Forget summer reading—fall is the season of literary bounty. The next few months bring with them a starry landscape full of returns from the buzziest names in the business as well as bold newcomers with hotly anticipated debuts. There’s a crime novel set in 1960s Harlem from two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Colson Whitehead, a posthumous novel from British master John le Carré, the very first book from acclaimed television creator Michaela Coel and the latest narrative of young people stumbling their way through romantic strife from superstar Sally Rooney. That’s all to say: there’s truly something for everyone in this jam-packed season. Here, the most anticipated books to read this fall.
Misfits: A Personal Manifesto, Michaela Coel
Michaela Coel, creator and star of I May Destroy You and Chewing Gum, makes her literary debut with a slim manifesto written with the same perfect balance of sentiment, insight and wit that made viewers fall in love with her on the screen. Built on a speech Coel delivered at the 2018 Edinburgh International Television Festival, Misfits describes her experience of racism, prejudice and trauma, and her empowering transformation from a person trying to fit in to a person determined to make new space for herself. It’s an impassioned and rousing defense of staying true to yourself and supporting others to do the same.
Inseparable, Simone de Beauvoir
Thirty-five years after Simone de Beauvoir’s death, her never-before-published novel Inseparable is finally being released to the world. The iconic French philosopher (and author of the landmark feminist text The Second Sex) describes a profound and passionate friendship between Sylvie and Andrée, two tenacious young women who meet as children and strengthen their bond as they grow into adulthood in post–World War I France. It’s a vibrant exploration of female will and friendship in a world that is still, too often, intent on constraining both.
Matrix, Lauren Groff
At the center of Lauren Groff’s new novel, her first since her 2015 hit Fates and Furies, is teenager Marie de France. It’s the 12th century and Marie’s just been sent to an abbey in England after being ousted from the French royal court. The fierce protagonist of Matrix is entering a bleak scene: disease is everywhere at the abbey, and the nuns barely have enough to eat. Marie is tasked with making life better for these women—a challenge that proves both thrilling and heartbreaking. Groff, a two-time National Book Award finalist, crafts an electric work of historical fiction charting Marie’s plight.
Poet Warrior, Joy Harjo
Three-time U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo—the first Native American to hold the title—delivers a follow-up to her 2012 memoir Crazy Brave with Poet Warrior, a lyrical study of her relationship to poetry and music. Alternating between poetry and prose, Harjo meditates on the stories and songs she grew up with, her artistic and ancestral influences and how poetry informs and reflects her connection to her community and home. The result is a memoir that is soulful and celebratory.
On Freedom: Four Songs of Care and Constraint, Maggie Nelson
The latest book from poet and writer Maggie Nelson is a meditative and potent examination of freedom. Looking at freedom through the realms of art, sex, drugs and climate, the author of The Argonauts explores the contradictions, complexities and rhetoric that surround the term. Combining thoughtful cultural criticism with anecdotes from her personal life, Nelson delivers an intriguing work of nonfiction that seeks to challenge readers’ definition of freedom and rethink how the concept operates in our lives.
Beautiful World, Where Are You, Sally Rooney
Sally Rooney exploded onto the literary scene in 2017 with her debut novel Conversations with Friends. Next came her similarly beloved follow-up Normal People, now an acclaimed Hulu series. Rooney’s latest, one of the most anticipated books of the year, is again concerned with Irish millennials navigating the turbulence of falling in and out of love and questioning the seemingly broken world that surrounds them. Tracing the lives of best friends Alice and Eileen, and the emails they write to stay connected to each other, Rooney unravels a sharp narrative about intimacy, religion and romance.
The Magician, Colm Tóibín
Colm Tóibín, the award-winning author of Brooklyn and The Master, returns with another sweeping historical novel, this time a fictionalized account of the life of Thomas Mann, the Nobel prize-winning author of Death in Venice. Extensively researched and lyrically wrought, The Magician follows Mann from his childhood in early 20th-century Germany—as a young boy grappling with desires he can’t reveal to his conservative family—through his marriage, the trip that inspires his groundbreaking novel, his discomfort with his new role as a public intellectual during World War II and his escape to the U.S. It’s a complex but empathetic portrayal of a writer in a lifelong battle against his innermost desires, his family and the tumultuous times they endure.
Unbound: My Story of Liberation and the Birth of the Me Too Movement, Tarana Burke
In her debut memoir, Tarana Burke mines her past, from her coming-of-age as a Black girl in the Bronx to her rise in activism as the founder of the MeToo movement. In candid terms, Burke lays bare her relationship with trauma, exploring how her sexual assault impacted her sense of self, and how she went on to use that experience to empower others and create meaningful change. Bold and inspiring, Unbound is a searing look at leadership, activism and empathy.
Harlem Shuffle, Colson Whitehead
Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Colson Whitehead is known for narratives that vary greatly in subject matter. His body of work contains multitudes, from his debut about the aftermath of an elevator crash to a zombie apocalypse story to piercing retellings of violent periods in U.S. history. Whitehead’s latest showcases yet more of his range as a storyteller, as Harlem Shuffle follows a 1960s furniture salesman leading a double life of crime. What ensues is part heist novel and part family drama, all set against the backdrop of Harlem, which the author captures in rich, visceral prose.
Silverview, John le Carré
When he died last year, the legendary British spy novelist John le Carré left behind only one unpublished full-length novel. Silverview, to be published posthumously in October, is the iconic writer’s 26th novel. The new installment in le Carré’s enormous body of work is another classic espionage tale. This time, the focus is on a bookseller living in contemporary Britain and the spy chief who arrives at his seaside town to investigate a potential leak.
Source: Annabel Gutterman & Arianna Rebolini for Time Magazine Aug. 30, 2021.
The best books arriving this month dive deep in all different directions. There’s a comprehensive look at loneliness in America—and an equally compelling dissection into why we sweat. One new novel is a thrilling quest to avenge a double murder and another finds its characters investigating their husbands’ dubious moralities. Some narratives expose the harsh realities of everyday living; others seek to uncover the unknown. Here, the 10 new books you should read in July.
The Collection Plate: Poems, Kendra Allen (July 6)
Blending personal narrative and cultural commentary, The Collection Plate introduces Kendra Allen as a poet to watch. In her debut collection, Allen underlines the common threads between a variety of experiences, from what it means to exist as a Black person in America to the tense relationships between mothers and daughters. Throughout, as she explores girlhood, freedom, sex and more, Allen shines a light on the spaces that connect and divide us, coalescing into an electric portrait of joy and pain.
Razorblade Tears, S.A. Cosby (July 6)
Two ex-cons come together to seek revenge after both of their sons, a married couple, are murdered. They don’t have too much in common, but the tragedy has left them unexpectedly linked. As they grapple with their messy pasts amid a violent present in the American South, the men embark on a dangerous quest, which S.A. Cosby captures in gripping and intense terms.
Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness, Kristen Radtke (July 6)
The latest work of graphic nonfiction from Kristen Radtke pulls apart how loneliness operates to understand why it exists and the forms it can take. Combining history and cultural analysis with personal stories, Radtke argues that loneliness is an epidemic that can be viewed through many lenses. In pages full of haunting illustrations, Seek You prompts readers to look inwards. In forcing us to confront our own loneliness, Radtke makes us feel a little less alone.
Give My Love to the Savages: Stories, Chris Stuck (July 6)
Nine short stories set in cities across the United States, from Los Angeles to Phoenix to New York, examine masculinity and Blackness, and the many ways race and identity intersect. From a Black Republican grappling with a skin disease that’s made him appear white to a biracial man on a visit to see his estranged white father, the characters that populate Chris Stuck’s electric debut collection highlight the complexities of racism and Black life. Often employing satire, Stuck is unafraid to tackle and illuminate the absurdities that accompany how we perceive and react to race.
Embassy Wife, Katie Crouch (July 13)
Persephone Wilder is living in Namibia where she diligently attends to her duties as the wife of an American diplomat. When the newest trailing spouse, Amanda Evans, arrives in town, she’s quick to show her the ropes. But Amanda’s husband may not have been so honest about his reasons for uprooting their family—and the consequences grow increasingly dire when their daughter becomes embroiled in international conflict. As Amanda fights to save her family and Persephone is forced to confront the cracks in her own life, the two women start to question if they ever really knew their husbands at all.
The Joy of Sweat: The Strange Science of Perspiration, Sarah Everts (July 13)
The science of sweat is complicated and, well, weird. Journalist Sarah Everts explores how sweat works in a book that jumps around the world, from a dating event in Moscow where romantic hopefuls sniff each other’s sweat to an infamous smoke sauna in Finland. Everts answers a range of questions throughout about sweat and our history of wanting to control it, including an analysis of the deodorant and antiperspirant industries.
Ghost Forest, Pik-Shuen Fung (July 13)
The intricately plotted debut from Pik-Shuen Fung finds a daughter as she wrestles with questions over her father’s death. For most of her life, he worked in Hong Kong while she grew up in Vancouver and lived with the rest of their “astronaut” family. After his passing, the unnamed protagonist revisits their family history to understand the man she never really got to know. Her search, both complex and devastating, yields revelations about family, grief and the durability of love.
