Is it February already? This week, we finished Telling to Live, the collection by the Latina Feminist Group that we began earlier in January. The stories in Telling to Live are moving, living testimonies, and show diverse Latina experiences that are often underrepresented, both within literature in particular, and American society in general. The book’s introduction talks about how that lack of representation—stories by, for, and about Latina women—in some ways served as a catalyst for gathering the collection.
Our reading list this month features two uniquely framed collections of poetry—Nikita Gill’s Fierce Fairytales: Poems & Stories to Stir Your Soul and Diane Ackerman’s Origami Bridges—and a collection of Latina feminist testimonios called Telling to Live. Each collection has a perspective, tone, and language distinctly its own but, picking each up in turn, I was struck by the threads connecting each of them.
As the beginning of the new year approaches, it’s a time of year when many of us think about our goals, intentions, and plans for the next twelve months. While we’re not super into the resolution-making spirit (make changes & plan for growth whenever and however it works for you), there is one resolution we’d like to bring into the new year: reading more intentionally, more widely, and more inclusively.
It’s no surprise that we might have a penchant for folklore here at Breathing Books…after all, the Reckless series, and so many of Cornelia’s magical stories, draw from folk and fairytales! While many of us are most familiar with Anglo-centric and European folklore, all around the world there are rich oral traditions, magical stories, and centuries of lore told by firesides. Through the Water Curtain (Pushkin Press), an anthology of global folktales curated by Cornelia Funke, explores folklore from oral traditions in Japan, Siberia, Germany, and beyond.
Here are just a few folktales from around the world that we’ve grown to love:
With the holidays coming up, it’s a busy time of year…which means it’s the perfect time to re-read some old (and newer) favorites! Returning to books we’ve loved before is an easy way to indulge the urge to read as much as we can, while also being able to leave off and pick up between holiday activities and spending time with family. Check out a few of our favorite holiday stories:
We’re reading a varied selection these days: two new books and one we’re reading for the third (or perhaps fourth?) time. Find out more about our TBR pile below!
I knew I had to when Roychoudhuri read aloud a sentence that absolutely summed up how I've felt in the last weeks and months: "Many of us are experiencing a shift in our perception of time because of the intensity and trauma of a leadership that shocks us daily—a single day can feel like a week, a week can feel like a month."
The book I'm reading this week is one I've been reading and re-reading since the summer of 2017, when In Other Words, Jhumpa Lahiri's Italian-English translation hybrid essay collection came out in the US. Lahiri's collection begins at a turning point: the writer's love of Italian has led her and her family to move from America to Rome, where she will read and write only in Italian.
(Fun fact: it's been six years since, she continues to do so!)
With Lahiri's Italian words on the left page, and a translator's rendering into English on the verso page, I'm continually making stumbling progress with the Italian, but have read the English translation perhaps half a dozen times. Lahiri's voice in this book is clear, plain but beautiful. Strewn between her essays about her journey with Italian, and her relationship with language in general, are opalescent contemporary stories that read like fairytales: a traveler losing a jacket in a mysterious bazaar, a lake that must be crossed.
As beautiful as Lahiri's stories from In Other Words / En altre parole are, it's her exploration of this seemingly peculiar intense love of the Italian that make me want to savor each word. In an unusual way, I have Cornelia to thank for my particular interest in this gorgeous collection; as a child, I read The Thief Lord, and was immediately captivated by the pictures she painted of Venice with its canals, the damp streets, the crumbling theatre, Scipio. In the years since I was first whisked away to the canals of Venice, I've been lucky enough to travel briefly in Italy, and that fledgling love of an imagined city blossomed into a love of the Italian language and a fascination with the young country's ancient history. When I first heard of In Other Words a few years ago, then published in solely Italian, I practically salivated over news of the dual-language printing!
My first introduction to Lahiri was her collection Interpreter of Maladies (for which she's the youngest recipient of the Pulitzer Prize), and was captivated by her language and pacing. I loved the stories' detail; the quiet, observant voices of her characters, and the singular moments in their ordinary lives. Though the stories are different, the voice in her new collection is resonant, rich and delicious--like an excellent espresso or gelato.
-Liz (booklover & marketing manager)
Today the sun finally broke through the clouds in LA! It's been a slow, cloudy spring here, and we spent the morning in a Los Feliz coffeeshop reading Anne Sexton.
Anne Sexton (b. 1928, d. 1974) was a popular American poet of the 1960s and 70s, Her talents developed rapidly, and her simple, forceful imagery and suburban realism made her work accessible.
We're also still carrying around another one of Rebecca Solnit's book, The Mother of All Questions--her work is too good!