WHAT WE’RE READING recommended resources from our library

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By Barbara Bourrier-LaCroix, Information Centre Coordinator, with Ghislaine Alleyne



The Tiniest Warrior of All
Nicola JD Maher, illustrations by Joe Sampson (OBLIO Press, 2005)

According to recent statistics, one in every eight babies in the developed world is born prematurely. In 2003, Nicola Maher gave birth to her daughter Imogen, who weighed only 1 lb 8 oz at birth, and who spent nearly four months in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Ms Maher transformed her own personal experiences with Imogen and has presented us with a modern day fairy tale. The Tiniest Warrior of All explores the world of a baby born too soon, who battles the obstacles she meets along the way.

The Gathering Tree
Larry Loyie, with Constance Brissenden, illustrations by Heather D. Holmlund (Theytus Books, 2005)

The current HIV epidemic is increasingly affecting Aboriginal people and women. While research continues to improve treatment, prevention is still the best way to keep the number of new cases from growing. Education is important, and children need to learn how to stay healthy as they grow older. This is the story of a rural First Nations family and community facing HIV. Of particular note is the way the authors have included insights into the influence of elders in the community and of traditional gatherings.

What Would Marilyn Say? Supporting Women to Health and Happiness
Diane Vines (Arnica Publishing, 2005)

Imagine that Marilyn Monroe didn’t die on August 5, 1962, and instead, offers advice and encouragement to women to live healthier, happier lives. I realize that this is a difficult concept to grasp, but once you get into the book, it all falls into place. The author, Diane Vines, brings Marilyn back as an observer of a group of women returning to college who get together once a week to talk about their lives, health and happiness. The fictional women discuss a wide range of topics, including dieting, eating disorders, diabetes, exercising, caregiving, PMS, sexual dysfunction and more. Marilyn and a virtual professor comment on these discussions—they give the reader factual health information and dispel the more popular misconceptions. A very entertaining read that can help motivate women to make healthy lifestyle changes.

50 Ways to Improve Women’s Lives: The Essential Women’s Guide to Achieving Equality, Health, and Success
National Council of Women’s Organizations (InnerOcean Publishing, 2005)

Women and women’s organizations have played an active role in protecting and enriching women’s rights.With the growing influence of the fundamentalist movement in both Canada and the United States, women must continue to work hard to improve the lives of women. Advocating for rights is something organizations do well. But as an individual, it might feel overwhelming. This book can help. It speaks to women who aren’t policy experts but who are living the issues that women’s organizations speak so passionately about. Experts describe the issues and offer concrete, doable things to help, no matter how much or how little time we have to dedicate to these causes at any given moment. The essays are grouped together into sections, and the book begins with a chapter entitled, “Do It for Your Health.” Not surprising, really, because we can’t accomplish much without good health for our loved ones and ourselves.

The New Sjogren’s Syndrome Handbook (Revised and Expanded Third Edition)
Edited by Daniel J. Wallace (OxfordUniversity Press, 2005)

A very basic, and very inaccurate, definition of Sjorgren’s syndrome is that of a disorder that causes dry eyes and a dry mouth. But as most sufferers will tell you, it’s much more than that. Sjorgren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disorder that can lead to complications such as profound fatigue, depression and lymphoma, and while it affects both women and men alike, perimenopausal women represent the highest-risk group. It is often misdiagnosed, and many health providers are not aware of all of its potential somatic effects. This book, complete with information on diagnosis, clinical aspects, tips and advice, acts as a resource for both patients with Sjorgren’s and the doctors who care for them.

A Tribute to Grassroots Organizing for Women’s Health: Cases From Around the World
Edited by Sara Torres, Prabha Khosla, with Nuzhath Leedham and Lise Martin (Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement ofWomen [CRIAW] and Riverdale Immigrant Women’s Centre, 2004)

The 9th International Women’s Health Meeting was held in Toronto, from August 12th to 16th, 2002. The Meeting’s themes included sexual and reproductive rights, violence against women (state and non-state) and environmental health. Working in English, French and Spanish, over 450 women from 62 countries attended. The essays included in this publication give voice to the work being done by women’s health activists who attended the Meeting.

Women’s Sexual Health (Third Edition)
Edited by Gilly Andrews (Elsevier, 2005)

There is a definite need for a comprehensive view of women’s sexual health and reproductive health written by women who understand the complexity of these issues. Luckily, there is this book, which deals not only with women’s sexual health, but also looks at problems of libido, intercourse, young people and sex, contraception, sexual abuse and the use of complementary medicines. The editor has even included a unique chapter on women with special needs, covering in some detail the cultural and religious aspects of sexuality. The book is divided into three sections: Section One, ‘Women Today,’ explores the concept of sexuality and well being within physical, psychological and social dimensions; Section Two, ‘Fertility,’ examines issues surrounding female fertility; Section Three, ‘Women’s Health Issues,’ concentrates on specific female health problems. Of special note: all the contributing authors are nurses who have been chosen for their skill, expertise and knowledge of their individual subjects.

