Danza! by Duncan Tonatiuh

danza

Originally published in: 2017

What it’s about: The iconic Amalia Hernández and the traveling dance company she created 60 years ago – Mexico’s Folkloric Ballet.

What made me pick it up: I had just returned from a trip to Mexico where students had performed some of the traditional dances mentioned in this book. When I saw a review for it, I knew I had to get my hands on it.

My favorite parts: I was inspired by the tenacity of Hernández to not only follow her dreams to dance, but build something to blend traditional dances into ballet and modern dance and take it around the world to showcase the culture of her home and her pride in it. I hope to see this one day. It sounds magical.

Who it’s great for: Dancers. Anyone who has been to Mexico and been awed.

Erica’s rating: four shells


Find this book in your local library or on Amazon (affiliate link).


 

Banana by Dan Koeppel

banana

Originally published in: 2007

What it’s about: I’m here to sadly report that the banana is at risk of dying off. Current practices aren’t sustainable and a suitable replacement has yet to be found or created. In the meantime the bad fungi are taking out this slow to evolve fruit.

What made me pick it up: Well I’d heard about this banana problem and wanted to learn more. Also it is a book about bananas. And I needed a new audiobook.

My favorite parts: Learning so much history of the banana. Like that we don’t have the good tasting one (that one died off when our grandparents were young). That they are hard to reproduce. That GMOing might be the only way to create a sustainable new banana. And most importantly that much of the developed world subsists on these. If we lose them, yes our smoothies will be a tad more boring but people will starve. People are already starting this process in parts of Africa losing their bananas.

My least favorite parts: There is a lot in here that is uncomfortable to downright despicable about Big Ag and American power in the developing world which will rightfully disgust you. I’m not sure if the right course of action is to boycott bananas or keep buying them, but it is clear something needs to change.

Who its great for: Trivia nerds. Banana lovers. History, agriculture, and food science geeks.

Erica’s rating: four shells


Find this in your local library or on Amazon (affiliate link).


 

Mama Africa by Kathryn Erskine

mamaafrica

Originally published in: 2017

What it’s about: Miriam Makeba, a South African musician who used her music to tell the story of apartheid to the rest of the world and request their aid.

What made me pick it up: I was checking out the Wikipedia pages of some local authors and found out Erskine had put out a picture book about Africa. Win win.

My favorite parts: Once again a picture book for young children teaches me about history I never knew. Erskine lived in South Africa when she was younger and always wanted to tell this story. I have read many stories about apartheid but not heard this one. I appreciated having the history fleshed out and learning about a musician who used her gift to not only get out of deteriorating South Africa but ask for help from everyone she could. Truly powerful and inspiring.

Who it’s great for: Anyone interested in the history of Africa, South Africa, apartheid, or music. 

Erica’s rating: three shells


Find this book in your local library or on Amazon (affiliate link).


 

The Crossroads of Should and Must by Elle Luna

sartre
Art from book discussed. This post contains affiliate links. 

Originally published in: 2015

What it’s about: Why you should follow your passion one tiny step at a time.

What made me pick it up: It was mentioned in When To Jump, which I read recently.

My favorite parts: This is colorful and short and full of inspirational quotes and the tiny push you might need to begin following your calling. You don’t have to quit your job or go on an intense spiritual journey or backpack around Asia for any period of time, unless you feel you really need to. Just get up a few minutes early to paint or write or do whatever it is you feel you need to do. See where it leads. I do appreciate reminders now and then that you can listen to your inner voice and see what it’s telling you without disrupting your entire world. Or maybe it will and that will also be a fun adventure.

Who it’s great for: Anyone wondering if this is it.

Erica’s rating: three shells


Find this book in your local library or on Amazon.


 

The Witch Doesn’t Burn In This One by Amanda Lovelace

witchdoesntburn
This post contains affiliate links.

Originally published in: 2018

What it’s about: A book of poetry about abuse and assault and theoretical revenge. But mostly about how powerful women are, and how we will overcome.

What made me pick it up: It was available from my library’s downloadable collection on Freading so I could check it out right away. I had read Lovelace’s first collection and enjoyed it.

My favorite parts: I loved the messages of self love and acceptance. I could read poems that tell me how ass-kicking women are all day long. I also enjoy the reminders to pull other ladies up with you. We’re all in this together. I appreciated the trigger warning she included in the beginning. This content will punch you in the stomach, especially if you have familiarity with abuse, assault, or harassment. I definitely took screenshots of some of these poems to carry with me. Get angry, fantasize about getting even, but more than anything know how valuable you are.

Who it’s great for: Anyone sick of being quiet and nice and polite and proper in the face of abuse, harassment, threats, or assault. It’s our time.

Erica’s rating: three shells


Find this book in your local library or on Amazon.


 

I Am Loved by Nikki Giovanni

loved

Originally published in: 2018

What it’s about: A book of illustrated poems for children about the many ways to care for others and be cared for.

What made me pick it up: It’s by Nikki Giovanni. I cannot emphasize enough how you need to sample her work if you haven’t yet.

My favorite parts: These poems are vibrantly illustrated, so if the words weren’t amazing enough (which they definitely are) you also have wonderful, colorful illustrations to accompany.

Who it’s great for: Littles who want an engaging introduction to poetry.

Erica’s rating: four shells

 


Find this book in your local library or on Amazon (affiliate link).


 

Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics by Dan Harris

meditation

Originally published in: 2018

What it’s about: A book about “secular” mindfulness meditation and Harris’s work to share his beloved practice with those that want to try but have many excuses not to.

What made me pick it up: As a newbie mindfulness meditator I am curious about all books mediation-related.

My favorite parts: I like this for the reason laid out in the title – this is for fidgety skeptics. If you’ve tried and immediately not achieved enlightenment so you think you’ve failed – it’s for you. If you’d like to try but “just don’t have the time” – it’s also for you. It’s not mystical in any way but it does make it sound accessible by shouting down your excuses, providing strategies to help, and detailing examples of the ongoing struggles from long-term practitioners. You will want to keep trying because they extol how it has helped them. And if you’ve tried even a little bit you’ll know of what they speak. Meditation helps me be quieter in my mind and reactions and I heartily endorse any book that can bring that peace to others. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.

Who it’s great for: Anyone interested in meditation.

Erica’s rating: three shells

 


Find this book in your local library or on Amazon (affiliate link).