The Book Report by Rebecca Traver - Our Online Bookshop Curator

Welcome to the Book Report! To start things off, since April is Poetry Month, I thought we’d take a look at some of my favorites from our poetry section. Within it, you’ll find a variety of books that touch on the diversity and depth of the human experience, offering an opportunity to see the world through different lenses, thus growing our capacity for empathy and connection. It just doesn’t get any better than that, does it?!

Welcome to the Book Report! To start things off, since April is Poetry Month, I thought we’d take a look at some of my favorites from our poetry section. Within it, you’ll find a variety of books that touch on the diversity and depth of the human experience, offering an opportunity to see the world through different lenses, thus growing our capacity for empathy and connection. It just doesn’t get any better than that, does it?!

Also included in this report is a selection of New + Newly Discovered titles; a special group of Books for Young and Young at Heart Readers; and a couple of Just Because + Just for Fun offerings.

I hope you enjoy what you find here and know that, as always,
I am honored by the privilege of taking up space in your inbox.

Featured List | Poetry

“Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.”
~Leonard Cohen

Nobody Told Me: Poetry and Parenthood from Hollie Mcnish is a memorable collection of poems and stories – from how to raise a child or become a parent in modern Britain, to how to do a poetry gig with your baby as an audience member, to how to find secret places to scream, and more. It is full of humor and depth in equal measure which is not such an easy thing to manage. I love her work and think you will too.

Poetry of Presence: An Anthology of Mindfulness Poems edited by Phyllis Cole-Dai and Ruby R. Wilson is a collection of poetry that provides a refuge of quiet clarity very much needed in today’s chaotic world. The diverse group of contributing poets include Joy Harjo, Wendell Berry, Jane Hirschfield, Li-Young Lee, Naomi Shihab Nye, Hafiz, Li Po, and Rumi.

You Are Here: Poetry in the Natural World edited by the twenty-fourth Poet Laureate of the United States Ada Límon challenges what we think we know about “nature poetry,” illuminating the myriad ways our landscapes – both literal and literary – are changing. Joyful and provocative, wondrous and urgent, this collection offers a lyrical reimagining of how our worlds are calling us to experience them in new ways.

Wild Hope: Healing Words to Find Light on Dark Days by Donna Ashworth is an inspiring poetry collection offering comfort and guidance, a lifeline to those battling anxiety, depression, or the many other ways strain takes in our lives. Ashworth underscores the impact of acts of love and kindness in shaping a better future, reminding readers of our innate goodness of humanity.

What would a list of favorite poetry be without something from Mary Oliver? One of hers I reach for again and again is Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver. Carefully curated, these 200 plus poems feature Oliver’s work from her very first book of poetry through her most recent collection.

Queer Nature: A Poetry Anthology edited by Michael Walsh amplifies and centers LGBTQIA+ voices and perspectives in a collection of contemporary nature poetry. Included are works by Elizabeth Bishop, Jericho Brown, Allen Ginsberg, Natalie Diaz, June Jordan, and more.

The Blue Mimes from Sara Daniele Rivera is a book of grounding and heartening resolve, even and especially in the states of uncertainty that define and give shape to the human condition.

Root Fractures by Diana Khoi Nguyen excavates the moments of rupture in a family and creates solace in the broken places through connection, honesty, and resolve.

“Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.“

~T.S. Eliot

To view the entire list click here.

New + Newly Discovered

Cosmic Parenting: A Birth Chart for Kids, Parents, and Families from Santa Barbara’s own Jennifer Freed who has spent over 35 years consulting clients and businesses worldwide on psychological, spiritual, and educational topics. With this 80-card deck, Jennifer champions the use of the birth chart as a catalyst for family connection and emotional understanding. The 72 placement cards are enhanced by 8 “connection cards”, featuring activities, discussion prompts, and healing exercises meant to deepen family bonds, enhance parent-child relationships, and provide valuable social and emotional skills for the whole family.

