Bounce Back: 16 Books on Resilience

When I was freshly reeling from a painful and embarrassing failure, a respected mentor asked to meet up with me in a coffee shop. We chatted for a while and he asked me what I had learned from my struggle. I was so deep in shock and self-pity that I couldn’t think of anything positive to say. He told me I’ve learned that you’re resilient. I didn’t feel resilient at the time, but his words helped me to shift my perspective and inner story, and to work toward new goals.

These books compiled here are a variety of books on resilience, picking yourself up after failure, learning from mistakes, and owning your life as it is now. Some of these are titles I certainly could have used when I was going through that tough time- hopefully they will help someone somewhere who needs them.

(Descriptions provided from publishers, book-jackets, covers, etc. Kid-friendly books at the end.)

Mature Readers

Stop Doing that Sh*t: End Self-Sabotage and Demand Your Life Back– Gary John Bishop

Look, you might have fu*ked up in the past, so what? Stop Doing That Sh*t reveals how you can break free of those deep-seated patterns to live the life you always knew you wanted but could never quite seem to have.

How to Fail: Everything I’ve Ever Learned From Things Going Wrong-Elizabeth Day

Part memoir, part manifesto, and including chapters on dating, work, sport, babies, families, anger and friendship, it is based on the simple premise that understanding why we fail ultimately makes us stronger. It’s a book about learning from our mistakes and about not being afraid.

You’re Going to Survive: True Stories From People Who’ve Endured Soul-Crushing Moments In Their Careers- Failure, Rejection, Disappointment, Public Humiliation- and How They Got Through It- and How You Will Too- Alexandra Franzen

Each chapter is filled with honesty, humor, and heartfelt encouragement to help you stay motivated, keep marching, and never give up―even when things feel incredibly tough. No matter what’s going on in your career right now, this isn’t the end of your story. You’re going to survive.

Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength, and Happiness– Rick Hanson

Warm, encouraging, and down-to-earth, Dr. Hanson’s step-by-step approach is grounded in the science of positive neuroplasticity. He explains how to overcome the brain’s negativity bias, release painful thoughts and feelings, and replace them with self-compassion, self-worth, joy, and inner peace.

Resilient Grieving: Finding Strength and Embracing Life after a Loss that Changes Everything– Lucy Hone

“This book aims to help you relearn your world . . . to help you navigate the grieving process as best you can—without hiding from your feelings or denying the reality, or significance, of your loss.”
—from Resilient Grieving

Supernormal: Childhood Adversity and the Amazing Untold Story of Resilience– Meg Jay

Drawing on nearly two decades of work with clients and students, Jay tells the tale of ordinary people made extraordinary by these all-too-common experiences, everyday superheroes who have made a life out of dodging bullets and leaping over obstacles, even as they hide in plain sight as doctors, artists, entrepreneurs, lawyers, parents, activists, teachers, students and readers. She gives a voice to the supernormals among us as they reveal not only “How do they do it?” but also “How does it feel?”

The Art of Failing: Notes From the Underdog– Anthony McGowan

Stumble with Anthony McGowan from minor embarrassment to small-scale catastrophe to improbable fiasco. Cringe at one man’s idiosyncratic attempts to navigate the quotidian challenges of married life. Discover just how many ways it’s possible to flop, amidst the glory and desperation of everyday existence.

It’s Great to Suck at Something: The Unexpected Joy of Wiping Out and What it Can Teach Us About Patience, Resilience, and the Stuff that Really Matters- Karen Rinaldi

Coupling honest, hilarious storytelling with unexpected insights, (It’s Great to) Suck at Something is an invitation to embrace our shortcomings as the very best of who we are and to open ourselves up to adventure, where we may not find what we thought we were looking for, but something way more important.

Better: How I Let Go of Control, Held on to Hope, and Found Joy in my Darkest Hour– Amy Robach

“I have breast cancer.”

With honesty, humility, and humor, Robach connects deeply with women just like her who have struggled with any kind of sudden adversity. More important, she shares valuable wisdom about the power of the human spirit to endure the worst—and find the way to better.

The Resilience Dividend: Being Strong in a World Where Things Go Wrong- Judith Rodin

Through an astonishing range of stories, Judith Rodin shows how people, organizations, businesses, communities, and cities have developed resilience in the face of otherwise catastrophic challenges.

The Bounce Back Book: How to Thrive in the Face of Adversity, Setbacks, and Losses– Karen Salmansohn

Here are 70 easily digestible, potentially life-changing tips on how to bounce back from adversity, each on a spread that’s as punchy in look as it is powerful in message.

Shame is an Ocean I Swim Across– Poems by Mary Lambert

Beautiful and brutally honest, Mary Lambert’s poetry is a beacon to anyone who’s ever been knocked down―and picked themselves up again. In verse that deals with sexual assault, mental illness, and body acceptance, Ms. Lambert’s Shame Is an Ocean I Swim Across emerges as an important new voice in poetry, providing strength and resilience even in the darkest of times.

Kid-Friendly reads

Sometimes You Fly- Katherine Applegate & Jennifer Black Reinhardt

With every try, sometimes you fail . . . sometimes you fly.

Even Superheroes Make Mistakes– Shelly Becker & Eda Kaban

Even superheroes sometimes slip up and err. And when that happens, do they say, “It’s not FAIR?” or give up in despair? NO! “Ashamed Superheroes who goofed up somehow . . . First STOP . . . then CONSIDER what’s best to do now.” 

Famous fails! Mighty Mistakes, Mega Mishaps, & How a Mess Can Lead to Success!– Crispin Boyer

Read to learn what went right, what went wrong, and what kids can learn from each failed attempt

Bounce Back: How to Be a Resilient Kid– Wendy L. Moss

Bounce Back will help you find your bounce using cool quizzes, lots of advice, and practical strategies that build up resiliency skills.
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Manga in Libraries

I just finished this seminar for my LIS 518 course (which is all about comics, woohoo!)

It’s basically a Manga 101 sort of video with a few slides specifically pertaining to manga in libraries.

Enjoy!

What to Read When You’re Convinced The World Is Going to Shit

If, like me, you’ve been feeling more than your share of political exhaustion, existential dread, climate-change anxiety, and general fear about the way the world seems to be headed, you may want to consider perusing the following book suggestions.

These books won’t let us turn back time and prevent the election of ignorant egomaniacs. They probably also won’t help us when our coastlines become submerged, and they won’t protect us from artificially intelligent dictators or wildfires or aliens, but hey — at least they’ll make us feel better in the meantime.


Okay, maybe i’m feeling cynical, leaning nihilistic, but I really don’t think that I’m alone in my exasperation. These books aim to inspire hope, which I imagine most of us could use a bit more of these days.

And so, I present:

What to Read
When You’re Convinced
The World
Is Going to Shit.


(Quotes used are taken from product descriptions/book jackets of each title)


It’s Better Than It Looks: Reasons For Optimism In an Age of Fear by Gregg Easterbrook (2018)



Easterbrook offers specific policy reforms to address climate change, inequality, and other problems, and reminds us that there is real hope in conquering such challenges. In an age of discord and fear-mongering, It’s Better Than It Looks will profoundly change your perspective on who we are, where we’re headed, and what we’re capable of.

Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig (2019)


The societies we are part of are increasingly making our minds ill. It very often feels that the way we live is almost engineered to make us unhappy. Whether it is our attitudes toward sleep, the marketing messages that inundate us daily, the constant and hysterical news cycle, social media or even the way we educate our children, we are programming ourselves to put our bodies and minds at odds and setting ourselves up with expectations for our lives that prevent our happiness.
When Matt became ill with panic disorder, anxiety and depression, it took him a long time to work out the ways the external world could impact his mental health in positive and negative ways. Notes on a Nervous Planet shares his journey back to happiness and all of the lessons that Matt learned along the way

21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari (2018)


21 Lessons For the 21st Century provides a kind of instruction manual for the present day to help readers find their way around the 21st century, to understand it, and to focus on the really important questions of life. Once again, Harari presents this in the distinctive, informal, and entertaining style that already characterized his previous books. The topics Harari examines in this way include major challenges such as international terrorism, fake news, and migration, as well as turning to more personal, individual concerns, such as our time for leisure or how much pressure and stress we can take. 21 Lessons for the 21st Century answers the overarching question: What is happening in the world today, what is the deeper meaning of these events, and how can we individually steer our way through them? 

Gmorning, Gnight! Little Pep Talks for Me & You by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jonny Sun (2018)


Before he inspired the world with Hamilton and was catapulted to international fame, Lin-Manuel Miranda was inspiring his Twitter followers with words of encouragement at the beginning and end of each day. He wrote these original sayings, aphorisms, and poetry for himself as much as for others. But as Miranda’s audience grew, these messages took on a life on their own. Now Miranda has gathered the best of his daily greetings into a beautiful collection illustrated by acclaimed artist (and fellow Twitter favorite) Jonny Sun. Full of comfort and motivation, Gmorning, Gnight! is a touchstone for anyone who needs a quick lift.

Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress by Steven Pinker (2018)


Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? In this elegant assessment of the human condition in the third millennium, cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, which play to our psychological biases. Instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise, not just in the West, but worldwide. This progress is not the result of some cosmic force. It is a gift of the Enlightenment: the conviction that reason and science can enhance human flourishing.

Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World- And Why Things Are Better Than You Think – by Hans Rosling, Ola Rosling, and Anna Rosling Ronnlund (2018)



It turns out that the world, for all its imperfections, is in a much better state than we might think.That doesn’t mean there aren’t real concerns. But when we worry about everything all the time instead of embracing a worldview based on facts, we can lose our ability to focus on the things that threaten us most.
Inspiring and revelatory, filled with lively anecdotes and moving stories, Factfulness is an urgent and essential book that will change the way you see the world and empower you to respond to the crises and opportunities of the future.

Poems for a World Gone To Sh*t: The Amazing Power of Poetry To Make Even The Most F**ked Up Times Feel Better featuring poems by various poets (2019)


Funny, reflective, romantic and life-affirming – here is an anthology of poems to remind you to keep on looking at the stars: from that first ‘what the f*ck’ moment to empowering you to do something about this sh*t and ultimately realising that life is still beautiful after all.

International Women’s Day 2019: 101 Books To Check Out!

BOOK-LIST TIME! This time for International Women’s Day!

I’ve kept track of 101 books that have been released recently (approximately within this past year) featuring intersectional feminist writings, women’s stories and histories, and empowering reads from diverse voices.

The quoted descriptions I’ve used are from the book jackets and/or their promo materials.

Scroll down for biographies, non-fiction, graphic novels, YA titles, and books for younger readers, too!

Happy, inspired reading!

Biography

Minority Leader: How to Build your Future and Make real Change– Stacey Abrams

A personal and empowering blueprint—from one of America’s rising Democratic stars—for outsiders who seek to become the ones in charge

Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers her Superpower- Brittney Cooper

So what if it’s true that Black women are mad as hell? They have the right to be. In the Black feminist tradition of Audre Lorde, Brittney Cooper reminds us that anger is a powerful source of energy that can give us the strength to keep on fighting.

Everyday I’m Hustling– Vivica A. Fox

Every Day I’m Hustling is a personal book with a message Fox passionately believes in: that you make your own luck, that you never ever wake up in the morning thinking somebody’s going to call you and offer you that part or ask you out on that date that’s going to change your life, that you have to wake up and put on your longest eyelashes and fiercest heels and go out and make your life happen yourself.

The Cost of Living: A Working Autobiography– Deborah Levy

To strip the wallpaper off the fairy tale of The Family House in which the comfort and happiness of men and children has been the priority is to find behind it an unthanked, unloved, neglected, exhausted woman.

Tomorrow will be different: Love, Loss, and the Fight for Trans Equality– Sarah McBride

Informative, heartbreaking, and profoundly empowering, Tomorrow Will Be Different is McBride’s story of love and loss and a powerful entry point into the LGBTQ community’s battle for equal rights and what it means to be openly transgender.

Becoming– Michelle Obama

An intimate, powerful, and inspiring memoir by the former First Lady of the United States

Make Trouble: Standing Up, Speaking Out, and Finding the Courage to Lead– My Life Story– Cecile Richards

From Cecile Richards—president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund for more than a decade, daughter of the late Governor Ann Richards, featured speaker at the Women’s March on Washington, and a “heroine of the resistance” (Vogue)—comes a story about learning to lead and make change, based on a lifetime of fighting for women’s rights and social justice.

I’m Afraid of Men– Vivek Shraya

With raw honesty, Shraya delivers an important record of the cumulative damage caused by misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia, releasing trauma from a body that has always refused to assimilate.

She Wants It: Desire, Power, and Toppling the Patriarchy– Jill Soloway

With unbridled insight that offers a rare front seat to the inner workings of the #metoo movement and its aftermath, Jill captures the zeitgeist of a generation with thoughtful and revolutionary ideas about gender, inclusion, desire, and consent.

New girl: a Trans Girl Tells it Like It Is– Rhyannon Styles

Elle columnist Rhyannon Styles tells her unforgettable life story in THE NEW GIRL, reflecting on her past and charting her incredible journey from male to female. A raw, frank and utterly moving celebration of life.

Fiction

Roar: Thirty Women. Thirty Stories. – Cecelia Ahern

From much-loved, international bestseller Cecelia Ahern come stories for all of us: the women who befriend us, the women who encourage us, the women who make us brave

Non-Fiction

Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet– Claire L. Evans

Join the ranks of the pioneers who defied social convention to become database poets, information-wranglers, hypertext dreamers, and glass ceiling-shattering dot com-era entrepreneurs.

Fed Up: Emotional Labor, Women, and the Way Forward – Gemma Hartley

From Gemma Hartley, the journalist who ignited a national conversation on emotional labor, comes Fed Up, a bold dive into the unpaid, invisible work women have shouldered for too long—and an impassioned vision for creating a better future for us all.

The Gutsy Girl Handbook: Your Manifesto for Success– Kate White

Bestselling author, professional speaker, and former editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan, Kate White shares the nine core principles gutsy women need to go bigger, bolder, and achieve the full level of success they desire.

Dear Madam President: An Open Letter to the Women Who Will Run the World– Jennifer Palmieri

Redefine the expectations for women in leadership roles with this #1 New York Times bestselling volume of inspiring advice by the former communications director for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Keep Marching: How Every Woman Can Take Action and Change Our World by Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner

Keep Marching calls on all badass women for justice to come together and rise.

