The Push – A Book About Motherhood…and SO MUCH MORE

I know not everyone is a book nerd like I am so I usually save my 5-star book announcements for Sustainable Sue Bookmobile  subscribers. But this book is so much more than a great read – I had to share it with everyone.

Books can make you think and feel things you don’t want to or did not even know existed in your mind and heart. There are times that books make you reconsider what you thought, approved, and wished for. Sometimes books help soothe the rough edges on feelings that you did not even know were there. The Push by Ashley Audrain is that book and more.

The Premise

Here is the Goodreads description of this novel:

Blythe Connor is determined that she will be the warm, comforting mother to her new baby Violet that she herself never had. But in the thick of motherhood’s exhausting early days, Blythe becomes convinced that something is wrong with her daughter–she doesn’t behave like most children do.

Or is it all in Blythe’s head? Her husband, Fox, says she’s imagining things. The more Fox dismisses her fears, the more Blythe begins to question her own sanity, and the more we begin to question what Blythe is telling us about her life as well.

Then their son Sam is born–and with him, Blythe has the blissful connection she’d always imagined with her child. Even Violet seems to love her little brother. But when life as they know it is changed in an instant, the devastating fall-out forces Blythe to face the truth.

The Push is a tour de force you will read in a sitting, an utterly immersive novel that will challenge everything you think you know about motherhood, about what we owe our children, and what it feels like when women are not believed.

The Impact

This book made my insides shrivel up in a way that few books ever have.

I am a childless by choice step mom to 2 kids who had just turned 4 and 6 when I met them. My husband and I had some tough conversations in the first couple years of our relationship and marriage about whether we would have kids together. I had a several reasons against having a biological child. Here are a few of them.

  1. Post-partum depression runs in my family. I already lean on meds and therapy to keep the ship afloat. I have taken enough biology and human physiology classes to understand the hormonal chaos that pregnancy and early motherhood wreck on a woman’s body.
  2. I could not imagine how I would manage all of my big feelings while abstaining from caffeine, alcohol, vigorous exercise, and SSRIs for 9 months while incubating, then indefinitely after. I know zillions of women do this every day and have for millenia, but I am a research study with an N of 1. I knew my best coping strategies – healthy or unhealthy as they were.
  3. I loved our life. We had the kids 3-4 days each week, every week. We could do things like the zoo and practices, then drop the kids off at their mom’s house and spend whole days riding our bikes or touring through wineries near the mountains.

But I felt selfish and less than. It seems like I was bombarded with messages ranging from evolution to pop culture about how motherhood is a woman’s purpose in life.

So if I did not want to be a mother (a “real mother” as some women called it, separating out my step-mothering from what they did), what kind of woman was I?

This book explored all of these ideas and more from the perspective of Blythe and flashbacks to her mother ‘s and grandmother’s lives. For the first half of this book, I pretty much decided that I could not rate this book. I felt so strongly about it – loved and hated it, but I would never be able to explain the real truth behind why I loved and hated it so much. I did not want to try to explain all of these big feelings in a book review blurb.

But I decided that I was going to swing for the fences and be honest about the complicated feelings I had about motherhood. As much as I can do that today. As the layers of the onion are peeled, there may be more to share with you in the future.

This is the power of books – it is not just a story. It is how that story makes you think about your life. It can help heal, restore and reframe what we always thought was true.

“A library is a hospital for the mind.” Anonymous

Your Turn

I need people to talk to about this book. If you have read it and want to swoon together, comment below or come find me on social media. I have been pressing this book into everyone’s hands – and now yours. Go read it RIGHT NOW and come back to help me process this.

I know you will want more after you finish reading it. You can listen to an interview with the author here and hear a bookish podcasters talk about it here.

By |2021-05-18T08:47:01-04:00May 18th, 2021|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

Top 10 Favorite Books

Let me tell you about my 10 favorite books! Reading is one of my favorite hobbies and hobbies are component of the Mental Well-being pillar of Sustainable Productivity. As the holidays approach, maybe you will find some pockets of time to pick up one of these to relax. I encourage you now to plan for those pockets of time. Add it to your calendar. Leave the house if you need to – park the car somewhere and read for 20 minutes. Small changes like this add up!

One of my favorite podcasters is also a book fiend. After listening to her for a few years, I know Laura and I have similar reading preferences so when she does a reading episode on her podcast, I make sure to take notes. Laura also does a monthly “10 on the 10th” social media challenge. On Nov 10, she called for us to share our 10 favorite books. I am a smidge late to the party because it has taken a week to murder my darlings and only pick 10.