Hungry for More: A Keeping-It-Real Guide for Black Women on Weight and Body Image
Robyn McGee (Seal Press, 2005)

Straight-talking and sympathetic, Robyn McGee’s Hungry for More is not a book about dieting. It is about the obesity epidemic in the African American community and about the daily challenges Black women face economically, culturally and socially that contribute to disordered eating and body image; it is about the real dangers of gastric bypass surgery; finally, it is about the lifelong struggle that the author’s sister had with obesity and depression, which led to her untimely death. Hungry for More takes a holistic approach to weight and the health, social and cultural implications of obesity. Full of informative medical facts, personal stories and frank examinations of how racism, abuse and depression contribute to poor body image, McGee conveys the importance of honouring yourself by making healthy lifestyle choices, starting slow and being patient, seeking help when you need it, and remembering that you are much more than a number on a scale. With the memory of her sister firmly in mind, McGee’s message is that unless we change what’s in our hearts and minds, no amount of surgery will make us feel whole.

Invisible Girls: The Truth About Sexual Abuse
Dr. Patti Feuereisen, with Caroline Pincus (Seal Press, 2005)

Girls and young women who experience sexual abuse cannot be stereotyped. No one can tell from the outside whether or not you’ve been a victim. In 2002, children and youth accounted for 61% of reported sexual assault cases. Girls represented 79% of those cases. Furthermore, 54% of girls under the age of 16 have experienced some form of unwanted sexual attention. 24% of these have experienced sexual assault, and 17% have experienced incest. And many of these girls never share their stories—they remain hidden and voiceless. Until now. In this work, the author offers us a glimpse into the worlds of teenaged girls and young women who are abuse survivors. These young women tell their stories of incest, date rape, acquaintance rape, and mentor abuse. The stories deserve to be heard. The truth hurts, but it also heals.

Sky Woman: Indigenous Women Who Have Shaped, Moved or Inspired Us
Edited by Sandra Laronde (Theytus Books, 2005)

Earth and creation, as we know it, was born when Sky Woman fell from the stars through a hole in the sky. Since then, Indigenous women have inherited her legacy—resourcefulness, resilience and the will to keep falling and moving forward. They fall to better ground because of the many women who have gone before them. This book gathers memoirs, poetry, fiction and visual arts from nearly 40 writers and artists from 22 Indigenous nations across Canada, the United States, Mexico, the Pacific Islands and Japan. These women, all from different generations, speak from the heart about the many Indigenous women who have shaped, moved or inspired them.


Dragonslippers: This Is What an Abusive Relationship Looks Like
Rosalind B. Penfold (Penguin Canada, 2005)

When Rosalind met Brian, she thought she was living a fairytale romance. And she did, briefly, until things began to change. It didn’t take long for her to find herself in a nightmare of verbal, emotional, sexual and physical abuse. Eventually, she found the strength to move on and move out, but not without great loss. The author shares her experiences with us through her diaries from that time, including drawings that detail the warning signs of abuse and the psychology of abusers and victims. She’s given us a graphic novel (or un-fairytale) that nevertheless has a happy ending.

What to Expect: Eating Well When You’re Expecting
Heidi Murkoff (Workman Publishing, 2005)

A departure from its predecessor, What to Eat When You’re Expecting, this book loses the whole-wheatier-than-thou attitude, and provides moms to-be with a realistic approach to healthy nutrition throughout the nine months of pregnancy. Chapters are devoted to nutrition, weight gain, food safety, the postpartum diet, and how to eat when trying to conceive again. The authors also offer 150 healthy recipes that feed mom and baby well, take little time to prepare, and are gentle on queasy stomachs.

Canadian Medical Association Complete Home Medical Guide
Edited by Catherine Younger-Lewis (Dorling Kindersley, 2005)

This guide is the type of book that makes my librarian senses tingle. The Canadian Medical Association has designed a book that uses text and illustrations to explain how the body works, provide tools for interpreting symptoms, describe how and why diseases occur, and outlines the details of diagnostic tests and treatments. The layout and organization of the guide is clever and intuitive, and allows you to know what to expect if disease develops, to ask the right questions, and to actively take part in managing your health. A book for every household.

