It’s often said that books can act as mirrors or windows. Within their pages, we can see our own lives and stories reflected. Or, we can be transported into a world unlike our own within the pages of another. Both experiences are powerful and can teach us something new about the past and how it’s informed the present, and both have a place on our bookshelves. That means intentionally seeking out books by authors who have different life experiences and world views.

In honor of National Book Lovers Day, our colleagues shared some of the books they’ve read recently that allowed them to “walk in the world” of another, one of our core values at Padilla.

  • Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
    • “In this book, Wilkerson shares an eye-opening account of our nation’s people and history, including the ways an invisible caste system has shaped contemporary society. Filled with personal stories, this book connects with you and inspires many moments of reflection about the unconscious motivators and biases in us all.” – Recommended by Lauren Hoffman
  • Forget the Alamo: The True Story of the Myth That Made Texas by Bryan Burrough, Chris Tomilson, Jason Stanford
    • “This book unpacks the myths that have so long been a part of the school history curriculum in Texas and the dominant story told at large on the origins of the state. It provides a counter-narrative for Mexican Americans who were often cast as the villains in the traditional Alamo history lesson.” – Recommended by John Gaglio
  • Somewhere in the Unknown World by Kao Kalia Yang
    • Somewhere in the Unknown World is a collection of true stories about refugees who have found new lives in the United States. If you’ve never thought about what would cause you to leave your country of origin, what you might have to go through to relocate and what it would be like once you arrive in a new country, this book will be a real eye-opener.” – Recommended by Leah Kondes
  • So You Want to Talk about Race by Ijeoma Oluo
    • “This is a great book for BIPOC and non-BIPOC readers with fantastic tips on how to have difficult or uncomfortable conversations about race and racism in America. It also includes some of Oluo’s personal stories.” – Recommended by Rosa Johnson
  • This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger
    • “This book was my first exposure to some of the untold injustices against Native Americans during the Great Depression in this country. It’s beautifully written fiction, with complex characters, vivid scenery and unexpected plot twists.” – Recommended by Emily Valentine
  • The New Farmer’s Almanac, Volume V: Grand Land Plan by Greenhorns
    • My own recommendation to add to this list. This is a thought-provoking collection of essays, poems and photos about decolonizing our food system and learning to work with the land – not against it – to build greater resiliency and respect for the planet. As described by Greenhorns, this book unites the voices of across the country “farmers, poets, grocers, gardeners, architects, activists and agitators” for a common cause.

Curl up with a good book this National Book Lovers Day and if you have recommendations to add to this list, let me know at [email protected].

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