Happy Moominous New Year! Are they rabbits? No, but you can dream of the trolls' scrapes and adventures in unreal landscapes through this soggy winter. Learn about Jansson's wider body of work as an artist and writer. And if you want bunnies, there's always Miffy.
Kill two local, small-business birds with one stone and without any violence! Huzzah, Skylight and Secret Headquarters! This illustrated cookbook-ish tallies the enviable, mostly home-cooked meals of a couple. Your recipient (maybe that’s you!) can find the ingredients or dishes just down the street in Ktown, supporting even more small businesses.
I support pretty much all cooking comics, but this is one of the better ones, with very clear recipes. The images are photographed, so you know what the process is actually supposed to look like at each step. Following along the adulting narrative through manageable steps could be useful and comforting for someone dealing with everything happening all at once.
Each of us knows (or are) the type of person who looks forward to Spooky Season all year round. And when, if not the holidays, is everyone holed up and looking forward to fictional scares and trips elsewhere that take the mind off real fears?
Who knows when we'll next get rain, but now we can feel prepared for the deliciousness that follows. The pictures are AMAZING and deserve their own monograph.
For your spooky season needs, read this terrifying research into our descent into environmental, political, and social collapse. Try to resist the pull of preparing a bunker; I feel like it'll only help the folks profiting from all this extremism.
Who wouldn't want to spend each day with Kuma-Kuma Chan? Or would it be "live as" Kuma-Kuma Chan? I mean, everyone does the things Kuma-Kuma Chan does....Could this book be *THE* primer on life?
Has the fear of anosmia drawn us closer to smell? Whatever accounts for the proliferation of fragrance-related products and media, Tanais' essays on their experiences and scent memories stand apart from similarly marketed works. Their ferocity in addressing the historical, cultural, and linguistic encounters and clashes of war, migration, and capitalism is a compelling approach to trauma.
Touching upon labor, food, robots, environmentalism, nationalism, nationality, nuclear power, ethnic stereotypes, and sexuality through extant, dying, and made-up languages, Tawada's latest brings to (my) mind more questions than it provides answers. How different would it be, for instance, if it had been written in German instead of Japanese?
Join Little Witch Hazel on a journey of growth through the seasons and relationships that Mosswood Forest offers, and let’s also ensure that all the rad grandparents, parents, aunties, uncles, and caretakers we know get to explore Wahl’s beyond-charming woodland world with the children (and kids-at-heart) in their lives.
What recipe won't you want to make from this cookbook? If you happen to discover one, don't let me know.
A full Dzama monograph would’ve been lovely, but we’re probably OK with reading words, too? Forget scholarly annotations; (re-)contextualize Shakespeare’s lines with Dzama’s shimmering colors and bold lines. Feed everyone’s inner theater kid and help yourself, friends, and family create new connections with part of the literary, poetic, and theatrical canon.
I grew up listening to This American Life, and the Davids pretty much live in my brain, especially during the holidays. Who wouldn’t enjoy tucking into Sedaris’s takes on life as a writer, member of his clan, wearer of textiles masquerading as clothing, and pick-upper of roadside rubbish, along with some hot chocolate?
Goodspeed’s lines and colors are so simple that one might think, “Well, I could’ve done that.” Even if one has and I just didn’t realize it, everyone’s still lucky that this slim guide to life exists. Charm everyone with Goodspeed’s pithy observations on pressing realities like time, productivity, haircuts, too-memorable TV commercials, and plant care.
I still marvel over Shepherd’s beyond-keen attention to the seasonal shifts that the flora, fauna, and people around her undergo. Inspire your friends and family to engage with environments outside L.A.’s (admittedly often wondrous) bubbles and develop a new language of place.
I likely had these exact thoughts, but I never caught them before another alighted. Maybe their fleeting nature seemed meaningful at the time? Sure, these short essays might be letting me off the hook; I won't have to work as hard to recall the lost moments, ideas, and emotions that Sun examines. Still, I'm glad to live in a time when words can feel more personal instead of merely didactic.
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 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.