Book Club: My January Reads

I think we can probably all agree that this past week has been a heavy one. Each night after work I’ve felt capable of few things other than curling up with the kittens in order to recharge. Right now, little acts of self-care have been crucial in maintaining my hope and fire to fight back against the injustices being imposed against Americans and immigrants around the world. For me, that has been putting my phone away at night, writing cards to my loved ones, or watching an episode of “Call the Midwife.” I’ve binge watched A LOT of Estée Lalonde’s lifestyle videos and gotten in deep with the Disneyland vlogging community (Disney bounding, it’s the big new thing). But mostly, I’ve been reading as much as possible, even if just for a 15 minute before bed. Below are my HELL YES reads from January as well as some recommendations if your TBR list is looking a little light.

“Missoula” by Jon Krakauer. I’ll yell it from the rooftops if need be, but this is book is something everyone should read! Known for his nonfiction novels “Into Thin Air” and “Under the Banner of Heaven,” Krakauer spends two years investigating the growing epidemic of sexual assault on college campuses by looking at the experiences of five different survivors from Missoula, Montana. His novel shines a much needed light on the mishandling of rape cases and drives home the reality that survivors are often the ones blamed from the assaults inflicted against them. For all readers, this book shows how sexual assault can affect every aspect of a survivor’s life and the good vs. bad effect an ally’s language can have on a survivor’s healing.

PS. Sidenote. This week I launched Voices, my story project working to empower survivor narratives about sexual violence. HUZZAH! This has been four years in the making so it’s both exciting and nerve wracking. If you’re curious what it is or how to get involved, please follow these links.

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“Giant Days” by John Allison and Whitney Cogar. Now three episodes in, “Giant Days” follows the misadventures of a group of college misfit floormates — mainly Daisy, Susan, and Esther. I don’t laugh out loud at books often but this one has left me in stitches. Each of the characters is just so earnest, awkward, and relatable making this a great read for new and veteran comic readers alike. It’s battling my heart for #1 comic but might be pulling into the lead.

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“Bloom” by Estée Lalonde. As you may or may not know, I watch close to 500 YouTube videos a week as a part of my job. Yes, my real-life-pays-me-benefits job. So when it comes to my spare time, I’m very picky about what creators make the cut. It’s become a bit of a running joke that literally every YouTuber has a book, and I’ll be honest, most are nothing to write home about. But then there is the occasional gem that rises to the surface and for me, that is Lalonde’s lifestyle guide “Bloom.” In this memoir, Lalonde writes about her battles with depression, anxiety, and her decision to move across the world to be with her great love. It talks about how YouTube went from being a passion to a full-time career, and most importantly, it provides inspiration for readers about spaces and energies. Her letter to London and chapters on self-care had me organizing my space and hanging frames that same day. I finished the book in 24 hours and have been excited to share it with friends.

Very similar to this book “Hey Natalie Jean” which I wrote about a couple years ago.

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And my most recent read, “The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead. This book received a ton of buzz last year after winning the National Book Award and I am here to say it’s all true. The novel follows the journey of Cora, a slave who escapes from a plantation in Georgia using the Underground Railroad. With each state presenting a different experience and “future,” Cora witnesses first hand how the travesties of slavery are sewn so intrinsically into the tapestry of America. This novel is heartbreaking and chilling as its incidents of racial violence and injustice are ones we continue to see in modern society. But it’s Cora as a character, who is beautifully captured in the chapter Cesar, who gives heart and hope to this novel. This year, do yourself a favor and read this book.

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