Good Reads (Mostly Gluten-Free)

I have always been passionate about reading. Between my book club and blogging world, I have been introduced to some great books since the beginning of this year. I will share a list of some of my favorites with you. Please keep in mind that I am not a professional book reviewer and that the last time I took an English/writing class was during my freshman year of college!

1. The Gluten-Free Edge by Peter Bronski and Melissa McLean Jory.


If you are an athlete with either Celiac or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, this is the book for you. It is full of practical advice and I made the mistake of reading it after training for my first marathon last spring, instead of before. Peter and Melissa are bloggers and truly understand what it is like to live with gluten-intolerance/Celiac Disease.  There are great, easy recipes at the end of the book too.

2. Wild by Cheryl Strayed


This autobiography tells the story of a woman who hiked the Pacific Coastal Trail by herself in the 1990s. Her story makes having Celiac Disease seem not so bad! It’s a quick read but inspirational.

3. Mind over Medicine by Lissa Rankin, M.D.


This is a non-fiction piece by a former OB-GYN who has immersed herself in the spiritual side of medicine. She does a wonderful job of describing the placebo and nocebo effects, and the power of our minds in our bodies’ abilities to deal with and, in some cases, heal from chronic illnesses.

4. Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walters


I bought this at an airport kiosk during an unanticipated flight delay.  The novel is based in a small Italian town near the Cinque Terre on the Mediterranean, spans several generations, and is extremely well-written.  It reminded me a bit of some of Jonathan Franzen’s novels that I have read in past years.

5. Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn


This beautifully-written book blew me away and opened my eyes to the modern-day oppression of women throughout the world. The authors tell the stories of women who have devoted their lives to helping other women escape sexual slavery and other oppressive environments, including Somaly Mam of Cambodia who has devoted her life to rescuing young girls from brothels.  There is also a 2 part documentary about the book that is aired on PBS from time to time. Please read this book and share it with others to get the word out!

6. The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho


This simple fable tells the story of one boy’s quest to find his “personal legend” and in doing so, reminds us of the importance of living in the moment. I am thankful to have been introduced to this author and look forward to reading more of his novels.

7. Her Best Kept Secret by Gabrielle Glaser


Ms. Glaser gives a historical overview of alcoholism and women in the U.S. and explains why AA (and rehab programs based on the 12 steps) may not be the best fit for some women alcoholics. It was eye-opening and helped me to relate to some close friends who are struggling with similar issues.

8. Pet Goats and Pap Smears by Pamela Wible, M.D.


This book consists of a series of short stories by Dr. Wible, a family practice physician in Oregon who has created the first “patient designed” medical practice in the U.S. Dr. Wible reminded me that it is okay to cry with, hug, and show emotion to my patients and their families. It reminded me why I entered medicine in the first place (to be able to care for others and help people heal).

9. The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer


Greta, the main character in this book, is able to travel between 3 time periods and live parallel lives. If you liked “The Time Traveler’s Wife” you will like this book too. I think I finished it in only 2 or 3 nights, which is pretty good for me these days.

10. The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes


This short novel shares the reflections of a man who lost his best friend to suicide during early adulthood.  If I try to describe it, I am not going to do it justice, so I suggest instead, that you read it and reflect, and then read it again.

Have you read any good books lately? If so, feel free to suggest away….some of the best suggestions I have gotten for books to read have been from total strangers!


8 thoughts on “Good Reads (Mostly Gluten-Free)

  1. Molly (Sprue Story)

    Hi Jess, Gluten-Free Edge is published by the company I work for, so I’m obviously biased, but I agree that it’s a great read. Pete & Melissa are such pros (Pete is also half of the team behind Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking, which I know a lot of people enjoy cooking from).

    On the subject of Wild, I have no biases to disclose…but I loved it, too! I haven’t read the other books you mentioned, but I’ll add them to my to-read list.

    By the way, I recently read Every Patient Tells a Story: Medical Mysteries and the Art of Diagnosis and thought you might enjoy it, too. It’s made me think about my discussions with doctors in a totally different way.

