Each month, a different Literati bookseller curates the little green table on our main floor with some favorite reads. This month, it's Gina's turn!
My name is Gina, my pronouns are she/her and some things I love include running and practicing yoga, spending time outside with my dog, and writing letters to friends. The genres in which I’m most well-read are non-fiction, writings by queer authors, graphic novels, psychology and self-help with a touch of everything else, and I’m always welcome to recommendations and getting lost in new literature. I chose these books because they have held a special place in my heart and because they represent the variety of emotions and experiences with reading I've loved in my life. If you see me say hello and I hope you enjoy my picks!
The past no longer exists, and the future is not here yet. The only moment in which you can be truly alive is the present moment.”
Renowned Zen Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh shares his perspective on true mindfulness, the practice of being present in every moment of our lives. Simple and effective, You Are Here is a collection of essential teachings on grounding the self and calming our minds with the constant of the breath and showing empathy without judgement for our thoughts and emotions as we would for a child or a friend. This work gives our restless lives pause to kinder reflections on love, deep listening, gratitude, and allowing ourselves time and experiences to connect with this world while holding compassion for ourselves and each other.
In the quiet suburbs of Shaker Heights, a home is set aflame. Leading up to this event we meet Elena, a local journalist who’s lived her life by the rules, and Mia, an eccentric artist and photographer moving into town with her teenage daughter and nothing but the essentials packed in their car. The families are swiftly intertwined and become fascinated with each other’s ways of living, but are strained by secrets and the ongoing personal and influential custody battle that divides the community.
Little Fires Everywhere examines family dynamics and finding identity in a tightly woven society, challenging the systemic effects of unchanging structure and beliefs on class, culture, and the unspoken obligation to conform. Through the attentive ingenuity of Celeste Ng’s writing, we observe these characters’ organic interactions with empathy and find insight to deeper intuitions, most prevalent being the devotion of motherhood and giving everything to protect the ones you love.
Tien is a second-generation Vietnamese American teen who connects with his mother through a blend of languages and fairy tales they share between their cultures. He and his mother love each other and get along well, but he’s not quite sure how to come out to her with what seemingly little they have in common.
Nguyen’s debut graphic novel is deeply personal and endearing, a tale told through intricate art and meaningful design about bringing a family together across generations through the power of storytelling and the importance of learning to truly support and understand one another.
Grace Porter has recently graduated with her PhD in astronomy, searching to land a position in a highly competitive field with barriers stacked against her as a young, biracial woman. She's done everything she can to succeed while under the constant pressure of her military father to achieve. On vacation in Las Vegas with her friends, Grace awakens hungover in her hotel room with a ring, a gleaming photograph of her with her new wife, and the lingering aroma of sea salt and sage. In a leap of spontaneity, Grace travels to New York to meet this mysterious woman, hoping to find meaning in their connection and in her place in life.
Honey Girl is beautiful and raw, highlighting complexities in intersectionality, harm in expectations of perfection, and struggles with mental illness, loneliness, and dynamics in relationships. Rogers speaks to us through the experiences of a twenty-something fighting what many of us face; trying to discover what allows us to thrive and finding our own sense of self and belonging.
brilliant, modern retelling of Greek mythos through the eyes and intertwining experiences of Hades, King of the Underworld, and Persephone the Goddess of Spring; a vivid world is presented through stunningly hand-painted panels and an enticing and endearing narrative. So much more than romance and drama, Lore Olympus offers provocative reflections into our own lives through these familiar, fantastical characters and the complex relationships they share. Elegantly showcasing her ability to weave contemporary, emotional interpretations from this classic tale, Smythe delivers such dreamy and enthralling storytelling so easy to devour it’ll leave you longing for more.
Visceral, engaging, empathetic and true, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is an investigative triumph following the sadistic crimes committed by the “Golden State Killer", original night stalker of Northern California in the 1970s. Journalist Michelle McNamara skillfully illustrates the time, the lucid and palpable atmosphere of terror haunting the nation after these offenses, and presents compelling detailed evidence compiled through thorough research, case reports and interviews. Obsessed with uncovering the truth and identity of the predator, she has dedicated her life to bringing justice to these victims and their families.
This book is deeply personal, written with unparalleled eloquence and passion. We become immersed in the lives of those affected and see ourselves in their place. A bittersweet yet satisfying end, this book acts as a hopeful light against fear and what’s lurking in the darkness.
One of the most impactful books I’ve read, The Glass Castle is a raw and honest memoir recounting the vivid experiences of a girl who grows up across the United States in poverty. Her and her siblings must find ways to adapt, to survive and support one another as their parents remain elusive and unpredictable.
This is the true story of a woman with tremendous resilience who follows her own path, struggling against a broken system and major family dysfunction; a strenuous journey through forgiveness, affection and understanding. Through her eyes, we share her reality and complexities in familial love, mental illness, hope and redemption.
Thank you to my high school English teacher for recommending this incredible story all those years ago so I can share my love for it with everyone in my life~
Juliet Milagros Palante is a 19-year-old, freshly-outed queer Latina who embarks from her home in the Bronx on a summer internship opportunity where she will live and study with her favorite feminist author in Portland. Coming out didn’t go as planned and she worries for her mother’s love and acceptance while away, but on the West Coast, Juliet discovers a supportive community among others like her, gaining new perspectives on society and herself, and learning value in connecting with your roots.
This book is empowering and important, bringing light to voices otherwise stifled or missing from discussions on intersectionality and privilege, explorations in sexuality, race, and identity, and owning spaces that challenge ideals designed for someone else. Gabby Rivera's debut novel Juliet Takes a Breath is truly a breath of fresh air and an essential read for anyone seeking their sense of belonging in the world, and I long to see more diverse and introspective books like this on the shelves for young readers and adults alike.
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Gaiman offers us an elusive human experience, immersing the reader in a dreamlike, nostalgic existence fading between reality and the imagined. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is an ephemeral tale on memory, overcoming fear, and maintaining our sense of childhood wonder as we grow; A moving story told in the classic Neil Gaiman way, masterfully weaving ominous fairytale elements and heartwarming encounters into a beautiful, nearly-forgotten image of home.
What happens when our bodies reject us? When our bodies and minds stop functioning in the way we’re used to, turning our lives completely upside down?
Brain on Fire is an intense psychological and medical mystery following the story of Susannah Cahalan told in her own writing, pieced together through memory fragments, hospital notes and observations as she receives treatment for an unknown condition. A powerfully complex narrative, this book is engaging and emotional, keeping you on the verge of tears through her sickness and healing.