Women Rowing North: Navigating Life’s Currents and Flourishing As We Age– Mary Pipher

The instant bestseller from the author of Reviving Ophelia–a guide to wisdom, authenticity, and bliss for women as they age.

Shrewed: A Wry and Closely Observed Look at the Lives of Women and Girls– Elizabeth Renzetti

Drawing upon Renzetti’s decades of reporting on feminist issues, Shrewed is a book about feminism’s crossroads.

She Caused a Riot: 100 Unknown Women Who Built Cities, Sparked Revolutions, and Massively Crushed It – Hannah Jewell

Meet the bold women history has tried to forget… until now!

Visionary Women: How Rachel Carson, Jane Jacobs, Jane Goodall, and Alice Waters Changed Our World– Andrea Barnet

With a keen eye for historical detail, Andrea Barnet traces the arc of each woman’s career and explores how their work collectively changed the course of history.

Canada 150 Women: Conversations with Leaders, Champions, and Luminaries by Paulina Cameron

Ambition, diversity, strength: few groups better represent the potential of Canada than women. Canada 150 Women profiles 150 of the country’s most inspiring, groundbreaking and powerful female role models, providing insight into their achievements—and a challenge for all to better support women.

Leftover in China: The Women Shaping the World’s Next Superpower– Roseann Lake

Part critique of China’s paternalistic ideals, part playful portrait of the romantic travails of China’s trailblazing women and their well-meaning parents who are anxious to see their daughters snuggled into traditional wedlock, Roseann Lake’s Leftover in China focuses on the lives of four individual women against a backdrop of colorful anecdotes, hundreds of interviews, and rigorous historical and demographic research to show how these “leftovers” are the linchpin to China’s future.

Dead Girls: Essays on Surviving an American Obsession – Alice Bolin

Bolin constructs a sharp, perceptive, and revelatory dialogue on the portrayal of women in media and their roles in our culture.

Feminists Don’t Wear Pink and Other Lies: Amazing Women on What the F-Word Means to Them – Scarlett Curtis

Often funny, sometimes surprising, and always inspiring, this book aims to bridge the gap between the feminist hashtag and the scholarly text by giving women the space to explain how they actually feel about feminism.

#MeToo: Women Speak Out Against Sexual Assault– The New York Times Editorial

It started with an article and grew into a movement… This collection of articles tracks the movement from its start. It looks at the international response and inevitable criticism, as well as the future of the movement.

The Little Book of Feminist Saints– Julia Pierpont & Manjit Thapp

In this luminous volume, New York Times bestselling writer Julia Pierpont and artist Manjit Thapp match short, vibrant, and surprising biographies with stunning full-color portraits of secular female “saints”: champions of strength and progress.

Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger– Rebecca Traister

Highlighting a double standard perpetuated against women by all sexes, and its disastrous, stultifying effect, Traister’s latest is timely and crucial. It offers a glimpse into the galvanizing force of women’s collective anger, which, when harnessed, can change history.

Can we all be feminists?: New Writing from Brit Bennett, Nicole Dennis-Benn, and 15 Others on Intersectionality, Identity, and the Way Forward for Feminism– June Eric-Udorie (Editor)

A groundbreaking book that elevates underrepresented voices, Can We All Be Feminists? offers the tools and perspective we need to create a 21st century feminism that is truly for all.

Unladylike: a Field Guide to Smashing the Patriarchy and Claiming Your Space– Cristen Conger & Caroline Ervin

A funny, fact-driven, and illustrated field guide to how to live a feminist life in today’s world, from the hosts of the hit Unladylike podcast.

Fight like a Girl: An Inspiring, Unapologetic, Feminist Manifesto– Clementine Ford

Through a mixture of memoir, opinion and investigative journalism, Clementine Ford exposes just how unequal the world continues to be for women

Our Stories, Our Voices: 21 YA Authors Get Real About Injustice, Empowerment, and Growing Up Female in America- Amy Reed (Editor)

This collection of twenty-one essays from major YA authors—including award-winning and bestselling writers—touches on a powerful range of topics related to growing up female in today’s America, and the intersection with race, religion, and ethnicity.

Can Your Conversations Change the World? – Erinne Paisley

Can Your Conversations Change the World? provides insight into the origins and history of feminism, how it plays out on the global stage and what it means to be a young feminist and activist today.

History vs Women: The Defiant Lives that They Don’t Want You to Know– Anita Sarkeesian & Ebony Adams

Featuring beautiful full-color illustrations of each woman and a bold graphic design, this standout nonfiction title is the perfect read for teens (or adults!) who want the true stories of phenomenal women from around the world and insight into how their lives and accomplishments impacted both their societies and our own.

The Time Has Come: Why Men Must Join the Gender Equality Revolution– Michael Kaufman

Weaving together sociological data, personal experiences, and insights gleaned from decades of work with governments and NGOs around the globe, Kaufman explores topics ranging from domestic violence to parental leave, grappling with the ways in which a culture of toxic masculinity hurts women and men (and their children). Informative and provocative, The Time Has Come demonstrates how real gender equality creates advancements in both the workplace and the global economy, and urges men to become dedicated allies in dismantling the patriarchy.

A Bound Woman is a Dangerous Thing: The Incarceration of African American Women from Harriet Tubman to Sandra Bland- DaMaris Hill

A revelatory work in the tradition of Claudia Rankine’s Citizen, DaMaris Hill’s searing and powerful narrative-in-verse bears witness to American women of color burdened by incarceration.

Amateur Hour: Motherhood in Essays and Swear Words– Kimberly Harrington

Welcome to essayist Kimberly Harrington’s poetic and funny world of motherhood, womanhood, and humanhood, not necessarily in that order.

Modern HERstory: Stories of Women and Nonbinary People Rewriting History– Blair Imani

An inspiring and radical celebration of 70 women, girls, and gender nonbinary people who have changed–and are still changing–the world, from the Civil Rights Movement and Stonewall riots through Black Lives Matter and beyond.

Read & Riot: a Pussy Riot Guide to Activism– Nadya Tolokonnikova

From artist, activist, and Pussy Riot founder Nadya Tolokonnikova, a guerilla guide to radical protest and joyful political resistance

Lighting the Fires of Freedom: African American Women in the Civil Rights Movement– Janet Dewart Bell

A groundbreaking collection based on oral histories that brilliantly plumb the leadership of African American women in the 20th-century fight for civil rights – many nearly lost to history

Equality for Women= Prosperity for All: The Disastrous Global Crisis of Gender Inequality- Augusto Lopez-Claros & Bahiyyih Nakhjavani

A groundbreaking book about the direct relationship between a woman’s rights and freedoms and the economic prosperity of her country.

A Girl Stands at the Door: the Generation of Young Women Who Desegregated America’s Schools– Rachel Devlin

These are the remarkable stories of the girls who saw themselves as responsible for the difficult work of crossing color lines.

Count Girls In: Empowering Girls to Combine Any Interests with STEM to Open Up a World of Opportunity– Karen Panetta & Katianne Williams

Count Girls In encourages parents and other adults to raise authentic young women who have the confidence to put STEM to work in a way that best serves them and their passions. The authors, both STEM professionals, present compelling research in a conversational, accessible style and provide specific advice and takeaways for each stage of schooling, from elementary school through college, followed by comprehensive STEM resources. This isn’t a book about raising competitive, test-acing girls in lab coats; this is about raising happy, confident girls who realize the world of opportunities before them.

Gross Anatomy: Dispatches from the Front (and Back)– Mara Altman

Mara Altman’s volatile and apprehensive relationship with her body has led her to wonder about a lot of stuff over the years. Like, who decided that women shouldn’t have body hair? And how sweaty is too sweaty? Also, why is breast cleavage sexy but camel toe revolting? Isn’t it all just cleavage? These questions and others like them have led to the comforting and sometimes smelly revelations that constitute Gross Anatomy, an essay collection about what it’s like to operate the bags of meat we call our bodies.

Period Power: a Manifesto for the Menstrual Movement– Nadya Okamoto & Rebecca Elfast

Period Power aims to explain what menstruation is, shed light on the stigmas and resulting biases, and create a strategy to end the silence and prompt conversation about periods.

You Have the Right to Remain Fat– Virgie Tovar

In concise and candid language, [Tovar] delves into unlearning fatphobia, dismantling sexist notions of fashion, and how to reject diet culture’s greatest lie: that fat people need to wait before beginning their best lives.

Galaxy Girls: 50 Amazing Stories of Women in Space– Libby Jackson

Filled with beautiful full-color illustrations, a groundbreaking compendium honoring the amazing true stories of fifty inspirational women who helped fuel some of the greatest achievements in space exploration from the nineteenth century to today

Free the Tipple: Kickass Cocktails Inspired by Iconic Women– Jennifer Croll & Kelly Shami

Sixty of the world’s coolest and most influential women are the inspiration for this refreshing and fun collection of drink recipes that are sure to bring extra zest to your cocktail shaker. 

Know your Value: Women, Money, and Getting What You’re Worth– Mika Brzezinski

The bestselling motivational guide that TheAtlantic.comcalls “a rallying cry for women to get the money they deserve.” 

The Myth of the Nice Girl: Achieving a Career You Love Without Becoming a Person You Hate– Fran Hauser

THE MYTH OF THE NICE GIRL is a refreshing dose of forward-looking feminism that will resonate with smart, professional women who know what they want and are looking for real advice to take their career to the next level without losing themselves in the process.

Ninth Street Women– Mary Gabriel

Set amid the most turbulent social and political period of modern times, Ninth Street Women is the impassioned, wild, sometimes tragic, always exhilarating chronicle of five women who dared to enter the male-dominated world of twentieth-century abstract painting–not as muses but as artists.

She Begat This: 20 Years of the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill– Joan Morgan 

Celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the acclaimed and influential debut album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill with this eye-opening and moving exploration of Lauryn Hill and her remarkable artistic legacy.

Beyonce in Formation: Remixing Black Feminism– Omise’eke Natasha Tinsley

Making headlines when it was launched in 2015, Omise’eke Tinsley’s undergraduate course “Beyoncé Feminism, Rihanna Womanism” has inspired students from all walks of life. In Beyoncé in Formation, Tinsley now takes her rich observations beyond the classroom, using the blockbuster album and video Lemonade as a soundtrack for vital new-millennium narratives.

Women who rock: Bessie to Beyonce. Girl Groups to Riot Grrrl.– Evelyn McDonnell

A stellar and unprecedented celebration of 104 musical artists, WOMEN WHO ROCK is the most complete, up-to-date history of the evolution, influence, and importance of women in music. A gorgeous gift book, it includes a stunning, specially commissioned, full-color illustrated portrait of every musician and group.

Stealing the Show: How Women are Revolutionizing Television– Joy Press

Joy Press tells the story of the maverick women who broke through the barricades and the iconic shows that redefined the television landscape.

Everything’s Trash, But it’s Okay– Pheobe Robinson

Outfitted with on-point pop culture references, these essays tackle a wide range of topics: giving feminism a tough-love talk on intersectionality, telling society’s beauty standards to kick rocks, and calling foul on our culture’s obsession with work… With the intimate voice of a new best friend, Everything’s Trash, But It’s Okay is a candid perspective for a generation that has had the rug pulled out from under it too many times to count.

Tough Mothers: Amazing Stories of History’s Mightiest Matriarchs– Jason Porath

The author of Rejected Princesses returns with an inspiring, fully illustrated guide that brings together the fiercest mothers in history—real life matriarchs who gave everything to protect all they loved.

When Women Ruled the World: Six Queens of Egypt– Kara Cooney

This riveting narrative explores the lives of six remarkable female pharaohs, from Hatshepsut to Cleopatra–women who ruled with real power–and shines a piercing light on our own perceptions of women in power today.

Beyond the Call: Three Women on the Front Lines in Afghanistan– Eileen Rivers

A riveting account of three women who fought shoulder-to-shoulder with men and worked with local women to restore their lives and push back the Taliban

Bringing Down the Colonel : a Sex Scandal of the Gilded Age, and the “Powerless” Woman Who Took On Washington– Patricia Miller

In Bringing Down the Colonel, the journalist Patricia Miller tells the story of Madeline Pollard, an unlikely nineteenth-century women’s rights crusader. After an affair with a prominent politician left her “ruined,” Pollard brought the man—and the hypocrisy of America’s control of women’s sexuality—to trial. And, surprisingly, she won.

Women Warriors: An Unexpected History– Pamela D. Toler

Who says women don’t go to war? From Vikings and African queens to cross-dressing military doctors and WWII Russian fighter pilots, these are the stories of women for whom battle was not a metaphor.

Graphic Novels

Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World– Penelope Bagieu

Throughout history and across the globe, one characteristic connects the daring women of Brazen: their indomitable spirit.

Mean Girls Club: Pink Dawn– Ryan Heshka

The Mean Girls are out for blood in this timely revenge fantasy that speaks to our deepest desires for awful, corrupt men to get what’s coming to ‘em! Filled with mayhem, misandry, and more danger than you can shake a stiletto at, get ready for a chaotic, bloody ride. 

Girl Town– Carolyn Nowak

Girl Town collects the Ignatz Award-winning stories “Radishes” and “Diana’s Electric Tongue” together with several other tales of young adulthood and the search for connection. 

Young Adult Fiction

The Radical Element: 12 Stories of Daredevils, Debutantes & Other Dauntless Girls– Jessica Spotswood (Editor)

In an anthology of revolution and resistance, a sisterhood of YA writers shines a light on a century and a half of heroines on the margins and in the intersections.

Junior Graphic Novel

Geeky F@B 5 Vol 1: It’s Not Rocket Science– Lucy & Liz Lareau &Ryan Jampole

Join Lucy, the gang, Hubble the snarky kitty, and their TV reporter buddy, Suzy Pundergast, to find out if they can prove the meanies wrong because when girls stick together, anything is possible!

Junior Non-Fiction

Girl Squads: 20 Female Friendships that Changed History– Sam Maggs & Jenn Woodall

A fun and feisty tour of famous girl BFFs from history who stuck together and changed the world.

Girls resist!: A Guide to Activism, Leadership, and Starting a Revolution– KaeLyn Rich & Giulia Sagramola

An activism handbook for teen girls ready to fight for change, social justice, and equality.

