Rah Rah for RA!: Short Stories Collections

Occasionally we here at Library Ladies get an email asking for some Reader’s Advisory. Sometimes it’s a general ‘what should I read next?’, and sometimes it’s a specific genre or theme that the reader is asking for. We do our best to match the reader to some books that they may like based on the question they give us.

I find I read some of the same authors over and over again, or really similar kinds of books. Are there short story collections that will introduce me to a variety of new authors? Bonus points for a wide range of settings/perspectives!
Can’t wait to see what you find!

Short Story Newcomer

Hi Newcomer!

That’s one of the beauties of short story collections: you can find a lot of great new authors that you wouldn’t have found otherwise! Here are a few edited collections across the genres that may tickle your fancy…

Book: “A Phoenix First Must Burn” by Patrice Caldwell

This is a sci-fi/fantasy collection that focuses on telling the stories of Black women as explored through the lens of speculative fiction. There are folktales, post-apocalyptic stories, space adventures and more. What really makes this collection stand out is that, while many of the stories touch on tough topics such as betrayal, strength, and resistance, they all also ultimately focus on hope. It’s a great collection full of women from all walks of life and covering a wide scope of fantasy sub-genres. For those looking for a double dipper or fantasy short stories but all tales that focus on topics that are very relatable today, this is definitely a collection worth checking out.

Book: “Odd Partners: An Anthology” by Anne Perry

Mysteries seem like quite the challenge to write in short story format, but this collection features a long list of well-known mystery authors willing to take on the task! The collection focuses on the theme of, well, odd partners. So if you like stories that feature oddball team-ups, like the classic Dr. Watson and Sherlock Holmes, than this is definitely the collection for you. Of course, many of the authors take this theme even further, applying it to the clashes between arch-enemies, as well as the more bizarre teams up, like those between humans and animals.

Book: “The Book of Dragons” by Jonathan Strahan

It’s pretty commonly accepted that dragons are by far the most popular fantasy creature in lore. So it is only fitting that they get a series of short stories all to themselves. Not only does this collection focus on dragons, but it comes with a star-studded list of authors including Garth Nix, Ann Leckie, Kate Elliot, Jane Yolen, and many more! The collection also includes beautiful black and white line art, and its stories are presented in a variety of formats, including poetry. There are also dragons and dragon legends from around the world, including China, Europe, Africa and North America. Definitely a must read if you’re a fan of these epic beasts!

Book: “Slasher Girls and Monster Boys” by April Genvieve Tulchoke

Calling all horror fans, if you are looking for a wide variety of haunts and horrors, “Slasher Girls and Monster Boys” is the book for you! This collection brings together a wide array of YA authors from many backgrounds and perspectives, and challenges them to write a short horror story taking influence from other horror works. So that means that you could be reading a whole new tale of terror, but it could be taking influence from such iconic horror lore as “Final Destination”, “Psycho”, “The Omen”, and many many more. With authors like Leigh Bardugo, Kendare Blake, Marie Lu, and many more, you will no doubt be able to find something that will whet your terror pallet. 

Book: “Flying Lessons and Other Stories” by Ellen Oh

We read this book in our book club a few years ago, but it still is a collection that stands out in our minds of being a well rounded group of stories. The We Need Diverse Books organization published this book of juvenile fiction that has characters and authors that are from many different diverse backgrounds, and are within stories of different genres. From fantasy to realistic fiction to poetry, “Flying Lessons and Other Stories” has a large swath of tales. With authors like Grace Lin, and Kwame Alexander, the stories can be funny, or sad, or suspenseful at times, but always relatable for readers to be sure. 

Book: “Fresh Ink” by Lamar Giles

We finish out our list with another collection in conjunction with We Need Diverse Books, this time with a focus on a YA Own Voices authors. “Fresh Ink” is similar to “Flying Lessons” in its content, and has some overlap with the authors from that anthology, but this one has some more mature themes. Once again we have many different Own Voices authors dabbling in various genres. From Jason Reynolds to Nicola Yoon to Walter Dean Myers and more, “Fresh Ink” also happens to have a graphic novel form short story which makes it a little more unique when compared to other books on this list. 