The Final Girl Support Group, Grady Hendrix (July 13)
So you’ve survived the worst night of your life—what comes next? The question propels Grady Hendrix’s twisty new novel, which builds off of tropes in horror movies to ask what happens to the people left standing after a massacre. Like its title suggests, The Final Girl Support Group follows a group of women who meet with a therapist to discuss their experiences following their traumas and struggles to move on with their lives. Things hit a snag when one of the girls misses a meeting—setting off a narrative that is equal parts thrilling and darkly funny.
Intimacies, Katie Kitamura (July 20)
At the center of Katie Kitamura’s piercing new novel is a translator caught in the intersection of a lot of other people’s drama. She’s working at The Hague, and there, her colleagues have somehow embedded her into their private lives. As she becomes more involved in their sagas, the protagonist of Intimacies slips into her own when she’s tasked with interpreting for a powerful former president on trial for war crimes. From there, Kitamura’s latest unravels in terms both disquieting and unexpected.
Nightbitch, Rachel Yoder (July 20)
The premise of Nightbitch sounds bizarre and that’s because it is: a young stay-at-home mother begins to notice hair growing where it shouldn’t be, her canines becoming suspiciously sharper and impulses that are increasingly dog-like. Her search for answers about her strange state leads her to a book called A Field Guide to Magical Women—and the absurdities only pick up from there. The outrageous nature of the plot yields funny and, at times, unsettling results as Yoder’s protagonist navigates her animalistic qualities.
Source: Time Magazine by Annabel Gutterman, June 30, 2021.
For many, the upcoming summer will be quite different than the last. But whether you’re staying in or venturing out, a good book can always keep you grounded. The 10 best new books arriving in June are sure to offer something new for readers to explore.
With Teeth, Kristen Arnett (June 1)
Like her breakout debut, Mostly Dead Things, Kristen Arnett’s latest novel looks at a fractured family unit, this time focusing on two women as they struggle to raise their son. Samson has been difficult ever since he was a young child, but now his juvenile misbehavior gives way to a startling level of hostility in his teenage years. When that aggression hits a breaking point, his parents grapple with the challenges of queer motherhood and marriage as he tests the boundaries of their love.
Somebody’s Daughter, Ashley C. Ford (June 1)
Best known as a writer and podcast host with sharp pop-culture takes, Ashley C. Ford offers a debut memoir that pulls no punches. Tracking her impoverished youth and adolescence in Indiana, Ford shares her struggles growing up with a single mother as she grapples with her changing body, painful relationships and the truth of her identity, embarking on a poignant quest to find and understand her incarcerated father.
The Other Black Girl, Zakiya Dalila Harris (June 1)
Both a blistering satire and sharp social commentary, Zakiya Dalila Harris’ debut novel follows Nella Rogers, the only Black editorial assistant at the fictional Wagner Books. But that changes the day Hazel-May McCall is hired—setting in motion a strange series of events that leaves Harris’ protagonist unexpectedly isolated. Though the two women initially bond, Hazel begins to rise in the ranks as Nella is shut out, all while Nella receives anonymous hostile messages. As the mysteries mount, Harris, who worked as an assistant editor at Knopf before leaving to write this book, guides us through a thrilling narrative set against the backdrop of the starkly white publishing industry.
One Last Stop, Casey McQuiston (June 1)
Twenty-three year-old August has just arrived in New York City with a cynical attitude and barely any luggage—her whole life fit into five boxes. She’s a perpetual loner, until one fateful ride on the Q train changes everything. August meets a mysterious girl in a leather jacket named Jane, and is instantly smitten. But there’s a catch: Jane has been stuck on the subway since the 1970s. Like her debut novel, Red, White & Royal Blue, McQuiston’s latest rom-com bursts with charm, humor and this time a bit of magic.
How the Word Is Passed, Clint Smith (June 1)
Writer and poet Clint Smith thoroughly excavates the pervasive (yet not always visible) legacy of slavery in America in his nonfiction debut, How the Word Is Passed. To delve into this history, Smith uses his hometown of New Orleans as the launching point for an evocative and frank exploration of the American slave trade, mapping the wide-reaching effects of our nation’s greatest shame from Angola—a Louisiana plantation-turned-prison—to lower Manhattan’s dark past as a slave market hub. Through Smith’s clear-eyed storytelling, he illustrates just how deeply the consequences of this intergenerational history manifest in the present day, both politically and personally.
We Are What We Eat: A Slow Food Manifesto, Alice Waters (June 1)
Chef Alice Waters is often considered the mother of the farm-to-table food movement, thanks to her legendary Berkeley, Calif., restaurant, Chez Panisse, which she opened in 1971. Waters remains one of the loudest advocates for sustainability in the restaurant business, and has long championed conscientious consumption. Her new book, We Are What We Eat: A Slow Food Manifesto, is an explanation of that ethos, detailing the problems with fast food and how constant availability has negatively impacted our habits. Waters makes a convincing case that the act of eating is political, with powerful effects on the future of the planet.
The Chosen and the Beautiful, Nghi Vo (June 1)
The Great Gatsby’s recent copyright expiration means everyone can take their shot at reinventing F. Scott Fitzgerald’s legendary story of East Coast glitz and glamour. Nghi Vo’s debut novel does so with ample amounts of magic and mystery, and is centered on Jordan Baker, who in Vo’s telling is a queer Vietnamese woman navigating her way through the 1920s New York social scene. The Chosen and the Beautiful finds Jordan fighting for her place in this Gatsby-adjacent world as an outsider, a plight that Vo illuminates in heartbreaking specificity.
The President’s Daughter, Bill Clinton and James Patterson (June 7)
Former President Bill Clinton teams up with best-selling author James Patterson once more for this summer’s standalone sequel to their 2018 thriller, The President Is Missing. This time, ex-president and one-time Navy SEAL Matthew Keating’s daughter has been kidnapped by a terrorist. Through its 500-plus pages, Clinton and Patterson’s novel puts their respective expertise to good use in a twisting plot.
Dear Senthuran: A Black Spirit Memoir, Akwaeke Emezi (June 8)
Structured as a series of letters to friends, lovers and family, Akwaeke Emezi’s searing nonfiction debut is an intimate exploration of the novelist’s relationship to their gender, body, family and freedom. Raw and piercing, these short pieces trace Emezi’s rise as a literary powerhouse, and outline their intense work ethic amid difficult life events. Together, the letters serve as a self-portrait of a storyteller sharing their fight to survive.
Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch, Rivka Galchen (June 8)
Rivka Galchen’s smart, wry novel Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch is a thought-provoking take on the proverbial witch hunt. Drawing inspiration from real historical documents about Katharina Kepler, an illiterate German woman in the 1600s (and the mother of astronomer Johannes Kepler) who was accused of being a witch, Galchen spins a tale that blurs the line between truth and heresy. Punctuated with sparkling wit and irreverent humor, it taps into the depths of who we choose to fear and why.
Source: Time Magazine by Raisa Bruner, Annabel Gutterman and Cady Lang, May 25, 2021.
With roots in more than 20 countries, Asian Americans make up one of the most diverse groups in the United States. Yet, pop culture depictions sometimes fail to reflect the depth of the Asian American experience, often neglecting smaller communities and ethnicities within the diaspora to focus instead on larger, more established populations. This Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, we're spotlighting books by acclaimed Asian American authors such as Christina Soontornvat and Sheba Karim as well as a few others. These books speak to the often overlooked parts of Asian America and the importance of being seen in the books we read.
The Bad Muslim Discount by Syed M Masood
The book begins in the mid-1990s when Anvar Faris’ parents — disturbed by increasing fundamentalism around them — decide to immigrate to the United States from Pakistan. At the same time, thousands of miles away in Iraq, an adolescent girl named Faqwa is also getting ready to move to the United States with her father under much more tragic and complicated circumstances. Following both characters over the course of 25 years, the two unexpectedly meet as adults in California.
A Good True Thai by Sunisa Manning
Sunisa Manning’s “A Good True Thai” gives readers an in-depth look at the intensity of the student movement of the 1970s in Thailand through the eyes of three twenty-somethings with very different backgrounds and life experiences. The sumptuous details immerse you in life in Bangkok in the tumultuous ‘70s. This story of friendship and betrayal is startlingly relevant to both the current political situation in Thailand, and the fight for democracy and voting rights that is happening right now in the United States.
Afterparties: Stories by Anthony Veasna So
The literary world was stunned by the news in December that Cambodian American writer Anthony Veasna So had died unexpectedly at the age of 28, just months before the highly anticipated debut of his first book. Over the course of his short career, So had developed a reputation for creating sharply observed stories about the Cambodian American experience, many of which drew from his family’s own history as Vietnam War-era refugees. In August, Ecco will release “Afterparties,” a collection of short stories by So that wrestles with the immigrant and queer experiences in touching and unexpected ways.
Adobo and Arsenic by Mia P. Manansala
Lila Macapagal, the lead character in Mia P. Mansala’s funny new mystery is going through a rough patch. She’s recently had to move back to her hometown after a bad breakup left her reeling and she’s also been tasked with helping to save her Tita Rosie’s Filipino restaurant. Things go from bad to worse when Lila’s high school boyfriend — now a food critic with a grudge against Tita Rosie— suddenly drops dead while dining. It’s now up to Lila to clear her own name and to find out what really happened. As an added bonus for readers, Manansala includes recipes for classic Filipino dishes like chicken adobo so that they can recreate Tita Rosie’s cuisine at home.