Black Women who Dared– Naomi M. Moyer

Inspirational stories of ten Black women and women’s collectives from Canadian and American history. Included are leaders and groundbreakers who were anti-slavery activists, business women, health-care activists, civic organizers and educators

We are Displaced: My Journey and Stories from Refugee Girls Around the World– Malala Yousafzai

In her powerful new book, Nobel Peace Prize winner and New York Times-bestselling author Malala Yousafzai introduces some of the people behind the statistics and news stories about the millions of people displaced worldwide. 

Rebel Voices: the Global Fight for Women’s Equality and the Right to Vote- Louise Kay Stewart & Peter Knorr

A timely, beautiful and bold compendium of women around the world who said “time’s up” on inequality. Rule Breakers. Risk Takers. Rebel Women. Law Makers. This book is a celebration of women standing up, speaking out, and sticking together to battle inequality and win the vote.

Fearless and Fantastic! Female Super Heroes Save the World– Sam Maggs, Ruth Amos & Emma Grange

More than 50 incredible female Super Heroes from the Marvel Comics universe inspire girls and women of all ages to be powerful, passionate, and persistent. 

Rising Above: Inspiring Women in Sports– Gregory Zuckerman, Elijah Zuckerman & Gabriel Zuckerman

The inspirational real-life stories of superstar athletes Serena and Venus Williams, Simone Biles, Carli Lloyd, and more! 

She Persisted Around the World: 13 Women Who Changed History– Chelsea Clinton & Alexandra Boiger

Perfect for tiny activists, mini feminists and little kids who are ready to take on the world.

Skyward: The Story of Female Pilots In WWII– Sally Deng 

Follow the adventures of these young female pioneers as they battle not only enemies in the skies but sexism and inequality in their own teams, and encounter legends like Jackie “Speed Queen” Cochran. Risking their lives countless times in feats of incredible bravery, the Women Airforce Service Pilots–WASPs–of the Second World War are honored in this beautiful story based on actual events, illustrated in Sally Deng’s raw, dynamic style.

25 Women Who Dared to Go-Allison Lassieur

From the fearless to the feared, discover 25 women who dared. 

25 Women Who Fought Back– Jill Sherman

Discover 25 women who challenged the status quo and fought for what they believed in.

25 Women Who Thought of it First– Jill Sherman 

Discover 25 women who were trailblazers in science, technology, architecture, engineering and more.

25 Women Who Ruled– Rebecca Stanborough

Discover 25 women who shattered the glass ceiling, each in their own way. In politics, government, the business world and more, these women show us that ambition, perserverance and hard work go a long way.

Junior Biography

Path to the Stars: My Journey from Girl Scout to Rocket Scientist– Sylvia Acevedo

The inspiring memoir for young readers about a Latina rocket scientist whose early life was transformed by joining the Girl Scouts and who currently serves as CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA.

Rosa’s Animals: The Story of Rosa Bonheur and Her Painting Menagerie– Maryann MacDonald

Painter and sculptor Rosa Bonheur (1822–1899) led a highly nontraditional life, especially for a woman in the nineteenth century. She kept lions as pets, was awarded the Legion of Honor by Empress Eugénie, and befriended “Buffalo Bill” Cody. She became a painter at a time when women were often only reluctantly educated as artists. Her unconventional artistic work habits, including visiting slaughterhouses to sketch an animal’s anatomy and wearing men’s clothing to gain access to places like a horse fair, where women were not allowed, helped her become one of the most beloved female painters of her time. 

Out of this World: The Surreal Art of Leonora Carrington– Michelle Markel & Amanda Hall

A gorgeously illustrated picture book biography about the fascinating life of surrealist artist Leonora Carrington, from Michelle Markel and Amanda Hall, the acclaimed team behind The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau.

Meet Viola Desmond– Elizabeth MacLeod & Mike Deas

Meet Viola Desmond, community leader and early civil rights trailblazer!

No Truth Without Ruth: The Life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg– Kathleen Krull & Nancy Zhang

From award-winning author Kathleen Krull comes an empowering picture book biography—with dazzling illustrations from artist Nancy Zhang—about the second female justice of the Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maria Merian’s Art Changed Science– Joyce Sidman 

Bugs, of all kinds, were considered to be born of mud” and to be “beasts of the devil.” Why would anyone, let alone a girl, want to study and observe them?

One of the first naturalists to observe live insects directly, Maria Sibylla Merian was also one of the first to document the metamorphosis of the butterfly. In this visual nonfiction biography, richly illustrated throughout with full-color original paintings by Merian herself, the Newbery Honor-winning author Joyce Sidman paints her own picture of one of the first female entomologists and a woman who flouted convention in the pursuit of knowledge and her passion for insects.

Proud: Living my American Dream– Ibtihaj Muhammad

The inspiring and critically acclaimed all-American story of faith, family, hard work, and perseverance by Olympic fencer, activist, and Time “100 Most Influential People” honoree Ibtihaj Muhammad

She Created a Monster: How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein– Lynn Fulton & Felicita Sala 

On the bicentennial of Frankenstein, join Mary Shelley on the night she created the most frightening monster the world has ever seen.

Gloria’s Voice: The Story of Gloria Steinem– Feminist, Activist, Leader– Aura Lewis

Gloria Steinem started a movement that changed our world. This picture-book biography of the pioneering feminist brings the message of equality to a new generation.

Game Changers: The Story of Venus and Serena Williams– Lesa Cline-Ransome & James E. Ransome 

This lovingly crafted picture book biography centers on the incredible bond between Venus and Serena Williams…

Junior Picture Book

The Truly Brave Princesses– Dolores Brown & Sonja Wimmer

Princess Nin is a firefighter, Princess Gilda is a supermarket cashier, Princess Agnes is retired, and Princess Liang is in a wheel chair. This gallery of princesses gives visibility to lot of women who do not fit with the traditional conception of a princess. Maybe it’s time to realize that each and every one of us could be a princess.

I Am Enough– Grace Byers & Keturah A. Bobo

This is a gorgeous, lyrical ode to loving who you are, respecting others, and being kind to one another—from Empire actor and activist Grace Byers and talented newcomer artist Keturah A. Bobo.

Juno Valentine and the Magical Shoes– Eva Chen & Derek Desierto

…A story that’s equal parts fashion fairy-tale and guide to girl power…

My Wish for You– Kathryn Hahn & Brigette Barrager

A poignant, fierce reflection on the power and spirit of girls and girls-at-heart from celebrated actress Kathryn Hahn and New York Times bestselling illustrator Brigette Barrager.

Girls Can Do Anything– Caryl Hart & Ali Pye

One size definitely does not fit all in this book: charming depictions of girls being scruffy or fancy, neat or messy, and everything in between are explored and celebrated, because each girl is unique and unlike all others.

The Absolutely, Positively No Princesses Book– Ian Lendler & Deborah Zemke

Some kids like frills and sparkles and bows and lots of pink. And some don’t. The girl who started “The Absolutely, Positively No Princess Book” is sure that she wants a story full of nature and adventure. But when a princess barges into the pages with her own opinions about what makes for a good story, the two learn that they each have something to offer. Together they make the best story of all.