Do you have a favorite short story collection or anthology? Let us know in the comments!

Rah Rah for RA!: Male Protagonists for Teen Readers

Occasionally we here at Library Ladies get an email asking for some Reader’s Advisory. Sometimes it’s a general ‘what should I read next?’, and sometimes it’s a specific genre or theme that the reader is asking for. We do our best to match the reader to some books that they may like based on the question they give us.

Hi Ladies!

I loved your Animorph series, and now I’m looking for book recommendations for my son… He’s not an avid reader, but he loved the book “Blood Song” by Anthony Ryan and really likes books with young male protagonists (pretty much from any genre besides romance).  I don’t really like him reading very mature scenes sexually or otherwise (he’s 12) but we’re pretty open minded besides that.

Do you have any recommendations?

Hi! We’re always into encouraging people to read no matter their levels of love for reading. It’s great that he’s open to so many genres, as that gives him lots of room to explore. We’ve put together a few titles that we hope represent a good swath of options!

22443261Book: “The Rithmatist” by Brandon Sanderson

Brandon Sanderson is one of my favorite fantasy authors still writing today. He typically writes adult fantasy, but he also has a few young adult options. “The Rithmatist” is one of these. It’s the story of Joel, a young boy who dreams of being a Rithmatist, a magically trained individual who can use chalk drawings to create a wide spectrum of spells, including making chalk creatures that come to life. But, being the son of a poor family, his chances are few and far between, and he’s forced to watched other students train in his beloved art while he works at the very school he wants to attend. When students start disappearing and magical forces seem to be stirring, Joel and a few friends become caught up in a scheme that stretches beyond their school walls. It’s a fun, action-packed book, and I think Joel is just the sort of character who would appeal to many boys in middle school. I wrote a full review of this book a few years back, so check that out for more insights.

685472Book: “The Black Stallion” by Walter Farley

This is a classic children’s book. But it is also a classic go-to for librarians looking for a book to recommend to reluctant readers. Many a teen and adult will point to this book as one that started off their love of reading. Stories of children and their dogs/horses always seem to be a hit, and combine this one with a shipwreck, survival, and, lastly, sport horse racing, and you have a home run! For young readers who want a book set in the real world and with less fantastic elements, this is a lovely tale of the bond between a horse and a boy. It’s also the first of a long series of books, so if it does turn out to be a favorite, there are a lot more where it came from!

38709._sx318_Book:  “Holes” by Louis Sachar

Another book that was quite well-received when it was published and still holds up well now several years after the fact. This story of a young man who finds himself sent to a juvenile detention center where the punishment is to dig holes. Big ones. Every day. But as Stanley toils, he begins to notice strange things about the caretakers of the camp. Why are the kids digging these holes exactly? The story is a fantastic mystery all told through the extremely humorous narration of the main character. This is a good tale for young readers who enjoy books set in our real world and like to untangle mysteries.

6186357Book: “The Maze Runner” by James Dashner

If YA dystopia is what you’re looking for, “The Maze Runner” is sure to scratch that itch. Unlike other similar books, in “The Maze Runner” the protagonist is going in almost as clueless as the reader. Thomas wakes up in a moving lift, and doesn’t remember anything about his life except for his name. He’s deposited in a clearing that is surrounded by an ever changing maze, and with other teenage boys who don’t know where they are or why they are trapped there. The only way out is through the maze, but no one has made it out alive. And then, a girl arrives, apparently the only girl that has ever been there. The group has to work together to figure out if they can escape. Filled with suspense and intrigue, “The Maze Runner” is some heart pounding YA adventure!

50Book: “Hatchet” by Gary Paulson

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to be lost in the woods with very little resources, “Hatchet” is basically the go-to book to explore that concept. After Brian is the only survivor of a small plane crash in the wilds of Canada, he is armed with the clothes on his back and a hatchet that his mother gave him before he left on his trip to visit his father. Now he has to find shelter, food, water, and all the resources he will need to survive. As he is left to his own devices and has to find a way to survive, Brian reflects on the life he hopes to return, as well as his insecurities that seem so meaningless now. This is a classic survival story, and one that has entranced readers for years and years!