Every Day Is A Gift by Tammy Duckworth
The new memoir by Senator Tammy Duckworth takes readers from the Illinois Democrat’s childhood in Southeast Asia as the child of a Thai Chinese mother and white American father to the devastating injury she experienced as a helicopter pilot during the Iraq War and her present position in the Senate. This memoir doesn’t hold back while showing us how resilient and strong the human spirit is. Senator Duckworth is unquestionably a hero, but it’s the beautiful tributes to the other unsung heroes in her life that will leave you in tears.
Olive Witch by Abeer Hoque
One of the most memorable memoirs Karim has read in recent years is “Olive Witch” by the Bangladeshi American writer and photographer Abeer Hoque. Born in Nigeria to Bangladeshi parents, Hoque moved to Pittsburgh with her family as a teenager. Karim said she was particularly struck by the book’s openness. It talks about moving to America as a teenager and also talks in a very honest way about mental health issues and other experiences.
Eyes That Kiss in the Corner by Joanna Ho with illustrations by Dung Ho
The book is about a young Asian girl who, upon realizing that her eyes look different from everyone in her class, learns how to embrace her eyes and those of her mother, grandmother and other family members.
Amrita Sher-Gil: Rebel with a Paintbrush by Anita Vachharajani
A new picture book about the Indian and Hungarian painter Amrita Sher-Gil, who was renowned for her portraits in the 1930s.
Finding Junie Kim by Ellen Oh
The latest book by We Need Diverse Books co-founder Ellen Oh was inspired by the author’s mother’s experiences as a child growing up in wartorn Korea. Main character Junie Kim is a modern-day middle schooler who is struggling to process things after she encounters racism at school. After learning about her grandparents' experiences growing up during the Korean War, Junie learns how to draw on her inner resilience and speak up.
Amina’s Song by Hena Khan
Shortly before the release of her popular 2017 middle grade novel “Amina’s Voice,” author Hena Khan told NBC News that she hoped “girls from all backgrounds find a friend in Amina, especially those who may not have met a Muslim before.” Khan’s latest release “Amina’s Song” is a follow up to Amina’s story and was released earlier this spring.
A Thousand Questions by Saadia Faruqi
Two girls from two very different worlds strike up an unlikely friendship in “A Thousand Questions” by Saadia Faruqi. When Mimi is sent to Karachi to stay with her grandparents for the summer, she isn’t happy. The Pakistani American middle schooler is more interested in finding the father she hasn’t seen in years, even though she is not quite sure how to do so. But it’s at her grandparents' home that Mimi meets Sakina, the daughter of her family’s cook who has a secret of her own. The two girls decide to team up and help each other throughout a summer of discovery.
Source: NBC News by Lakshmi Ghandi, Shop TODAY May 18, 2021.
Cinco de Mayo is a traditional Mexican holiday with a fascinating history—but perhaps even more interesting is the fact that it's now become more popular in the United States than in Mexico. The holiday commemorates the Mexican army's victory over France at the Battle of Puebla in 1862, but it's primarily celebrated in Puebla, which is just one of Mexico's 31 states. So how did the holiday come to be such a large celebration in America?
After the Mexican Civil War in 1915, many Mexican people came to the United States and settled in the southern states. When they came to America, they brought with them their customs, traditions, and holidays—including Cinco de Mayo.
So the American people began celebrating Cinco de Mayo alongside their Mexican neighbors, but oftentimes they didn't really understand what they were celebrating; to them it was just a fun celebration of Mexican culture. Over the last hundred or so years, the holiday has taken off in America, with many people using it as an excuse to eat tacos and drink margaritas, rather than celebrating what the holiday actually stands for.
If you've celebrated this way in the past, don't sweat it: Take this as an opportunity to learn more about the history of the holiday and plan a more appropriate celebration this year.
1. Share the Real Story
Many Americans are quick to celebrate with tacos and margaritas without understanding the cultural significance of the holiday. Before partaking in any celebrations, take a few minutes to learn about the holiday and educate others you're celebrating with. "Changing stereotypes is something that we need help with, and if you do your part, we can share how awesome the truth behind Cinco de Mayo is," Sandoval says.
2. Support Mexican Businesses
While there are plenty of chain restaurants that offer Cinco de Mayo deals, Sandoval suggests supporting locally instead: Skip the Taco Bell drive-thru and order carry-out from a local Mexican-owned business in your area. "Whether it's your local Mexican Restaurant, or a local Mexican pottery store, supporting small business owners helps not just your local economy but it helps to support the Mexicans who's culture you enjoy celebrating," she says.
3. Support Mexican Arts and Museums
This holiday isn't just about the food! "So often we dismiss the value of true Mexican artesanías," Sandoval says. "If you have a local art gallery, museum, or artist, show up and support those artists and museums that are honoring Mexican history and culture." If you're not familiar with any in your area, a quick internet search can help you find local venues.
4. Eat the Food!
It's important to make sure you're celebrating Mexican heritage and not treating the day as just an excuse to go out for margaritas—but food is such a large part of the Mexican culture, that it can be one of the best (and tastiest!) ways to celebrate. Order carry-out at a local restaurant, or try making your own at home. Sandoval recommends Mole Poblano, a spicy and delicious traditional Mexican dish that originates from the city of Puebla, or Enchiladas Poblanas that are made with poblano chiles.
5. Create A Cinco De Mayo Playlist
Tune into the hottest Mexican musical artists using Amazon Music Unlimited or Spotify. Find a playlist that already exists or create your own. This is a great way to have some seriously fun music in the background while also supporting Mexican musicians at the same time!
6. Set Out Some Festive Decor
Hang some papel picado, set up streamers, go crazy! There are plenty of ways to decorate your home for Cinco de Mayo while still respecting Mexican culture—Just think or do some research before you toss sombreros everywhere. If you’re looking for generally cheerful, colorful decorations, the Auihiay 32-Piece Fiesta Party Decorations Kit is a great option.
7. Cook Your Own Mexican-Inspired Recipe
If you’d rather create your own fiesta dishes, try out some classic Mexican-inspired recipes. This is a fun way to get in the kitchen and make a delicious meal that also celebrates Mexican culture. Try researching some authentic recipes, too, if you want to really lean into the day. You might be surprised just how much you love traditional Mexican cuisine.
8. Learn Some Traditional Mexican Dance Moves
Take some time—maybe while listening to that Cinco de Mayo playlist you just made—to learn some traditional Mexican dance moves. Jarabe Tapatío (the Mexican Hat Dance) or La Conquista (which narrates the story of the Spanish conquest) are good places to start. Or, if you’d rather just sit on your couch, you can always watch videos of the dances as well. We reccomend the Los Voladores de Papantla dance, where participants scale a 30-foot pole. (!!!)
9. Make A Margarita Bar
Break out the margarita glasses, some margarita mix, your fruits of choice and (of course) some tequila. Set out all the ingredients and let everyone in your household design their own ideal margarita. From strawberry and mango to pineapple and blueberry, there’s no limit to the fun combinations you can create for a night filled with margaritas. BTW, if you’re low on supplies, the Thoughtfully Skinny Margarita Set is the perfect all-in-one buy.
10. Have A Zoom Fiesta
If you don’t have people to celebrate with at home—or even if you do—gather your friends on a group Zoom call, set some fun Zoom backgrounds and have a margarita toast. You can play some fun music, create a Mexican-themed drinking game or just chat while eating Mexican food. Cinco de Mayo is better celebrated with others—even if it’s virtually.
11. DIY A Piñata
If you’re feeling a little crafty, why not try making your own piñata? You just need cardboard, poster board, tissue paper, glue and tape for this easy and fun DIY. Plus, once it’s created, you can fill it with candy and let everyone in your home take a stab at breaking it.
12. Learn About The History Of Cinco De Mayo
Take some time this Cinco de Mayo to learn about why it’s celebrated. Sure, this might not sound like a fun party activity, but it totally can be. You can create a trivia drinking game out of it or watch videos that explain the history in an entertaining way. Knowing the history behind Cinco de Mayo can help you celebrate the holiday in a thoughtful and educated way (that definitely still includes tequila).
Sources: Better Homes & Gardens by Emily VanSchmus March 4, 2021 and StyleCaster by Maggie Griswold April 30, 2020.
Beach reads, literary marvels, telling memoirs — whatever usually makes it to the top of your summer reading list, we’ve got a few more for you to explore. From an impossible scientific mystery to terrifying historical thrillers, a southern noir, swoon-worthy royal romance, and an ode to the wonder that is a hummingbird, here are our picks for the best new books to look out for this May.
Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
The only hope for humanity rests with Dr. Ryland Grace — if only he could remember his mission. Andy Weir, the bestselling author of The Martian, delivers another perfect science-based thriller with Project Hail Mary, a tale of impending catastrophe, survival and interstellar adventure. “If you like a lot of science in your science fiction, Andy Weir is the writer for you.”—George R. R. Martin, author of A Game of Thrones.
The Hour of the Witch by Chris Bohjalian
Seventeenth-century New England was not a safe place, especially for women. Any small action outside of being a “good wife” had the potential to spurn allegations of witchcraft, so what was a woman to do if she found herself in a marriage marked by cruelty and domestic abuse? Chris Bohjalian’s latest thriller feels incredibly timely despite the historical setting, full of twists and the impossible and sometimes terrifying choices women must face in the pursuit of safety.
