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New Reads for 2021

Last post was about organizing in the New Year. Let's talk about another good habit to cultivate this year: Reading! I know, I know - there is so much good television right now, it can especially difficult to pick up a book. Believe me, many hours have been spent consuming Bridgerton, Ted Lasso, and A Million Little Things. But life is a balance: one must experience broccoli and ice cream, lazy hours and brisk walks, and Netflix bingeing and reading some good books.

I have spoken to many readers these past few weeks, and I think I have something for everyone:

I'll start with one of my favorite new authors, Louisa Luna, and her Alice Vega series. Alice Vega is a private investigator, and her speciality is finding missing children. My boss recommended the first book, Two Girls Down, and it is fantastic. If you are a fan of mystery, crime, and huge suspence, this is a great book to read.

When two little sisters go missing, Alice Vega is hired to find them. She works with a local PI/former cop, Max Caplan. Can I say that I like that Alice is the main badass? The intriguing part is that you never really get to know Alice. You know she has a crazy, dark and mysterious backstory, but it is not laid out for us like a buffet. You get to know just a little bit about her at a time, along with Cap, who lets you know everything about himself and is super likeable.

I'm currently reading the follow up novel, The Janes, and it looks to have just as many twists and turns as the first book.

I think Luna is especially good at making you care about these characters she has created; they are none of them perfect, but you get them.

My friend, Rebecca's favorite book this year is Anxious People by Fredrik Backman. He wrote A Man Called Ove a few years ago, and that was my favorite book of that year. Rebecca assures me this latest book is also amazing. Backman specializes in quirky folks who are hilarious and dear and relatable, and Anxious People is all this and a bag of chips. I put it on hold at the library, and I'm Number 26 in the queue. Rebecca has advised that I should probably just buy it because I will enjoy it that much.

If you are more into Memoirs, my friend, Melissa recommends Know My Name by Chanel Miller. This story is written by a survivor of a high profile sexual assualt on a revered college campus. It is a hard read, but it gives a thoughtful perspective on consent, bias, and the legal process. Miller allows the reader to experience some of the emotionality of her experience, and Melissa feels she learned a lot of from this book and has greater empathy for reading such a personal and raw account.

For a little lighter Memoir fare: let me recommend Matthew McConaughey's Greenlights. My friend, Kitty, has this interesting insight about the book: try listening to the book. Matthew (yes, I call him Matthew) has a kind of poetic cadence to his voice when he reads his book, and Kitty reported the book sounded better. Listening to books is really hard for me as I'm not aural learner, but reading David Eagleman's Livewired has me convinced that mental health is tied to opening new neural pathways, and one way to do that is doing things in a completely different way. Like, listening to book and training myself to really listen, mentally shooing away squirrels and other distractions.

So, I am currently listening to Jen Hatmaker's Fierce, Free, and Full of Fire: The Guide to Being Glorious You. It is delightful. The benefit of listening to Jen read her books is that she often goes off script to tell the listener something that has just occured to her, and it is usually hilarious.

Incidentally, Livewired is a great science-y book. Eagleman is a nueroscientist; he is completely brilliant, and yet completely comprehensible, and his books are very readable and actually quite enjoyable.

A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler is a modern twist on the Romeo and Juliet tale for my classic readers.

And if you're looking for a regular sort of good fiction, check out Anna Quindlen's Miller's Valley. Melissa loves this great American storyteller. This is the story of a family who is stuck - bound to their place, past hurts and failures. Following this family as they search to be un-stuck is a worthwhile reading experience. Or, there is Jodi Picoult's Small Great Things. My new favorite/co-teacher, Kathryn, has recommended this one. Kathryn likes this book because it tells a tale of racism without getting bogged down in politics; the focus is on the people. It is the story of a baby born to a white supremacist couple. The African American nurse is tasked with NOT touching the baby, but when the child goes into distress... well, what to do? Count on Jodi for making you feel all the feelings, plus a big courtroom scene, kind of a Jodi Picoult trademark.

Okay, I've not touched upon every genre, but I think this is enough to get you started. Here's to a well read 2021!



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