28954126Book: “Ghost” by Jason Reynolds

Our book club had a session about this book, a contemporary middle grade sports story that addresses family, the past, and trauma. Ghost is a boy who is haunted by memories of his violent father, and the night that his father tried to kill him and his mother. The incident has left him with a lot of pain and a lot of anger, and usually he channels it through basketball. But when he impulsively challenges a track star to a race, and shows just how fast he is, he’s recruited for the team. Ghost has to learn how to be a team player in a sport that he isn’t familiar with, and has to find his passion again as he copes with his past. Reynolds is one of the brightest authors writing today, and his stories are not only very funny at times, they are also filled with pathos and relatability.


Rah Rah for RA!: Urban Fantasy and Other) Books

Occasionally we here at Library Ladies get an email asking for some Reader’s Advisory. Sometimes it’s a general ‘what should I read next?’, and sometimes it’s a specific genre or theme that the reader is asking for. We do our best to match the reader to some books that they may like based on the question they give us. 


I recently read a Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness and enjoyed that very much. I like urban fantasy that features a protagonist who may have supernatural abilities, but either struggles to use them or is challenged to solve problems without them. Madeline Miller’s Circe was another recent favorite. She was a character who had potion-making abilities, but she had to learn through trial and error over centuries exactly which amount of which herb produced which effect. She also could not rely exclusively on magic to solve every challenge she faced.  On the flip side, I like urban fantasy that features ordinary people who outsmart/outmanoeuvre the villain who may have supernatural abilities, i.e. a werewolf ( like Stephen King’s Silver Bullet) or a vampire ( think Van Helsing Vs. Dracula).  I will also add that I don’t like zombies because I like my monsters/villains to have a personality. Looking for adult fiction, btw.

I hope that is enough information. Let me know if it isn’t…



Hi, T.L!

It sounds like you have a large swath of interests within the genre, and that’s great! Going by what you’ve laid out in the email, we’ve come up with a few options that may appeal to you.

9317452Book: “The Peter Grant Series” by Ben Aaronovitch

When talking about characters who have to adjust to newly found powers, Aaronovitch’s “Peter Grant” books may be a good fit. Grant is an officer in London’s MPS, and after having a run in with a ghost he is transferred to a division of the Force that deals with all things supernatural. He himself doesn’t start out with powers, but becomes an apprentice wizard once he joins this team. The series follows Grant as he deals with a number of mysteries and conflicts, from warring River Gods to serial killers to magical attacks, Grant has to adjust to a world he didn’t know existed. The best part is that this is a series, so if you like the first book (“Rivers of London” or “Midnight Riot” if you’re in the U.S.) you will have a few more to sink your teeth into!

31147267Book: “The Changeling” by Victor LaValle

Victor LaValle is an author who has consistently come out with stories that deconstruct well explored tropes and injects them with themes of social justice and long unnoticed voices. “The Changeling” is a modern day fairy tale/dark fantasy that is set in New York City, and it involves a humble book seller named Apollo and his wife Emma and their new baby. But when the wife starts to think that their child isn’t really their child, and something truly awful happens because of this belief, Apollo has to go on a journey to find Emma, and perhaps find their child as well. Along the way he meets magical figures, haunted places, and has to contend with a world he knew nothing about. With elements of Changeling folk lore and inspirations from the book “Outside Over There” (and in some ways the movie “Labyrinth”, in turn), “The Changeling” is a mysterious and dreamy book that brings fairy tales to a modern time and place.

