Recommended Reads: Back to School

If I’ve learned anything from years of watching YouTube, it’s that timing is particularly tricky for back-to-school posts. Everyone has a different first day of classes, so you’re always going to be too early for someone and too late for someone else. (And, of course, there are always those who aren’t in school anymore and those who are but don’t want to think about it.)

So I decided to just hope for the best with this post, scheduling it after my brother’s first day of (high) school but before mine (college / uni), and doing my best to find books that will hopefully be useful no matter what grade you’re in or if you’re done with school altogether.

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REVIEW: Uncomfortable Labels by Laura Kate Dale

“So while the assumption when I was born was that I was or would grow up to be a neurotypical heterosexual boy, that whole idea didn’t really pan out long term.”

In this candid, first-of-its-kind memoir, Laura Kate Dale recounts what life is like growing up as a gay trans woman on the autism spectrum. From struggling with sensory processing, managing socially demanding situations and learning social cues and feminine presentation, through to coming out as trans during an autistic meltdown, Laura draws on her personal experiences from life prior to transition and diagnosis, and moving on to the years of self-discovery, to give a unique insight into the nuances of sexuality, gender and autism, and how they intersect.

Charting the ups and down of being autistic and on the LGBT spectrum with searing honesty and humour, this is an empowering, life-affirming read for anyone who’s felt they don’t fit in.

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REVIEW: Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations by Mira Jacob

I won this book through a Goodreads giveaway and received a free copy from Random House Publishing Group for review purposes. This does not affect my rating or opinions of the book.

Summary: “Who taught Michael Jackson to dance?”
“Is that how people really walk on the moon?”
“Is it bad to be brown?”
“Are white people afraid of brown people?”

Like many six-year-olds, Mira Jacob’s half-Jewish, half-Indian son, Z, has questions about everything. At first they are innocuous enough, but as tensions from the 2016 election spread from the country into his own family, they become much, much more complicated. Trying to answer him honestly, Mira has to think back to where she’s gotten her own answers — her most formative conversations about race, color, sexuality, and of course, love.

How brown is too brown?
Can Indians be racist?
What does real love between really different people look like?

Written with humor and vulnerability, this deeply relatable graphic memoir is a love letter to the art of conversation — and to the hope that hovers in our most difficult questions.

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These Are A Few of My Favorite Reads: Wondrous Women

For a long time I was resistant to reading nonfiction because I thought it was “dry” and “boring” — but then my mom suggested I try starting with biographies and memoirs, because they’re stories about people and (in some cases) can read like fiction. So I followed her advice, for once in my life, and to no one’s surprise she was right! Maybe I should listen to my mother more often.

And since March is Women’s History Month, what better way to honor some amazing, inspirational women than by sharing their stories, as told by themselves?

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REVIEW: I Hear You: The Surprisingly Simple Skill Behind Extraordinary Relationships by Michael S. Sorensen

I won this book through a Goodreads giveaway and received a review copy from the author. This does not affect my rating or opinions.

Summary: What if making one tweak to your day-to-day conversations could immediately improve every relationship in your life? In this 3-hour, conversational read, you’ll discover the whats, whys, and hows of one of the most valuable (yet surprisingly little-known) communication skills — validation. 

Whether you’re looking to improve your relationship with your spouse, navigate difficult conversations at work, or connect on a deeper level with friends and family, this book delivers simple, practical, proven techniques for improving any relationship in your life. 

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REVIEW: Apple Island Wife by Fiona Stocker

I received a review copy of this book through Netgalley; all opinions are my own and honest.

Summary: What happens when you leave city life and move to five acres on a hunch, with a husband who’s an aspiring alpaca-whisperer, and a feral cockerel for company? Can you eat the cockerel for dinner? Or has it got rigour mortise?

In search of a good life and a slower pace, Fiona Stocker upped-sticks and moved to Tasmania, a land of promise, wilderness, and family homes of uncertain build quality. It was the lifestyle change that many dream of and most are too sensible to attempt.

Wife, mother and now reluctant alpaca owner, Fiona jumped in at the deep end. Gradually Tasmania got under her skin as she learned to stack wood, round up the kids with a retired lady sheepdog, and stand on a scorpion without getting stung.

This charming tale captures the tussles and euphoria of living on the land in a place of untrammelled beauty, raising your family where you want to and seeing your husband in a whole new light. Not just a memoir but an everywoman’s story, and a paean to a new, slower age.

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