What We're Reading Now

What We're Reading Now: SOUTH AND WEST by Joan Didion

Joan Didion’s South and West, published in 2017, is a slim volume excerpted from Didion’s notes during two periods—one in 1970, on a roadtrip in the American South, and another in 1976, around the Patty Hearst trial.

“The idea was to start in New Orleans and from there we had no plan.” This book of essays sends the reader right back to the 70s, with Didion on the road or at the writing desk, yet there’s a sense of timelessness, as if the era these notes were written in wasn’t half-a-century from this. While the pieces Didion may have intended to write in the 70s didn’t pan out, the notes left from each period paint clearly snapshots of both times with full force of Didion’s shrewd yet dispassionate eye for detail.

What We're Reading Now: THE CARRYING by Ada Limón

parenting, and motherhood; and the changing roles we have in the ever-turning cycle of birth, aging, and death. It’s a collection studded with images anchoring the reader to the natural world around the speaker—from trellising tomatoes in the garden, to “the cold salt froth / of the Pacific,”* to watching eagles in a field.

What We're Reading Now: THE REFUGEES by Viet Thanh Nguyen

What are you reading, book-lovers? This month, we’ve started more books we finished, but those we did finish include: The Refugees, a short story collection by Viet Thanh Nguyen; Ada Limón’s most recent poetry collection, The Carrying; and South and West, a slim nonfiction volume by Joan Didion that muses on moments decades past, in (as the title suggests) the American South and in California. A varied bunch!

What We're Reading Now: Conversations with Friends

Did this February seem particularly dreary everywhere, or just in rainy LA? There’s been so much rain on the West Coast that it’s felt a bit like Ireland—very green and very, very damp! Dublin, Ireland is also the setting of the only book we finished this month: Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney.

It may not have kept up with our New Years reading resolution, but this fantastic novel was everything I want in a rainy-day read: with great dialogue and vivid images that make the reader feel not only that you’re in the story, but oh!—how much you’d like to step into the rooms with them.

What We're Reading Now, Con't: Testimonios

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.

What We're Reading Now: Poems, Fairytales, Testimonios

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.

New Year's Resolution-to-Read

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.

Through the Water Curtain, & Other Global Folktales

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:

Our Favorite Holiday Reads

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: