Welcome to my first monthly book list! Each month, I’ll be bringing you a fresh list of books all based on a different theme. If you have an idea for a themed list, please let me know!
Before we get in, there’s a few things you should know. First, I am a youth librarian, which means I’m most familiar with books written for young people. This means you’ll see a lot of YA and juvenile books on these lists. If you’re an adult looking for something good to read, don’t feel bad or embarrassed about reading youth books. Juvenile and YA books deal with themes and ideas that are applicable to all ages, even if the text isn’t as challenging as books written for adults. And there’s no age limit on good stories.
I’ll also be listing non-fiction and fiction, because there’s a lot of great non-fiction out there that needs some love, too.
I also want to remind everyone that not every book will appeal to every reader. You may hate a book that I love, and that’s okay. Not liking a book doesn’t mean that the book is bad, it just means that you don’t like it. I’ll try to appeal to a wide range of interests, but I don’t expect for you to love or even be interested in everything on this list. There’s a reader for every book, and every book has a reader. I’d love to help readers and books find each other!
New Year, New Me
ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life by Judith Kolberg and Dr. Kathleen Nadeau
Thanks to the way my brain is wired, I live in a kind of an entropic mess mixed in the occasional bursts of cleaning and organizing, then promising myself “I’ll never let it get that bad again.” It always turns out to be a lie, but I try.
So when I recommend a book on organizing that actually works for me, I mean it actually works. ADD Friendly Ways… teaches you how to work with your ADD, rather than against it, to get organized. This book is written in short, helpful chapters and formatted specifically to help people with ADHD be able to sit and read it. It gives practical tips on organizing your life which are easy to follow, and offers suggestions for how to find more support if needed and to take control of your life. It’s the best organization self-help book I’ve ever used, and the only one I’ve seen that specifically addresses the role that ADHD plays in the struggle of keeping your life together.
The War of Art by Stephen Pressfield
Making stuff is hard. Whether it’s writing, drawing, dancing, or sculpting, no creative endeavor comes easily. Pressfield calls the universal force that acts against our creativity “resistance,” and it can come in many forms. It could be fear, pressure to perform, irritations in your daily life, or the fact that the new Pokemon game just dropped and how can you be expected to write when you can’t get Sprigatito out of your head? Pressfield brilliantly describes resistance, how to overcome it, and the sacred act of creating. Each short chapter is a micro pep talk for anyone experiencing resistance. It’s a small, thin book and shouldn’t take you long to read. I read it cover to cover years about five years ago and still take it off my shelf when I’m feeling stuck.
The Confidence Code/The Confidence Code for Girls and Living the Confidence Code by Clair Shipman and Katty Kay
Self-doubt. Imposter syndrome. Lack of confidence. We’ve all experienced it, especially girls and women who have internalized messages that they will never be enough. The Confidence Code is a best-selling guide to empower women to become self-assured and confident in their lives, using scientific research and proven methods of behavioral research. Following the success of The Confidence Code, the young reader’s edition, The Confidence Code for Girls aims to reach teen and tween girls struggling with inner doubt.
Living the Confidence Code is true stories of girls, ranging from grade school to teenagers, who are changing the world. These inspiring stories show how everyday girls can have a major impact on their homes, the lives of others, and the world. The word “inspiring” gets tossed around a lot, but I really mean it. After reading this book I was ready to start writing letters to the editor and began researching ways to help with period poverty in my area. If these kids can change their hometowns, I can too!
Draw Stronger: Self Care for Cartoonists and Other Visual Artists by Kriota Willberg
Whether you draw, paint, or write, creating art takes a physical toll on your body. Draw Stronger is a comic book that shows how chronic pain and injuries can occur, and provides tips to prevent and treat injuries. Fun and informative, this is a must-read for anyone who spends good chunks of time sitting at a desk drawing, writing, or typing. While this is geared mainly at visual artists, I’ve found it helpful for dealing with a repetitive strain injury caused by a lockdown’s worth of handwriting.
When Women Were Dragons by Kelly Barnhill
Alex is one of the many who was left behind after the Mass Dragoning of 1955, when hundreds of thousands of women transformed into dragons, wrecked a path of fiery destruction, and took to the skies. She is left with questions: did they choose to become dragons? Why did her beloved Aunt Marla change, but not her mother? Propriety forbids Alex from ever asking. Instead, she must deal with her overprotective mother, her distant father, and a younger sister obsessed with dragons. Most troubling of all, there’s the insistence that her aunt never actually existed. In a world where women are forced into small, confined roles, what happens when they (literally) rise up? Kelly Barnhill is already known for some excellent fantasy for youth, but this novel for adults does not disappoint.
A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers
Two hundred years ago on the moon of Panga, all robots gained consciousness. They left human society peacefully, and were given half the moon to do with as they pleased — which was to leave it untouched and observe the natural world around them. Two centuries later, Sibling Dex is a tea monk who travels the roads of Panga, offering tea, a listening ear, and small comforts to anyone who needs it. Feeling restless in their life, Dex seeks a new journey in a remote corner of the human world. Incredibly, they meet Mosscap on their way. Mosscap and Dex share the first human-robot contact in two hundred years. Mosscap comes in peace, but also bearing a question for Dex: what do humans need? Elegantly written, imaginative, and relaxing, this is one of my favorite books I’ve read recently. I want to live in this world. Thankfully, there’s a sequel as well, so you can return to Panga again.
Whistle: A New Gotham City Hero by E. Forester and Manuel Preitano
Willow Zimmerman is busy. She’s a teen activist who spends her weekends protesting at city hall to help her rundown Gotham neighborhood. Her nights are spent working at the local animal shelter to help pay her mother’s medical bills. When E. Nigma, an old friend of her mother’s, shows up in Willow’s life, he makes her a job offer she can’t refuse. Soon Willow is organizing his high-rolling (and not entirely legal) poker games for E. Nigma and his ludicrously wealthy friends. After an encounter with one of Gotham’s many notorious villains, Willow discovers she has superpowers, including telepathy with dogs. She also learns who her employer really is. The high life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and Willow must decide where her values truly lie, and the cost of following her convictions. The story is more about Willow growing as a person, rather than her as a superhero, but she’s such a great character you’ll be wanting to read more of her adventures.
Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera
Juliet Palante is a self-described “closeted Puerto-Rican baby-dyke from the Bronx.” Even though her coming out didn’t go as planned, she’s still got a lot to look forward to. Juliet
has just landed her dream internship working for Harlowe Brisbane in Portland, Oregon. Harlowe is a feminist lesbian author, and the strong, empowered woman that Juliet wants to be. But life on the West Coast isn’t what Juliet had expected. She’s not sure about the New Age culture that surrounds her, or even if Harlowe’s (who is White) brand of feminism is right for her. This is a coming-of-age story that examines gaps in the mainstream feminist movement and intersectionality, all while Juliet realistically explores her own identity, and maybe even falls in love. In short: a novel to provoke thought and discussions that will ultimately leave you breathless.
Sherwood by Megan Spooner
Robin of Loxley is dead, killed in the Crusades far from the shores of England and his beloved Lady Marian. Robin was not only Marian’s betrothed, but also her best friend and closest confidant. With Robin gone and Guy of Gisbourn aiming to take his place, the poor of Nottingham have no one to speak for them. Despite the deep grief Marian carries with her, she cannot ignore the suffering of the people of Nottingham. When her friends are threatened by the dogged Gisbourn and the Sheriff of Nottingham, she will take up Robin’s mantle and become her own hero. Well-written, this is an action-packed and enjoyable re-imagining of the Robin Hood legend.