Need a Break? 4 Books that Give You Permission to Do Just That

Let’s face it: even though summer is arguably the most fun season, it can be just as stressful as any other time of year. The pressure to plan adventures and trips is high, plus most of us still have to go to work every day, or maybe even have kids home from school who need entertainment. It’s also wedding season, which brings travel and expenses and demands from family or friends.

This much fun and excitement and sunshine can be draining, so don’t forget to take a breather when you need it! Luckily, there are a bunch of books that can help with this very thing. Here’s a few highlights that celebrate relaxation or give advice on how to let some stuff go:

The Joy of Doing Just Enough by Jennifer McCartney
$14, hardcover

McCartney’s slim little book breaks down the ways to live well by not over-promising. The chapters illuminate how to do “just enough” in your home, relationships, work, social life, culture, and health & beauty. Includes lots of personality quizzes and fun ideas to try.

The Art of the Wasted Day by Patricia Hampl
$25, hardcover

Minnesota favorite Hampl returns with this brilliant, inspiring meditation on the lost art of leisure, daydreaming, and solitude. Weaving personal experience with history, literature, and science, Hampl reminds us that there is pure value in downtime and invites us to reclaim it.

Mindfulness on the Go by Jan Chozen Bays, MD
$12, paperback

A tiny paperback that will fit in a pocket or purse, with 25 quick Zen exercises to slow you down and re-focus your mind. Also includes expanded reflections on the exercises for when you have more time. A handy little book!

Alone Time by Stephanie Rosenbloom
$25, hardcover

A travelogue of Rosenbloom’s solo trips to four different cities, the lessons of this book can also be applied at home. Rosenbloom finds that the time she spent alone abroad–eating, looking, and trying new things–translate into a way of living every day that can enrich our lives. Relishing the world without the burden of company, we can rediscover the value and benefits of solitude.

Take it easy out there!






Fresh Book & Film Pairings for Summer, Rain or Shine

This year in Minneapolis it feels like we skipped spring and barrelled ahead into summer.  Taking a fun, fast-paced young adult (YA) novel to the lakes and reading in the sun is one of my favorite Minneapolis activities. But summer is also the season of epic Midwest thunderstorms, so it can also be fun to retreat indoors to a movie or bingeable TV show.

Here are some recent YA novels and their complimentary on-screen pairings for all your indoor/outdoor entertainment needs. (Straight book-to-film adaptations not included, because where’s the fun in that?)


1. Book: From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon
$17.09, hardcover

Movie: Monsoon Wedding (2001)

Twinkle Mehra wants two things in life: to become a film director, and to climb a few social rungs so she’s in the orbit of her eternal crush, Neil Roy. When Neil’s (much dorkier) twin brother, Sahil, offers to help Twinkle produce a film for the school arts festival, Twinkle jumps at the chance to show off her talent and possibly get closer to Neil. But as she gets to know Sahil better, she is forced to rethink her master plan. Written in the form of a diary addressed to Twinkle’s favorite female directors, this cute and clever novel showcases a believably flawed protagonist and a romance to root for.

In From Twinkle, With Love, one of Twinkle’s favorite directors is her fellow Indian-American, Mira Nair. In Nair’s film Monsoon Wedding, an extended family returns to India from all over the world for a large, expensive arranged wedding. Full of drama, intrigue, and pre-wedding chaos, Monsoon Wedding is a classic!

1250170974_full2. Book: Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
$17.09, Hardcover

Movie: Black Panther (2018)

Seventeen-year-old Zélie is a divîner, one who is born with the ability to perform gods-given magic. When their magic fully manifests, divîners can become maji—but that was before the king of Orïsha ordered an anti-magic raid that killed Zélie’s mother. Adeyemi’s debut novel follows Zélie on her dangerous journey to restore magic to the kingdom. Accompanied by her brother Tzain and runaway princess Amari, Zélie must outrun the crown prince Inan, who’s determined to stop the return of a magic society that would restore power to people like Zélie. Epic, sexy, powerful, and full of great world-building detail, don’t miss the start of this addictive new series.

While COBAB is more fantasy-driven than Marvel’s recent blockbuster, it similarly features a sprawling nation drawn from African history and culture, a rich mythological backdrop, and powerful characters struggling to make things right in a messed-up world. Anyone who enjoyed the fresh feeling and epic storytelling of Black Panther will probably love COBAB, and vice versa.

1419729721_full3. Book: Noteworthy by Riley Redgate
$8.99, Paperback

Movie: Pitch Perfect (2012) and/or She’s the Man (2006)

Jordan Sun is a Chinese-­American junior at elite arts-­focused boarding school. As a theater student on scholarship, Jordan feels extra pressure to prove herself, but her low singing voice keeps her from landing traditional female roles. Desperate to change her luck, Jordan notices an open call for a tenor in the Sharpshooters, Kensington’s top all-boy a Capella group. Jordan is determined to find a place at school, even if it means months of deception and possibly extreme consequences. But life as Julian—her male alter ego—is freeing in a way Jordan never expected. As narrator, Jordan unpacks the complicated interplay between her class, gender and friendships, making for a more-nuanced-than-usual take on the boarding school novel. Fun and feisty!