Revival Season: A Novel by Monica West
Every summer, Miriam and her family load up the minivan and drive through small southern towns for revival season, where her father holds healing ceremonies for the faithful who come looking for cures for their various illnesses. This summer, Miriam learns a secret about her father that forces her to reckon with her faith, her father’s cruelty, and her own abilities as a healer. Novelist Ann Patchett describes this novel about disillusionment, faith, and a young woman’s burgeoning sense of self, as “tender and wise”.
Great Circle: A novel by Maggie Shipstead
Readers will be swept away by Shipstead’s masterful writing in this unforgettable story of two women charting their own courses in life. Spanning over a hundred years across Montana, the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, New Zealand, London and Los Angeles, this breathtaking epic tells the story of Marian Graves, a female aviator determined to circumnavigate the globe, and Hadley Baxter, the actress cast to play Marian in a movie about her fateful disappearance in Antarctica.
Madam: A Novel by Phoebe Wynne
“Imagine if Donna Tartt and Margaret Atwood got together to write a creepy, suspenseful novel about a school for young women in the Scottish Highlands,” says Chandler Baker, bestselling author of Whisper Network. Perfect for fans of The Secret History, this dark gothic novel is a thrilling story about what goes on behind closed doors at an elite, secretive boarding school called Caldonbrae Hall.
Olympus, Texas: A Novel by Stacey Swann
All at once heartbreaking and hilarious, Stacey Swann’s debut novel Olympus, Texas is a must-read for anyone who loves stories of familial bonds and complexities — with a dash of classical mythology. March Briscoe returns to his family and their small Texas town two years after he was very publicly caught having an affair with his brother’s wife. Within days of his return, a man is dead, marriages are on the line, and seemingly strong sibling ties are unraveled, begging the question: how much destruction can one family take?
Find You First by Linwood Barclay
We are always surprised by the plots of Linwood Barclay’s novels. The premises are easy to grasp but you soon realize the deeper pull is more complicated and fascinating. Here, the possible heirs of a tech millionaire are vanishing — like they never existed at all. Barclay is at the top of his game here with another psychological thriller that will hook you quickly and reel you even more so. Every page is an adventure.
Basil’s War by Stephen Hunter
You might be familiar with Stephen Hunter’s work as film critic for The Washington Post, or maybe his contemporary thriller series about American sniper Bob Lee Swagger. With broad cinematic appeal and the moves of his suspense novels, Hunter now gives us a standalone historical thriller. Throw in a little dash of James Bond and you’ll find yourself propelled through this fast-moving, compact WWII thriller.
Playing the Palace by Paul Rudnick
A boy meets boy romance where one of them just happens to be the Crown Prince of England. It’s one thing to fall in love but another to fall into the arms of a prince! A sweet royal romance that’s made in tabloid heaven, this charming and often hilarious novel is pure escapism with heart and soul. Fans of Casey McQuiston’s Red, White & Royal Blue will not want to miss it.
Billie Eilish by Billie Eilish
A look inside the life of Billie Eilish as told by the superstar herself with a treasure trove of photographs. Up until now, Eilish has been very guarded about her personal life. Her decision to reveal the most intimate details and allow the public to see her in her most private moments through her words and amazing photos will be eye-opening to all her followers who think they know the real Billie Eilish. Here, she captures raw moments before, during and after her concerts as well as during the creative process.
Yearbook by Seth Rogen
“Hi, I’m Seth Rogen! This is my collection of true stories of doing stand-up as a kid, surviving Jewish summer camp, doing way more drugs than my mom would like (sorry, mom!) and more. Enjoy!” The actor, writer, producer, director, entrepreneur, and philanthropist known for Superbad and Pineapple Express gifts us this hilarious collection of personal essays and true stories that will likely get him in a bit of trouble for divulging, but makes for one fantastic read.
Freedom by Sebastian Junger
Set against the rigors of a trek along the wooded railroad lines of the East coast, Sebastian Junger considers the conundrum that is “freedom,” whether freedom to, freedom from, individualistic or in community, juxtapositions that have bedeviled through time. Moving between travelogue, history, nature writing, observation and philosophy, Freedom raises essential human questions in new frames. As with War and Tribe, the perspective here is close, powerful and tactile. Junger is a knock-out punch of a writer.
Madhouse at the End of the Earth: The Belgica’s Journey into the Dark Antarctic Night by Julian Sancton
Meticulously researched and realized, with a deep novelistic flare, Madhouse at the End of the Earth reconstructs the action-packed survival story of an early expedition to the South Pole. Amundson, Cook and an inexperienced, undisciplined crew, on an ill-fated ship, imprisoned in the Antarctic ice and darkness. This tale of adventure, excitement and indeed, terror, will captivate those who were drawn to The Lost City of Z, In the Kingdom of Ice and In the Heart of the Sea. Julian Sancton has gifted us an insanely gripping book from start to finish.
The Hummingbirds’ Gift: Wonder, Beauty, and Renewal on Wings by Sy Montgomery
In each of her books, Sy Montgomery has introduced adults and children to the complicated, intelligent spirits of our fellow creatures in the natural world, be it an octopus, a good, good pig, pink dolphins, or golden moon bears. This tale of an intervention to save the lives of two orphaned, nearly microscopic hummingbird babies is a rumination on fragility and interdependence, and an extraordinary close-up on the wonder that is a hummingbird. “Hummingbirds are less flesh than fairies … little more than bubbles fringed with iridescent feathers — air wrapped in light.”
Source: by Kat Sarfas Barnes & Noble website April 20, 2021 .
Celebrate Earth Day with captivating fiction and nonfiction books all about Earth and the environment!
Observed on April 22 each year, Earth Day marks the perfect time to bring lessons about conservation, climate change, and the planet into your class. Help your children discover how they can pitch in to save the earth with simple, kid-powered approaches, and why it’s vital for all of us to protect animals and nature.
The Earth Book Grades Pre-K - 2
With his signature blend of playfulness and sensitivity, Todd Parr explores the important, timely subject of environmental protection and conservation in this eco-friendly picture book.
What Does It Mean To Be Green? Grades Pre-K - K
Walking to the park instead of getting a ride. Turning off the water while you brush your teeth. A young boy and girl explore all the different ways they can be green over the course of a day.
Earth Grades 4 - 6
From a cloud storm to a look at the future, this outstanding presentation of Earth's formation through dramatic, stunning illustrations and accessible, minimal text is sure to intrigue and awe.
The Great Kapok Tree Grades 2 - 4
In the dense, green Amazon rainforest, a man has come to chop down a great Kapok tree. When he lies down to rest, the creatures that inhabit the tree and the surrounding forest come to whisper in his ear, each in its own fashion, begging him to spare their home.
Robin Hill School: Earth Day Grades 1
The kids in Mrs. Connor's class are celebrating Earth Day, and everyone has lots of ideas for how to save the earth, except Emma. Emma is worried that her idea isn't good enough.
A True Book™-Understanding Climate Change: The Greenhouse Effect Grades 3 - 6
STEM meets current events in this new A True Book set that offers readers the chance to learn about the causes and effects of climate change.
The Midnight Fox Grades 4 - 6
Betsy Byars has created a thoughtful environmental story with a likable hero.
10 Things I Can Do to Help My World Grades Pre-K - 1
Here is a bright, inviting novelty book that offers simple ways to make a difference.
Out of My Shell Grades 3 - 7
An inspiring and timely story of friendship, courage, and the magic that can happen when we stand up for what's right.
The Magic School Bus® Presents: Planet Earth Grades Pre-K - 2
Learn all about Earth with Ms. Frizzle and her class.
Source: Scholastic website April 2, 2021.
COVID-19 vaccines are effective at protecting you from getting sick. Based on what we know about COVID-19 vaccines, people who have been fully vaccinated can start to do some things that they had stopped doing because of the pandemic. We’re still learning how vaccines will affect the spread of COVID-19. After you’ve been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you should keep taking precautions—like wearing a mask, staying 6 feet apart from others, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces—in public places until we know more. These recommendations can help you make decisions about daily activities after you are fully vaccinated. They are not intended for healthcare settings.
Have You Been Fully Vaccinated?
People are considered fully vaccinated:
If You’ve Been Fully Vaccinated You Can:
Visit inside a home or private setting without a mask with other fully vaccinated people of any age
Visit inside a home or private setting without a mask with one household of unvaccinated people who are not at risk for severe illness
Travel domestically without a pre- or post-travel test
Travel domestically without quarantining after travel
Travel internationally without a pre-travel test depending on destination
Travel internationally without quarantining after travel
What You Can Start to Do If you’ve been fully vaccinated:
What You Should Keep Doing For now, if you’ve been fully vaccinated:
Visit indoors, without a mask, with people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19
Attend medium or large gatherings
If You’ve Been Fully Vaccinated You Can:
Visit inside a home or private setting without a mask with other fully vaccinated people of any age
Download and print: What You Can Do Once You Have Been Fully Vaccinated pdf icon[PDF – 1 page]
What We Know and What We’re Still Learning:
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Updated Apr. 2, 2021.
The best new books arriving in April tackle a wide range of subjects, from a sweeping anthology that illuminates the history of Black farmers in the United States to the firsthand account of an EMT in New York City. This month welcomes the return of award-winning authors like Jhumpa Lahiri and Haruki Murakami as well as the first novels from Morgan Jerkins and JoAnne Tompkins. Here are the best new books to read in April.