I am embracing “done is better than perfect” these days. As demonstrated by posting my 10 things on the 10th on the 17th. Whatevs…

What Didn’t Make the Cut

The list I am going to share with you is books I have read in the last few years (with the exception of Poisonwood Bible). What this list leaves out are books I loved growing up like Encyclopedia Brown, The Boxcar Children, Little House on the Prairie, and the Cherry Ames series. As an adult I have favorite authors like Fredrik Backman and Jodi Picoult that I read everything they write (sometimes to my dismay). Although I am basically an anti-fan of the author, I return to the Harry Potter series as one of the few where I actually reread. Generally I feel like there are too many books in the world for me to spend time re-reading. But each time I read (or listen, or follow along to a podcast), I have a slightly different experience.

Without further ado, here is my list of my 10 favorite books – in alphabetical order by genre.


  • A Dog’s Purpose. I read this book on a road trip with My People. Here is what I know – I was crying so hard while reading this that my teenage daughter actually noticed – AND COMMENTED ON IT. When I watched the movie – same response. Shocker.
  • Beartown. As mentioned before, I would read the farm report if Fredrik Backman wrote it. But this book was devastating and unputdownable at the same time. I listened to Beartown on audiobook, and the narration was impeccable. If you read this you will know: BAM. BAM. BAM
  • City of Girls. When I finished this book I gently laid down my Kindle and was devastated because I could never read this book again for the first time. While I enjoyed other books by Elizabeth Gilbert, this one is something special.
  • Defending Jacob. My sister in law warned me about a big plot twist to this one. I was still not prepared. When I got to it, I shouted out in a room full of my in laws at the beach. My sister in law looked up from the puzzle, “You got to the plot twist, huh?!” The Apple TV mini-series is entertaining, but they mess up the plot twist.
  • Poisonwood Bible. I read this book in my early 30s. Probably because Oprah told me to. It was the first multiple narrator novel I remember reading. I remember being confused at first, but once I got the voice of the characters, seeing the same events from different eyes was a game changer in my reading life. Multiple perspectives is one of my favorite types of reads.
  • The Martian. I was skeptical of such a science-ladened book, but it was SO DANG FUNNY. I encouraged my Enneagram 5 non-reader spouse to pick this one up and he LOVED it. The movie was a let down.
  • Verity. This is the only book where after I read it I joined a Facebook group to discuss it. Plot twists and unreliable narrators abound.


  • Code Name Helene. OK so the book itself is historical fiction, but Nancy Wake was a REAL PERSON. I wish she were alive so she could be my friend.
  • Sacred Rest. This should be a must read in all school curriculum at the high school and college level. Our driven society is killing us and this book gives us the blue print to change that.
  • Untamed. There were times when I was reading this book that I had to put it down because I felt like I could not breathe. It challenges current thinking – about ourselves and each other and what we are in this life to do.

Now You!

What are you reading these days? Have you read any of these? What are your top 10 books? Reply here or let’s connect on social media to talk books!

By |2020-11-13T11:21:42-05:00November 17th, 2020|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

What Should I Read?! Get Book Recommendations Sent to Your Inbox

The question I get asked most often is, “What should I read?” I always have a stack of books on my literal and digital To Be Read (TBR) list. Here is a peek at the stack on my desk:

Do you ask yourself what to read? I want to deliver the answer to your inbox.

If you sign up for Sustainable Sue’s Bookmobile, every time I finish a 5-star read I will send the review to you within 24 hours, including a link to purchase online from an indie book store local to you. It is so simple – just add your email address to this link, and you are all set!

This is a perfect time to jump start a reading habit – the weather is cooler so there is usually less to do outside. Holidays have not ramped up full force yet. Plus we are all staying home more because of Covid.

There are mental and physical health benefits to reading, which makes it a great hobby to pick up. Research shows that regular reading:

  • improves brain connectivity.
  • increases your vocabulary and comprehension.
  • empowers you to empathize with other people.
  • aids in sleep readiness.
  • reduces stress.
  • lowers blood pressure and heart rate.
  • fights depression symptoms.
  • prevents cognitive decline as you age.
Click here for original source.

Still not convinced? Let me sweeten the pot! Everyone who signs up for the Bookmobile is eligible to win a new copy of All Things Reconsidered by Knox McCoy. This is a drawing only open to Sustainable Sue blog followers – this offer will not be posted to social media.

But wait! There’s more! Do you know book lovers who might want 5-star reads in their inbox or a chance to win a free book? If you send them this post and they sign up for the Bookmobile, just have them comment on this post to let me know you referred them and you will get a second chance at winning All Things Reconsidered!

You really cannot go wrong! Enter now – I will draw the winner at 8:00 pm on Halloween.

Let’s read more this fall and winter!