Though it’s a little emotionally deeper than both of these films, the plot of Noteworthy is a perfect mixture of college a Capella flick Pitch Perfect and high school rom-com She’s the Man. Pitch Perfect showcases the world of competitive a Capella with catchy songs and raunchy humor. It features a similar “new kid in town” story, following Beca as she reluctantly joins an a Capella group and comes to love it. She’s the Man–based on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night–follows a girl determined to play soccer, despite the fact that her school’s team was disbanded. Taking advantage of her troublesome twin brother’s absence, Viola heads to boarding school in his stead so she can play the game she loves. Antics and romance ensue.

031650307x_full4. Book: Invictus by Ryan Graudin
$17.09, Hardcover

TV show: Doctor Who (2005-present)

Illegal time traveler Farway Gaius McCarthy was literally born outside of time: he was born during transit between ancient Rome and the 24th century. Now 17 years old, he and his crew are on their latest heist when a young woman foils their plan and demands a place on the team. With the mysterious and determined Eliot on board, Far and his shipmates are pulled into a literal race against time that could change—or even erase—their past, present and future. While the novel at first appears to be the story of one exceptional boy, much of the action is carried out by the awesome female crew: Imogen, Eliot and Priya. A meld of historical fiction, sci-fi and heist story rolled into one thrilling tale.

The dizzying paradoxes, loving friendships and witty banter between the crew of the Invictus match the vibe of  long-running TV show and cult classic Doctor Who. A quirky alien known only as “The Doctor” travels through time and space, usually with a wayward Earthling or two along for the ride as trusted companions. Equal parts goofy and exciting, with a solid emotional core, just like Graudin’s novel.

We hope you enjoy these pairings, and remember you can visit us any time for more suggestions from our booksellers!


Read Harder Challenger: Annie M

As you know, some M&Qers are daring themselves to complete the BookRiot Read Harder Challenge in 2017. This month we’re kicking things off by introducing all the challengers. Last week you met Sarah, now meet assistant manager Annie M and her plans for the challenge.


Why are you doing this challenge?

I read a lot, but I go about it in a pretty disorganized way. Sometimes reading 5 things at once, sometimes reading absolutely nothing and just bingeing on TV shows. One of my goals this year is to be more methodical in getting through my gigantic TBR – reading more books in time for Indie Next deadlines,* actually reading some of the stuff I’ve purchased at the store over the years, and so on. I think I can apply this challenge to a good chunk of the books already sitting in my apartment. And for those I don’t already have lined up (“collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love,”  anyone?) I can’t wait to do some digging and get creative!

Which of the tasks will be easiest for you?

Probably “read a debut novel.” As a bookseller we get lots of access to great debuts, and I think the majority of the novels I read and loved last year were the authors’ first. (The Nix, The Wangs vs. The World, Sweetbitter, The Devourers). If history proves anything, this one should be the easiest to complete.

Which will be the furthest from your usual reading list?

Either “a book published between 1900 and 1950” or “a nonfiction book about technology.” I tend to swing between two extremes – super old books, and super new ones. If I’m reading it, it either came out in the past two years, or sometime before 1850. Usually. And as for the book about technology, I just don’t know where to start! I have a little radio crush on Ben Johnson from Marketplace Tech, though, so maybe he can help me out…

Have you already decided which book to read for one (or more) tasks?

I’m really pumped to read The Book by Keith Houston for the “book about books” challenge. I bought it as soon as I saw it because it is gorgeous, but I’ve been a bit intimidated to actually dive in. It’s pretty long.

Which task are you most excited about?

Rereading a book! I’m the kind of person who will rewatch an entire tv show a near-disturbing number of times. I will convince myself I don’t have time to start a new book, but somehow end up spending the day rereading a 500-page mystery I already know the ending of. The only hard thing will be choosing which book to re-read. Something I loved as a kid? Something I remember loving in school but don’t remember why? The possibilities are overwhelming but super exciting.

If you could add one task to the list, what would it be?

Find out your hometown’s “sister city” – you can use this site or check your town’s Wikipedia page – and read a book by an author from that country. If you can find a book that takes place in the city itself, even better! I always thought the concept of sister cities was cool as a kid, and this seems like a way to read globally while easily narrowing down the vast array of options out there.

*The Indie Next list is a monthly list of books specifically recommended by indie booksellers. The catch is that you have to nominate a book two months before it publishes…requiring you to actually read things in time. Not my strong suit.


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