“This season is your reason to remember me and all the time we have shared decorating each other’s lives.”
Welcome to The Book Report! Holy Moley!! It’s December!!! WOW – how did this happen? As I happily prepare myself for the seasonal celebratory energies this time of year serves up I can also detect substantial threads and layers of emotional overwhelm in my body, my social circles, and my mind. As these things tend to go, I am fortunate to be connected to a wide web of wisdom and insight which help me to navigate the crunchy times with greater presence, perspective, gratitude, and peace. Here's an example of what’s been helping me and I hope it serves you well, too:
“Feeling overwhelmed is a super effective way to avoid complexity. And these big global events are complex. There is very little each of us can do on our own. But turning away can feel just as uncomfortable, and it will often feel lonely. It can be helpful to remember that you always have choices – to protest, donate, gather; find the One Tiny Doable Thing that gives you agency.” ~Sas Petherick, Life Coach and creator of the Self-Belief School
Ahead in this holiday-super-sized report is a selection of special gift ideas, terrific new + newly discovered titles; a large and delicious serving of books for young and young at heart readers; and a couple of just because + just for fun offerings.
“The holiday season is a perfect time to reflect on our blessings and seek out ways to make life better for those around us.”
My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories edited by Stephanie Perkins with contributions by Kiersten White, Jenny Han, Rainbow Rowell, Mathew De La Pena, Gayle Forman, David Levithan, Kelly Link, Myra McEntire, Laini Taylor, Ally Carter, and Holly Black is a treasure trove of holiday tales for the romantics on your gift list. Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, or Kwanzaa, there’s something here for everyone. (p.s. If you find this item on backorder, please also notice that our online bookshop shares access to new or used copies through our partner Biblio.)
The Cat Who Taught Zen by James Norbury is a beautifully illustrated exploration of the journeys we take for self-discovery and the meaningful connections we make along the way. Inspired by Zen koans and told in a gentle voice, The Cat Who Taught Zen has wisdom to offer all readers.
An Apothecary of Art to Soothe Your Soul from Ravenous Butterflies artist Lisa Azarmi is designed to provide a safe sanctuary for emotional well-being through 80 paintings and uplifting quotes to calm the mind and soothe the soul.
Entangled Life: The Illustrated Edition: How Fungi Make Our Worlds by Merlin Sheldrake is a glorious introduction to fungi – this mysterious and massively diverse kingdom of life. In vivid images, Sheldrake reveals how these extraordinary organisms – and our relationships with them – are changing our understanding of how life functions.
What the Bears Know: How I Found Truth and Magic in America's Most Misunderstood Creatures from Steve Searles and Chris Erskine take the reader on a journey into the lives of bears in the wild. Warm and poignant, and perfect for anyone who has been fascinated by the natural world, we are shown that wisdom and fulfillment can come from unexpected places.
The Adult Coloring Book for Tea Lovers from Cynthia Browning is a good fit for your hardworking relative or friend who could use a little comfort, creativity, and downtime.
Ten-Word Tiny Tales: To Inspire and Unsettle by UK Children’s Laureate Joseph Coelho is a presentation of twenty tiny tales – each one illustrated by a different artist, and each just ten words long. Here you’ll find stories of underwater worlds, demon hamsters, bears in outer space, and portals to places unknown.
The Art of Loving by renowned psychoanalyst and social philosopher Erich Fromm is a classic work exploring love in all its aspects – not only romantic love, steeped in false conceptions and lofty expectations, but also love of family, children, erotic, self-love, and spiritual love. More of this, please!
Small Things Like These from Claire Keegan is a tale of one man’s courage and a remarkable portrait of love and family. This deeply affecting story of hope, quiet heroism, and empathy makes a wonderful gift for the folks in your inner circle.
Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss by Margaret Renkl is an intimate look into the life of a family – and the cycles of joy and grief that describe human lives within the natural world.
The Secret Lives of Color by Kassia St. Clair tells the unusual stories of seventy-five fascinating shades, dyes, and hues. From blonde to ginger, the brown that changed the way battles were fought to the white that protected against the plague, Picasso’s blue period to the charcoal on the cave walls at Lascaux, acid yellow to Kelly green, and from scarlet women to imperial purple, these surprising stories run like a brilliant thread throughout history.