We Are Each Other’s Harvest: Celebrating African American Farmers, Land, and Legacy
by Natalie Baszile (April 6)
In her new anthology, Natalie Baszile examines the relationship between Black farming and American culture through essays, photographs, first-person accounts and more. Together, these pieces dissect the legacy of Black farmers in the U.S. and the impact of land loss and food injustice over generations. In illuminating how these farmers persevered in the face of such challenges, Baszile creates a moving collection about identity, food and community.
I’m Waiting for You: And Other Stories by Kim Bo-Young (April 6)
The two sets of paired stories in Kim Bo-Young’s newly translated work of speculative fiction confront life’s biggest questions: How long can love endure? Who decides what makes a person good or bad? And is there really such a thing as free will? These are heavy topics, but Kim tackles them with playful prose and a creative eye. Her narratives, which are set in the future, drive us to reconsider our present and all that we take for granted.
My Broken Language by Quiara Alegría Hudes (April 6)
In her memoir, Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright Quiara Alegría Hudes details her coming-of-age in Philadelphia surrounded by her Puerto Rican family. In lyrical terms, she describes the stories that filled her life, told in both English and Spanish, and examines her relationship with language. In the process, she considers how these stories have informed her artistry and sense of home. The result is a moving self-portrait of an author reckoning with the worlds she straddled and the communities she found along the way.
Caul Baby by Morgan Jerkins (April 6)
In her debut novel, Morgan Jerkins tells the story of the notorious Melancons—a family in Harlem that derives special powers from caul, an amniotic layer of skin that affords them miraculous healing properties. Concerned with questions of motherhood, fertility and race, Jerkins captures the Melancons and their grip on their community, which starts to unravel as the youngest member of the family begins to question where she really came from.
The Hard Crowd: Essays 2000-2020 by Rachel Kushner (April 6)
Novelist Rachel Kushner blends journalism, memoir and criticism in her new collection of essays. The 19 pieces, which are from the past 20 years of the author’s career, are wide-ranging in scope. In one, Kushner recounts a visit to a Palestinian refugee camp; in another, she reflects on the music scene of her youth in San Francisco. Throughout, her energetic voice carries the reader through as she muses about art, nostalgia, writing and more.
First Responder: A Memoir of Life, Death, and Love on New York City’s Frontlines
by Jennifer Murphy (April 6)
As an EMT in New York City, Jennifer Murphy is able to provide an intimate look at what it’s like to be on the frontlines. In her memoir, she offers a window into the world of EMTs, describing the grief and chaos that come with being a first responder (along with some unexpected, but necessary, moments of humor). The book is a wrenching account of Murphy’s experiences before and during the COVID-19 pandemic in New York, catapulting readers into scenes of crisis and rescue efforts.
First Person Singular: Stories by Haruki Murakami (April 6)
The hotly anticipated new book from celebrated author Haruki Murakami features eight short stories, and, as described in the title, each is told by a first person narrator. The question of perspective is important, as these narrators may offer glimpses into the author’s own thoughts. Featuring the magical realism that he’s best known for, Murakami’s latest collection moves from narratives about music to baseball to jazz albums and more.
Good Company by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney (April 6)
While preparing for her daughter Ruby’s upcoming high school graduation, Flora Mancini discovers an envelope with her husband’s wedding ring inside, which is curious because he claimed to have lost the ring in a pond during a summer trip many years before. The ring’s reappearance has unforeseen consequences—ones that ripple throughout the second novel from Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, author of The Nest. In navigating the many fissures in her relationships with her husband and her best friend, Flora must come to terms with all that she didn’t know about the people closest to her.
What Comes After by JoAnne Tompkins (April 13)
JoAnne Tompkins’ gripping debut novel begins with the most unwelcome of endings: the apparent murder-suicide of best friends Jonah and Daniel. The teenage boys leave behind a devastated Quaker community in Washington State where Isaac, Daniel’s father, finds himself with an unlikely house guest, a pregnant 16-year-old girl. Tompkins flips between perspectives, including the harrowing thoughts of one of the boys before his death, to reveal the heartbreaking intersections of her characters’ lives. What Comes After is equal parts thrilling mystery and aching examination of grief and guilt.
I Am a Girl from Africa by Elizabeth Nyamayaro (April 20)
When she was 8 years old, Elizabeth Nyamayaro was surrounded by death and devastation as a draught came over her village in Zimbabwe. A United Nations aid worker saved her from starvation. In her memoir, Nyamayaro explores this transformative moment in her childhood and how it drove her to become an activist and fierce advocate for change. She shares personal stories of perseverance as she reflects on what it took to make it to the U.N. herself as a Senior Advisor, where she went on to launch the HeForShe campaign.
From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry: The Killing of Vincent Chin and the Trial that Galvanized the Asian American Movement by Paula Yoo (April 20)
In 1982, Vincent Chin, a Chinese American man, was beaten to death by two white men at a club. Blending together court transcripts, interviews and more, Paula Yoo revisits this horrific killing and the trial that followed. From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry, written for young readers, is a bruising account of the aftermath of Chin’s death, from the outrage it sparked over hate crimes and racism to the protests that shaped the Asian American movement.
Crying in H Mart: A Memoir by Michelle Zauner (April 20)
Expanding on her viral 2018 essay of the same name, Michelle Zauner takes a stirring look at her relationship with her mother, food and identity in her new memoir. Zauner, the indie pop star who performs under the moniker Japanese Breakfast, describes her difficult adolescence as one of the only Asian American kids at her school in Oregon. When Zauner was 25, her mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer—forcing the singer to grapple with her Korean American identity and her mother’s presence in her life. In her book, she captures, in piercing terms, the powerful connections between food and family.
You Are Your Best Thing: Vulnerability, Shame Resilience and the Black Experience by Tarana Burke and Brené Brown (editors) (April 27)
Curated by Tarana Burke, the founder of the ‘me too’ movement, and best-selling author Brené Brown, this powerful new essay collection brings together a group of influential Black voices, including Kiese Laymon, Imani Perry, Austin Channing Brown and Jason Reynolds. Their pieces center on vulnerability and shame resilience, and ask urgent questions about the impact of white supremacy on Black lives.
Whereabouts by Jhumpa Lahiri (April 27)
In her first novel in nearly a decade, Pulitzer Prize winner Jhumpa Lahiri tells the story of an unnamed woman as she questions who she is and where she fits into the world. The reader gets to know this contemplative narrator through a series of vignettes that showcase her witty observational skills and Lahiri’s piercing prose. Whereabouts finds the protagonist often wandering around her European city, reflecting on her relationship with her mother and the people who move in and out of her life. It’s a quiet and emotional text—originally written in Italian and translated into English.
White Magic: Essays by Elissa Washuta (April 27)
Ten interconnected essays make up Elissa Washuta’s electric new nonfiction collection. In them, the author, who is a member of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe, unveils her efforts at healing following years of struggling with sobriety, PTSD and a misdiagnosis of bipolar disorder. She asks haunting questions about intoxication, love, grief and more, all while interspersing references to the pop culture that has informed her life, from Twin Peaks to Stevie Nicks. These are seemingly disparate threads, but Washuta ties them all back to her quest to understand the impact of everything that she’s endured.
Source: Time Magazine by Annabel Gutterman, April 1, 2021.
Right now even the most ardent cooks feel weary of their kitchens, so as we waded through this spring’s hundred or so new cookbooks, we were searching for inspiration. Below you’ll find the books that proved themselves in our kitchens—and got us excited to make dinner again. These 11 books have no-nonsense weeknight stuff and the decadent stuff of future meals with friends. There are superlative baked goods, flavorful dumplings, and a crème caramel for one. This list is the best of the season; we're sure there's a book here that will help every cook find fresh ideas to cook their way through this spring.
Bavel by Ori Menashe, Genevieve Gergis, and Lesley Suter
Often chef’s cookbooks, while gorgeous, prove tricky and fussy for the home cook. Not so with Bavel, the latest cookbook by pastry chef and chef duo Genevieve Gergis and Ori Menashe. Bavel is based around the chefs’ Middle Eastern Los Angeles restaurant by the same name. Bavel the cookbook gets much of its strength from the family recipes dotted throughout, the ones that sustain the chefs in their busy day-to-day life. It’s hard to improve upon a simple roast chicken, but the Turmeric Chicken With Toum, conceived for an easy dinner party, might just edge out your fallback recipe. Crisp, turmeric-stained skin, juicy, yogurt-marinated meat, and a smear of garlicky toum, its bite softened by orange blossom water: this chicken somehow has it all.
Rodney Scott's World of BBQ by Rodney Scott
Rodney Scott’s World of BBQ—is a book that brings the sacrament of whole-hog barbecue down to earth. You would imagine that it might take a full book for Rodney Scott to teach someone to barbecue the way he does in Charleston, but Scott manages to do it in the 30 pages before the recipes start. A year ago, asking the average home cook to build a barbecue pit in their backyard might’ve seemed like too large an ask. But in the past year, many of us have conquered sourdough, mastered pickling, and tried out lamination. And the clear, inviting way in which Scott communicates his techniques will have you pricing out concrete blocks at the hardware store. Writing with a lifetime of experience behind him, Scott manages to make Carolina barbecue feel accessible to the weekend warrior.
