The Best of 2017: Author Interviews and Favorite Reads

I stayed afloat during 2017 for one reason only, human connection between myself and authors I admire and falling into books that gave me hope, let me cry, and let me hide between calls (all the calls) to my congressmen, fighting for my rights and the rights of others. Trying to hold extended family close to my heart when differences were tearing us apart, and generally trying not to slip into apathy and resignation was a full-time job. Here are just a few of the interviews and books that kept me afloat (click on author interviews in the blog menu for even more). May they encourage, shelter, challenge, and set you an a strong course for the coming year.

Happy Reading!!

Interviews:

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Ausma Zehanat Khan, author of the Esa Khattak/Rachel Getty mystery series and the new fantasy, The Bloodprint, talks generational trauma, revenge, and healing across time and continents.

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Rafi Mittlefehldt, author of the gorgeous YA coming of age novel, It Looks Like This, talks family connections, religious rifts, and the danger and survival of belonging.

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Dorit Rabinyan, international bestselling author of All the Rivers, talks integrating visual art into a narrative and finding other’s humanity admist chaos.

Some Favorite Reads:

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Mothers, Tell Your Daughersby Bonnie Jo Campbell (Short stories about families, rural life, and the truths we hide from ourselves)

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Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta (a young girl explores her identity as a lesbian in Nigeria while trying to maintain the powerful connection with her mother and society)

The Art of Waiting by Belle Boggs (essays on infertility, family, sociology, and the inter workings of the human heart)

I’m Tired of Pretending

…that it wasn’t hard, that my heart didn’t break a million times, that my heart doesn’t break every time I heard a friend can have a baby with ease, that I should feel happy. I’m tired of the guilt of not being happy for them, of being sad, of not appreciating that I got to have one, as if that should be consolation. Infertility is grueling, not just during, but after, forever.

Belle Boggs tackles these feelings and more in her new collection of essays, The Art of Waiting. From essays called Baby Fever, Imaginary Children, to Just Adopt and wrapping up with Paying for It, a perfect essay title for families that pay more than just money when things don’t go as they planned, these essays are like looking in a mirror and at the same time knowing you are not alone. Belle Boggs is a voice to be heard, and in it, she speaks with the voice of many who have faced what she has in struggling with fertility with a blend of history and personal experience. If you have been through it you will devour it. If you haven’t, read it even more closely, because someone you love has and is.

About Belle Boggs

Interview with NPR

Belle Boggs article in The Atlantic

Follow her on twitter @belleboggs

The Scariest Conversations

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Take a journey into the hidden life of teenage girls. Peggy Orenstein asks the questions that you may not want the answers to, but desperately need to listen to anyway. Interviewing scores of girls across the country, socioeconomic status, race, and sexuality, Orenstein listens to girls who are unafraid to tell their stories, but unsure how to live their sexual lives. Prepare to be shocked, not by the sexual activity, but by the lack of fun that girls are having engaging in activities of great consequence.

As a parent, this book has pushed me to have difficult discussions with my own partner. If we can’t talk within our own adult relationships about desire and regret and pleasure and choices, how can we have these important discussions with our girls? Is discomfort with talking to young girls and teens about sexuality about protecting them, or avoiding our own past experiences? In order to create a better environment for girls and boys, we have to be honest with ourselves. Admitting to a child that the person who is their father is not the person with whom one might have had their first sexual experience is powerful information. What choices might teens make differently if they knew the facts, not just about anatomy, desire, and protection, but also about the choices of the people they love and look up to the most, even if it seems they don’t. Continue reading “The Scariest Conversations”

Childhood Interrupted

This is how wars are fought now: by children, hopped-up on drugs and wielding AK-47s. Children have become soldiers of choice. In the more than fifty conflicts going on worldwide, it is estimated that there are some 300,000 child soldiers. Ishmael Beah used to be one of them. Continue reading “Childhood Interrupted”

Bones Spell Justice

Not everyone who collects bones is a murderer. Some people collect bones to give the gift of truth and justice.

 In 1994, Rwanda was the scene of the first acts since World War II to be legally defined as genocide. Two years later, Clea Koff, a twenty-three-year-old forensic anthropologist, left the safe confines of a lab in Berkeley, California, to serve as one of sixteen scientists chosen by the United Nations to unearth the physical evidence of the Rwandan genocide. Continue reading “Bones Spell Justice”