Sibley Tree Identification Flashcards: 100 Trees of North America from David Allen Sibley is a beautifully illustrated deck of inspirational and informative cards housed in a handsome pull-drawer gift box. Each card features precise illustrations, the common and Latin names for each tree, general descriptions, and a map with notes about common areas where each tree can be found.
The New Saints: From Broken Hearts to Spiritual Warriors from Buddhist Lama and intersectional thought leader Lama Rod Owens is a wise guide for those who would dream a more just, ethical world into being. Combining personal stories, traditional teachings, and instructions for contemplative and somatic practices, Owens shares inspiring resources for self-exploration and wise action.
I also recommend Owens’s earlier work Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation.
Holistic Medicine and the Extracellular Matrix: The Science of Healing at the Cellular Level by Matthew Wood examines the function of the extracellular ecosystem, the inner ocean that unifies all our cells and controls them in a coordinated and integrated fashion. The author details how holistic therapies modify the environment of the cell and strengthen the whole, bringing the body back to homeostasis and consequently offering true healing.
The Hundred Remedies of the Tao: Spiritual Wisdom for Interesting Times by Gregory Ripley is a new translation of the 6th-century Taoist text Bai Yao Lu (Statutes of the Hundred Remedies), with practical commentary. Both scholarly and inspirational, this guidebook to Taoist spiritual living will help you learn to go with the flow, deepen your meditation practice, and find the natural balance in all things.
Unlocking the Secret Language of Tarot: 22 Keys to Understanding Its Symbolic Imagery by Wald and Ruth Ann Amberstone sets itself apart from other tarot books by teaching you how to translate the pictorial symbolism from one deck to another, strengthening your ability to recognize the specific icons in any deck and in the world around you.
Spirit Wheel: Meditations from an Indigenous Elder from Choctaw elder and spiritual explorer Steven Charleston is a collection of more than two hundred meditations, introducing us to the Spirit Wheel and the four directions that ground Native spirituality: tradition, kindship, vision, and balance.
Becoming Kin: An Indigenous Call to Unforgetting the Past and Reimagining Our Future by Patty Krawec with a foreword by Nick Estes weaves together Krawec’s own story of her ancestors with the broader themes of creation, replacement, and disappearance, helping us to see settler colonialism through the eyes of an Indigenous writer. What would it look like to remember that we are all related, she asks.
Humanual: A Manual for Being Human from Betsy Polatin is a unique and comprehensive approach to self-knowledge and self-improvement, offering a clear, concise, and rather simple set of explanations and exercises to facilitate understanding and unity of body, mind, and spirit.
The Vibration of Grace: Sound Healing Rituals for Liberation by Gina Breedlove is a glorious guide to help you evoke the power of sound as a vehicle of love and liberation – for yourself and your loved ones, and in service to the world. “Let the space between us be open and blessed,” says Breedlove. “May your ancestors and mine guide us through each ritual, to a place of sovereignty and dominion over our lives.”
Tending to the Sacred: Rituals to Connect with Earth, Spirit, and Self by Ashley River Brant helps us to tap into our own healing power, and nourish our mind, body, and soul with 50 rituals for greater connection to life, love, and purpose. This book is for anyone who longs to strengthen their connection with spirit, embrace the earth’s natural rhythms, and come home to their true nature.
The Body Clock in Traditional Chinese Medicine: Understanding Our Energy Cycles for Health and Healing from naturopath Lothar Ursinus is a potent reference guide to understanding the natural rhythm of our organs and learning to support them in a holistic way. By working with the body clock and better understanding how our body’s systems work together, we more easily trace our ailments and conditions to their source for faster relief, sustainable healing, and energetic balance.
Healing Crystals: The A-Z Guide to 555 Gemstones by Michael Gienger offers important information about 555 healing gemstones based on new findings in mineralogy and new experiences and research results in the field of gem therapy. Included is information for an additional 125 crystals not present in the earlier edition.
Sad Happens: A Celebration of Tears edited by Brandon Stosuy and illustrated by Rose Lazar is a beautifully presented, celebratory anthology exploring sadness and the transformative power of tears. By turns moving and affirming, Sad Happens is an emotional balm and visual delight.
