Hispanic Heritage month, running from September 15 to October 15, is an annual celebration of the rich cultures and traditions of people living in the United States who trace their ancestry to Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America and South America. There has been a very welcome increase in books written by and for the Latinx community in the past several years, which is helping to fill a long-standing publishing gap. Here are a few of our recent favorites:
Every year, the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom compiles a list of all the books that have been challenged and banned during the previous year. In 2017, there were 416 reports of challenges or outright bans in libraries and schools. Here are the Top Ten Most Challenged Books from the previous year, including the reasons for the challenges or bans provided by ALA:
It’s always exciting to discover new books and authors and, as usual, some of the freshest voices can be found in young adult publishing. Here are three debut titles that have quickly become librarian favorites around here.
Melissa Albert writes with an authority that belies her status as a first-time author in the deliciously creepy The Hazel Wood. Bad luck has followed Alice every one of her 17 years and no matter how many times she and her mother, Ella, move to a new town, disaster always catches up. When Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of the cult fairy-tale classic Tales of the Hinterland, dies it seems their luck has finally turned. But bad things continue to lurk around the edges of their lives and it isn’t long before Ella goes missing. All signs of the abduction point to the The Hazel Wood, her grandmother’s rundown impenetrable estate. Dark, eerie, and deeply atmospheric, author Melissa Albert mines the darker side of fairy tales in this unsettling Continue reading “New Voices in Young Adult Literature”
What is a novella, exactly? If you start poking around for definitions you will find a wide range of conflicting criteria (mostly surrounding word count) but what it really comes down to is that a novella is longer than a short story but shorter than a novel. They are found in every genre and are a great choice for readers who want a satisfying read but are either pressed for time or not quite ready to commit to a 700-page doorstopper.
What I like best about novellas is the precision of the writing. Authors who write novellas, and do it well, can build an entire world in pages, sometimes just paragraphs, setting the tone and the foundation for stories that are as economical as they are affecting. Here are some outstanding novellas, all of which clock it at fewer than 200 pages:
In All Systems Red, a security droid hacks its own governing module, watches interstellar soap operas, and reluctantly does just enough work to avoid detection by the Company and the humans it is hired to protect. While generally disdainful of humanity, it remains troubled by evidence in its memory bank suggesting it played a part in a massacre in which many lives were lost. Winner of multiple awards, this is the first in the humorous, thoughtful and compulsively readable Murderbot Diaries series. Continue reading “Novellas: Small Commitment, Big Payoff”
Like most folks, I generally look at the beginning of a new year as a chance to reset, hopefully shedding some of those old, bad habits and starting some healthier new ones. And, as I get older and ponder more deeply how I want to be living my life (rather than how I sometimes find myself living it), I have been searching for ways to be more intentional as I go through my day. Mindfulness meditation, also simply called mindfulness, is a practical way to accomplish this goal that requires surprisingly little time and effort.
While rooted in Buddhism, there are many mindfulness guides and methods that are decidedly modern and completely Western, but all focus on staying present in the moment with the aim of calming the mind. Here are some titles I have found particularly useful in learning the practice of mindfulness meditation: Continue reading “Mindfulness for a New Year”