I Am Loved by Nikki Giovanni


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


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).


Shaking Things Up by Susan Hood


Originally published in: 2018

What it’s about: Fourteen women and girls who have changed the world throughout history.

What made me pick it up: It was about women and girls who have changed the world.

My favorite things: I always love reading about women who have had an impact on history, especially when they are unfamiliar to me, as some in this book were. The one I enjoyed the most was about a librarian (of course) — Pura Belpré was the first bilingual public librarian in New York City. It’s even better when the inspirational women you’re reading about reflect your career path. In this case, it made me that much prouder of all these great individuals and their work. The stories are written in verse, with little bios at the bottom of the pages and vibrant illustrations. There is so much to enjoy in this book!

Who it’s great for: Women and girls of all ages.

Erica’s rating: four shells

Find this book in your local library.


Thank You, Bees by Tony Yuly


Originally published in: 2017

What it’s about: A picture book about being thankful.

What made me pick it up: I saw it sitting on my coworker’s desk and took a few minutes to page through.

My favorite things: I liked the repetition of thanking various elements — clouds for rain, sun, earth. It has very vivid illustrations, which reminded me a little of Eric Carle, and a simple message which I enjoyed.

Who it’s great for: Little ones who need a lesson in gratitude.

Erica’s rating: three shells

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


Evicted by Matthew Desmond


Originally published in: 2016

What it’s about: A firsthand account of how eviction exacerbates extreme poverty.

What made me pick it up: Bill Gates said it was one of the best books he read in 2017.

My favorite things: I learned so much about the inequalities in housing, the callousness of slum lords, and the huge impact an eviction can have on all areas of your life. Reading about how owning poor quality inner city apartment buildings is a cash cow whether your tenants stay or leave was disgusting. This book is told in stories, which makes it all the more accessible. Sure a treatise on unfair housing practices would’ve been informative, but it wouldn’t have been this visceral. You will react physically to some of the horrible living situations subjects find themselves in and with horror that we, as a society, do not help them find better. I liked all of the personal stories, even if they were heartbreaking. I appreciate the author’s ability to maintain objectivity, for the most part, but don’t think I have the stomach to do spend years watching these small personal tragedies unfold while only providing a small amount of assistance. Desmond makes a compelling argument, based on extensive research, that we could fund a voucher system that would alleviate this problem and put us on par with many other developed and even developing nations in providing a leg up to our poorest citizens if only we would reallocate some money. In short, BY NOT SPENDING ANYTHING MORE we could fix the horrible, demoralizing situations you will read about in this book. How can we do anything other?

Who it’s great for: Everyone. Especially those interested in poverty and its mysterious persistence in extremely wealthy America.

Erica’s rating: five shells

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


Hand to Mouth by Linda Tirado


Originally published in: 2014

What it’s about: Being the working poor in America and the impossibilities of achieving the American dream that that presents.

What made me pick it up: I saw it recommended highly by one of my friends on Goodreads.

My favorite things: As someone who grew up relatively poor early on a lot of this was familiar and it was so nice to have someone vocalize it who wasn’t slumming for journalism or doctorate earning reasons. The profanity and giving of no fucks made me feel like I was around some individuals from my hometown in the best way. More than anything it will open eyes for how hardworking the poor are and how not enough is being done to assist them. Yes, assist them. We’re all humans. Let’s start acting like it.

Who it’s great for: Anyone living paycheck to (hopefully) paycheck who wants to feel understood and those who have the luxury not to be who want to understand.

Erica’s rating: four shells

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


She Persisted by Chelsea Clinton


Originally published in: 2017

What it’s about: A collected biography of some great female icons throughout history.

What made me pick it up: It seemed like a fitting book to kick off my 2018 reading with.

My favorite things: I liked that this profiled Claudette Colvin, who predated and inspired Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat. It’s always great to see women who are not the usual reference points for a specific time in history also get their stories told.

Who it’s great for: Everyone. Especially little girls who need role models from all walks of life.

Erica’s rating: four shells

Find this book on Amazon (affiliate link).


Erica’s Favorite Books of 2017

Looking back on 2017 (with the help of Goodreads, of course) I see that I liked and really liked a lot of books. But the ones that got five stars from me were these:

Princess Hair by Sharee Miller
This wonderful picture book spreads the message that everyone is a princess and therefore their hair is princess hair. Then it details exactly how princesses can wear all the varieties of African American hairstyles. I loved its premise and its focus on African American girls. It’s all empowerment and positive message and inclusion and you should get it for all your littles, whether of color or not.

Polar Bear’s Underwear by Tupera Tupera
As I talked about in my review this picture book is hilarious in its absurdity about animals and their underroos. I loved it so much I bought it for my almost three-year-old niece for Christmas.

Women in Science by Rachel Ignotofsky
Vibrant colors and illustrations with a powerhouse of information on notable women you may have heard of and some you likely haven’t. I was inspired and to this day want to share it with everyone (just ask Abby what my reaction was when I saw her reading it.). Ignotofsky’s next book, Women in Sports, came out in July and is one of my most anticipated reads for 2018.

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman
It’s no secret I adore Backman’s whole catalog but this novella hit so close to home. If you’ve ever had a loved one deteriorate from Alzheimer’s this will likely make you cry the entire time, like it did me. About a grandfather trying to come back to reality for his grandson even though he can’t quite find the way.

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
I’m still in awe of the mastery of this novel by Picoult and I try to get everyone to read it in the hopes of fostering dialog about race and race relations in America. It’s so easy to say “oh no, I’m not racist” without realizing all the little ways you maybe are. I stand by my one word review of “wow”.

Dear Fahrenheit 451 by Annie Spence


Originally published in: 2017

What it’s about: A librarian writes love letters (and some break up ones) to all the books she has loved.

What made me pick it up: List of books, written by a librarian? It was a no-brainer.

My favorite things: This book is hilarious, even if you don’t get all the library work references. But they did make it even more enjoyable for me. I’ve recommended it to all my coworkers and library working friends. It’ll make you remember all those books you love, or at least used to love, and why and maybe reminisce or pick them back up and read them again. While it did remind me a little of other books about books, most notably those by Will Schwalbe, the repeated doses of levity helped this one rise above the rest. She’s not trying to change your life, she’s just someone who wants to talk about the books she loves/hates. So get a glass of wine and enjoy this book chat from your new author bestie.

Who it’s great for: Readers of every variety. Librarians.

Erica’s rating: four shells

Find this book in your local library, or if the holds lists are too long, on Amazon (affiliate link).


A Gift From Bob by James Bowen

This post contains affiliate links.

Originally published in: 2015

What it’s about: A sweet Christmas tale about a recovering heroin addict getting his life back together with the help of his feline pal. James let’s you see him struggle through the holiday season to find meaning and realize how great his life really is.

What made me pick it up: I am a devout follower of James and Bob’s inspiring tale. I’ve read previous books A Street Cat Named Bob and The World According to Bob and recommend them. When I saw this I (eventually) got myself a copy.

My favorite things:  I enjoyed the reminder that it’s not how much you have but who you have in your life that makes it great, especially during the holiday season. It also has a strong thread of giving is better than getting, which I appreciated. Mostly, James has a way of telling his story so you root for him to keep holding it together after all he has overcome, and hope the same for other addicts and recovering addicts everywhere.

Who it’s great for: Readers interested in a heart warming tale. Cat fans. Anyone who has ever had a pet that chose them.

Erica’s rating: four shells

Find this book in your local library or on Amazon.