11250317Book: “The Song of Achilles” by Madeline Miller

We put this out there because of your enjoyment of Miller’s newest book “Circe”. Miller does a similar treatment with this book, this time exploring the myth of Achilles and his lover Patrocles, and the tragedy that awaits them during the Trojan War. Miller once again uses her immersive and engrossing writing style to put her own spin on a long known epic, and gives the characters more complexity and depth than the original source material does. Both Achilles and Patrocles are given quite a bit of plot to work with, and their relationship is slowly developed and gets the reader fully invested, even though the foregone conclusion of what’s going to happen to them is always lingering. It also explores Achilles’s strengths and weaknesses as a being that has God-like abilities, except for his one fatal flaw. It’s a story that may need to be read with tissues at the ready, but it’s also one of great beauty and power.


Book: “School for Psychics” by K.C. Archer

What happens when you take a plucky con artist with some psychic powers, and put her in a school that nurtures people with these powers? You get “School for Psychics”, a fantasy story with a New Adult twist. Teddy has always used her innate abilities to read people to grift them out of money, but after she’s had one too many run in with the law she finds herself recruited by the U.S. Government for a top secret program. This program takes psychics of all types, from empaths to pyrokinetics to soothsayers, and hopes to train them to serve the United States at the highest levels of government. As Teddy slowly learns to harness her powers, she moves closer to accepting a very dangerous assignment that could cost her everything. This is a fun and fast paced thriller with people trying to hone their talents, and figure out where they belong in the world.

What books do you recommend for people looking for stories with supernatural, or non-supernatural, main characters? Let us know in the comments!


Rah Rah for RA!: Spooky Reads for Kids!

Occasionally we here at Library Ladies get an email asking for some Reader’s Advisory. Sometimes it’s a general ‘what should I read next?’, and sometimes it’s a specific genre or theme that the reader is asking for. We do our best to match the reader to some books that they may like based on the question they give us. 

Dear Library Ladies,

As a person who is occasionally asked for reading recommendations for kids/teens, I could use some advice. I’m not well versed in the scary/horror story genre, so I would like some suggestions for books for kids, middle grade, and teens. Since I can’t always interpret the scary-tolerance level of the people that ask, a range, or even a general guideline for people new to this genre, would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!


“Person who definitely did not fast forward through the Oogie Boogie Man song as a kid”

Hi, Person!

Good on you trying to expand your literary repertoire! It’s always good to have a nice bag of tricks when it comes to all genres. Given that horror can run a huge gamut, we’ll give you some titles that could be for those who need tamer works, and those who want to be super scared.

Picture Books:

7552359Book: “Zen Ghosts” by John J Muth

While this picture book does talk about ghosts and spooky folklore to an extent, the imagery and the themes are so gentle and muted that it probably won’t be too scary for any reader. Muth’s books in this series star a panda who gives zen teachings to children, and even in this Halloween themed book he addresses the spirit of the season as well as more thoughtful and introspective things.

363973Book: “The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything” by Linda Williams

This is another Halloween themed story, but it can work year round as well. This brave little old lady is normally not afraid of anything, but then something follows her home. It’s a story that shows that even brave people can be scared sometimes, and that sometimes confronting your fears can be hard, but rewarding.

760205Book: “There’s A Nightmare in My Closet” by Mercer Mayer

What child hasn’t been afraid of things hiding under their bed or in their closet? This story is about a boy who ultimately confronts that monster in his closet, and finds out that it may not be as scary as he thought. The empowerment of the main character is a nice touch to a story that teaches the readers that sometimes what we are afraid of can’t really hurt us. And Mercer Mayer is always a joy, with fun and sweet characters.

Middle Grade:

267972Book: “Wait Til Helen Comes” by Mary Downing Hahn

Mary Downing Hahn is one of the high queens of children’s horror, and “Wait Til Helen Comes” is probably her most well known. When Michael and Molly’s mother marries Heather’s father, the blended family goes through immediate growing pains. Not only is Heather a manipulative brat, but she is constantly talking about her new friend Helen… who happens to be a ghost with not so nice intentions. This book is both creepy, and also addresses some real life issues involving family and siblings.

22859559Book: “The Jumbies” by Tracey Baptiste

This book brings Caribbean folklore to the forefront as it sends thrills and chills down readers spines. Corinne and her father are non believers when it comes to
Jumbies, Haitian folk creatures that lure people into the woods to eat them. But when
Corinne’s father falls under the mysterious spell of a strange woman named Severine, she needs to enlist the help of her friends and a witch in hopes of getting her father back! With diverse characters and a mythology that may be new to readers, “The Jumbies” is a fun, spooky read!

