As pandemic life ambles on, I’m rapidly running out of options for one of my favorite forms of me-time: binge-watching a really great series. The silver lining is that my search for alternate activities has led me back to an old love, reading. As a child, I read voraciously. I was that kid rolling up to Pizza Hut on the regular with my star-covered Book-it badge to collect another free personal pizza. I LOVED to read. Then, somewhere along the way (I’ll blame the kids), I lost my desire to read. I’ve recently regained my love of getting lost in a great narrative and have a few book recommendations to share with you just in time for National Read a Book Day.
Fiction is, by far, my favorite genre. I love getting so wrapped up in a time and place, and in character’s lives that I feel a little sad to finish the book. The cure for that feeling? A great series. My most recent find is Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad series. Each of the six installments covers a different murder investigation by a different detective on the squad (with some characters overlapping). I usually pride myself on figuring out whodunit before the big reveal, but French definitely keeps me on my toes. I’m not ashamed to admit that my jaw dropped in surprise at least four out of the six mysteries. If you like twists and turns, this is a series for you. Added bonus: the stories are set in Dublin, Ireland, and I really enjoyed picking up some new Irish slang terms along the way.
If nonfiction is more your speed, I have two very different suggestions. A favorite that I feel like I could read a second time and still laugh out loud is Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? She shares stories from childhood all the way up to life in Hollywood with such down-to-earth good humor that I’m pretty sure she and I would be besties given the chance.
On the other end of the spectrum, if you, like me, are doing the on-going work of becoming anti-racist, you might like My Black Friend Says by local author, Heather Fleming. The book is a collection of short essays on the topics of race, equity, bias, and inclusion. I really appreciate that each essay ends with an opportunity for self-reflection and journaling. I confess that I’m only about 2/3 of the way finished because Fleming has given me so much to consider from each essay. In the multitude of wonderful books available on race, this one is the practical guide to ally-ship you’re looking for.
My girls love to be read to, and I’ve found books to be a great way to start conversations about a variety of complicated issues. Currently, my pre-schooler is expressing feelings of isolation and stress about sticking close to home during COVID. Right Now I Am Fine by Dr. Daniela Owen is exactly what she needed. As a clinical psychologist, Dr. Owen wrote the book specifically to help children deal with the anxiety of life during a pandemic. The story guides children through how to calm their bodies and minds using a simple routine. My daughter loved it, and I even overheard her teaching her little sister some calming techniques after a tantrum.
So, if you’ve exhausted everything Netflix and Disney+ has to offer, pick up a book and join me in celebrating National Read a Book Day, today and every day.