3. 703: How I Lost More than a Quarter Ton and Gained a Life" by Nancy Makin
Nancy Makin struggled with weight from adolescence. Though not pin-pointed by Makin as the starting point of her obsession with eating, she does admit to stealing food during her stay at a Catholic commune in Canada, where food for the residents was sparse and tasteless. After leaving the commune (twice), she responded by gorging herself, enjoying tastes she had desperately missed.
She equated food with self-esteem. When she was happy and fulfilled, she was able to manage her weight and keep herself occupied. When things took a downturn, she ate. As she got bigger, her self-esteem shrank - which led to more eating. Embarrassed by her appearance, she stayed in her apartment, rarely leaving for anything - and then only if the chances of her being seen were little to none.
At her worst, she weighed 703 pounds. Still that wasn't enough to turn her around.
Her sister had bought her a used computer for her birthday. It sat for months before she finally turned it on. When she finally started using it, she got so involved in building online relationships that she stopped eating from boredom and depression and began losing weight.
Her journey to morbid obesity and back is inspiring. She learned a lot about herself and what triggers her eating - as well as how to fight back. Now an inspirational speaker, Makin works to encourage other obese people to find themselves and take back their lives.
While I gave some of the bare bones of Makin's story, there's much more in the book you need to read for yourself. Her story is amazing.
4. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
I read this as both my (modern) classic book of the month as well as in honor of Black History Month.
Born Marguerite Johnson, Maya (nicknamed by her older brother Bailey) spent most of her childhood years growing up under the watchful eye of Momma, her paternal grandmother, in Stamps, Arkansas. She and Bailey lived a short time in St. Louis with their mother and her family before Maya's personal tragedy led them back to Stamps, where they lived with Momma again until their early teens. By then, their mother had moved to San Francisco, and Maya and Bailey moved to live with her again.
Considering the life Maya lived during her formative years, it's a wonder she has turned out to be the woman she is today. It's nothing short of a miracle. The language she uses in this first part of her autobiographical story is beautiful, contrasting sharply with her state of life.
Unfortunately the book ends when Maya is 17, just three weeks after giving birth to a baby boy. I am left wanting to know more, so before long I'll read Gather Together in My Name, which covers the next four years of her life, and hope the many questions in my head are answered. If not, I'll go on to the third, fourth, and fifth parts.