Goodspeed's lines are so simple that one might think "I could've done that." But only Goodspeed has, and aren't we all the luckier for it?
I get it-- following up a kids' classic highlighting the sanctuary school can provide with a story about horrific bullying and alienation feels like a bit of a whiplash. BUT(!) in addition to the hair-raising, stomach-churning physical violence, Kawakami brought me closer to the heightened stakes and rawness of youth, when each new experience and reflection felt so integral to my self formation.
This was one of my favorites while growing up, and a little bit of comfort still seems necessary. I had to consider whether it'd make more sense to recommend this in the summer, when people might have more time to read. Ultimately, the need to appreciate the ways students and teachers support and challenge each other now, before the school year officially ends, won out.
I walk every day. And wow, so did Nan Shepherd! Her beyond-keen, poetic sensitivity to the land, flora, and fauna around her is truly a thing to marvel over.
I raved about this collection to everyone I know when it first came out, and every subsequent re-reading reminds me how excellent short stories can and should be.
If you haven't gone on a trip in forever (and how many of us have?), this book might help determine your next destination. Then again, given how ordinary some of the subjects are, maybe it'll just inspire you to pay attention to the extraordinary colors and symmetry of the built environment around you as you walk around this spring.
Has the pandemic era upended your sense of time, too? Then it's the perfect time (heyyyy!) to read This Is How You Lose the Time War-- well, not that it won't be once this crisis is over and the normal temporal markers (like, you know, holidays and birthdays out with friends) return. Time-, genre-, gender-, and everything-else-bending, this novella and its characters morph with each chapter. I re-read this *immediately,* and it actually improved on the second read-through. How often does that happen?
Who isn't interested in discovering more about the intersectional figures and beautiful places that have enriched our city? As a radauntie, I want to give this to every kid my friends have to help cultivate their creativity and curiosity (and to keep them occupied so my friends can get a break). You could pair this with mini-field trips to the sites to get everyone outdoors, too. See you there!
Seriously, all Christian Robinson illustrations <3 forever. I think this slim, text-free book is relevant to all sorts of uncertainty and discovery through cycles of wakefulness and dreaming, but you can pretend you bought it for a kid you know and like.
Not to judge a book by its cover, but how pretty is this one? That said, I recommended it as my 2020 holiday pick even though the hardcover didn't feature this gorgeous illustration. Koh's reflections on language(s) and their relationships to different selves and roles really make this memoir a stand-out. Even-- and perhaps especially-- if you don't gravitate toward nonfiction, this is a MUST-read to see how entire stories come from everyday thoughts and experiences. Our copies have signed bookplates!
I forget all the things Jill Zimorski, MS, gushes about regarding this comprehensive guide to pairings at all price points, but I also recommend that you listen to her Reading & Drinking Podcast to find out. Anyway, back to my own recommendation: Price's guide to pairings is as fresh and lively a portal to new worlds as the wines she recommends. My two tiny quibbles with this book are that 1) I wish she would've considered what wine might pair with Fuego Takis and 2) it would've come with a warning about maybe reading with a snack or some food on the way.
I've long appreciated Steph Cha's geographical specificity, and this one is her first novel not featuring Juniper Song navigating its neighborhoods to solve a crime. Though it often sits on our Mystery shelves, don't mistake it for a typical whodunit. Instead, this novel one dives into relationships resulting from LA's histories of migration and immigration. I read this in the spring of 2020, not too long after returning from Seoul, and I still think about the ways it treats how social media and secrecy impose and sustain alternate narratives of race-inflected interactions.
In the immortal words of Popeye, "I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam," so I have some i s s u e s with the imo-kinda-sorta-a-copout-but-I-guess-it-makes-sense ending. What saves the book for me are Natsu's fantastical, is-she-dreaming-or-experiencing-psychosis interludes. Reflecting on the novel on this International Women's Day of 2021, I think Kawakami's treatment of women's views on their bodies, roles, responsibilities, relationships, and restrictions read as very true-to-life. Of course, your own mileage may vary.
Ever wonder why Pluto and Brontosauri keep changing categories? This book won't explain any of that, but it explores the ever-shifting nature of scientific knowledge through mycology. Presenting arguments for how and why our thinking around science and philosophy need to reflect newly discovered complexities, Sheldrake still manages to make his case accessible to the lay reader (like this trypophobic one who finds the mere idea of spores TERRYFING).
The Best of Me compiles essays from Sedaris' many publications. For enduring fans of the Sedarises and new readers, these reframe the writer's family, fashion, humor, and relationships by virtue of being together. Personal essays have long been my bread-and-butter as a college counselor, and I can only hope that young adults could write with even a fraction of Sedaris' humor and reflection.