Somehow: Thoughts on Love is the latest from one of my favorite authors Anne Lamott. She has a way of framing complex issues with humor and insight like no one else. Here, she explores the transformative power that love has in our lives: how it surprises us, forces us to confront uncomfortable truths, reminds us of our humanity, and guides us forward. “Love is our only hope,” she writes. “It is not always the easiest choice, but it is always the right one, the noble path, the way home to safety, no matter how bleak the future looks.”

How to Be Old: Lessons in Living Boldly from the Accidental Icon by fashion blogger Lyn Slater is a wry and empowering memoir of a woman who flaunts gray hair and wrinkles, leans deeply into self-acceptance and refuses to become invisible. Lyn shines a very bright light on the truth that even with its unique challenges, being old is just like any new beginning in your life and can be the best and most invigorating of all of life’s phases, full of rebellion and reinventions, connection, and joy.

Shamanic Creativity: Free the Imagination with Rituals, Energy Work, and Spirit Journeying by Evelyn C. Rysdyk comes from a perspective that creativity – or creative energy – is a life-giving force that frees the imagination, supports innovation, and awakens unique ways of thinking and feeling that can transform your life. By using spirit journeying and ceremony alongside experiential shamanic exercises to release creativity-blocking patterns, we are better able to engage the ‘right brain’ and cultivate our creative gifts in daily life.

H Is for Hope: Climate Change from A to Z from Elizabeth Kolbert is a collection of twenty-six essays – one for each letter of the alphabet – each investigating the landscape of climate change. Adapted from writings originally published in The New Yorker and beautifully illustrated by Wesley Allsbrook, we are treated to a simultaneously inspiring, alarming, and darkly humorous examination of our changing world.

Dispersals: On Plants, Borders, and Belonging by prize-winning memoirist and nature writer Jessica J. Lee turns to the lives of plants entangled in our human world to explore belonging, displacement, identity, and the truths of our shared future.

In Everyday Radiance: 365 Zodiac-Inspired Prompts for Self-Care and Self-Renewal by Heidi Rose Robbins we are offered a year’s worth of advice, clarity, and renewal through a collection of 365 zodiac-inspired prompts. Divided into the 12 months of the astrological year, each prompt provides a quick practice, writing exercise, or creativity nudge designed to harness the power of the day’s unique astrological energy.

Luminous Darkness: An Engaged Buddhist Approach to Embracing the Unknown from dharma teacher, shamanic practitioner, and ecologist Deborah Eden Tull invites us to see darkness in life, in nature, and in consciousness for the powerful healing properties it holds. It is through learning to stay present and meet the dark with curiosity rather than judgment that we connect to an abiding and unwavering light within.

The Sacred Forest Oracle: 52 Cards to Open Energy Portals of a Higher Dimension from Denise Linn invites to cross through an energy portal to the Sacred Forest, a sacred realm similar to the legends of Tibetan Shambala, the Mists of Avalon, and the Australian Dreamtime. Over the years, Denise Linn has used guided meditations to lead thousands of people into this magical dimension. Now, with this oracle, you can expand your consciousness and chart your own course through the vast mysteries and wonders of this inner landscape.

An Autobiography of Trauma: A Healing Journey from Peter Levine, renowned developer of Somatic Experiencing and bestselling author of Waking the Tiger, offers an intimate memoir in which the reader learns the backstory of how he came to understand, process, and heal his own wounding, while learning how to help others. He teaches us that anyone suffering from trauma has a valuable story to tell, and that by telling our stories, we can catalyze the return of hope, dignity, and wholeness.

Infectious Generosity: The Ultimate Idea Worth Spreading by Chris Anderson offers a playbook for how to embark on acts of generosity – whether gifts of money, time, talent, connection, or kindness – and to prime them, thanks to the Internet, to have self-replicating, even world-changing impact.

Safe: A Memoir of Fatherhood, Foster Care, and the Risks We Take for Family from Mark Daley is a heartrending story of an unlikely journey to parenthood through America’s broken foster care system.

Look Again: The Power of Noticing What Was Always There from Tali Sharot and Cass R. Sunstein is a groundbreaking new study of how disrupting our well-worn routines, both good and bad, can rejuvenate our brains and allow us to live happier, more fulfilling lives.