  2. Jess Post author

    Hi Molly,
    I keep a “to read” list too as well as a “to learn about” list. I will add your book for sure. My patients are too little to talk but in many ways I treat their parents as my patients and I’ve found that the more that I listen, the more that they share. Hopefully the book you suggest will help me to improve with this. No matter what field we are in, it seems it really always does come back to communication….

    1. Vik

      Hi, I have the Gluten-Free Edge sitting here, on loan from the library! I’ve also read Mind Over Medicine. I’ve pondered about how the mind might affect celiac disease. I’ve always loved reading, was one of those kids who read under the covers with a flashlight when I was supposed to be sleeping. I’ve read a lot of “to learn” material this year–and realize that most of it is from blogs rather than books, though…. lots and LOTS of celiac blog-reading. My library-borrowed “to learn” books tend to pile up as I read blogs. As a result, I’ve also read less for pleasure this year than I ever have, since I was in college and had to read all the time. I do love reading-for-fun books too, and as a counterpoint to all the serious reading, kick back and enjoy novels by and about women and their relationships with friends and family, especially those with funny smart-mouthed protagonists.

      1. Jess Post author

        Hi Vik,
        I hope that you get the opportunity to start to read again soon! I think you would enjoy The Impossible Lives of Henrietta Wells. Also, have your heard of/read “Behind the Scenes at the Museum?”
        Also, I just finished the new book by Erica Dermer (Celiac and the Beast) and it’s really good, especially for the newly diagnosed. I downloaded it but I think that the print version is also available online.
        Please let me know if you read any good novels in the upcoming months. I love recommendations! I hope that you are feeling healthy and well!

        1. Vik

          Hey Jess–Oh I still read, just less than I used to. So as far as “comfort” novels. One author I love is Dorothea Benton Frank. Her novels are the type I mentioned, and set in the Lowcountry and every so often I’ll reread them from the earliest ones on up. And then there are the kind of old-fashioned-feeling novels by Rosamunde Pilcher, the most famous being the Shell Seekers. And Nancy Thayer’s novels, which are mostly set in Nantucket, where she lives. Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen has a botanical and mystical connection, and all of her books have an otherwordly feeling about them. I made a note of the books you recommended, thank you. I plan to read Erica’s book, sounds informative and fun-I met her recently at an expo-we even mentioned you and your blog. Were your ears burning in a positive way? :-).

          1. Jess Post author

            Hi Vik,
            Thanks for all of your book suggestions. I am going to be starting a book called Yes Chef tonight, but when I am done I am going to check out Garden Spells. Do you like Ann Patchett? I really enjoyed State of Wonder as well.
            Erica has a lot to teach all of us about living with Celiac Disease and she is a very dynamic person who I hope to cross paths with again. Perhaps we can all meet up at a future expo?

  3. Pamela Wible MD

    Hi Jess! Thanks for the review of Pet Goats & Pap Smears. I’m having so much fun with the book and love to inspire the next generation of doctors (and patients!). Doing a TED Talk next week. Where are you practicing? Love to meet up sometime . . .

    :) Pamela

    1. Jess Post author

      Hi Pamela,
      It is so great to hear from you. When I wrote this post I never in a million years imagined that I’d actually hear from one of the authors of the books I recommended.
      I am a neonatologist in practice in Wisconsin. Although my largest patients are about 10 pounds (and most much, much smaller) I identify with their parents, especially their mothers, as being my patients. I finished my fellowship in 2009 and am in a community hospital. A lot of my medical peers are burnt out and unhappy and I spend a lot of my day doing tasks that I never in a million years imagined I would be doing when I decided that I wanted to be a doctor when I was 8 years old, such as filling out mindless computer screen after computer screen with “data” and trying to justify to insurance companies that a premature baby does belong in a NICU!
      Your book was inspiring and I was introduced to it by my friend Pilar at the perfect time in my career. I felt re-energized by it. Thank you for sharing your life and experiences with us and giving us the gift of your stories. I hope that we can someday meet too.

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