By |2020-10-26T17:27:22-04:00October 27th, 2020|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

Verity by Colleen Hoover

This book was SO DANG CREEPY, and I loved every second of it!

“Find what you love and let it kill you.”

Charles Bukowski

These. People. Are. Nutso. 

I somewhat called the twist, but the way it played out and the ambiguity was just perfect. I did a deep dive into a Facebook page that the author started [search Verity Discussion Group]. The conversations and theories are so good. I strongly recommend joining when you finish reading this book.

Verity Colleen Hoover

I do have two points of warning:

  1. There are some sexy times in this book. It is what is referred to as “open door romance.” If this is not your jam, you can skim past them and still have a good reading experience.
  2. Some people cannot read about anything bad happening to kids. If this is you, avoid this book. It is not a spoiler to tell you both twin girls die. That is part revealed in the first chapter or two. But the book goes over this ground quite a bit so consider yourself warned.

You might want to borrow it from Kindle Unlimited. Currently there is a free promotion. Verity was published December 2018 so there may not be a super long wait at the library either.

If you do choose to read this, I’d love it if you would come back here and let me know what you think!

By |2020-05-30T19:40:16-04:00May 30th, 2020|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

Alert! 5-star book! Alert!

Get out your library cards!

Alert! 5-start book you need to read right now!

Last summer I found The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin in a Free Little Library. While I love these stumbling across every one of these bookish delights, it is rare that I find a book from my TBR. Needless to say I was super excited to grab this ditty.

The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

I loved this book SO STINKING MUCH. I purposely slowed down so I could avoid finishing it. Now I cannot remove it from my nightstand because I cannot let it be over. 

I love a crusty curmudgeon (think Ove or Britt-Marie). I love books. I love book stores. I love a sad ending. I love dry wit. THEN THIS BOOK COMBINED ALL OF THEM. I swooned.

I mean listen to this description of AJ’s feelings of love:

“… slightly intolerable bubbling inside of him. He wants to laugh out loud or punch a wall. He feels drunk or at least carbonated. Insane. At first, he thinks this is happiness, but then he determines it’s love. ‘Fucking love,’ he thinks. ‘What a bother.’ It’s completely gotten in the way of his plan to drink himself to death, to drive his business to ruin. The most annoying thing about it is that once a person gives a shit about this, he finds he has to start going a shit about everything.”

The Storied Life of AJ Fikry, p. 76

How do you not love this?! You do? Great – go get it!

Bonus – I learned a new word. Moue. Which according to means, “A pouting expression used to convey annoyance or distaste.” You better believe moue will be used in a stern parental manner within the week!

Wait… why are you still reading this? Read this in a moue tone: Go get this book!

By |2020-05-21T17:48:50-04:00May 21st, 2020|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

City of Girls – Elizabeth Gilbert

Rating: 5 stars

Cliff Notes: When I finished this book I was devastated because I can never read it for the first time again.


“Of course, nobody is required to stand in the field of honor,” Olive continued. “If you find it too challenging, you may always exit, and then you can remain a child. But if you wish to be a person of character, I’m afraid this is the only way. But it may be painful.”

“The field of honor is a painful field,” Olive went on at last, as though Peg had not spoken. “That’s what my father taught me when I was young. He taught me that the fired of honor is not a place where children can play. Children don’t have any honor, you see, and they aren’t expected to, because it’s too difficult for them. It’s too painful. But to become an adult, one must step into the field of honor. Everything will be expected of you now. You will need to be vigilant in your principles. Sacrifices will be demanded. You will be judged. If you make mistakes, you must account for them.”

Eventually all of us will be called upon to do the thing that cannot be done. This is the painful field, Angela.”

Note: The bolding in the passages above are my own, not the author’s.
City of Girls Elizabeth Gilbert

I knew I was going to like this book because I like pretty much all of the words that Elizabeth Gilbert writes. Then as reviews came out, EVERYONE loved this book. But what I did not expect was to be blown away. I plan to buy this book even after I read it just so I can have it.

Let me tell you what this book is NOT – it is not about NYC during WW2 when all the men went away. I have heard that review a lot and that is not it. Just trust me and go read it. Buy it. Read it again. You will not be sorry.

By |2019-12-12T19:22:56-05:00August 4th, 2019|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

The Pull of the Moon – Elizabeth Berg

Rating: 5 stars

Cliff Notes: I could not put it down and read it in one sitting. Then I was sad it was over. I will be keeping this book.

Full Summary: This one really touched a nerve with me as June is my birthday month, and 2019 is a milestone birthday for me – a milestone that rounds up to 50, the age Nan is in this story. The age she is lamenting in this story. Nan is wrestling with lots of the questions I have been turning over this year. What does it mean to get old? Am I supposed to age gracefully or become a truer version of myself as I age and stop putting up with bullshit?