To Asia, With Love by Hetty McKinnon
Just make her miso-laced squash ramen or deliciously charred cabbage steaks and you’ll understand why this book is tops. McKinnon, who grew up in Australia to Chinese parents and now calls Brooklyn home, has a special knack for food that’s excellent for families, but isn’t anywhere near dull. The Buttery Miso Vegemite Noodles, all glossy and salty, get a sharp tang from a pile of grated cheddar cheese and come together in a minute. Lots of recipes are accompanied by plenty of options for toppings or fillings, key for anyone trying to feed a slew of demanding palates: for example, her jook has three optional vegetable garnishes with varying levels of spice, crunch, and savoriness, and McKinnon lays out a rainbow of dumpling fillings, which include combos like asparagus, mint, and feta, and lentil and cauliflower curry.
Ripe Figs by Yasmin Khan
Here is what Yasmin Khan does better than almost anyone: dive deep into the cuisine of a specific region of the world to create a compendium of recipes, stories, interviews, and stunning photos that transport you (with all five senses engaged) to that place. I know that sounds like a tall order—and even a little bit cliche—but somehow Khan manages to pull it off again and again, with depth, generosity, and a palpable love of listening and learning.
Cook Real Hawai'i by Sheldon Simeon
In this cookbook Simeon delves into Hawaii's oft-misunderstood cuisine, giving readers a peek into local garage parties and family barbecues. Hibachi chicken barbecue, charred fish sinigang, kimchi dip, and an entire poke primer—these dishes showcase the islands’ mixed cultures, ingredients, and cooking styles. I’ve already got a couple of dishes on repeat: the deeply savory Fried Garlic Noodles, seasoned with soy sauce and dashi powder, and the creamy, coconutty Hawaiian Sweet Potatoes, sprinkled with bonito flakes or bits of skipjack tuna jerky. Both of these dishes offer what feels like a key to the essential flavors of Hawaii.
Mother Grains by Roxana Jullapat
While there’s something in Mother Grains for the folks who’ve been ambitious about their sourdough since the early months of lockdown, what delights the most about this cookbook from renowned Los Angeles baker Roxana Jullapat is that it isn’t just for the hardcore. This book offers ways to deepen the flavor of many less-intensive baking projects, including waffles and pancakes, scones and cookies, cakes and muffins. It gives home bakers a taste of what’s been going on in many of the best bakeries lately, illustrating how diversifying your flour pantry and leaning on full-flavored grains like buckwheat, sorghum, rye, barley, and heirloom wheat is a bit like switching from coloring with graphite pencil to painting with a rainbow palette. When the grains are great—like the nutty, creamy Sonora flour she has you use in her spectacular oatmeal cookies—baked goods can taste more cohesive and more intricate in flavor.
Cook This Book by Molly Baz
Cook This Book is a cookbook designed for the novice: Baz lists ingredients by category for logical grocery shopping, and fills the recipe margins with answers to questions she anticipated her readers might ask. That way, One-Pot Chicken and Schmaltzy Rice with Lemony Yog (Yog being yogurt; Baz loves “abbrevs”) is not just a deeply comforting weeknight dinner, it’s also a lesson on how to properly cook rice and crisp chicken skin. Baz’s style of cooking is an appealing mix of unfussy-but-inspired diner fare and cheffy-casual dishes you’d find at any hot, merch-and-orange-wine-selling restaurants. These are recipes you can’t help but like. Who can say no to a pasta salad with mortadella, burrata, castelvetrano olives, and pistachios?
Super Natural Simple by Heidi Swanson
This cookbook is full of dishes that look like spa food but pack more flavor (a hot pink dragon fruit and beet ‘party dip’, amped up with cayenne and citrus), tons of nourishing one-pot meals like the Roasted Chile Peanut Tofu, and lots of excellent, slightly earthy, not-too-sweet baked goods. Because Swanson’s Baked Oatmeal is a perennial Epi hit, I gave its spicier cousin, a Dirty Chai Baked Oatmeal, a go. Warming, complex, and just as good out of the freezer, it reminded me what I loved most about Swanson’s cooking: the fresh, complex flavors that aren’t fussy, the dishes that are sometimes pretty, sometimes (like my three shades of brown oatmeal) unassuming, but food that is always remarkably satisfying.
At Home in the Kitchen by David Kinch and Devin Fuller
In At Home, Kinch leans into simple home cooking as hard as he leans the other way at Manresa. Recipes often have no more than seven or eight ingredients. The chapter “All-Day Eggs + 2 a.m. Dinners” might as well be called Pandemic Dinners—it’s all fried fingerlings, puffy omelets, and crispy grilled cheese sandwiches. The next chapter, “Pasta + Rice,” provided me with a new favorite pantry pasta (sardines, capers, breadcrumbs, lemon). And in the seafood chapter—perhaps the most Californian in a very California-feeling book—a recipe for oven-roasted potatoes with cod spoke to my elemental cravings for well-browned spuds and just-cooked fish.
My Shanghai by Betty Liu
My Shanghai will guide you toward faithfully reproducing many favorites made famous by the restaurants and street vendors of the world’s largest city—and served in Shanghainese restaurants throughout the world. You’ll find fluffy-crispy pan-fried sheng jian bao and tender lion’s head meatballs made from hand-minced pork belly here, as well as the twisted knots of scallion flower buns and hot, fresh crullers for dunking in soy milk. But author Betty Liu emphasizes that the book is really focused on dishes meant to be prepared in home kitchens: She writes that My Shanghai is “a written record of recipes that had previously been passed down orally. These recipes are my family’s tradition.” It’s a refreshing focus, when so many cookbooks (often written by white authors) zoom way too far out, attempting to tackle all of China at once, and glossing over what makes each region special.
Cook, Eat, Repeat by Nigella Lawson
The Nigella effect is undeniable. This is sensual, decadent, joyful food—and, is there not a better time for it. If the sound of meal prep, sheet-pan dinners, or batch cooking screeches on your ears in season forty-five of this pandemic, this is the book to fall into. Luxuriate in a simple and rich Chicken with Garlic Cream Sauce, served with a gravy boat of extra cream (that’s equally good stirred into pasta or topped over otherwise chaste vegetables the next day). Finish it up with squidgy Black Forest Brownies, studded with kirsch-soaked cherries and hazelnuts. Whatever you do, don’t rush it. This is a book for a Sunday cook—or, even just a Sunday read, drink in hand, to inspire you for the eventual return of dinner parties.
Source: Epicurious by Lauren Joseph and the editor's of Epicurious, March 14, 2021.
Showers, flowers, and books! Celebrate the arrival of spring with these great books for kids.
Explore Spring: 25 Great Ways to Learn About Spring
Lauri Berkenkamp Age: 5-8
How do we love spring? Let us count the ways–25 ways to be exact. Whether it’s weather-appropriate activities or planting flowers with furry animals, this book gives you 25 ways to interact with spring.
Jill Esbaum Age: 5-7
“I hate baby animals and warm weather,” said no one ever. Warm up to spring by flipping through cute photographs of animals and the great outdoors.
Feel The Wind
Arthur Dorros Age: 4-8
Air is always moving! You can hear it, feel it, even smell it! Wake up your spring senses with this eye-opening, breezy read.
Who Likes Rain?
Wong Herbert Yee Age: 4-7
Grab your umbrella and hit the puddles! Check out this interactive question-and-answer book to find out which species enjoy the rainy April showers as much as humans do.
Planting a Rainbow
Lois Ehlert Age: 2-5
With her Eric Carle-esque illustrations and colorful text on wide, easy-for-little-fingers pages, Ehlert introduces the youngest kids to vibrate spring images and simple site words.
What Will Hatch?
Jennifer Ward Age: 2-5
The Anticipation is haunting! Full of playful text and rhythmic couplets, kids will get excited as they learn about different animals and their life cycles, which begin in spring.
And Then It’s Spring
Julie Fogliano Age: 4-7
In this sweet story, a young boy and his dog prepare a garden for spring. Children can learn a wonderful lesson about patience and friendship just by reading this instant favorite.
Fletcher and the Springtime Blossoms
Julia Rawlinson Age: 4-8
Say it ain’t snow! Fletcher the Fox is very excited for spring! The flowers bloom, the air is fresh and crisp… but snow?! The transformation of seasons can be full of surprises, as your little ones will learn with via Fletcher’s adventures.
Spring: An Alphabet Acrostic
Steven Schnur Age: 2-4
This book has great appeal for both kids and adults, and can be read and reread at home and in school. Adults appreciate the sleek writing style that exposes kids to a unique form of poetry.
A New Beginning
Wendy Pfeffer Age: 6-9
What is the spring equinox? Learn some simple spring science and history lessons along with suggested activities to try with your kids this season.
Source: PBS Kids by Danielle Steinberg March 21, 2018
Want to make your own gorgeous green and gold St. Patrick's Day decorations? In search of easy St. Patrick's Day crafts for kids? Lucky you! These easy projects will look adorable on display in your home and keep both kids and adults entertained and in crafting bliss. There are ideas here for all skill levels, from beginner to the semi-professional. Whether you’re looking for a quick, easy craft like printable lunch box jokes to brighten your child’s day, or an elegant DIY shamrock wreath to hang on your door this is something is this gallery for all types.
Pot of Gold Hanging Mobile: Gold, or mini yellow pom-poms? Either way, craft this DIY hanging mobile and lots of luck and riches will surely come your way!
