Summer is in full swing and these are the books I’ve been enjoying lately from a cozy spot on my porch.
If you’re on the lookout for your next adult read, need a kid lit recommendation, or are on the hunt for a thought-provoking nonfiction title, read on:
A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza
If this book is an indication of what we can expect from Sarah Jessica Parker’s new imprint, SJP for Hogarth, count me in. A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza is the most beautifully written, absorbing adult fiction I’ve read all year. The novel opens at an Indian wedding where we meet the bride, eldest daughter Hadia and her parents, sister, and seemingly estranged youngest brother Amar. In flashbacks from various family members Mirza’s novel becomes a carefully woven deep dive into the inner workings of one American Muslim family and how the small everyday choices parents and children make strengthen or weaken familial connections and change the course of lives. As Booklist notes, “Each complex, surprising character struggles with faith, responsibility, racism, fear, longing, and jealousy, while Mirza conveys with graceful specificity the rhythms of Muslim life, from prayer to wearing hijab, gender etiquette, food, holidays, and values, all of which illuminate universal quandaries about family, self, culture, beliefs, and generational change.” Highly recommended.
For more, you can watch editorial director, Sarah Jessica Parker and author, Fatima Farheen Mirza introduce A Place For Us:
The Read-Aloud Family: Making Meaningful and Lasting Connections With Your Kids by Sarah Mackenzie
When my library hold for The Read-Aloud Family finally came up I was delighted. You may know author Sarah Mackenzie from her Read Aloud Revival blog and podcast. In those resources and in her new book, Mackenzie shares ideas for building strong relationships with your children through family read alouds. In this conversational, approachable guide she offers parents ideas for making read aloud time more fun (good snacks or activities for littlest members like coloring for example), suggestions for starting meaningful literary conversations with kids, and provides a wealth of book ideas chosen specifically for their read aloud merits. This book is certainly a valuable tool for parents looking to build a family culture around reading.
You can listen to Sarah Mackenzie read one of my favorite chapters, “How to Create a Book Club Culture at Home” in an episode of her podcast from back in March. The chapter starts at minute 2:55:
Bob by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead
It was perfect to read this next book at the same time as Sarah Mackenzie’s The Read Aloud Family. Bob by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead is a book begging to be read aloud to the kids in your life. 10-year-old Livy has just travelled from her home in Massachusetts to visit her grandmother in Australia. It has been five years since her family’s last visit–a trip Livy remembers virtually nothing about. When she feels a strange pull toward her bedroom closet she discovers Bob, a zombie-like creature who has apparently followed Livy’s instructions to wait there for her–for five years. What unfolds next is a story about friendship, growing up, and a little bit of magic. For more, check out this interesting article from Publishers’ Weekly about the collaboration between the wonderful authors Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead, “Bestselling Authors Stead and Mass Team Up for a Tale About Friendship”.
I also adored this booktalk video from teacher and kid lit guru Colby Sharp and I think he makes an excellent case for sharing Bob with the kids in your life:
Bob’s book trailer would also be great to use with your students or children to get them excited about reading this book. I will definitely be sharing this as part of a booktalk for Bob in my school library in the fall:
Deep Work by Cal Newport
I read this book after hearing it recommended by Tsh Oxenreider, host of the podcast, The Simple Show. Oxenreider (who is also the author of At Home in the World which I’ve recommended) shared how Deep Work by Cal Newport changed the way she approached her work. After reading Newport’s book for myself, I would have to agree. “Deep Work” is defined by Cal Newport as “Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive abilities to their limit”. Newport makes that case that in our culture of connectivity it is easy to mistake busyness for true productivity. The idea that we sometimes get caught up in managing our days by reacting to our inboxes and staying in a “shallow”, multitasking state instead of carving out time for high priority tasks resonated with me. His book is certainly geared toward business professionals, but regardless of your profession, Deep Work provides a lot of food for thought on how to do meaningful work.
For more, check out The Hidden Brain podcast which recently featured Deep Work and interviewed Cal Newport on their episode, You 2.0: The Value Of ‘Deep Work’ In An Age Of Distraction.
What books have you been reading lately? Share in the comments!