In the spring of 2020 our world changed. After a summer that included a long over due reckoning over race and a winter that included a never before seen insurrection at the nation’s capitol, the world was then faced with perhaps its biggest obstacle: a global pandemic. We holed up in our homes in varying degrees of fear and I did the only thing I know how to do when I feel scared and alone: I think about what I need most knowing that, if I need it, others do too.
What I needed in those days was a community of strong women oriented to the knowing that guides every decision I make: we belong to one another. This group of women needed to be seekers, looking for lessons in the every day; they needed to be readers, valuing the art and wisdom of storytelling; they needed to be women who loved strong women; they needed to be willing to be vulnerable, engaging in the hard conversations this particularly complex time was begging us to have.
I opened up Facebook, set up a group, and invited some friends. This is what I told them,
We read stories of strong women at the intersections written by strong women at the intersections, and then talk about what moves us, inspires us, and challenges us. We will read a new book each season: a memoir, a book of fiction, a book of poetry, and a lighter summer read, sometimes young adult fiction, sometimes something else. A call for participation to talk about the reading comes every Wednesday, but you are welcome to jump in at any time. Each season we’ll close with a zoom call, our favorite beverage, and some real talk.Engage with others if you are comfortable doing so. Lurk lovingly if you are feeling shy but want to hear what others are thinking (but please do consider being brave to speak your thoughts, it allows others to be brave, too.). Respond freely to any post, post your own thoughts or questions, and do any and all of this knowing that my deepest intention is to provide a space where we can practice grace, courage, and community.Remember this is not fancy. The only requirement is to be real and brave and kind. Life’s too short to be anything less.
Winter 2022 Atlas of the Heart by Brene Brown
“In Atlas of the Heart, Brown takes us on a journey through eighty-seven of the emotions and experiences that define what it means to be human. As she maps the necessary skills and an actionable framework for meaningful connection, she gives us the language and tools to access a universe of new choices and second chances—a universe where we can share and steward the stories of our bravest and most heartbreaking moments with one another in a way that builds connection.”
Spring 2022 Call us What We Carry by Amanda Gorman
“Amanda Gorman’s remarkable new collection reveals an energizing and unforgettable voice in American poetry. Call Us What We Carry is Gorman at her finest. Including “The Hill We Climb,” the stirring poem read at the inauguration of the 46th President of the United States, Joe Biden, and bursting with musical language and exploring themes of identity, grief, and memory, this lyric of hope and healing captures an important moment in our country’s consciousness while being utterly timeless.”
Spring 2022 I’m Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Ericka Sánchez
“A tragic accident on the busiest street in Chicago leaves Olga dead and Julia left behind to reassemble the shattered pieces of her family. And no one seems to acknowledge that Julia is broken, too. Instead, her mother seems to channel her grief into pointing out every possible way Julia has failed. Was Olga really what she seemed? Or was there more to her sister’s story? And either way, how can Julia even attempt to live up to a seemingly impossible ideal?”
Fall 2022 The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
“Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.”
Fall 2021 Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
Jesmyn Ward’s historic second National Book Award–winner is “perfectly poised for the moment” (The New York Times), an intimate portrait of three generations of a family and an epic tale of hope and struggle. “Ward’s writing throbs with life, grief, and love… this book is the kind that makes you ache to return to it.” Rich with Ward’s distinctive, lyrical language, Sing, Unburied, Sing is a majestic and unforgettable family story and “an odyssey through rural Mississippi’s past and present” (The Philadelphia Inquirer).
Summer 2021 What would Frida Do? by Arianna Davis
Revered as much for her fierce spirit as she is for her art, Frida Kahlo stands today as a feminist symbol of daring creativity. Her paintings have earned her admirers around the world, but perhaps her greatest work of art was her own life. What Would Frida Do? celebrates this icon’s signature style, outspoken politics, and boldness in love and art—even in the face of hardship and heartbreak. We see her tumultuous marriage with the famous muralist Diego Rivera and rumored flings with Leon Trotsky and Josephine Baker. In this irresistible read, writer Arianna Davis conjures Frida’s brave spirit, encouraging women to create fearlessly and stand by their own truths.
Spring 2021 Crazy Brave: A memoir by Joy Harjo
In this transcendent memoir, grounded in tribal myth and ancestry, music and poetry, Joy Harjo details her journey to becoming a poet. Born in Oklahoma, the end place of the Trail of Tears, Harjo grew up learning to dodge an abusive stepfather by finding shelter in her imagination, a deep spiritual life, and connection with the natural world. Narrating the complexities of betrayal and love, Crazy Brave is a haunting, visionary memoir about family and the breaking apart necessary in finding a voice.
Winter 2021 Heart Talk: Poetic wisdom for a better life by Cleo Wade
True to her hugely popular Instagram account, Cleo Wade brings her moving life lessons to Heart Talk, an inspiring, accessible, and spiritual book of wisdom for the new generation. Featuring over one hundred and twenty of Cleo’s original poems, mantras, and affirmations, including fan favorites and never before seen ones, this book is a daily pep talk to keep you feeling empowered and motivated.
Fall 2020 See No Stranger: A memoir and manifesto of Revolutionary Love by Valarie Kaur
How do we love in a time of rage? How do we fix a broken world while not breaking ourselves? Valarie Kaur—renowned Sikh activist, filmmaker, and civil rights lawyer—describes revolutionary love as the call of our time, a radical, joyful practice that extends in three directions: to others, to our opponents, and to ourselves.
Summer 2020 The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Spring 2020 Untamed by Glennon Doyle
Soulful and uproarious, forceful and tender, Untamed is both an intimate memoir and a galvanizing wake-up call. It is the story of how one woman learned that a responsible mother is not one who slowly dies for her children, but one who shows them how to fully live.