Power to the Princess: 15 Favorite Fairytales Retold with Girl Power– Vita Murrow & Julia Bereciartu

Focused on issues including self-imageconfidenceLGBTQfriendshipadvocacy, and disability, these stories are perfect for sharing between parents and children, or for older princesses or princes to read by themselves. They teach that a princess is a person who seeks to help others, is open to learning new things, and looks for ways to add purpose to their lives and the lives of those around them.

Mary Wears What She Wants– Keith Negley

From the award-winning creator of My Dad Used to Be So Cool and Tough Guys Have Feelings Too comes a charming picture book inspired by the true story of Mary Edwards Walker, a trailblazing 19th-century doctor who was arrested many times for wearing pants.

Dress Like a Girl– Patricia Toht & Lorian Tu-Dean

Uplifting and resonant, and with a variety of interests ranging from sports to science to politics, this book is sure to inspire any young girl, instilling the idea that the best way to dress like a girl is the way that makes you feel most like YOU!

Board Books

Feminist Baby Finds Her Voice– Loryn Brantz

Feminist Baby is learning to talk
She says what she thinks and it totally rocks!
 
Feminist Babies stand up tall
“Equal rights and toys for all!”

Be a Star, Wonder Woman!– Michael Dahl & Omar Lozano

In this board book, young girl braves a challenge-filled day — just like her hero, Wonder Woman! 

Junior Fiction

Rosie Revere and the Raucous Riveters: The Questioneers Book 1– Andrea Beaty & David Roberts

You loved the bestselling picture books starring Rosie Revere, Ada Twist, and Iggy Peck. Now you can follow The Questioneers’ further adventures in brand-new chapter books! The first installment, Rosie Revere and the Raucous Riveters, is a spirited story about the power of teamwork and the true meaning of home.

Ellie, Engineer– Jackson Pearce

Illustrated with Ellie’s sketches and plans, and including backmatter with a fun how-to guide to tools, this is a STEM- and friendship-powered story full of fun!

Black History Month (and Every Month!): New Titles From 2018

This past year I’ve been keeping track of some awesome new releases that feature POC stories, reflections, expressions, and histories. February is Black History Month, but these books are awesome reads year round! 🙂

Here are some fresh reads to check out, including fiction and non-fiction for readers young and old

(Note: I haven’t read every one of these myself yet- descriptions used were taken from the book jackets.)

 

Young Adult to Adult Readers

We are Not Yet Equal by Carol Anderson and Tonya Bolden

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“Carol Anderson’s White Rage took the world by storm, landing on the New York Times bestseller list and best book of the year lists from New York TimesWashington PostBoston Globe, and Chicago Review of Books. It launched her as an in-demand commentator on contemporary race issues for national print and television media and garnered her an invitation to speak to the Democratic Congressional Caucus. This compelling young adult adaptation brings her ideas to a new audience. ”

 

We Can’t Breathe by Jabari Asim

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“In We Can’t Breathe, Jabari Asim disrupts what Toni Morrison has exposed as the “Master Narrative” and replaces it with a story of black survival and persistence through art and community in the face of centuries of racism. ”

Lighting the Fires of Freedom by Janet Dewart Bell

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“A groundbreaking collection based on oral histories that plumbs the leadership of African American women in the twentieth-century fight for civil rights—many nearly lost to history—from the latest winner of the Studs and Ida Terkel Prize.”

 

Black Girls Rock! Owning our Magic, Rocking our Truth, edited by Beverly Bond

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“From the award-winning entrepreneur, culture leader, and creator of the BLACK GIRLS ROCK! movement comes an inspiring and beautifully designed book that pays tribute to the achievements and contributions of black women around the world.”

 

The Heritage by Howard Bryant

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“The Heritage is the story of the rise, fall, and fervent return of the athlete-activist. Through deep research and interviews with some of sports’ best-known stars—including Kaepernick, David Ortiz, Charles Barkley, and Chris Webber—as well as members of law enforcement and the military, Bryant details the collision of post-9/11 sports in America and the politically engaged post-Ferguson black athlete.”

 

Invisible: The Forgotten Story of the Black Woman Lawyer Who Took Down America’s Most Powerful Mobster by Stephen L. Carter

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“Moving, haunting, and as fast-paced as a novel, Invisible tells the true story of a woman who often found her path blocked by the social and political expectations of her time. But Eunice Carter never accepted defeat, and thanks to her grandson’s remarkable book, her long forgotten story is once again visible.”

Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower by Brittney Cooper

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“So what if it’s true that Black women are mad as hell? They have the right to be. In the Black feminist tradition of Audre Lorde, Brittney Cooper reminds us that anger is a powerful source of energy that can give us the strength to keep on fighting.”

A Girl Stands at the Door by Rachel Delvin

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“In the grassroots struggle to desegregate American schools, girls were the vanguard. In the late 1940s, parents filed lawsuits with their daughters, forcing civil rights lawyers to take the issue to the Supreme Court. After Brown v. Board of Education, girls far outnumbered boys as volunteers. These are the remarkable stories of the girls who saw themselves as responsible for the difficult work of crossing color lines.”

 

Well-Read Black Girl (Anthology) by Glory Edim

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“An inspiring collection of essays by black women writers, curated by the founder of the popular book club Well-Read Black Girl, on the importance of recognizing ourselves in literature.”

 

A Perilous Path by Sherrilyn Ifill et al.

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“This blisteringly candid discussion of the American dilemma in the age of Trump brings together the head of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the former attorney general of the United States, a bestselling author and death penalty lawyer, and a star professor for an honest conversation the country desperately needs to hear.”

 

How Long Till Black Future Month? by N.K. Jemsin

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“In the first collection of her evocative short fiction, which includes never-before-seen stories, Jemisin equally challenges and delights readers with thought-provoking narratives of destruction, rebirth, and redemption.”

 

Becoming by Michelle Obama

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“In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America—the first African American to serve in that role—she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare.”

 

We Matter: Athletes and Activism by Etan Thomas

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“In We Matter, Thomas strives to show the influence professional athletes can have when they join the conversation on race, politics, and civil rights. ”

 

The Life of Frederick Douglass: A Graphic Narrative of a Slave’s Journey from Bondage to Freedom by David F. Walker et al.

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“A graphic novel biography of the escaped slave, abolitionist, public speaker, and most photographed man of the nineteenth century, based on his autobiographical writings and speeches, spotlighting the key events and people that shaped the life of this great American.”

 

Black Fortunes by Shomari Wills

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“By telling the little-known stories of six pioneering African American entrepreneurs, Black Fortunes makes a worthy contribution to black history, to business history, and to American history.”—Margot Lee Shetterly, New York Times Bestselling author of Hidden Figures

 

Let it Bang: A Young Black Man’s Reluctant Odyssey Into Guns by RJ Young

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“Let It Bang is an utterly original look at American gun culture from the inside, and from the other side—and, most movingly, the story of a young black man’s hard-won nonviolent path to self-protection.”

 

Junior Readers and Up

Game Changers: The Story of Venus and Serena Williams by Lesa Cline-Ransome and James E. Ransome

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“With vibrant mixed media art, nonfiction superstars Lesa Cline-Ransome and Coretta Scott King Honor winner James E. Ransome share the inspirational story of two tennis legends who were fierce competitors on the courts, but close sisters above all.”