Anatomy of a Breakthrough: How to Get Unstuck When It Matters Most from Adam Alter is an innovative guide to identifying and breaking free from the thoughts, habits, jobs, relationships, and even business models that stand in the way of achieving our full potential. Artfully weaving together scientific studies, anecdotes, and interviews, Alter teaches us that getting stuck is a feature rather than a glitch on the road to thriving, but with the right tweaks and corrections we can reach even our loftiest goals.

Sloane Crosley’s memoir, Grief Is for People, explores multiple kinds of loss following the death of her closest friend. Her search for truth is frank, at times darkly funny, and gilded with resounding empathy. Here we have a category-defying story of the struggle to hold on to the past without being consumed by it.

Slow Productivity: The Lost Art of Accomplishment Without Burnout by Cal Newport shows us just how broken our definitions of “productivity” are. It pushes us to treat busyness as a proxy for useful effort, leading to impossibly lengthy task lists and ceaseless meetings. We’re overwhelmed by it all and find ourselves believing that we have to decide between giving into our soul-sapping hustle culture or rejecting ambition altogether. Reframing that limiting approach is what this book brings to a shift in perspective our world desperately needs if it hopes to move forward in a sustainable manner.

Human Design: The Revolutionary System That Shows You Who You Came Here to Be by Jenna Zoë draws inspiration from many different schools of wisdom, including the chakra system, I Ching, astrology, and the Tree of Life, using the time and date of our birth to form a unique chart, revealing our opportunities, challenges, personality, strengths, relationships, and more. I have to say that, having studied this approach years ago and finding it too dogmatic, Jenna’s books has reignited my interest in Human Design and I am the better for it.

“We have to continually be jumping off cliffs, and developing our wings on the way down.“
~Kurt Vonnegut, If This Isn't Nice, What Is?

Books for Young Readers + the People Who Love Them

Sleepy Sheepy and the Sheepover from Lucy Ruth Cummins with illustrations by Pete Oswald tells us the fun and funny bedtime story of Sleepy Sheep and how, during his first “sheepover”, he just can’t get to sleep.

The Hare-Shaped Hole by John Dougherty, illustrated by Thomas Docherty, is a beautiful and touching picture book that gently explores themes of grief and loss.

I Do Not Eat Children by Marcus Cutler brings us the tale of a smooth-talking monster that gets what’s coming to him. A great read aloud for bedtime (or anytime!), this silly and subversive picture book delivers poetic justice and giggles galore.

Mexikid from Pedro Martin is an unforgettable graphic memoir about a Mexican American boy’s family and their adventure-filled road trip to bring their abuelito (grandfather) back from Mexico. I’m so pleased that this is available in a Spanish language edition as well.

Pepper and Me by Beatrice Alemagna is a stunning picture book about a little girl, the scab on her knee, and the healing journey they take together.

We Could Fly by Rhiannon Giddens, illustrated by Briana Mukodiri Uchendu, is a moving tale of grace and transcendence for a young girl and her mother who, at the urging of a sparrow, feel the power of love, resilience, and the spiritual gifts of the “old-time ways” to sustain and uplift the spirit.

Paper Dragons: The Fight for the Hidden Realm by Siobhan McDermott tells the story of 12-year-old orphan Yeung Zhi Ging and her journey into discovering and mastering the magic within her.

Daughters of the Lamp by Nedda Lewers is a wonderful middle grade fantasy debut about a girl who becomes the guardian of Ali Baba’s legendary treasure.

For more books for young readers click here!

Para libros para lectores jóvenes en Español haga clic aqui!

Just Because + Just for Fun

How Well Do You Know Me?: 50 Questions for Family and Friends is a deck of questions that reveal which friend or relation knows you best. Bust it out to break the ice at a party, or, if you so dare, take it to the next family reunion!

Skip the Small Talk Card Deck: 100+ Questions to Start Conversations That Actually Matter! from Ashley Kirsner offers a conversational invitation to deepen existing bonds, start new friendships, and discuss the things that matter the most.

“Do anything, but let it produce joy.”
~Walt Whitman

Please visit our online Bookshop to see our full selection of lists and titles.
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