125581Series: “Goosebumps” by R.L. Stine

Well, of course. R.L. Stine’s classic book series for kids may have started in the 1990s, but it remains a favorite of children who love to be scared. While the levels of horror and themes vary from book to book, there are so many different monsters and creepy crawlies that most horror fans will find a couple that resonate with them (Kate still thinks about “The Werewolf of Fever Swamp” on occasion). True, the stories can be repetitive at times, but the familiarity can be a plus for those who want to read more and more with an author they are comfortable with.

Young Adult:

18748653Book: “Daughters Unto Devils” by Amy Lukavics

Starting this section off with a book for hardcore horror fans. The cover alone is jarring and upsetting! When Amanda Verner and her pioneer family move from their home in the mountains to an abandoned house on the prairie, weird things start happening. Amanda, with secrets of her own, starts to wonder if the demon she thinks saw that past winter has followed her… With claustrophobic settings and an undercurrent of paranoia, this book will keep the reader up at night jumping at any sounds outside the window.

19364719Book: “Slasher Girls and Monster Boys” by April Genevieve Tulchoke

For people who want multiple scary stories that can be read in one sitting, “Slasher Girls and Monster Boys” may be the book for them! this collection of horror short stories takes various pop culture influences to make all new takes of terror. From multiple authors in the YA horror genre, this collection has something fun and scary for everyone! The scary factor also varies from story to story, some being tame and weird, others being deeply disturbing.

25263927Book: “The Girl from The Well” by Rin Chupeco

Fans of “The Ring” and “The Grudge” will be familiar with the premise. Okiku, a Japanese vengeance ghost, traveled the world hunting down child killers and rapists, giving them a death they truly, truly deserve. But one day she stumbles upon a boy named Tarquin, an American teenager with intricate and strange tattoos. They aren't just ordinary tattoos. There is something creepy and sweet about an onryō actually helping others instead of straight up murdering them…

So there you have it!! A list of horror for kids of all ages and all levels of freak out tolerance. If anyone else has any recommendations, leave them in the comments!



Rah Rah for RA!: Depictions of Mental Health

Occasionally we here at Library Ladies get an email asking for some Reader’s Advisory. Sometimes it’s a general ‘what should I read next?’, and sometimes it’s a specific genre or theme that the reader is asking for. We do our best to match the reader to some books that they may like based on the question they give us.

Dear Library Ladies,

Lately I have become more interested in learning about the experience of living with mental health issues, (diagnosed or otherwise) so I would love material that covers those topics. I am open to everything, fiction and non fiction, children through adult, provided the depiction is more or less realistic. Things that include the treatment experience would be especially interesting, though not mandatory. I am also open to more than just books, be it tv shows, podcasts, etc. Thanks!

