Christina always has too many books to read scattered around the house: in the kitchen (cookbooks), dining room (more food books), living room (travel books), studio (knitting, sewing, paper crafts & art), bathroom (magazines), kids' bedrooms, and night table (inspiration/self-improvement). She loves to bake and create, and keeps a blog called Musings of a Crafter, http://craftmusings.blogspot.com.
Richard Blanco hit many “firsts” when he was invited to be President Barack Obama’s Inaugural Poet: first openly gay, first immigrant, first Latino. Blanco writes in this little book about the feelings and emotions that came from his invitation, and his struggle with keeping his personal story in balance with the bigger picture of what it means to be “American.” As a Cuban-American myself, I related with Blanco and his desire to honor every part of his heritage. He writes with passion, honesty, and artistic language, and captures the spirit of the writing process well. What I enjoyed most about the book was that the three poems were included in both English and Spanish-- a little treasure for my poetry collection.
Get your hankies out because this book is a tear jerker. Celebrating ten years of StoryCorps, the oral history project that airs weekly on NPR, this latest collection of stories focus on love and gratitude. These excerpts are from radio interviews recorded all over the country, usually between two people who wish to share and preserve their stories. Whether it’s a teacher and student, siblings, married couples, or a parent and child, each person relates a part of their life that has been touched by the relationship. I have always been a huge fan of StoryCorps. It reminds me that even in the most challenging, painful, and dire situations, our human ability to express love and gratitude is remarkable.
This stylish, well-designed book offers useful techniques for taking fun and beautiful photos of your family, friends, and self, as well as your favorite things. The format is simple, with photos illustrating the techniques, applicable to any type of camera or phone, and sidebars describing how to replicate the photos. Toward the back of the book, there are creative projects that offer additional ways to incorporate your photography into your home and wardrobe. Created by sisters/bloggers Elsie and Emma (A Beautiful Mess blog), I'm really digging this book, and if you have fun with photography, so will you.
From the author of the best-selling book, Swamplandia!, comes a collection of short stories that are both fascinating and fantastical. Not quite a fantasy book, Russell's stories are more like fables and allegories. Her characters might be vampires, young girls who turn into silk worms, or scarecrows, but the emotions and circumstances of their lives reflect universal themes of loneliness, loss and freedom. I'm a big fan of short story collections because an author has fewer words to make the story complete and interesting, and Russell does it brilliantly. --Christina
This is not typically the type of book I would pick up to read, but after reading a great interview with the author, I was intrigued. This fun story is about the English monarch, Queen Elizabeth, venturing out somewhat accidentally around London and beyond, disguised with a black hoodie with a skull and cross-bone design. What ensues is a variety of very silly, but also very thought-provoking adventures, making you wonder what it really must be like to be the Queen. Not only is the main story-line interesting, but William keeps sub-plots and characters moving within the book as well. It was a refreshing and delightful read. --Christina
A somewhat solemn book, this story about the earth's rotation slowing down is told superbly by a 12-year-old girl who has to navigate those junior high years with the changes of the world we know. Excellent book. --Christina
What does it mean when Terry Tempest Williams discovers that three shelves worth of journals her mother left after her death are completely blank? In her usual poignancy, Terry writes about all of the possibilities, trying to discover all of the possibilities. She bridges the personal and political, and tells a touching story about how we are all interconnected in mysterious, yet powerful ways. --Christina
I love following Hector's journeys around the world to ask the big questions. These books are a fun, quick read. --Christina
"Seedling # 15: In Love, if we really knew what the other person was saying, maybe we wouldn't understand them at all." This follow up to "Hector and the Search for Happiness" follows Hector to Asia as he learns what he, and others, think are the meanings of love. --Christina
"Lesson # 15: Happiness comes when you feel truly alive." This is just one of the many lessons you will take from this fun little book. --Christina
Turkish novelist Elif Shafak shares her story about writing, womanhood, marriage, and parenting. She writes about the inner conflict between living her true love of writing, and making room for everything else. --Christina
This thought-provoking story is about how other people can see each others' wounds & pain as varying degrees of illuminating light. The lives and stories of six characters in particular are further connected by one story/book of love. It's my favorite balance between the joy and the pain that exist in love. Darkness and light at it's best. --Christina
Yes, it is possible to tell a story in 420 characters or fewer. And yes, Lou Beach tells his stories very, very well. --Christina
The shorter side of Kerouac's work is not to be ignored. --Christina
"novel, n. a relatively long fictional prose narrative with a more or less complex plot or pattern of events, about actions, feelings, motives, etc. of a group of characters," Websters New World Dictionary. I'm not sure if The Lover's Dictionary counts as a novel, even though it says it's one. But, it has a beginning and an end; a narrator; the narrator's love interest(s); and lots of actions, feelings, and motives. Each "chapter" of this book is written like an entry in a dictionary, with one word setting the stage for each scene. Levithan's format is a "novelty," and is definitely worth reading. --Christina
I'm drawn to any story that looks at our personal, and collective unhappiness. I have a thing for odd, cynical, and sarcastic down-and-out characters too. Zeke Pappas fits all the characteristics of an unhappy guy looking for that American happiness we all run after. Sometimes I really liked Zeke, and sometimes he deserved his misery. Don't we all though. --Christina
Is this a memoir hidden within the covers of a "novel?" Coelho pushes the reader as he tells a story with a novelist protagonist on a tour, or rather, journey, to make amends with the past. Coelho's character shares his name, adding to the regular need to remind yourself that, yes, this is supposed to be fiction. This is one of my favorite of Coelho's later novels he's written. --Christina
The tradition of biology and natural art in the 1600-1700s existed mostly in the realm of men. But Maria Sibylla Merian broke the boundaries and traveled to faraway places like Suriname to observe and illustrate insects. "Chrysalis" is the story of her life, which includes some of her amazingly detailed illustrations. Her perseverance and sense of adventure inspire me.
The series of craft books "Make Good: Crafts + Life" always capture my attention, with their simple photos and stylish projects. I was not disappointed by At Home with Handmade Books. The projects in this book are fun and simple, and the instructions are clean and well-explained. I love the postcard journal, and can't wait to make some of my own books.
This is my all-time favorite children's picture book. Beautiful illustrations and touching story. I will cherish it forever. --Christina
This is the story of a penguin and a boy. These two are good friends, and they have gone through some tough times before in the book, Lost and Found. Now, the penguin wants to learn to fly, and the boy stands by, waiting for the penguin to figure it all out. Like all of Oliver Jeffers' books, this is a touching story, and Jeffers' watercolor illustrations are vibrant and sweet. A picture book that even grown ups will want to own. --Christina
Besides this being my daughter's name, Olivia the pig is the funniest, sassiest, little pig around. The entire series of Olivia books are fun to read. Falconer's color scheme and inclusion of other pieces of modern and classic art within his pictures is brilliant. I especially love Olivia's fashion shows, and my younger daughter loves to belt out all of the exclamatory dialogue in the books. --Christina
For the past six years I've been reading the Laura Ingalls Wilder books with my now 11-year-old daughter. Of all the books Wilder writes, I think Farmer Boy has been my favorite. This is the story of her husband Almanzo's childhood. The story is sweet and moving, and you can't help but love Almanzo, his voracious appetite, and the "sparkle" in his eyes. This is a classic story that families should share together.
Who doesn't love this quirky little girl who can carry a horse and lives with a monkey all by herself? Pippi is fun, silly, strange, adventurous and bold. We should all have a colorful friend like Pippi.