 

Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop by Alice Faye Duncan and R. Gregory Christie

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“This historical fiction picture book presents the story of nine-year-old Lorraine Jackson, who in 1968 witnessed the Memphis sanitation strike–Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s final stand for justice before his assassination–when her father, a sanitation worker, participated in the protest.”

 

Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness by Anastasia Higginbotham

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“Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness is a a picture book that invites white children and parents to become curious about racism, accept that it’s real, and cultivate justice.”

 

Hammering for Freedom by Rita Lorraine Hubbard and John Holyfield

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“Born into slavery in Chattanooga, Tennessee, William “Bill” Lewis learned the blacksmith trade as soon as he was old enough to grip a hammer. He proved to be an exceptional blacksmith and earned so much money fixing old tools and creating new ones that he was allowed to keep a little money for himself. With just a few coins in his pocket, Bill set a daring plan in motion: he was determined to free his family. Winner of Lee & Low?s New Voices Award, Hammering for Freedom tells the true story of one man?s skill, hard work, and resolve to keep his family together.”

 

Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship by Irene Latham et al.

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“How can Irene and Charles work together on their fifth grade poetry project? They don’t know each other . . . and they’re not sure they want to.

Irene Latham, who is white, and Charles Waters, who is black, use this fictional setup to delve into different experiences of race in a relatable way, exploring such topics as hair, hobbies, and family dinners. Accompanied by artwork from acclaimed illustrators Sean Qualls and Selina Alko (of The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage), this remarkable collaboration invites readers of all ages to join the dialogue by putting their own words to their experiences.”

 

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Boy by Tony Medina & 13 Artists

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 “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Boy by Tony Medina offers a fresh perspective of young men of color by depicting thirteen views of everyday life.”

 

Don’t Touch my Hair by Sharee Miller

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“An entertaining picture book that teaches the importance of asking for permission first as a young girl attempts to escape the curious hands that want to touch her hair.”

 

Black Women Who Dared by Naomi M. Moyer

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“Beautiful, colorful illustrations tell the inspirational stories of ten black women and women’s collectives from 1793 to the present.”

 

Peaceful Fights for Equal Rights by Rob Sanders and Jared Andrew Schorr

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“Through sparse and lyrical writing, Rob Sanders introduces abstract concepts like “fighting for what you believe in” and turns them into something actionable.”

 

Betty Before X by Ilyasah Shabazz and Renee Watson

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“Betty Before X is a powerful middle-grade fictionalized account of the childhood activism of Betty Shabazz, Malcolm X’s wife, written by their daughter Ilyasah Shabazz.”

 

Young, Gifted and Black by Jamia Wilson and Andrea Pippins

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“Meet 52 icons of color from the past and present in this celebration of inspirational achievement—a collection of stories about changemakers to encourage, inspire and empower the next generation of changemakers.”


 

Did I miss any great titles that came out in 2018? Please let me know and I will add them to the list!

Letting Go: On KonMari & Books

You must have been living under a mountain of joyless t-shirts for the last month if you haven’t seen the memes, or at least heard about Marie Kondo’s new Netflix show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, which was released on New Year’s Day.

netflixkondo

I’m a fan of Marie Kondo- I’ve read all of her books and I just finished the Netflix series yesterday. Marie has three bestselling books about her KonMari method of tidying and decluttering, which involves sorting your possessions into categories and confronting every item individually with the question “does this spark joy”?

Her method is spreading fast since the show came out, with legions of new fans tidying up everywhere and thrift stores rejoicing.  However, one category in the tidying advice given by KonMari is getting more consternation than others: books.

 

My Twitter and Facebook feeds have been inundated with memes like these, as well as the resulting rebuttals and defenses of KonMari.

The controversial book advice supposedly offered by KonMari has been debunked: she finds 30 books to be a reasonable number for herself personally, but throughout her works she acknowledges that everyone has their own unique formula for what brings them joy.  The flexibility and customizability of the KonMari method is part of why I like it so much- it is practical and inspiring but can also be tailored to suit the lifestyles and interests of just about anyone.  Read her books and you will see that “joy” comes in many forms- it’s true meaning, as meant by Kondo, is deeper and more complex than the word “joy” in the English language conveys.

But, the books…

Book lovers are proud of their collections, often as protective of their bookshelves as dragons guarding hoards of treasure. Having more books than one knows what to do with is a common non-problem in book communities, with people artificially bemoaning their massive TBR (to-be-read) piles while simultaneously feeling the special joy and contentment that comes with knowing you’ll never run out of books to read (and even if you did, re-reading is always an option!).

booksbeast

It’s not uncommon for book lovers to collect more books than they have shelves for, resulting in teetering towers of books stacking up ever-closer to the ceiling. The popular solution always seems to be obvious: more bookshelves needed! The contrasting choice,  paring down a book collection to fit a deliberately chosen fixed-space, is a frightening prospect to many collectors of books. Yet, the large majority of people don’t have never-ending bookshelf space, and I’ve started to see the benefits of re-evaluating my own book collections and asking myself “does this book spark joy”?

One of Us, One of Us

Now, lest this post go viral for some reason and I find myself at the mercy of the booklr, bookstagram, and other passionate online book communities, let me state I am NOT prescribing what people should or should not do with their books, but offering my own perspective on what I’ve learned works for myself.

I drool over pictures of window reading nooks and built-in alcove shelving, too. I sniff my books. I collect novelty bookmarks. I’m one of you, I swear. Here’s my proof.

Let’s count the bookshelves:

 

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

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***Edit I forgot the cookbooks! What a recipe for disaster!

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And this doesn’t even count the books in my parents’ attic, or the books I keep at work (I work at a library and I still keep some personal books at my desk…).

I am lucky to have access to so many books. I live a privileged life. My house has no shortage of books, and this is after my most recent book purge. I donated a ton of books to the library where I work, and gave away plenty to eager friends as well. A small few books even made their way (GASP) into the paper recycling. How did I do this? Am I a monster? What was my reasoning?

At first it was hard. Books feel untouchable for book lovers.

As KonMari explains, honing your sense of what sparks joy takes time. Yet, even something as precious as books can be examined and questioned. There came a time that I realized, if I continued my book-amassing ways unhindered, I’d someday be a candidate for Extreme Hoarding: Book Lover’s Edition: “Shauna has been living in the same house for 60 years, surrounded by piles of books. She realized she had a problem when the floor in the ‘spare room’ collapsed under the strain of 6400 cookbooks. Still, ‘the books make me happy’ she asserts, as she sits in the only remaining 4 square feet of space left open in the house, her nose in a slim hardcover.”

reading doll Shauna

When you know it’s joy

I want every single book on my shelves to be a book that I truly cherish.

These are some of the criteria that contribute to the joy I get from my books and help me know that I truly want to keep them:

  • usefulness of content
  • gorgeous writing
  • excellent story
  • lovely artwork
  • pleasing tactile feel
  • aesthetic and design
  • or usually a combination of some or all of these things.

Exceptions:

  • I don’t make decisions about my husband’s books (he is pretty good about managing his collections)
  • I do hold on to some books I haven’t yet read but WILL get around to reading in the near-ish future- books I truly intend to read. I can make a decision on them after i’ve read them.

When it’s time to donate

I’ve donated a lot of books to the library lately, and given some to friends- all good books, but not books that were bringing me joy any longer.

