For as long as I can remember, I’ve identified as an extrovert, thriving on the energy of others.
But as I take inventory of my life and the times I’ve been able to truly refresh and relax, I have visions of my 8-year-old self locking my bedroom door and promptly shoving my nose in a book.
Since I was a very young kid, reading has served as a sort of sustenance, helping me dream and escape to places I could only imagine. Ramona Quimby was my first heroine. As I grew older, Jo March and Sylvia Plath followed.
I turned my childhood playroom into a library and still find my homemade catalogue cards in some of the passed down books on my kids’ bookshelves.
Not much has changed. Reading remains my escape from the stresses of everyday life—my one chance to truly unwind. Lemuria Books is my sanctuary and varying opinions on the same work of literature makes me tick.
Childhood Amanda would not be surprised that my grown-up adult(ish) career has been built on telling stories. I wholeheartedly believe that reading makes you a better writer and more importantly, a more empathetic person. (Give it a try and let me know!)
If ever there were a time to dive into a different place and time, this year is it.
Twenty-twenty is when reading became more than my hobby, but truly my lifeline.
These books are a handful of those that got me through.
- Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson
Long ago, I fell in love with Kevin Wilson’s absurdity in The Family Fang, and he certainly took it up a notch in this book. Nothing to See Here is about an unlikely governess to two children who are prone to spontaneous combustion and the connection that follows. I know, it sounds ridiculous–and it is, but in all the best ways.
- The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
If you’re someone who believes that places have as much soul as living things, you should read this. The connection between siblings is a theme I tend to be drawn to and The Dutch House one plays on that delightfully. It follows a brother and sister over the course of decades and their childhood home is character in and of itself.
- Memorial Drive by Natasha Trethewey
Oh, Natasha. The writing in this memoir is stunning and poetic, which makes sense, given that Natasha is a former United States Poet Laureate. In Memorial Drive, the Mississippi native vividly remembers her mother and tells the heartbreaking story of her death. Get your tissues ready and your mama on the phone.
- Race Against Time by Jerry Mitchell
It’s rare that I recommend a nonfiction book, but if you’re from Mississippi (or the South), Race Against Time is a must read. Investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell tells the story of his relentless efforts to uncover the truth behind a bevy of cold civil rights cases. The fact that I didn’t learn the ugly truth behind many of these famous murders in my Mississippi public school (many of which occurred in virtually my own backyard) was shocking. Read it, pledge with me to do better, and thank a journalist.
Simon & Schuster
- Blackwood by Michael Farris Smith
Another one that plays on my love of place, Blackwood captures the grit that is small towns in the South, where kudzu and characters reign supreme.
Little, Brown and Company