“It’s a lot more nuanced than that”
Hi Nuanced (we get that reference)!
It’s always good to expand one’s knowledge when it comes to relevant topics in today’s culture, and given that there is still a large stigma surrounding mental health it’s great that you’re trying to educate yourself. Here are some reads that we personally think may be useful, though as we are not mental health experts this is by no means perfect or comprehensive.
Book: “Challenger Deep” by Neal Shusterman
Publishing Info: HarperCollins, August 2015
Neal Shusterman tells us the story of Caden, who isn’t sure whether he is presently in school with his friends, or in the bowels of a submarine traveling to the depths of the Mariana Trench. As Caden tries to distinguish his actual reality from the hallucinations that he is experiencing, we get an honest, sometimes dark, but also hopeful story of a person who is struggling to pull himself from the brink. It’s important to note that Shusterman’s son had a hand in this, as he suffered from similar issues that Caden does. This gives the book an even deeper sense of realism, and while it doesn’t try to give too rosy of an end, it does show that mental illness isn’t insurmountable.
Book: “Girl, Interrupted” by Susanna Kaysen
Publishing Info: Random House (originally Turtle Bay Books), 1993
This memoir is a bit famous now, given that the critically acclaimed movie based on it starring Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie brought these actresses such attention. But Kaysen’s book still stands the test of time. Kaysen, after attempting suicide, was committed to a 1960s mental institution and diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. She is frank and honest about living with her diagnosis, and also provides some insightful critiques into the mental health system. Though a number of things have changed in the field since the 1960s, this book is still considered relevant when it comes to the stigma surrounding mental health in this country, and the unique stigma applied to girls and women.
Book: “Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things” by Jenny Lawson
Publishing Info: Flatiron Books, September 2015
Jenny Lawson is known to her fans as The Bloggess, and is also known for being incredibly witty and funny. In this book she writes about her experiences with anxiety and depression, and is STILL incredibly witty and funny. While some people might want to write about their own personal experiences with mental illness by giving a ‘how to get through it’ sort of story, Lawson kind of turns that on it’s head, and makes it more of a ‘so this is how you can do super well in spite of the hurdles you’re encountering’. Certainly not something that can apply to every situation necessarily, but her frankness and humor glitters in this book of admittedly upsetting topics.
Book: “Before She Ignites” by Jodi Meadows
Publishing Info: Katherine Tegen Books, September 2017
If you’re looking for portrayals of mental illness in genre fare,check out “Before She Ignites.” Fantasy world, lots of dragons, political maneuvering, all typical stuff to books like this. What makes this one stand out is its portrayal of the main character, Mira, who has grown up being told she is perfect and special and the one would brought together all of these different island nations. However, Mira suffers from crippling anxiety attacks and uses compulsive counting techniques as a way to self-soothe. In a genre full of “chosen ones,” this book stands out by presenting a protagonist who goes through the same “hero journey” as others, but who also lives with mental illness and must manage this aspect of her life throughout it all. A nice example that our strong young women heroines don’t need to all look/act/feel the same to still be strong young women heroines.
TV Show: “Jessica Jones”
 As you asked for other recommendations beyond books, we’re throwing this Netflix Original into the mix. “Jessica Jones” falls in the ever-growing Marvel universe and could be easily dismissed as “just another super hero” show. But wait! You could even make the argument that the “super powers” aspect of this show fall to the wayside, and instead this is one of the most thoughtful and detailed portrayals of PTSD that I can remember watching in quite a while. As a subject, all too often PTSD shows up in one episode of a series and is limited to the most well-known aspects of the disorder (jumping at loud noises, for example). “Jessica Jones” addresses and re-addresses this topic throughout its entire run. Beyond that, it addresses PTSD driven by trauma other than warfare, which I think is also unique. The show can be a tough watch at times, but I can’t recommend it enough for those looking to get a better understanding of what survivors of assault go through, and how PTSD can present other than in the more expected ways.
Podcast/Website: “The Mental Illness Happy Hour with Paul Gilmartin”
This is kind of the one-stop-shop for mental illness podcasts and is extremely popular, so excuse us if it’s already known to you! This is a weekly podcast that is done in an interview style, bringing in comedians, artist, and even doctors, every once in a while, to discuss various aspects of mental illness. It also includes topics on trauma and addictions since many of these challenges tend to overlap. Paul Gilmartin is an excellent host and this site is well-organized and easy to use, so if you’re looking for information on specific topics, you’re sure to find it here.
What books/TVshows/podcasts do you recommend that discuss living with mental illness? Let us know in the comments!

Rah Rah for RA!: Different Perspectives

Occasionally we here at Library Ladies get an email asking for some Reader’s Advisory. Sometimes it’s a general ‘what should I read next?’, and sometimes it’s a specific genre or theme that the reader is asking for. We do our best to match the reader to some books that they may like based on the question they give us.

Dear Library Ladies

Given the socially divisive climate of our world today, I’m looking for books that expose me to perspectives (suburban white gal) different from my own. I’d like to start with American since that’s where I live, but would also like a few international perspectives. I have a good amount of fiction on my to-be-read list so I’d like to start with non fiction, but will also take fiction suggestions. In terms of content, I’m in the middle of the spectrum of traumatized-for-a-good-cause to Disney-movie. Thanks for your help!

