Books On Compassion
YES! Magazine’s list of books for creating a compassionate world is a great place to start. Here are a few that stuck out:
Starting off with the political, Robert Frank’s Success and Luck shows that although some (many) individuals in the united states believe that hard work is the only thing that can bring life success (troublesome, because this notion harmfully and negatively plays into the idea of laziness — but I digress), luck plays a large factor too.
“Research shows that the family we are born into (and even birth order), the opportunities available in our neighborhoods, the schools we attend, and whether or not we have positive adult mentors—all of which are beyond our individual control—play an important role in whether or not we succeed in life.” | Buy Me
What made this book stand out for me was its title. What is the science of happiness? And how can we all use this science to create a successful 2017? These are a few questions (probably the former not the latter — that’s my question!) that author and researcher Emma Seppälä draws on cognitive psychology and neuroscience—research on happiness, resilience, willpower, compassion, positive stress, creativity, mindfulness.
“We are stuck in a jumble of feeling overwhelmed yet never accomplishing enough, trussed up by assumptions that we hold about productivity, such as Success requires stress. We have to compete with others. We can’t cut ourselves any slack.” | Buy Me
Books In Translation
REMEZCLA has become one of my favorite new look-outs for all things literature, political, and more. They too have a list of books from identified American and US Latino Authors that I think all should take a look at. Here are a few that stood out:
This book has a protagonist that identifies as boriqua and queer growing up in the Bronx. Not only is this narrative essential, it’s great to see up-and-coming writers giving value to normal narratives.
“A sweet, expansive YA novel about growing up queer and Boricua in the Bronx, navigating the waters of white feminism, and, of course, falling in love.” | Buy Me
This books is called a “dreamoir” as it is the author’s account of her dreams and an exploration into her subconscious. I think this topic is fascinating and the title of the book doesn’t hold back on peeking my interest either.
“Like dreams themselves, it is made up of fragments and images that thread through its pages.” | Buy Me
You may recognize her face from Orange Is The New Black on Netflix, but she’s also the author of her parent’s story about being deported. This is a topic thats ever relevant, especially this New Year.
“In the Country We Love is a moving, heartbreaking story of one woman’s extraordinary resilience in the face of the nightmarish struggles of undocumented residents in this country. There are over 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the US, many of whom have citizen children, whose lives here are just as precarious, and whose stories haven’t been told.” | Buy Me
This book’s description not only seems like it will be a bunch of fun, it seems like it’s definitely a book worth your attention. I’ll let the description speak for itself:
“In a world beset by amassing forces of darkness, one organization—the Regional Office—and its coterie of super-powered female assassins protects the globe from annihilation. At its helm, the mysterious Oyemi and her oracles seek out new recruits and root out evil plots. Then a prophecy suggests that someone from inside might bring about its downfall. And now, the Regional Office is under attack.
Recruited by a defector from within, Rose is a young assassin leading the attack, eager to stretch into her powers and prove herself on her first mission. Defending the Regional Office is Sarah—who may or may not have a mechanical arm—fiercely devoted to the organization that took her in as a young woman in the wake of her mother’s sudden disappearance. On the day that the Regional Office is attacked, Rose’s and Sarah’s stories will overlap, their lives will collide, and the world as they know it just might end.
Weaving in a brilliantly conceived mythology, fantastical magical powers, teenage crushes, and kinetic fight scenes, The Regional Office Is Under Attack! is a seismically entertaining debut novel about revenge and allegiance and love.” | Buy Me
BONUS: This book was named the best book of 2016 by Buzzfeed and The Guardian
Books (Most Likely) On MFA Lists For Spring/Fall
The lovely (and beautifully political) Literary Hub asked booksellers to name a few books that may be showing up in syllabi across MFA programs out there. If any readers are current or future MFA students who happen to have any of these books on their to read lists, comment below and share what you think about reading them. Here are a few that stuck out:
This is the first book on the list and the one that got my attention. Writing character was something that always intrigued me. How do you make a fictional individual appear real? Alice McDermott, Professor at Hopkins University, plans to use this book to teach her students about character construction.
“Everything a fiction writer aiming for realism—and laughter, and heartache—needs to know is contained in this short novel: scene, exposition, brilliant dialogue, comedy, compassion, a ticking plot line and yes, best of all, character.” | Buy Me
I Am an Executioner grabbed my attention because it’s a book that explores narrative approaches. In my Grad school (not an MFA program), we studied narrative criticism and the techniques and rhetorical devices used in literature. We read many short stories and also non-fiction stories. I Am an Executioner reminds me of what I learned. This is a topic that still interests me today.
“He takes a number of different narrative approaches, and succeeds at all of them, so it’s a rich book both in terms of its literary merit and the techniques on display. Also, because he’s a young writer on the way up, I think he’s evidence that the distance from where they are to where he is might not be insurmountable if they’ve got compelling stories to tell and are smart and willing to explore various methods of narration.” | Buy Me
Deborah Landau is the director of NYU’s Creative writing Program and she is planning to use this book of contemporary poets for her course. I love poetry and I’m always eager to read new books or work by contemporary poets. Poetry has always been the medium of moments and impressions. I think we’re beautifully witnessing contemporary poets through the spoken word. If any of you have recommendations for contemporary poets, comment below.
“This innovative collection coheres brilliantly, and is an ideal read for students at work on first books.” | Buy Me
These are stories that I would have liked to read for my English degree. I love work that blends political and real-life concerns. Samrat Upadhyay is the “Martha C. Kraft of Humanities at Indiana University” and plans to use this book for his students.
“The stories are mostly South African but the concerns are universal, about freedom and dignity, about suffering and privilege. Most important, these stories challenge.” | Buy Me
In a similar vein to I Am an Executioner (above), Narrative Design also talks about form and structure. Amazon’s description says this book takes an analytic approach to time, plot, character, and other elements of fiction. All this is right up my alley and most likely up the alleys of thinkers too.
“Having some sense of the different ways stories can work and unfold, he believes, gives the writer just a steady enough footing to free him- or herself up to focus on the exciting aspects of writing—“the unconscious mind,” imagination, creativity.” | Buy Me
These are some honorable mentions — some I’ve read in High School, some in college, and some I hope to read soon!
I think that’s a good start for a new Year book list, don’t you think? All of these books (plus more great ones) can be found on Yes! Magazine, REMEZCLA, and Lit Hub. Corresponding book cover images came from their respected book lists.
© 2017 Black Lion Journal. All images and book snippets from corresponding book lists: YES! Magazine, REMEZCLA, Lit Hub.