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Rachel’s Reads – June 2020

As the world slowly begins to re-open, my stress levels have yet to abate. Re-opening has brought a new set of challenges and like many of us out there, the amount of bad and confusing news has begun to take its toll. I have found myself not interested in many of the plethora of time consuming ideas out there and instead have tried to focus inward. With all of the noise, I have found it harder to dedicate time and interest to reading on the weekdays as I just want a way to turn my brain off instead. I have found myself turning toward meditative stories, ancient myths reimagined, and soothing music rather than trying to dive head first into a new story.

It was a weird realization for me that instead of reaching for books, I was turning away from them. In times of strife, hardship, or confusion, I have always turned toward the wisdom books offer. Part of my personal philosophy is that you just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other and that eventually you will have taken enough steps where whatever you were facing is in the past. As Albert Einstein said, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” While I was listening to an ancient myth, I thought about a few of the books I have read that have an almost meditative and lyric quality to them. I started with a few of the poetry collections that I have consulted to get me through previous hard times and then began reaching for other tried and true favorites. Below are a few of the collections that I recommend for uplifting and short verses for when you just need someone’s wisdom or someone to understand.

Gmorning, Gnight!: Little Pep Talks for Me & You by Lin-Manuel Miranda
This illustrated gem was born from Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Twitter account. It contains affirmations to encourage and inspire readers at the beginning and ending of each day.

The Poetry Pharmacy: Tried-and-True Prescriptions for the Mind, Heart and Soul edited by William Sieghart
No matter what’s ailing you, from loneliness to hopelessness, William Sieghart has put together a collection to ease the trials of your soul. His poetry prescriptions are honed and he has found that these really work. This beautiful collection reminds that someone else understands.

The Book of Delights by Ross Gay
Ross Gay’s collection of essays records the small joys that occurred over the course of one year. His meditations on delights don’t ignore the complexities of the world. I’m not sure it was meant as inspiration but it has continually reminded me of my connection to others and to the world. It reminds us that no matter what we face, we can and should find room for joy.

Texts from Jane Eyre: And Other Conversations with Your Favorite Literary Characters by Mallory Ortberg
This hilarious read imagines text conversations with your favorite literary characters. It brings the characters into this century and I can’t say how many times I laughed out loud while reading this. It always reminds me that no matter what we face, it is easier to face with laughter.

Heart Talk: Poetic Wisdom for a Better Life by Cleo Wade
This book was published just as I was facing a difficult challenge. It’s affirmations, mantras, and poems were like a daily pep talk. It traveled with me and became a portable pause in all of the chaos. I still turn to it now to provide a boost in times of difficulty.

The Peace of Wild Things: And Other Poems by Wendell Berry
Wendell Berry’s poems invite you to pause, to look, and to savor the world around us. It contains verses of healing and hope. The meditative quality of his poems and even hymns will bring you peace.

I hope you find something that speaks to you. Happy Reading!


Rachel became the publisher of The Independent in March of 2017 and then married her husband Jake in May. Their goldendoodle Einstein joined the family last year. Rachel is an avid reader and loves to share book recommendations. (Don’t miss her column, Rachel’s Reads in the Magazine!) She can always be found with a book nearby, especially while traveling (another of her favorite things).


Bailey Pianalto Photography


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