The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
Unconditional love in a dysfunctional family provided the author with the ferocity to forge a successful life on her own terms, despite its many flaws.
Jeannette Walls grew up in a home where her parents’ ideals and refusal to conform were both their curse and their blessing. Four children were born to Rex and Rose Mary Walls. As a nomadic tribe, they roamed the deserts and mountains of the Southwest. When he was sober, Rex was a charismatic and brilliant man who captivated the imaginations of his children by teaching them about physics and geology, but most importantly, by showing them how to embrace life without fear. It wasn’t long before Rose Mary, a self-described “excitement addict” who couldn’t bear the responsibility of providing for her family, began calling herself that. For her, a fifteen-minute meal didn’t hold the same allure as a work of art that could last a lifetime.
It wasn’t long before Rex Walls and his family returned to the dreary West Virginia mining town, which he had done everything he could to escape. He took a drink. He took the money from the bank account and went on the run for days. It became increasingly difficult for Jeannette and her siblings to cope with their parents’ betrayals, so they banded together and saved up their savings until they had enough money and determination to leave their parents’ house behind
Aside from the fact that she was able to break free, Jeannette Walls’ story is remarkable because she describes her parents with such warmth and tenderness. Even though her family was far from perfect, it gave her the drive and determination she needed to forge a successful career and life for herself in spite of all the obstacles she faced.
Jeannette Walls kept her ancestry a secret for two decades. In her own words, she tells her story now.
Educated by Tara Westover
Although her family was riddled with defects, this story of unconditional love instilled in the author a ferocious resolve to succeed in life on her own terms.
Growing up, Jeannette Walls had to contend with parents whose principles and steadfast nonconformity were equal parts of their misfortune and blessing. They have four children together, Rex and Rose Mary Walls. Their early days were spent wandering the Southwest desert towns and camping in the mountains as a nomadic tribe. In his sober state, Rex captivated his children’s attention with his charisma and brilliance, educating them about physics and geology while also instilling a sense of adventure and openness in them. It wasn’t long until Rose Mary, a self-described “excitement addict” who couldn’t bear the duty of caring for her family, came to describe herself as such. It didn’t even cross her mind to cook a supper that would be gone in fifteen minutes when she could instead create a piece of art that could last for generations.
Walls returned to West Virginia’s desolate mining town after their money ran out or the romance of their nomadic lifestyle faded; Rex had done everything he could to escape. He took a sip. A few days later, he disappeared without a trace. They were forced to fend for themselves as the family’s dysfunction worsened, supporting one another as they dealt with their parents’ betrayals and, eventually, finding the resources and determination to leave home.
There are many things to admire about Jeannette Walls’ story, but perhaps none more remarkable than how she recalls her parents with such tenderness and warmth. Although she overcame all obstacles, her narrative is also one of tender, beautiful tale of unconditional love in a family that gave her the fierce resolve to build out a great life for herself despite its severe defects.
It took Jeannette Walls two decades to finally come to terms with the fact that she had been hiding her roots all along. Now, she narrates her own story in her own words.
Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey
The Oscar-winning actor has written an unorthodox memoir filled with boisterous adventures, renegade wisdom, and lessons learned the hard way about living a more fulfilled and meaningful life.
It has taken me half a century to solve this life’s enigma, and I’ve kept a diary of hints for the last thirty-five. Things that made me wonder, things that made me laugh out loud, and everything in between. The art of being fair. How to reduce your stress level. How to enjoy yourself. How to cause the least amount of harm to other people. How to avoid getting harmed. Ways of being a decent man. Ways to find purpose in your life. How to become a better version of myself.
I recently had the confidence to sit down with those diaries. Poems, prayers, prescriptions, convictions about what counts, wonderful images, and a slew of bumper stickers were among the treasures I unearthed. If you know how to cope with life’s obstacles and when to do so — how to get in touch with the inevitable — then you can achieve what I term “catching greenlights,” a level of success I call “catching greenlights.”
This book is the result of my one-way trip to the desert and the recording of my life’s story thus far. This is a collection of fifty years of my thoughts and feelings, as well as my cool and humiliating moments. Beauty, honesty, and grace in savagery. Dance between the raindrops while escaping, being nabbed, and getting soaked all at once.
Aspirin instead of an infirmary visit, a spaceship to Mars without a pilot’s license, church attendance without having to be born again, and laughter despite the tears are all possibilities.
This is a letter of affection. Let there be life.
To get more greenlights, it also provides advice on how to recognize when yellow or red lights turn green.
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
In her early twenties, Cheryl Strayed was convinced she’d lost her entire life. After her mother’s death, her family dispersed, and her marriage was quickly ruined as a result of this. For the first time in her whole life, she decided to take a risk. She would travel more than 1,000 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State, all by herself, with no prior experience or preparation whatsoever.
With suspense and style, bursting with warmth and humor, Wild brilliantly conveys the terrors and delights of a young woman forging forth against all obstacles on a trip that maddened, strengthened, and eventually healed her.