To be honest, I don't want to read for a certain number of minutes per day or tackle a specified number of books in a particular genre. I'm not going to log library and bookstore visits or rate my annual reads in Excel spreadsheets, either. It's just not that kind of year. An intensive reading challenge with numerous deadlines and requirements is more likely to stress me out than spark joy this year. Even in the best of times, I'm more of a . . .
By Maya Payne Smart Austin may be known for live music and technology show stoppers ACL and SXSW, but the quieter, gentler TBF stole my heart when I landed in Texas. Within weeks of moving to town, I signed up to volunteer with the Texas Book Festival’s Reading Rock Stars program, which brings authors to Title I schools and gives each child a book, sometimes the very first they’ve ever owned. And within a few months I joined the festival’s board and served for four years. This year the . . .
By Karen Williams Showing support for independent bookstores is a noble cause, and a common way to do so is to simply visit the bookstore itself. But you can show support from home, too. Whether your goal is to avoid the crowds or get to know a bookstore outside your region, there are several ways you can support your favorite bookstore virtually. Buy books from online storefronts. Now more than ever, your favorite independent bookstores need your business. Many bookstores have the . . .
By Karen Williams We’re witnessing a worldwide movement against police brutality, systemic racism, and oppression against black people in the United States. The protests, inspired by the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery (to name a few), quickly went global, causing a renewed interest in books, art, and other creative works by and about black people in America. Many are seeking to educate themselves about black history and racism in the United States, and black . . .
I read Destination Simple: Everyday Rituals for a Slower Life by Brooke McAlaray for a new year’s reset. The tiny book can be read in one sitting, but it’s also great to dip in and out of as you let the ideas marinate. Unlike more rigorous guides, such as David Allen’s Getting Things Done (which I also love), Destination Simple is one to reach for when you’re feeling overwhelmed—when you want to sink into your day versus power through it. Broken into three parts, it first presents . . .
I know my opinions make an impression—among people inclined to agree with me, anyway. My confidence in influencing those with divergent views, however, is so low that I generally avoid addressing controversial issues with them at all. I wouldn’t talk guns or race with a Republican, for example. I’ve read one too many reports on partisan polarization to go there. To be fair, I’ve offered similar silence to some on my side of the aisle, too, especially the “colorblind” and others who may be . . .
Jessica “Culture Queen” Hebron is on a mission to make Kwanzaa fun, enticing, and effortless for families to celebrate. “We have several different black people holidays, but this is the big one,” she explains. “I think it's really cool that black people have something just for them that lasts seven days, helps you to align yourself culturally, and gives you like a cultural sense of self.” She believes that the keys to bolstering participation in the holiday she loves are to start slow and . . .
I marvel at book talk attendees. People trek from great distances, clutching worn copies of favorite reads. They stand in long lines for a brief word with (or autograph from) a favorite writer. The brave ones step to the podium to share stories or ask questions. Their remarks bring more voices and perspectives into conversation. Their contributions add welcome depth and texture to the occasion. At a Jacqueline Woodson BookPeople talk that I moderated in October, an educator in the audience . . .
When people ask what my favorite book is, I always respond with Jacqueline Woodson’s 2012 picture book Each Kindness. But truth be told, everything she writes, from picture book to poetry to novel, is wonderful. Each new work prompts me to consider central questions of who we are, why we are, and how we can grow for the better. And, because I adore her writing and her advocacy for reading, I interview her every chance I get. Here’s an excerpt from our October conversation about her novel Red . . .
Can you spell sesquipedalian? Well, the children featured in anthropologist Shalini Shankar’s Beeline: What Spelling Bees Reveal About Generation Z’s New Path to Success can. The elite competitors in the Scripps National Spelling Bee are largely of South Asian descent and, though born after 1996, exhibit intensity, skill, and poise rare in people twice their age. On stage, they spell obscure words with ease, backed by supportive parents and thousands of hours of practice. And these feats . . .