Why is retirement feared – I often hear of employees who don’t want to retire because they don’t know how they will fill their time. What happens when we get still? They don’t know if they can stand to be with their partner all the time – what happens if we have different interests?

From Nan, The Pull of the Moon

I am not going to lie – I had a hard time between 35 and now. I thought I would be at a different point in my career. Seven years ago I chucked the career I had worked for since I was in 3rd grade straight out the window. I am not going to say that I have never looked back, but I will say several changes in my life have made room for the smaller inside voice to be heard in the stillness. The “dull nudge” that Nan talks about in this book.

“The thought was not in words, it was in the form of a dull nudge. And it was that nudge that got me to find this journal, and get going on this trip. And now, in my own stillness, I hear something. ‘Where have you been?’ my inside body whispers to my outside one. Its sense of outrage is present but dulled by the grief of abandonment. ‘I had ideas, There were things to do. Where did you go?’

Nan, The Pull of the Moon

I still do not think I have landed exactly where I am supposed to be, but I sure am closer than ever. I have a few circles of friends who help with this discovery – trying to excavate creativity, authenticity, and vulnerability. It is challenging, exciting, exhausting and invigorating all at the same time. I am extraordinarily lucky to have a partner who supports this excavation and is not threatened by it in the least (I attribute this partly to waiting until later in life to marry). However, I have had relationships change their look and feel or fall by the wayside altogether.

While I certainly have mourned these relationship changes and second guessed myself (usually in the middle of the night when I cannot sleep for thinking about it), I don’t want to continue to put everyone else ahead of me. Dulling my creative energy to take care of someone else’s needs is not what I am on the Earth for. I am sure my fellow people pleasers can relate. And where are all the pleased people anyway?

The Pull of the Moon Elizabeth Berg
By |2019-12-12T19:30:51-05:00June 14th, 2019|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone – Brene Brown

Rating: 5 stars

Cliff Notes: A must read for everyone. THIS is a book that should be required reading in all schools (instead of The Hunger Games, perhaps?) and board rooms (I cannot believe we are not done with Who Moved My Cheese yet). This book outlines 4 lessons we all need in order to be gentler with each other and ourselves.

Full Summary: Everything Prophet Brene writes is golden and this book is no different. How do we disagree civilly? What does it mean when we are dehumanizing others in our arguments or requiring either / or thinking?

Brene Brown breaks down sociological constructs and concepts for easy understanding through her storytelling, examples from her research, and the writings of others. I highlighted and flagged so many pages in this book that I know I need to digest and write future blog posts about. I hope you will keep coming back to read those as well as going out to get all of her books.

By |2019-12-12T19:31:23-05:00June 9th, 2019|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

Things My Son Needs to Know about the World – Fredrik Backman

Rating: 5 stars!!!

Cliff Notes: Fredrik Backman is my favorite author, and I would read the yellow pages if he wrote it. Pause reading this blog post and go put this on your TBR. I can wait…

Full Summary: OK we are back from your TBR. If you saw this on my Goodreads, it looks like I read the book in a foreign language. Nope, just too impatient to wait for the Goodreads entry in English because THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD. Backman can make you laugh hysterically through the gut wrenching tears left over from the previous paragraph. And as we all know from Truvy in Steel Magnolias, THAT is the best feeling.

This book is different than Backman’s others in that it is non-fiction and is a collection of essays and anecdotes from his early experience with fatherhood. Might be a good choice for all the parents that have cherubs out of school for the summer. This would be a good book to interval read in between giving the kids 1,593,288 snacks per day (even though they only ate once during the school day) and watching them cannon ball into the pool. You all have my thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.

By |2019-12-12T19:33:36-05:00May 25th, 2019|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

Daisy Jones & the Six – Taylor Jenkins Reid

Rating: 5 stars, go add your name to the wait list at the library!

Cliff Notes: Audiobook, narrated by a cast led by Jennifer Beals. I loved the format and the story was heart wrenching.

Full Summary: The heartbreak of unrequited love, addiction and recovery, the strength of women was what made this book so gut wrenching for me. There were several times where I wanted to highlight what I heard to tell you about it, but I listened on audio. And when I say listened – I had a hard time shutting it off.

I also loved the format of unreliable narrators and alternating point of view. The alternating happened immediately, like you would read in a magazine interview or something of that nature instead of alternating chapters or halves of the book like some other novels do.

I think they are making this into a movie, and after listening to it with Jennifer Beals as Daisy, they MUST cast her in that role.

By |2019-12-12T19:33:59-05:00May 23rd, 2019|Mental Well-being|0 Comments
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