To make: Cut 1-inch-wide strips of paper from colored craft paper. Use a hole-punch to make a hole in the middle of each strip of paper; stack paper in the order of the rainbow. Thread a piece of twine through holes, knotting it just above and below the paper to hold paper in place. Fold a piece of black craft paper in half and cut out a pot shape, so that you have two identical pieces. Cut out two dome-shaped pieces of yellow craft paper and sandwich between the black pieces, gluing everything together. Glue mini yellow pom-poms to the yellow paper. Punch a hole at the top of the yellow dome, and thread twine through, securing with a knot. Cut out mini clovers from green craft paper and glue to the front and back of the pot; outline with a white pen if desired.
Mini Four-Leaf Clover Pin: Proudly display your Irish pride with this DIY clover pin.
To make: Roll out green oven-bake clay to 3/8-inch thick. Cut out shape with a mini shamrock cookie cutter. Bake per manufacturer's instructions. When cool, brush a light layer of craft glue on the shamrock and sprinkle with green glitter. Glue a brooch pin on the back.
Tissue paper Four-Leaf Clover Ornament: This sweet four-leaf clover ornament will look equally cute hanging from a magnet on the fridge or on the front door. Make it as small or large as desired.
To make: Tear light green, dark green, and white tissue paper into small pieces. Lay pieces in between self-sealing laminating pouches; seal. Cut out a four-leaf clover shape. Punch a small hole in the top of the clover with a small hole-punch. Thread ribbon through the hole and hang.
Pot of Gold Mason Jar Gift Idea: Fill up these cute Mason jars with chocolate coins to remind your loved ones that they make you feel lucky every day.
Get the tutorial at Polka Dot Chair.
Rainbow & Gold Lucky Sign: You'll want to keep this adorable sign up all year, especially with the fun gold accents.
Get the tutorial at Landeelu.
Paper Shamrock Wreath: All you need are different scraps of paper to create this cute shamrock wreath.
Get the tutorial at The Craft Patch.
St. Patrick's Day Lunch Box Jokes: Brighten your child's day with these silly St. Patrick's Day jokes and riddles that will have them giggling until they get home from school.
Get the tutorial at Artsy Fartsy Mama.
Paper Potted Shamrocks: Give your nearest and dearest a little luck of the Irish with some paper four-leaf clovers in matching mini pots.
Get the tutorial at Design Improvised.
St. Patrick's Day Pencil Toppers: At last, the magical homework incentive your little ones will love—green clover pencil toppers.
Get the tutorial at Laura Looloo.
DIY Fabric Wreath: You only need a bit of green fabric and a wire frame to bring this wreath to life... because even your front door could use some holiday love.
Get the tutorial at A Mom's Impression.
Source: Country Living Magazine by Charlyne Mattox Mar. 10, 2021
CELEBRATE ST. PATRICK’S DAY 2021!
Saint Patrick’s Day is Wednesday, March 17! Who was Saint Patrick? Why are shamrocks a symbol of this day? Enjoy St. Patrick’s Day history, legends, and lore.
Although the holiday originally started as a Christian feast day celebrating the life of St. Patrick and the spreading of Christianity to Ireland, today, it is a day of revelry and a celebration of all things Irish. Don’t forget to wear green!
WHEN IS ST. PATRICK’S DAY?
St. Patrick’s Day is officially observed on March 17 each year, though celebrations may not be limited to this date. The significance of March 17 is that it’s said to be the date of St. Patrick’s death in the late 5th century (circa A.D. 493).
WHO WAS ST. PATRICK? WAS HE A REAL PERSON?
Saint Patrick is the patron saint and national apostle of Ireland. He is credited with successfully spreading Christianity throughout Ireland—hence the Christian celebration of his life and name.
Was There Really a St. Patrick?
Definitely. However, there are many legends about him that mix with the truth. Did he play a large role in spreading Christianity to Ireland? Yes, absolutely. Did he really drive all the snakes out of Ireland? Probably not, since snakes weren’t native to Ireland to begin with!
In any case, St. Patrick’s impact was significant enough to warrant our modern-day celebrations.
WHY IS THE SHAMROCK ASSOCIATED WITH ST. PATRICK’S DAY?
We wear a shamrock on St. Patrick’s Day because, legend says, St. Patrick used its three leaves to explain the Holy Trinity in his teachings. (The Trinity is the Father, the Son, and the Spirit as three divine persons who are one divine being [God].) The truth of the St. Patrick legend, however, is in question, as there is no direct record that the saint actually used the shamrock as a teaching tool.
Note: The symbol of St. Patrick is a three-leaf shamrock, not a four-leaf clover. However, long before the shamrock became associated with St. Patrick’s Day, the four-leaf clover was regarded by ancient Celts as a charm against evil spirits. In the early 1900s, O. H. Benson, an Iowa school superintendent, came up with the idea of using a clover as the emblem for a newly founded agricultural club for children in his area. In 1911, the four-leaf clover was chosen as the emblem for the national club program, later named 4-H.
MORE ST. PATRICK’S DAY FACTS, FUN, AND FOLKLORE
“On St. Patrick’s Day, the warm side of a stone turns up,
and the broad-back goose begins to lay.”
ST. PATRICK’S DAY RECIPES
Would you like to cook something special for St. Patrick’s Day? You don’t need the luck of the Irish! Check out our list of St. Patrick’s Day recipes for corned beef and cabbage, Irish soda bread, and more ideas beyond green milk and beer!
JOKE OF THE MONTH
Q: Why should you never iron a four-leaf clover?
A: You don’t want to press your luck!
How do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? Let us know in the comments!
Source: The Editors of The Old Farmer's Almanac, Jan. 14, 2021
Who Is Maud Dixon?, Alexandra Andrews (March 2)
Entry level publishing employee Florence Darrow is desperate to be a successful writer, like best-selling Maud Dixon, whose debut captured the world’s attention even as her true identity remained a secret known to very few. The stars align in the strangest ways for Florence when she somehow becomes the personal assistant to the author, leading them on a research trip to Marrakesh, where things go haywire. It’s there that this publishing satire transforms into a lively suspense novel as Florence is forced to reckon with the person she’s become in her quest for fame.
What’s Mine and Yours, Naima Coster (March 2)
A debate over school integration divides a community in North Carolina and forever alters the lives of two families. At the center of the story are students Gee and Noelle, whose worlds collide at their newly integrated school. The convergence of their paths sets off a series of events that Naima Coster traces through the following 20 years in her piercing examination of race, identity and generational trauma.
Infinite Country, Patricia Engel (March 2)
Talia is a teenager serving time at a correctional facility in Colombia. She’s desperate to flee and return home to her father in Bogotá where a plane ticket to the U.S. is waiting for her. It’s there that Talia’s mother and siblings are living. Patricia Engel follows Talia’s journey to reunite with her family, illuminating the struggles of the fractured unit. The result is a heartbreaking portrait of a family dealing with the realities of migration and separation.
Klara and the Sun, Kazuo Ishiguro (March 2)
In his first novel since winning the Nobel Prize in Literature, Kazuo Ishiguro brings readers to a strange world filled with human-like robots called Artificial Friends (AFs). His narrator is a particularly observant AF named Klara who studies the behavior of the customers who come to the store where she’s patiently waiting to be bought. What ensues is a quietly devastating narrative about the intersection of humanity, technology and love.
The Committed, Viet Thanh Nguyen (March 2)
In 2015, Viet Thanh Nguyen published his debut novel, The Sympathizer, to critical acclaim. The sweeping tale about the Vietnam War went on to win the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in fiction and sold over 1 million copies globally. Now, Nguyen revisits the saga of his unnamed narrator through a sequel, which follows the protagonist, a South Vietnamese army veteran, as he attempts to live as a refugee in 1980s France.
The Code Breaker, Walter Isaacson (March 9)
In his biography of Nobel Prize–winning chemist Jennifer Doudna, former TIME editor-in-chief Walter Isaacson explores the story behind CRISPR, the technology that can edit DNA and is showing promise as a way to both test for the COVID-19 virus and potentially even protect human cells from infection. Isaacson chronicles the integral role Doudna played in the development of CRISPR and outlines the impact the technology will have on generations to come.
Black Girl, Call Home: Poems, Jasmine Mans (March 9)
In her new collection, spoken-word poet Jasmine Mans examines her relationship to home and her journey navigating life in America as a queer Black woman. The pieces vary in form and subject, tackling everything from race to feminism to belonging. Together, they showcase Mans’ power as a poet who can relay her experiences in lyrical, vivid terms.
How Beautiful We Were, Imbolo Mbue (March 9)
The second novel from the author of Behold the Dreamers details the plight of a fictional African village as it faces extreme environmental degradation at the hands of an American oil company. The consequences are severe and long-lasting—toxic water is killing children, pipeline spills are destroying farmlands. In surveying the damage over several years, Imbolo Mbue crafts an aching narrative about greed, community and perseverance.
A Place Like Mississippi, W. Ralph Eubanks (March 16)
From William Faulkner to Natasha Trethewey, some of the most prolific American writers have hailed from Mississippi. Included in that list is essayist W. Ralph Eubanks whose newest work of nonfiction seeks to understand the state’s influence on modern literature. Eubanks takes readers on a literary tour of his home state, charting the role Mississippi has played in shaping the writers who lived there and the work they produced.