Community Kit for Rural, Remote and Northern Women’s Health
R. Sutherns and S. Fish (Prairie Women’s Health Centre of Excellence, 2005)

In 2004 a national project was undertaken that included consultations with women who live in many different rural or remote places throughout Canada—from the high arctic to the prairies to coastal regions and everywhere inbetween. Women who were part of the national project said that a plain-language kit would give them the information they need to make helpful changes in their communities. So the Prairie Women’s Health Centre of Excellence created this useful tool. This is a kit designed to improve the health of rural, remote and northern women across Canada by making sure that women have a say in how health programs, plans and policies are developed. It provides summaries and background information about the national research project, as well as information for local communities to use in advocating for change.
The Kit is available in hard copy, but is also available online for free at: www.pwhce.ca/rrKit.htm

Complementary Headache Therapy: A Close Look at the Treatments and the Evidence
Howard B. Pikoff (Data for Decisions, 2004)

There are many different medications available to treat the pain of headaches and migraines, and new drugs continue to appear regularly. There are also many alternative remedies. A popular guide to complementary medicine describes 90 treatments for headache, from acupuncture to zone therapy. A third of these are routinely recommended for headache. But do these therapies really work? Do they meet scientific standards of effectiveness? Do they pass muster in randomized controlled trials? Pikoff attempts to answer some of these questions and reviews the evidence for 15 alternative headache therapies that have generated sound clinical research, including acupuncture, biofeedback, feverfew, and homeopathy. He includes what is known about each therapy, how it works, and how effective it has been proven to be.

Endometriosis: The Complete Reference for Taking Charge of Your Health
Mary Lou Ballweg and the Endometriosis Association (Contemporary Books, 2003)

Endometriosis is a chronic, sometimes disabling condition that remains a challenge to the medical community. It affects approximately 10 to 15% of women of reproductive age, and there are indications that the number is increasing. As more women receive a diagnosis, more, albeit slowly, is being learned about the disease.
Endometriosis is not just a pelvic, gynaecological disease anymore—it’s finally being recognized as a whole-body hormone and immune disease. Ballweg with the Endometriosis Association has provided this reference book of clear, accessible and readable information on the many facets of endometriosis to make sense of what is known, and what still remains a medical mystery.

Culture & Clinical Care
Edited by Juliene G. Lipson and Suzanne L. Dibble (UCSF Nursing Press, 2005)

People have various beliefs about the transitions that accompany health, illness, birth and death—beliefs that are influenced by such things as culture and age. Therefore, providing appropriate, cross-cultural health care is critically important. The purpose of this book is to sensitize health care providers to cultural variations, to encourage asking questions and to stimulate learning about how patients identify with and express their cultural background.
By itself, information about a specific cultural or ethnic group does not necessarily make for culturally appropriate care, but neither can good care be provided in the absence of such information. As the authors believe, all health care providers need to know something about their patients’ sociocultural backgrounds because it is easy to inadvertently insult a patient or family when clinicians act only on what they believe is correct (which is usually based only on their own values and/or education). While the information in this book draws upon US statistical data, the underlying principles and information will be of use to a Canadian audience.

GirlsSource: A Book by and for Young Women about Relationships, Rights,Futures, Bodies, Minds and Souls
GirlsSource Editorial Team (Jessica Barnes, Wanda Chan, Shirley Escobar, Ilene Franco, Ingrid Garcia, Aisha Ivory, Faye Liang, Diane Martinez, Lina Shatara, and Diana Valdivia) (Ten Speed Press, 2003)

Young women have many concerns that well-meaning adults may not be able (or willing) to address. Advice is too freely given. Questions about healthy diets, abusive relationships, birth control or sexual orientation are hard enough for adults to tackle, let alone discuss with their daughters or students. Luckily, GirlsSource, an American organization that provides job and leadership opportunities to girls, ages 14-18, from low-income families, is willing to write about them! Written by teens for teens, this work addresses real-life topics like stress and depression, menstruation, sex, pregnancy, rape, drugs and alcohol, school, friendship, dating, college, work and discrimination. It is not about giving advice, the young women state, it is about sharing stories and experiences to help young women make choices for their own lives. The articles included reflect the diverse opinions, concerns, stories and experiences of teens today.

Women and Urban Environments: Community Initiative
Sonja Greckol, Prabha Khosla, Kamlyn Ng-See-Quan, Rafia Haniff-Cleofas and Rabia Khedr
(National Network on Environments and Women’s Health, 2005)

The National Network on Environments and Women’s Health was pleased to partner with Toronto Women’s Call to Action in January 2005 to produce background papers for NNEWH’s March 4th workshop entitled, Building Healthy Cities for Canadian Women. These papers are now available online from NNEWH’s web site (links require PDF reader):

Gendered Cities: Built and Physical Environments
Gender Mainstreaming in Local Governments
Racialized and Immigrant Women in Cities
Women’s Poverty in Cities
Women with Disabilities in the Urban Environment