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A lot has happened since the last time I posted. And by lot I mean the world feels like its flipped upside down. [Though, of course, that’s not what happened. The fog simply lifted. I see now what was always there.]
Times are tough. Things are hard. There’s no sugar coating that. But we keep on keeping on because it’s what we do. We have stories to write, dinner to make, and diapers to change.
After my third son was born I took a step back from a lot of the work I was doing like my beloved We Need Diverse Books to focus on said diapers and dinners and stories. But then the world flipped. Things changed. Now I canvass for candidates, volunteer at the mosque, and call my reps every day over morning chai. And that is when I began thinking of this blog and how I haven’t updated it in nearly a year. I am on twitter (@aishacs) regularly but this here blog? It’s been pretty dusty. Whoops.
It’s not a coincidence I remember this blog when times got tough. This blog has been here since 2004 when I was still a teacher. It followed me through the ups and downs of law school, my life as an attorney, leaving my job to pursue motherhood and writing, and then the beautiful moment where I saw the book of my heart published.
And then I got quiet. Books to write. Babies to raise (Alhamdullilah, I have three little boys, the absolute joy and blessing of my life)
And as I think about this Brave New World we are in and what I can do, one thing that brings me a consistent source of comfort is what always has since I was young: books. Both writing books and reading them. Books were my refuge. And I’m not just talking about Deep and Serious books, I’m also talking about Baby Sitters Club and Sweet Valley High. Those books gave me templates for friendships I admired and wanted when friends were difficult to come by. Those books gave me adventures when life felt dark.
A few months ago I read this brilliant article by William Schwambe, author of BOOKS FOR LIVING, about how books shape our lives and alter our destinies, how good books can give meaning to our lives and answer our questions and better still, raise more questions to consider and challenge ourselves. He’s right. And books matter more than ever today. This knowledge helps me write every day now. This understanding has stripped away the fear that plagued me these past few months. I need to write my stories. My stories matter because I know deeply how reading stories have shaped my own life.
In that vein I’m dusting off the blog again. I want to start sharing the books I’m reading that are healing and insightful, that may have made me laugh, or made me think, in the hopes by sharing they might inspire others to read and benefit also.
I am also starting up a regular series featuring authors from marginalized backgrounds who I admire and whose work inspires me. It’s tentatively titled How To Live In Our Brave New World and I will gush about books that help us cope and love and make it through difficult moments and amazing authors will share some advice and insight on how they are coping and handling these difficult times. The more of us talking about this, I hope, the better off we will be.
And to kick it off, I’m sharing a new monthly series where I’ll share that month’s sampling of books I read that I enjoyed and think you will too:
Lucky Broken Girl by Ruth Behar. I ugly cried reading this book. I have three small kids who wake up at the crack of dawn but I stayed up all night to finish it anyways. This book is a throbbing beating heart inside a book. I also love the inter-sectional diversity as Ruthie is Jewish and Cuban growing up in New York City. You will fall head over heels in love with Ruthie.
Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan. I’m sure when Hena wrote this book she had no idea how timely (unfortunately) the subject matter would be today. Hena’s editor, the amazing Zareen Jaffery, said once how when there is so little in the canon about Muslims each new book that enters the canon matters that much more. The negative portrayals hurt more and the authentic portrayals matter more. This book is a much needed book all young kids will benefit from.
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. This is a magical haunting book about slavery and the literary magic Colson unleashes here is so profound and powerful I will need to re-read it multiple times to really get my head around it. I loved how he took established facts such as the Underground Railroad of history and made it an actual underground railroad. As a writer I remain in awe of his skill.
Ms. Marvel, Volumes 1-6 by Willow Wilson. I will never be able to properly convey what this comic series means to me. The stories are for me. I have wept more than once reading. In volume 6 they discuss the PARTITION of India and Pakistan and the conversations within are chillingly relevant to today’s world.
Born A Crime by Trevor Noah. I knew the basics of Apartheid but until I read this book I did not know the gut wrenching reality. This book makes dystopian books mild and gentle fairy tales. This books should be required reading for everyone.
The News: A User’s Manual by Alain de Botton. This book will shift the way you view news and take in the news forever. Particularly compelling to read in today’s world.
Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel. This book split my heart open and then refused to sew it back together so I sit here and stare out the window, my feelings piled upon feelings. A beautiful book. Just be warned: Bring tissues.
Phew. I guess this is what happens when you haven’t written on your website for nearly a year? If you made it to the bottom thanks for reading and stay tuned this week for my first in the new author series!
Hope you and yours are well. ❤