Reasons for Donating:

  • It’s not you, it’s me: All of the books I donated once brought me joy, but as I grow as a person I grow as a reader and my experiences and values change. For example, a book that was life-changing in my teen years might no longer hold any inspiration or amusement for me, so I know I can let it go. If I want to read it again randomly someday, there’s always the library!
  • Time: I realized that I had so many books and so little time to read that if I did have more time for re-reading I would rather read series that I adored than these stories that I enjoyed but didn’t love.
  • Joy for Another: Someone else might read these books and love them. They are currently not being actively loved by me but could be useful, inspiring, or entertaining to someone else right now.
  • Different Versions: Sometimes I have a book I adore but a version of it that I don’t love (whether it’s abridged, has cover art that irks me, it’s the one paperback when I collected the rest in hardcover, etc.)- in these times it’s easy to donate because I know I will get a different copy someday that will make me happy every time I read it. Alternately, while I always prefer a physical copy of a book, I do have some books in ebook format and sometimes that’s good enough for that title for me.
  • Multiple copies: This might seem obvious or easy, but it’s not… book lovers often end up with more than one copy of a book, especially if it’s a favourite. I had 4 copies of Dracula at one point. I decided to keep 2 that I love- both were gifts and both are bound gorgeously in different ways (one has a blood red hardcover with a matching silk bookmark, and the other was hand-bound with unique artwork on the cover).

When it’s time to discard

This is not something book lovers want to think about, but sometimes books are candidates for disposal- as in the trash or the recycling.

How can this be? Aren’t books sacred? Aren’t more books always better than less?

Working in my public library has enlightened me on the process of “weeding” where we pull books that are no longer needed to make room for new titles. A lot of criteria go into choosing which books to weed (popularity, condition, number in a series, age of book, number of copies, etc.). Studies have shown that when collections are well-weeded, the circulation of books actually increases in libraries because in a well-weeded collection people can better find what they’re looking for (or what they didn’t know they were looking for)- sometimes less IS more. Often weeded books will be used in other ways (i.e. the sale shelf, or craft projects) instead of tossed.

However, sometimes a book is truly not needed anymore and can be discarded in the recycling. This isn’t an act of censorship – these are books (mainly non-fiction) that are so outdated they have become irrelevant and have no use or interest to virtually anyone anymore. Some made up examples:

  • “Troubleshooting Windows ’98 For Dummies”
  • “Y2 OKAY! Assessing the job market for the New Millennium”
  • “You and Your Taxes: 2010 Edition”
  • “Psychology in Focus, 2008”

But wait! you say- can’t these items be donated instead? Maybe SOMEONE would use them for… something?

I’m sorry, but no Value Village, used bookstore, or library wants your old stained National Geographics, ancient textbooks, or outdated reference material. Same goes for water damaged, musty, mouldy or otherwise soiled books. Even when outdated books are in good condition, unless you know someone who is conducting a research project (?) regarding outdated books on a specific topic (highly unlikely) or wider society develops a sudden and neverending compulsion to create Pinterest-inspired recycled book and magazine craft projects, there’s a limit to how many old books would be useful to keep for such things.

As hard as it can be to accept, sometimes a book has reached the end of its life. You can try passing it on to someone else (nobody will blame you) but at some point somebody has to make the hard decisions (or store them indefinitely in the garage…).

They Lived Happily Ever After

Okay, to end this on a happy note closer to the point, the reason for tidying and assessing your book collection, if you so choose, isn’t to chase some minimalist ideal- it’s to surround yourself with books that you truly love and enjoy. May you and your books live out your lives with purpose, loved and appreciated!

GRAPHICNOVELBASEstars

 

The Drama about Drama

Drama, a popular graphic novel by Raina Telgemeier, was recently ordered removed from Catholic elementary schools in Ottawa. The decision was swiftly reversed amidst much criticism.

The removal of Drama came after complaints from parents about LGBT content; Drama, which centers around a middle-school theatre production, features a panel where two boys kiss onstage.

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The School Board had asserted that the choice was made to remove the book not necessarily because of LGBT content, but because of relationship content:

“It is not a book we really need younger kids reading without guidance.”– Robert Long, Ottawa Catholic School Board

I’ve read Drama, and I feel confident that if the LGBT characters were instead presented as a boy-girl coupling there would have been no perceived “issue” and no censorship of this title by the School Board.

Drama features young students, some of which have crushes on other students (shocking, I know), but the book isn’t heavily focused on romantic relationships- it’s also an intensely readable comic featuring diverse characters who are excited and passionate about theatre. The students are busy addressing all of the intricacies of designing a set, planning the lighting, creating the costumes, rehearsing and getting ready for their big performance.

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Scholastic recommends Drama for ages 10-14, which covers about grade 4-9. Age recommendations aren’t set in stone though, and I take them with a grain of salt- readers often enjoy titles above and below their “reading level”, especially if the content is relatable to them. When I was in elementary school and middle school, I was involved in several school plays, and this is just the kind of comic I would probably have enjoyed.

While the decision to ban Drama was thankfully reversed due to the pushback, we can still learn a lot from this act of censorship.

What does it say when we remove a book like Drama? The School Board had claimed that the book’s relationship content was age inappropriate, but the book was originally contested because of LGBT content (a gay character, a kiss). If the school was truly concerned about relationship content and kisses they would have a lot more titles to ban, including heaps of classic fairy tales, bestselling kids’ novels, and tons of picture books.

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Take a look at the cute picture books up there created for young readers- why does society readily accept the love and affection of entire menageries of animals and creatures in a children’s picture book, but as soon as a boy kisses another boy in a comic people become uneasy?

Sadly, comics and graphic novels are subject to hyper-vigilant scrutiny on a regular basis. There’s something about the visual nature of comics that gets people all riled up, and this controversy over Drama is one more story showing that censorship is alive in Canada.

By purposefully removing Drama from a school library collection, the school board was effectively removing representation of LGBTQ+ characters. This removal insinuated that board members had concluded gay crushes are problematic and can only be handled by more mature readers. It implied that it’s unnatural for boys to like boys, it’s unmentionable for a boy to kiss a boy, that kids shouldn’t see LGBT relationships as normal, and that school libraries shouldn’t contain these types of content.

Representation isn’t trivial- it’s vital. Statistics show that in Canada, as in many other parts of the world, LGBTQ+ people are targeted at disproportionately high levels when it comes to violence, sexual assault, and discrimination.

We need stories with LGBTQ+ content to normalize LGBTQ+ people and relationships if we are to stop the violence that is directed toward them.

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This book wasn’t being used for a class- it was available in the library, where students had the choice to read it or not read it as they liked. Parents can control what their own kids read, but when a book is banned and removed from a school library it eliminates EVERYONE’S chance to read it.

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Drama could be the book that sparks a love of reading for a child. It could be the book that makes them feel less alone in the world, the book that they see themselves reflected in. It could inspire them, comfort them, entertain them, educate them, and more. It could do all of these things or none of these things, because every person is different and every reader brings their own ways of knowing into what they are reading. When the book is available, at least they have the chance to read it- if they don’t want to read it, nobody is forcing them to.

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I’m glad that Drama is back in the elementary school libraries. Telgemeier’s graphic novels are popular for a reason, and kids read them voraciously. Drama could be just the book that a student needs.