Soothing books

I love books with drama, history, turmoil, and war as much as the next person. But I also love really soothing books where maybe not a lot happens or the story takes place over a few days. Not every story needs to be a sprawling generational drama spanning two continents. (But those are really good too!)

The writer with the most soothing voice might be Jacqueline Woodson. If one word could describe her writing it would be gentle. Hush is about a young girl whose dad was an African-American cop. He had witnessed two of his white colleagues shoot a black teen, and as a whistle-blower, he and his family entered the witness protection program. It was very hard to read because it seems like it could happen today. It’s easy to say do the right thing, because clearly it is to take a stance against injustice. But I could feel what an extremely difficult situation he had to make– there is an unspoken rule that you don’t break the bond between police officers–surely, within their profession, rapport is stronger than any type of social justice.  But he did. I think the father’s story and dilemma hit me far harder than the girl’s. We are frustrated by the lack of change within the police force and “blue lives,” and reading this book made me realize why almost no change will occur. Police officers will never speak out against each other. What a heartbreaking thing for both their profession and for the people they serve and protect.

Another heartbreaking book I read is Echo by Paul Mosier. What stood out to me about this book is that 1) it’s from the older sister’s perspective and 2) it’s based on the author’s daughters. And 3) the cover is beautiful. I like that Echo is super adorable and funny. El is the ultimate big sister who nonetheless is vulnerable. The book was very realistic about how being around someone with cancer can feel like you don’t have any excuse to be sad, ever. Life is already SO unfair, how could someone without cancer be sad? But they can be. There are no qualifications to being sad or happy except that you have to be human <3. Wonderful book, Paul Mosier!

I loved Holes and was excited to find that there is a sequel! It is Small Steps and it is about Armpit and X-Ray. You could say it;s a spin-off rather than a sequel. I actually loved that it’s about Armpit. Armpit x X-Ray = buddies for life. Armpit x Ginny = best duo ever. Ginny is really the stand out of this book. Landscape architecture is a close second. When I was reading I got the feeling that Kiara DeLeon is supposed to be Rhianna. LOL. “Red Alert” is TOTALLY a song Rhianna would’ve put out in 2006!

Best line in the whole book = “My body went to red alert.” – Ginny

If I was making a self-care book list, I’d put Essential Glow and Feathers on it. I went to a workshop for making homemade household products and we made toothpaste and mouth wash. The recipes were from this book where you could also make your own deodorant and so many other products!!! I loved it! It was pretty wonderful. And always, for a gentle and quiet voice to salve your heart, read Jacqueline Woodson.

What books would you put in a self-care kit?




Soul books

Are there any books that speak to your soul? The books in this batch spoke to mine.

I read these in January when I was home alone, deciding whether to quit my teaching job or not, recovering from a sickness, and in general feeling like something big was happening, but that things would get worse before getting better. It seemed like these books describe that same change/emotions in life.

The one that spoke to me the most, and possibly one of my favorite books ever now, is Secrets of Worry Dolls by Amy Impellizzeri. It sounds silly but I think the universe had Amy write this book so I could read it at this particular time in my life. I relate to both Mari and Lu. I am Mari because my life has been difficult but I have a big heart, and I relate to Lu because she is pretty much exactly like me, lol. It was so healing and satisfying to read this. I feel so honored to have read this story and it is one I will re-read at various points in my life <3. Thank you, universe, for bringing this book into my life.

I have no business reading any love poems but I did. Nikki Giovanni is so creative and fun. I think this is what people mean when they say someone is “young at heart.” Love is love, Nikki Giovanni definitely knows that. If you are going to read love poems by anyone, read the ones by Ms. Giovanni.

Another African-American author that I love is Jacqueline Woodson! All of her books sound so gentle and have a 90s vibe. You will feel it when you read it. I adored If You Come Softly. I thought it could have been written today and been equally relevant. I love Jeremiah and Ellie. I love their gentle love story but was not prepared for the end. (who is ever prepared for the end of a truly sweet relationship?) This is a book I wish I could share with everyone.

Lastly, I read Small Country by Gael Faye. It was also a novella about a boy, Gabby, growing up in Burundi. (I guess I’ve been reading about a lot of Gabbys lately.) I’m so glad I got to read this! It was on my TBR list for a year or so and it’s another step in my journey as a reader to read translated works. I’d like to read more coming-of-age stories set in other countries. Not YA in especially, but memoirs. I’m on a memoir kick lately.

Unfortunately I DNF Rosalie Lightning by Tom Hart. I love graphic memoirs, especially ones about loss (see The Best We Could Do), but given that I am going through a hard time personally, this book was not right for me at the time. I may back to read it again someday. In a way, this book also spoke to me.

What books speak to your soul? What is your “lifetime” book?

Living in a dream all day

The Girl Who Drank the Moon – I finally read this! It reminds me of Adam Gidwitz and Grace Lin’s fairy tale journeys too. However, I didn’t find it as engaging as the other ones. I think I like fairy tales with a lot of interesting side characters and more realistic place setting. It reminds me of Shannon Hale too. Fairy tales forever!

The Problem with Being Slightly Heroic – It’s a Bollywood movie for kids in book form. I really liked it! Uma is a cozy writer.

26 Fairmount Avenue – I didn’t know that Tomie DePaola wrote chapter books too. This was a fun look into his childhood. I love biographies too!

The Color of Heaven– This is the conclusion of the manga trilogy. I liked it but I didn’t love it. It ends with Ehwa and her mom both getting married which was lovely. However it wasn’t so different from the first two books.

What the Moon Saw – I loved this book! It’s a hidden gem. It is kind of like Becoming Naomi Leon but a more teenage version. It really made you feel like you are with Clara Luna in a village in Mexico and it is a wonderful book. I recommend it.

Brown Girl Dreaming– Jacqueline Woodson is such a good writer! I will have to read more of her books. I love how she writes about her life and it’s so intimate and personal.