An image of associate professor Cathy Campbell's reading habits and bookshelf
Prof. Cathy Campbell's favorite books to read, assign, and enjoy.

Cathy Campbell, associate professor and chair, Department of Acute and Specialty Care, Fulbright Global Scholar, 2018–2019


Last spring, I downloaded Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918, and How It Changed the World, by Laura Spinney, but have also found that Loving-Kindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness, by Sharon Salzberg, has given me great perspective during the global pandemic. Salzberg’s book is all about equanimity: the ability to, in the world, deal with the ebbs and flows of life. In the Everglades in Florida, where I’m from, nobody freaks out when the tide goes out; everybody knows it’ll come back in. It’s part of the Earth’s maintenance. Equanimity in our lives is the same way. We must stay resilient, even when we aren’t necessarily getting back to normal. Salzberg speaks about the concept of “resting with.” Rather than resisting or struggling with the changes in our life, we rest with the moving, changing times.


I used Peace and Power: New Directions for Building Community, by Peggy L. Chinn, as we transitioned to online classes because her concepts—like rotating leadership, beginning meetings with affirmations, and caring for the human spirit—are powerful practices during COVID and beyond. I discovered Little Star, by Carmelita Estrellita and Lauren Catlett, really by accident, and thought, “Wow. This is a nursing student using her skills as an artist and writer to help her client, a trans-identified woman, achieve closure and reconnect with her family before dying.” I like assigning it to my students; it’s funny, and poignant, and they appreciate something that makes the point about care for transgender patients a little differently. The book was also the inspiration for my Buddhist Chaplaincy project, and will facilitate discussions about the needs of transgender elders at an event sponsored by Mind and Life Institute next spring.


Final Gifts: Understanding the Special Awareness, Needs, and Communications of the Dying, by Margaret Callanan and Patricia Kelley. When you’re a hospice nurse, you hear about near-death experiences . . . people talk about seeing the light, or having a vision of bridges, water crossings, seeing people they know who have died. When someone in hospice says, “I’m going to take a trip,” even if it seems nonsensical, you listen to that literally. Another woman said to her husband, “It’s time to get in line.” These are ways to understand that death is approaching. It’s a hospice narrative. The message is for people to look beyond what is spoken and go a little deeper. As a hospice nurse, if I hadn’t read this book, I’d have missed these signs and not been able to interpret this symbolic communication for people in the circle of care of an imminently dying person.


I had Beloved, by Toni Morrison, on my bookshelf for a long time before I read it, but now that I’ve read it, I find myself going back to it often for its lyricism and poetry. It’s about finding yourself, finding your voice, finding freedom. It’s a book you have to be with for a while; it’s not a fast book.


Anything from the Sherlock Holmes series, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I read these stories with my father when I was a child; there’s just something about them. At the heart of the stories is a love between Holmes and Watson as partners and friends. They are flawed human beings, but they somehow come together, work, and solve crimes.

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From the Fall 2020 issue of Virginia Nursing Legacy.