The Book Jam Blog
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We have no idea if you make, keep, or disdain New Year's resolutions. And, it feels as if we could all use some fun, hopeful, inspiring, and perhaps gentle books to peruse as we think about how we wish to be going forward (and process the past few years). Thus, we take a bit of time, during Kwanza and in the pause between Christmas/Hanukkah and New Years, to share a few books we've found as we shopped our favorite indie bookstores during the holidays. Regardless of where you land on resolutions, we wish you all the best in 2023. Happy reading.
Big Panda and Tiny Dragon by James Norbury (2021). This lovely book can be dipped into or read all at once with equal effectiveness. Big Panda and Tiny Dragon was created by British author and artist James Norbury to share ideas - mostly from Buddhism - that have helped him throughout his life. It would make an excellent housewarming gift or thank you gift for holiday hosts.
Hope Is A Verb: Six steps to radical optimism when the world seems broken by Emily Ehlers (2021). This book addresses, with fun illustrations and encouraging words, how to get unstuck when the issues you are facing overwhelm everything else. Ehlers is an environmental activist and begins with the importance of making change and also not burning out. Then her six steps are actually tips that even those of us who are not trying to change the world can use. A great book to pick up and put down when you feel, well stuck.
Keep Moving: Notes on loss creativity and change by Maggie Smith (2020). A loving mediation on how to move through grief caused by any loss (death, illness, divorce, kids moving out of the home, new work situations). In the wake of her painful divorce, Smith started writing Twitter posts, inspiring thousands. This book collects them and would be helpful for anyone wondering what is next (probably best once they've had a bit of time to process the loss though as keep moving can be hard to hear in those initial stages of grief). The Boston Globe calls it “A shining reminder to learn all we can from this moment, rebuilding ourselves in the darkness so that we may come out wiser, kinder, and stronger on the other side.”
Choke: What the secrets of the brain reveal about getting it right when you have to by Sian Beilock -- Beilock is both a renowned expert about the brain science behind human performance and neighboring Dartmouth's next (and first female) President. So, we were very curious about her book. In it, Beilock addresses questions such as 1) Why do the smartest students often do poorly on standardized tests? 2) Why did you tank that interview or miss that golf swing when you should have had it in the bag? 3) Why do you mess up when it matters the most—and how can you perform your best instead? We haven't finished it; but, we have a feeling her ideas about how not to crack under pressure will prove helpful going forward.