the first three months of 2018. 

Here's the list of what I've read in the second quarter of 2018 (March through June)!

If you read just one of these books, I'd pick "Evicted" by Matthew Desmond for a better understand of how poverty in America works, particularly in the area of housing. Truly eye-opening.


Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, Matthew Desmond (top pick of the quarter, top pick in non-fiction)

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, J.D. Vance (runner-up of the quarter, runner up in non-fiction)

Make Trouble: Standing Up, Speaking Out, and Finding the Courage to Lead-My Life Story, Cecile Richards (by the outgoing, long-time president of Planned Parenthood and daughter of Texas Democratic governor Ann Richards)

About Abortion: Terminating Pregnancy in Twenty-First-Century America, Carol Sanger (reads like an academic text, but is amazing)

Historical Fiction:

Caleb's Crossing, Geraldine Brooks (1660s Martha's Vineyard)

Manhattan Beach, Jennifer Egan 1930s-40s New York City) (top pick in historical fiction of the quarter)


The Great Alone, Kristin Hannah (set in 1970s Alaska but I don't think that counts as historical fiction)

Academic texts:

Epidemiology: An Introduction, The Open University

Introducing Public Health, The Open University

(both super-short, free or nearly free little primers that I personally think would be interesting to anyone who wants to learn more about what public health, epidemiology, infectious disease control, etc., is all about)

From the Archives: A Tale of Two Veterans
Katie Breen
November 2, 2017

In honor of Mother's Day, we are re-releasing this amazing mother-daughter podcast interview! Get your tissues ready!

Mother and Daughter: A Tale of Two Veterans

In this episode, Katie had the privilege of interviewing Debbie Johnson and her daughter, Lauren Halloran. Debbie is a retired U.S. Army colonel who served as a nurse in the Gulf War, when Lauren was just a little girl. Lauren is a former Air Force lieutenant who served in Afghanistan. Both mother and daughter talk about the difficulties not only of deploying to a war zone, but of reintegrating into civilian life upon their return. They touch on the stigma surrounding mental illness in the military, the experience of being women in male-dominated environments (both the military and the Middle Eastern countries they deployed to), how little we talk about the struggle of coming home from war, and how sharing their experiences with one another brought them closer together and helped them both heal from the traumas of war. The beautiful, heartfelt, and often tearful interview, which lasted about 90 minutes, is a powerful testament to the bond between mothers and daughters, and to the healing power of sharing our stories, no matter how difficult.

Listen via the SoundCloud player above or head to iTunesOvercast, or wherever else fine podcasts are found.

And scroll on for great pictures of Lauren and Debbie's military experiences (including a super cute pic you don't wanna miss of Debbie returning home to her three small kiddos).

Debbie with her kids, fresh off the plane post-deployment.
Lauren saluting Debbie while Debbie reads the oath at her swearing in ceremony
Lauren in Afghanistan

Lauren taking photos at a groundbreaking ceremony
Traditional Afghan dress gifted by interpreters
Lauren in Africa
Lauren with her parents at her ROTC awards
#28: Getting and Staying Present - in Pregnancy and in Life
Katie Breen
November 2, 2017

Katie interviews Shari and Dakota Hindman, the mother-daughter (respectively) duo behind The Mother's Center. Shari and Dakota discuss the work they do at The Mother's Center to help people honor and stay present for all of the important moments in life (pregnancy included). Specifically, Shari dives deep into the ancient practice of "circle," and how this type of collective communication is used at The Mother's Center as a tool to help people cope with and appreciate whatever life throws their way. They also discuss why it is so important that The Mother's Center's inclusive pregnancy programs honor every event that can happen on the childbearing continuum, regardless of one's gender identity, sexual orientation, or pregnancy outcome. Dakota also speaks about her work as a doula through her business, Matrescence Doula Services.

Listen at the embed above or on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Soundcloud, or wherever else you get your pods! Don't forget to rate and review the podcast on Apple Podcasts so that more people can find the podcast!

What I've Read So Far: Q1 2018
Katie Breen
November 2, 2017

During my interview with Washington Post writer Julia Carpenter last April about the untold stories of female change-makers throughout history, we ended up geeking out about books...a lot. 

So much so that fans of the podcast asked if I would make a recommended reading list, like the ones Bill Gates puts out at the end of every year. Well, I said that I would...but that was almost a year ago and I had sort of forgotten about it. 

So to make it up to all you reading queens (and kings) out there, here's the list of what I've read in the first three months of 2018 (Q1). You'll notice a lot of strong female leads, oppressed groups rising above their obstacles, and historical fiction. Shocking, I know.

A couple of disclaimers:

- If the book made it in front of me in the first place, it came either recommended by friends or highly acclaimed by critics. So they're all good. I haven't rated anything less than 4 out of 5 stars.

- I would write you a brief synopsis of each, but Amazon does a better job.

- These are in no particular order, although the last one on the list, Atul Gawande's "Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters," was by far the most impactful of those I've read in even the last few years. It happens to be the only non-fiction book I've read so far this year. In fact, it's the only non-historical fiction book I've read this year. At least I'm consistent.

- No, I'm not reading about current events right now. That would be stressful. Books are supposed to be an escape. ;)

Without further ado...

1. People of the Book, Geraldine Rogers (incredible amount of Jewish + religious history, spanning centuries and continents)

2. Pachinko, Min Jin Lee (learned a ton about the Japanese occupation of Korea, and how terribly the Japanese treated and discriminated against Koreans)

3. The Color Purple, Alice Walker (early 20th century American South)

4. The Invention of Wings, Sue Monk Kidd (1830s Charleston, South Carolina)

5. The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead (you can guess)

6. Forever, Pete Hamill (NYC, spanning from 1600s to today; a must-read if you live in or love NYC)

7. The Boston Girl, Anita Diamant (early 20th century Boston)

8. Before We Were Yours, Lisa Wingate (state-sponsored kidnapping of poor white kids in the early 20th century American South for adoption by wealthy white families)

9. Rules of Civility, Amor Towles (1920s New York City)

10. Shanghai Girls, Lisa See (early 20th century China and U.S.)

11. Dreams of Joy, Lisa See (early Communist China!)

12. Last Train to Instabul, Ayse Kulin (I thought I knew a TON about WWII, particularly as it concerns the Holocaust, but this book taught me about the incredible role that Turkey played in getting its Jewish citizens out of Nazi-occupied Europe.)

13. Lilac Girls, Martha Hall Kelly (WWII)

14. Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, Atul Gawande (non-fiction; must-read)

Happy reading! Don't forget to protect your eye-balls! 

#27: How Indigenous Women Farmers Can Fight Climate Change
Katie Breen
November 2, 2017

This episode explores how women farmers are both the most vulnerable to climate change and also the most prepared to stop it. Katie interviews Rachael Cox, CEO of EarthEmpower, a social and environmental enterprise focused on empowering women farmers in rural Guatemala and southern Mexico to use their traditional farming practices to adapt to climate change.

Rachael describes her organization's unconventional development approach that empowers indigenous women to use their communities' centuries-old farming and conservation practices to safeguard against the threats of climate change while fostering economic development.

Listen via the SoundCloud player above or on on iTunes, Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud, Overcast, or whatever other podcast app you use!

Liked the episode? Read on for Rachael's recommended reading! Links below:

- Quick facts on the gender gap in agriculture, from the FAO

- Gender Inequality in Agriculture Finance 

- Gender gaps in agricultural extension -

- Amazing article on the importance of considering gender in climate change 

Looking for more? Check out our Archive...