Donde Las Maravillas (Where Wonder Grows) by Xelena González, illustrated by Adriana M. Garcia, is a lyrical intergenerational story exploring our connection to nature, family, and traditions.
I'll Be the Moon: A Migrant Children's Story from Phillip D. Cortez with illustrations by Mafs Rodriguez Alpide is a heartening immigration story about a child’s courage and the distance traveled to be with loved ones.
Eragon: The Illustrated Edition by Christopher Paolini offers us the ride of a lifetime in this special oversized edition with Paolini’s full original text and brand new full-color illustrations throughout by Sidarth Chaturvedi. This fantasy masterpiece is an ideal book to return to the World of Eragon. Experience the thrill and exhilaration of becoming a Dragon Rider all over again!
Heroes of the Water Monster by Navajo author Brian Young tells the story of two contemporary Navajo heroes – and one water monster – who must learn to work together to save their present world from the lasting hurts of their people’s past.
Unflappable by Matthew Ward, illustrated by Scott Magoon, is a witty and uplifting story about perseverance and hope starring three endearing flightless birds determined to get aloft.
Giraffe and Jackal Are Friends (Again) by Mary MacKenzie and Lisa Robinson with illustrations by Nicole Michels is based on the renowned Nonviolent Communication teachings of Dr. Marshall B. Rosenberg helping kids to learn coping and communication skills, all through the lens of a playful story.
A Whale of a Time: Funny Poems for Each Day of the Year selected by Lou Peacock and illustrated by Matt Hunt is a collection of 366 hilarious poems about animals, families, school, food, holidays, and much more. Included are works by Maya Angelou, Gwendolyn Brooks, Lucille Clifton, Nikki Giovanni, Langston Hughes, Ogden Nash, Judith Viorst, William Carlos Williams – to mention but a few.
Another collection of inspiring poetry for young readers is Courage Out Loud: 25 Poems of Power by Joseph Coelho, illustrated by Daniel Gray-Barnett, which focuses on building kids’ courage with mantras to be true to yourself, to help you feel brave, conjure a smile, make you laugh, and cheer others up.
The List of Things That Will Not Change from Rebecca Stead tells the story of young Bea and her family at a time when everything in her world is changing and how she learns to adapt.
When You Can Swim by Jack Wong is a reverent celebration of learning to swim among a diverse cast of children and families who each experience the mysterious joys of water in nature.
We Are Here from Tami Charles with illustrations by Bryan Collier celebrates the rich history of Black and brown men and women throughout history with soaring language and stunning illustration.
A Year of Good News from Martin Smatana is a heartwarming collection of 52 stories – one for each week of the year – to make you feel a little better about the world we live in, accompanied by unique illustrations made from recycled fabric.
Enlighten Me, a graphic novel by Minh Lê with illustrations by Chan Chau, is a fun and inspiring graphic novel about one kid’s journey to find inner peace and belonging.
Mika and the Gurgler from Agato Loth-Ignaciuk, illustrated by Berenika Kolomycka, tells the endearing story of a toddler who goes to battle with the mysterious gurgler in order to save her friend Frog.
Big by Vashti Harrison is a moving tale, sharing valuable lessons about fitting in, standing out, and the beauty of joyful acceptance.
Big Blue Whale by Nicola Davies with illustrations by Nick Maland takes children on an epic adventure, revealing how big and WONDER-full the natural world really is.
The Purest Bond: Understanding the Human-Canine Connection by Jen Golbeck and Stacey Colino is a feel-good, comprehensive exploration of the bond between humans and dogs. With all of the seismic shifts in today’s world, rates of anxiety and depression have been skyrocketing, and people have been turning to their dogs for solace and stability. With groundbreaking research and touching real-life stories, this book is a sweet reminder of what’s right in the world – love, trust, affection, playtime, fresh air, and sunshine – even when so much feels so very wrong.
365 Dogs Page-A-Day Calendar…I mean, do I really need to say anything more than that?! Three hundred and sixty-five terrific dog photos! If this doesn’t interest you, you may not be a dog person. You may not even be a person – in which case I suppose you get a pass.