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Joy To Your World

One of my favorite pastimes was perusing the bookshelves and magazine stands at Borders. When I felt fancy, and my bank account would not look at me sideways, I ordered a Cocoa Trio from Seattle’s Best. Being surrounded by books and magazines comforted me more than I could ever know. 

The holidays for many can feel like a lonesome time. The emotions are ripe. 

The past couple of years, I motivated myself to enjoy the holidays: watch holiday films, admire decorated trees, bask in the joy of holiday lights, and even see shelves of fruitcakes knowing that someone looks forward all year for that. “Have fun, sweetheart,” I say to myself; a gentle reminder to embrace this time, to watch others enjoy the season, and feel that joy for them. 

A way I connect with loved ones is through book suggestions. Sharing your beloved books with loved ones or favorite social media platforms can engage interests while reminiscing on books that are profound in your life. 

Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold was likely the first time I realized I loved to travel. Cassie travels to her roof in Harlem, which is called Tar Beach. She dreams of traveling. One night the stars fulfill her dreams and she travels across the city. I sat on the alphabet rug in my first-grade class, wandering at the vivid illustrations. This book was the first time I traveled to New York City. 

What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day by Pearl Cleage was on my 10th grade teacher’s bookshelf (again with me perusing bookshelves!). The prose lifts off the page as Ava Johnson, who returns home to Idlewild, MI after years of living in Atlanta. Reality sees her lifestyle changing dramatically. From what could be seen as a setback, Ava realizes that her time back home has a purpose. I admire Pearl Cleage’s gift for making the ordinary extraordinary through her storytelling. 

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. Lahiri’s sense of place is what establishes her as a writer. Gogol loathes his name. He tries to uphold his family’s cultures, which proves difficult in suburban America. He hopes to live his own identity but learns the deep connection to his being through his family. There is a scene that lifted me from my chair. 

Connect with who you have been and who you are. You can feel sad, annoyed, scared, frustrated. You can feel the overwhelming rush of joy, wonder, and hope that has been unfamiliar for some time. Share yourself at the moment. 

What is a book from your childhood, young adult, and adulthood that is beloved to you?

Ashley Paul is a hopeless wanderer, baker, runner, and photographer. She is passionate about supporting high school juniors and seniors to write compelling stories for their post-secondary careers. Her favorite genres are young adult, literary fiction, and memoir.

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