Now more than ever, we have to look after our mental health and if your are parent, then that also means making sure that our children’s mental health as well. This happens in so many different ways as there are people on this planet. For me, it has always been reading. Reading a good book has always been a haven from my mind and my emotional health as well as pleasure. Sharing stories with my children, I feel has created a safe haven for us as a family.

I wanted to share with you some of the books that have helped me over this year and may also help you. It is not a list in its entirety (I read a lot) but actually I just wanted to offer a little glimpse to what I have on my bookshelf, what I am currently reading and what is on my list next. I also would love some recommendations as well!

Books that I have read:

Maya Angelou- And Still I rise

This volume of poetry offers fullness of life. As I read it, it was like taking a journey with someone and discovering things about yourself along the way. Giving voice to emotions that I thought could not be expressed verbally. It contains the wonderful well known poems of Phenomenal Woman and Still I Rise and I have marked and underlined and starred countless others that I have loved. This helped me because I know that I will come back again and again to it when I need affirmation of my place in the world.

Philip Pullman- Northern Lights

Last year, I received The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage as a gift based on the assumption that I must have read His Dark Materials beforehand. I confessed I had not and they pulled the shocked face. Then came the TV show and I loved it, so this year I sat down to read it and it was far richer than I thought it could be. The way that Philip Pullman pulls together so many different threads and weaves them together gripped me from start to finish; and in no way did watching the show before hand ruin my enjoyment of it. This helped me because it provided an escape for my imagination. I could leave this world behind and enter another, reminding me why I love reading so much. You don’t have to physically go anywhere to be an adventurer.

Candice Carty-Williams – Queenie

Queenie startled me a little bit. I loved that she felt like I knew her straight from the beginning, the way she processes life and her struggles were authentic. Her friends and her family felt so real that Queenie’s world did not feel at times, any different from what I knew when I was living in London. That’s why it startled me, to see family experiences and people that reflected what I knew was revelatory and the use of language reminded me of my London roots. Queenie’s journey is chaotic and heart-wrenching as you witness the cycle she is locked in. However by the end Queenie is on her way to become what she has always longed to be, at home with herself. This helped because Queenie’s journey reminded me of my own. The people that surrounded me and loved me when I needed it most and the darkest parts seem never-ending, but actually are only a part of your story.

Books I am reading now:

Michelle Obama – Becoming

I was already a huge fan of Michelle Obama but now I am a die hard fan. No one will ever be able to say a harsh word against her in my presence and not suffer the consequences. I love her frank honesty about who she is as girl growing up before she met Obama and how her life has developed before and alongside his. Michelle Obama candidly speaks on her ups as well as her downs and her voice is clear: that she is human, just like the rest of us. She just happens to have an extraordinary set of life experiences that she is still in the midst of processing. I am just about half way and I have deliberately slowed down my usual pace of reading to draw out this book. This has helped me because she is an example of a woman who is truly her own, she is a mother, a wife, a hard working woman but is also thoughtful and honest and attentive to the people around her.

Philip Pullman – The Subtle Knife

I have only just started the second book in His Dark Materials, but it is already darker in some ways than the first. The second installment takes a closer look at characters and offers new ones while bringing together new worlds. It is fascinating and Lyra, the main character is still a compelling as she leads the story.

The Good Immigrant – Edited by Nikesh Shukla

A collection of personal essays from a multitude of well known Black and Ethnic minority voices that live in the U.K. With wit, honesty, humour, candour and bravery, they offer experiences of what it is like to be them in the context of culture, ethnicity and gender while living her. The subject matters vary and offer a wide view of what we already know. That there is no single experience, but we face the same challenge of living beyond the stereotypes and laying down the burden of being the good immigrant.

Books waiting to be read:

I know I am not alone when I say that I buy books certainly quicker than I can get to them, and my family and friends know that the best gift they can get me is a book. This that means I have always got a good selection of waiting to to be read. Here is my list:

Children of Blood and Bone – Tomi Adeyemi

Dread Nation – Justina Ireland

Frannie Langton – Sara Collins

Assassin’s Fate – Robin Hobb

A Game of Thrones Book 1 – George R.R. Martin (I know, just don’t go there, I will get to it.)

Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race – Reni Eddo-Lodge (Again, I know! I should have read this ages ago!)

What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours – Helen Oyemi

Let me know what you have been reading and if I should read it too!

Thanks to Jaredd Craig for sharing their work on Unsplash.