Earlier this year, we released six episodes of Read.Talk.Grow. Read.Talk.Grow is a podcast where we talk about books — especially fiction, memoir and narrative nonfiction — that deal with important health topics. In each episode, I invite an author and a medical expert into conversation on subjects like miscarriage, cancer, relationships, mental health and more. In the same way that books can transport us to a different time, place or culture, Read.Talk.Grow. demonstrates that books also can give a new appreciation for health experiences.
With just a few episodes, we’ve already learned from our listeners. One told me a personal story about her own adoption after listening to Susan Wiggs discuss reproductive rights. Another mentioned complete lack of awareness of the true impact of racism in medicine until he learned more from Linda Villarosa. One of my hockey mom friends who works for a large corporation was planning to ask her chief wellness officer to include the episode with Lo Bosworth in their well-being resources.
But the most common piece of feedback we received by far was that listeners wanted to know about the future books so that listeners who are readers could read ahead when books and topics appealed to them.
Now, Read.Talk.Grow. is embarking on a second set of releases. This time, we’ll let you know about forthcoming episodes and how you can use collections of episodes to dive deeper into topics of highest interest to you and the people you care about.
June’s books include modern fiction, historical fiction and narrative nonfiction dealing with a spectrum of women’s health issues. Check them out!
Featured book: “Brood” by Jacqueline Polzin
Expert book: “Your Guide to Miscarriage and Pregnancy Loss” by Dr. Kate White
On the surface, “Brood” is about chickens. (Go ahead and reread that. Yep, you read what you thought you read.) Jackie Polzin has written a gentle novel about a protagonist tending to chickens who have started to brood — a term for when chickens stop laying to sit on their eggs waiting for them to hatch (whether or not they will). The protagonist recently had a miscarriage, and her grief is omnipresent if not outwardly expressed.
Miscarriage is incredibly common. An estimated 25% to 30% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage though many are unrecognized and even more go unshared with friends and family. Because so many miscarriages happen early in pregnancy, telling a friend you have had a miscarriage often requires telling your friend you were pregnant in the first place. The conversations are delicate and painful. With so many women having experienced miscarriage, it’s also a topic that might be blown off or dismissed.
I read this book on the advice of one of our managing editors, and I’m so glad that I did. I found its slow cadence to be very reflective of the grief process.
Dr. Kate, Jackie and I talk about the silence of miscarriage in this episode, and also discuss the struggle to be happy for someone who is pregnant and facing the decision of trying for another pregnancy. We also address guilt faced by many women who ask themselves, “Did I do something to cause this to happen?”
Featured book: “Take My Hand” by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
Featured expert: Swapna Reddy, J.D., DrPH, M.P.H.
“Take My Hand” is historical fiction about a dark, shameful and neglected part of American history. Civil Townsend is a nurse in a southern family planning clinic where she finds herself administering contraception to very young girls without their or their guardians’ full consent. What started as a desire to help others has become a powerful organization making unethical, life-altering reproductive decisions — and a woman who won’t sit by silently watching a travesty.
Forced sterilization probably feels like a health issue of the past, but the concept of those in power wielding their influence to make decisions over women’s bodies and rights is very much a modern issue. While inspired by a true story that reached the Supreme Court in the 1970s, forced sterilization has occurred much more recently — especially in marginalized populations.
“Take My Hand” was on the popular Summer Reading Guide from book influencer Anne Bogle in 2022. I bought the book then but only read it after talking about racism in health care on Read.Talk.Grow. and was blown away.
Our expert guest Dr. Reddy is a professor at the Arizona State University where she uses her training in law and ethics to educate on medical studies. She teaches about the 1973 Relf v. Weinberger case and told us: “We’re still living many of the issues that are being discussed in this book.” Women and girls are still fighting for the right to control their own reproductive choices.
Featured book: “What Fresh Hell is This?: Perimenopause, Menopause, Other Indignities, and You” by Heather Corinna
Featured expert: Jewel Kling, M.D. M.P.H., contributing author to “The Menopause Solution”
“What Fresh Hell is This?” is part expository nonfiction and part manifesto. Heather Corinna, the inimitable, pioneering educator on all things sexual health and relationships, takes readers through their journey with perimenopause and all its pitfalls.
The terms “premenopause” (from the time you get your period until it stops coming regularly), “perimenopause” (the time of irregular and unpredictable cycles as you approach menopause) and “menopause” (after your cycles have stopped) remain mysterious to most people — and health care professionals. Perimenopause can be fraught with symptoms, and Heather’s experience with this time in their life is no exception. Dr. Kling is a world-renowned expert on the topic and a champion of diversity and equity.
I found this book in my search for books to keep in my exam rooms — where I’m often seeing patients approaching or navigating the menopause transition. The title and cover were interesting, the tone and voice were fresh, the content was accurate and inclusive — a win all around!
Dr. Kling, Heather and I discuss perimenopause in general as well as what the experience can be like for a nonbinary person navigating sudden and often unrecognized natural, physiologic changes. We cover the gamut of treatments available and don’t let Heather wrap up until they’ve commented — at least briefly — on sex.
Your Guide to Miscarriage and Pregnancy LossShop Now