-Emma Watson Should Be The Patron Saint of Book Club


First of all, brava for you seeking to stretch your reading experiences beyond what you usually may tackle. We’ll try to give you an array of reads that can fit your personal comfort spectrum.

30650040Book: “Muslim Girl: A Coming of Age” by Amani Al-Khatahtbeh

Publishing Info: Simon & Schuster, October 2016

This is a memoir by Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, the founder of the website and blog Muslim Girl. She was a child living in New Jersey on 9/11, and experienced a backlash against her and her family because they are Muslim. They moved back to Jordan for a time to flee the Islamaphobia, and while there Al-Khatahtbeh had a personal and spiritual awakening she took with her back to the United States. This book talks about those experiences of being a Muslim child in a post-9/11 world in this country, and how she came to found her blog. It emphasizes her experiences, but also highlights her activism on speaking out for Muslim rights in this country. This is a pretty quick read at 134 pages, and it’s very enlightening.

25666051Book: “In The Country We Love: My Family Divided” by Diane Guerrero

Publishing Info: Henry Holt & Co., May 2016

Diane Guerrero is probably best known for her characters on “Jane the Virgin” and “Orange is the New Black”, but she has also written a book about being the child of undocumented immigrants. When Guerrero, who was born in this country, was fourteen, her parents were arrested and deported back to Columbia. Guerrero was left alone in this country to live with family friends, but the trauma of losing her family deeply affected her. While this does talk a bit about her path to her acting career, the bulk of it deals with visiting her parents in detention centers, trying to get through school and life without her family, and the emotional issues she had in the aftermath of her parents deportation.

25489625Book: “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Publishing Info: Spiegal & Grau, June 2015

Written as a letter to his son, this collection of essays by Ta-Nehisi Coates is a powerful and incendiary examination of race in America. It covers the subjugation of African Americans in American history, form the days of chattel slavery, to systematic discrimination, to the deaths of African American males such as Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown at the hands of police officers. This work is both beautifully written and personal, as well as eye opening and a difficult read because of the deep injustice spoken of. It is framed as a number of letters to Coates’ son, which makes it all the more emotionally resonant and impactful. It charts dark truths of American history and society, and forces the reader to examine them.

6493208Book: “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot

Publishing Info: Crown Publishing Group, February 2010

This book made the rounds on a bunch of “most read” lists back nearer its publication, but if you haven’t read it, it’s a definite go-to! This story details the history of race and medical experimentation, specifically the story of an amazing woman whose genes have been used for decades in all kinds of medical research from in vitro fertilization, cancer treatment, and vaccines. This is kind of a double-dose book as it features both race in America, as well as bio ethics and how much control people have on their own bodies. So if that’s a secondary subject that might be of interest, definitely check this one out!


Book: “Snow Falling on Cedars” by David Guterson

Publishing Info: Vintage, September 1995

This is a fiction suggestion! But it does cover a very unique time period and perspective in American history, the Japanese internment camps. It’s a beautiful story wrapped up in the memories of a community that is still dealing with its own rocky history with the happenings of WWII. It book also tells the tale of a bi-racial couple, a white boy and Japanese girl, falling in love during this time period. I don’t always love the “high literature” jargon that gets tossed around so much, but this is a book where the term “atmospheric” really does apply!

197753Book: “Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto” by Vine Deloria, Jr.

Publishing Info: Oklahoma Press, October 1970

An older book, but a must-read for a take on Native American relations in the United States. For such a touch subject, the book is also surprisingly humorous in its detailing of such things as U.S. race relations, federal bureaucracies, Christian churches, and social scientists. Deloria tackles many deeply ironic subjects, like the romanticizing of Native American culture with regards to nature and social structures. Of course, this book is now nearly 50 years old, so some background/context reading could be helpful with some of the specific policies and cultural happenings, but it still makes most list for readers wanting a deeper look into Native American life in America.

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