It’s February, and the Friends are focusing on heart health. Maintaining a healthy heart means taking care of ourselves through exercise and eating well, so that our hearts stay physically strong. It also means tending to our closest relationships to cultivate a sense of care and belonging for ourselves and others. It means practicing gratitude and appreciating all the good things that surround us. 


We recently posted about how grateful we are to our supporters for their generosity in giving to Friends Life Community, ensuring the Friends have more opportunities for self-expression, self-advocacy, and inclusion within the Nashville community. Donors help fund our programming, which included over 45 immersive weekday classes last year! 


One of the Friends’ favorite classes has been an on-going Book Club where they have been reading through the Harry Potter series together. Reading through the books, participating in discussions and themed activities, and imagining new worlds and possibilities together have brought the Friends closer and created heart-warming moments. 


And who doesn’t love a good book? Books teach us new things about the world and ourselves. Books open our minds to new possibilities. A good book can be a delicious self-care treat or a way to stretch ourselves and get outside our comfort zones as we explore topics or opinions with which we aren’t familiar. 


To continue extending our gratitude to our donors and our wider community of supporters, we want to share some of our staff’s favorite reads to give you a glimpse into our team’s hearts and minds and open the possibility of your next reading adventure.

Look at what some of us are reading: 

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Eden Lathem, Program Coordinator

Tattoos on the Heart, by Gregory Boyle

Tattoos on the Heart is a memoir of a pastor working in a neighborhood with the highest concentration of murderous gang activity in Los Angeles. Gregory Boyle created an organization to provide jobs, job training, and encouragement so that young people could work together and learn the mutual respect that comes from collaboration. Arranged by theme and filled with sparkling humor and glowing generosity, these essays offer a stirring look at how full our lives could be if we could find the joy in loving others and being loved unconditionally. 

Comedy Book, by Jesse David Fox


This “super nerdy” book about comedy and how it has changed over the years to become what it is today tackles everything you need to know about comedy. This art form has been under-considered throughout its history, even as it has ascended as a cultural force.   

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Sarah Perkins, Business Affairs Assistant

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Lauren Zook, VP of Philanthropy

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah and Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus 

“I love WWII historical fiction. I love how the sisters were more alike than different. I remember finishing the final chapter in the car dealership lobby and crying my eyes out without any shame- the book was that good! 

As for Lessons in Chemistry, I loved how the main character was portrayed as powerful and confident. Yet, she realized how important relationships were to overcome her childhood hardships.” 

In Watermelon Sugar by Richard Brautigan

“I love the visuals created in my mind by Richard Brautigan’s words. Who should read it? Someone who is into poetic novels about love and death and worlds that are beyond our own and our own at the same time. If you are into the Beats, this might be the book for you.” 

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Jennifer Haston, Visual Arts Program Coordinator

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Bridget Bailey, Client Success Coordinator

American Wildflowers: A Literary Field Guide, edited by Susan Barba

“This book is a collection of poems, essays, and letters about wildflowers. There are many poets and literary figures featured, and I am enjoying the poems the most. I think it is always important to stop and observe the nature around us, and this book is a way to do that through literature.” 

Have a Beautiful, Terrible Day! by Kate Bowler

Like modern-day psalms, Bowler’s spiritual reflections look for ways to expand our capacity for courage, love, and honesty—while discovering divine moments with God. I have been focusing on the section written for the season of Lent. 

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Camille Mayle, Director of Partnerships and Social Enterprise

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Waverly Ann Harris, CEO

The Self-Driven Child: The Science and Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control Over Their Lives, by William Stixrud, PhD and Ned Johnson

“I started reading this book when I wanted to better understand our foster teen. It states that the most stressful thing in the world is not feeling in control of your own life. I have continued to read it because if this is true for kids, how does this impact adults with disabilities who have not had opportunities to make decisions for their own lives?”