There’s No Such Thing as an Easy Job, Kikuko Tsumura (March 23)
The English-language debut from award-winning Japanese writer Kikuko Tsumura tells the story of an unnamed 30-something crippled by career burnout who is desperate for an “easy” job. Tsumura chronicles her narrator’s experiences as she moves between jobs that require little thought or effort. But as strange and magical moments arise, the protagonist begins to realize that perhaps the search for an easy occupation is harder than she thought. It’s a revelation that plays out through Tsumura’s sharp prose and biting observations on late capitalism.
A Little Devil in America, Hanif Abdurraqib (March 30)
Poet and critic Hanif Abdurraqib crafts a stirring account of the relationship between Black artists and American culture in his new book. A blend of cultural analysis, criticism and memoir, A Little Devil in America takes a close look at a wide range of Black performances, from a dance marathon to a game of spades to a performance by Whitney Houston at the 1988 Grammy Awards. Throughout, Abdurraqib writes with urgency as he highlights what these performances mean, how they connect to his own feelings on grief, love and life, and where they fit into American history.
Girlhood, Melissa Febos (March 30)
In eight haunting essays, Melissa Febos unearths the trauma of her adolescence as she picks apart the burdens that accompany being a young woman. In sharing the darkness that clouded her coming of age, Febos asks pointed questions about the expectations placed on women and how they impact a person’s sense of self. Febos combines her own stories with investigative reporting to argue why we need to transform the way we think about girls as they grow up.
Of Women and Salt, Gabriela Garcia (March 30)
Jeanette is living in Miami, where she takes in the daughter of a neighbor who has been detained by ICE. The decision comes as she wants to know more about her own family—a yearning that soon yields revelations about the legacy of those who came before her in Cuba. Flipping between the voices of several characters, Gabriela Garcia creates a thoughtful portrait of women coming to terms with the difficult decisions they’ve made in their lives—and the betrayals they’ve committed along the way.
Libertie, Kaitlyn Greenidge (March 30)
Though Libertie Sampson grew up free in Reconstruction-era Brooklyn, she knows that freedom is limited. Her mother wants her to follow in her footsteps and become a doctor—something Libertie not only doesn’t want to do, but also can’t because of her darker skin. As the young woman wrestles with what it means to be free, a notion made more complicated by time spent in Haiti, Kaitlyn Greenidge weaves together an intricate narrative about colorism, classism and community.
Source: Time Magazine website, by Annabel Gutterman, February 26, 2021.
Monday 2/15: Gone with the Wind, Rhett Butler
Tuesday 2/16: Much Ado About Nothing, William Shakespeare
Wednesday 2/17: How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43), Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Thursday 2/18: When Harry Met Sally, Harry
Friday 2/19: Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
Saturday 2/20: The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
Sunday 2/21: In Memoriam A. H. H. OBIIT MDCCCXXXIII: 27, Lord Alfred Tennyson
Monday 2/8: Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince
Tuesday 2/9: A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
Wednesday 2/10: Louisa May Alcott, Little Women
Thursday 2/11: William Shakespeare, Romeo & Juliet
Friday 2/12: Suzanne Collins, Mockingjay
Saturday 2/13: Henry James, The Portrait Of a Lady
Sunday 2/14: Robert Burns, My Love Is Like A Red Red Rose
Monday 2/1: Writer: William Goldman, The Princess Bride
Tuesday 2/2: Character: Phil Conners, Groundhog Day
Wednesday 2/3: Charles Dickens Great Expectations
Thursday 2/4: Emily Brontë Wuthering Heights
Friday 2/5: William Shakespeare Hamlet
Saturday 2/6: Character: George Bailey, It's a Wonderful Life
Sunday 2/7: W.H. Auden Stop All the Clocks
It’s not just your significant other who should get a special Valentine’s Day wish or message this
February 14. Pass thoughtful, warmhearted notes and sentiments to your friends and family members with one of these DIY Valentine’s Day cards. They are sure to warm their hearts and bring a smile to their faces. If you’re looking to get your kids involved with crafting a heartfelt card, there are lots of ideas that fill the bill.
Button Heart Photo Card: Tell your partner how much you love them by transforming a plain note card into a heartwarming photo card that's embellished with sweet buttons. To make: cut a heart shape in the front of a plain note card. Glue a photograph to the inside of the card, centering it in the opening. Glue buttons around the outline of the heart cutout.
Vegetable Watercolor Valentine's Cards: Tell them you love them with a hand -painted card and clever saying. Make a loose watercolor drawing of fruits or vegetables on the front of blank note cards and add a quippy sayings—such as "You are Rooted in My Heart," "Olive You," and "I Love you From My Head Tomatoes."
Fingerprint Heart Tree Card: Your kids will love getting a little messy making this creative card that will look so beautiful, you'll want to hang it up. Get the tutorial at Easy Peasy and Fun.
Heart Confetti Cards: Use a heart-shaped hole puncher to make your own confetti hearts to sprinkle on the front of these sweet cards. Get the tutorial at Design Improvised.
Tulip in a Heart Pop-Up Card: Enlist the help of your kids to make these beautiful pop-up cards that will make any recipient smile. Get the tutorial at Easy Peasy and Fun.
Printable Pin Cards: Use these colorful pin cards to give your Valentine a sweet memento for the holiday. You can gift these to your "galentines" with some fun pins, like this blogger did. Get the tutorial at Club Crafted.
Funny Valentine's Day Cards: Show your partner that you care with a hilarious Valentine's Day card. These messages are too relatable! Get the tutorial at Landeelu.
Love Bug Valentine's Day Card: Your kids will love putting this little love bug card together and writing messages to their friends under the wings. Get the tutorial at Kid Friendly Things to Do.
Valentine's Day Necklace Cards: Add a special touch to your Valentine's Day cards by attaching a DIY necklace. Get the tutorial at Sarah Hearts.
Printable Bee My Valentine Cards: These instructions offer a few different bee-themed Valentine's Day cards, like this one with a bee pencil, as well as one with Burt's Bees lip balm. Get the tutorial at The Polka Dot Chair.
Source: Country Living Magazine by Charlyne Mattox Jan 7, 2021
Because COVID-19 is a new disease with new vaccines, you may have questions about what happens before, during, and after your appointment to get vaccinated. These tips will help you know what to expect when you get vaccinated, what information your provider will give you, and resources you can use to monitor your health after you are vaccinated.
It’s important for everyone to continue using all the tools available to help stop this pandemic as we learn more about how COVID-19 vaccines work in real-world conditions. Cover your mouth and nose with a mask when around others, stay at least 6 feet away from others, avoid crowds, and wash your hands often.
When You Get Vaccinated
After Getting a Vaccine
Source: CDC Updated Jan. 22, 2021
Martin Luther King Jr. was a prominent leader and activist of the Civil Rights Movement whose legacy lives on more than 50 years after his death. He is most known for helping organize the 1963 March on Washington where he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, a year before he won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to combat racial inequality through nonviolent resistance.
Teaching children about Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and legacy is a great way to show how courage and resilience can change the world. The inspirational message of Dr. King and the stories of his efforts to end segregation and racism in America will have a tremendous impact on students as they recognize how Dr. King’s words still resonate today.
The following books are excellent resources for children in grades K-8 and can be used to teach about Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and the Civil Rights Movement in America and as part of larger Black History Month and social studies curriculums.
A First Biography for Young Readers
In Let's Read About... Martin Luther King, Jr., readers in grades K-1 will learn about how racism shaped Martin Luther King Jr.’s childhood as he grew up in the South. This biography is a great introduction to Martin Luther King Jr. and how his courage led him to stand up for the things he believed in as he fought for justice and racial equality.
Dr. King’s Sister Shares Memories of a Boy Who Became a Leader
Renowned educator Christine King Farris, older sister of the late Dr. King, wrote two books about her brother’s life and activism, for readers in grades 1-4.
In My Brother Martin, Farris joins with celebrated illustrator Chris Soentpiet to present a sister’s memories of growing up with Martin, including the pivotal boyhood experience that inspired Dr. Kings lifelong pursuit of equality that ultimately changed history.
In March On!, Farris presents her account of the 1963 March on Washington in the definitive tribute to the man, the march, and the speech that changed a nation. London Ladd's beautiful full-color illustrations bring to life the thousands of people from all over the country who came to the nation's capitol to inspire social change, culminating in Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech.
Celebration of a Peaceful Warrior
In Martin Luther King: The Peaceful Warrior (grades 4-7), readers are given a clear-eyed history of the trials, achievements, and murder of the civil rights icon, Martin Luther King Jr. His life, work, and death are traced in poignant and personalized moments from his childhood through his career as a minister and organizer of the Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott, freedom rides, sit-ins, and protest marches. The biography doesn’t shy away from the hardships and violence activists faced and covers Dr. King’s assassination and the establishment of a national holiday in his memory, ensuring that his legacy lives on.
A Fresh and Emotional Tribute
In Martin Rising (grades 5-8), Andrea and Brian Pinkney present a rich embroidery of visions, musical cadence, and deep emotion to convey the final months of Martin Luther King Jr.'s life, and of his assassination, through metaphor, spirituality, and multi-layers of meaning. This fresh perspective of Martin Luther King Jr. reminds students that courage and conviction can make dreams a reality and that even after his death, Dr. King continues to transform and inspire everyone who shares his dream.
Whether children are reading about Dr. King’s early life or the impact his legacy has had on America, they will learn just how important Martin Luther King Jr. was in shaping the world they live in today. And readers of all ages will be inspired to follow his lead and make their own impact on the world through courage and conviction.
Source: Scholastic Teaching Tools Book List '21