End of Year Wrap Up (Alex of CatFairy Books)

Happy Holidays, Shelfies! I hope everyone has been enjoying this season with their families, friends, or adventuring on their own, both through books and in “real life.” Today is the first year end review wrap up post. Up first is contributor Alex of Catfairy Books sharing what she’s read and loved in 2018, and what her goals are for her reading life in 2019. 

Life Update…
I know that this is so typical to say but my mind cannot FATHOM that 2018 is already coming to a close! I would say that 2018 brought so many changes in my life! I started a new grade level (I am an elementary teacher for those of you that don’t know.) and I started working as a college adjunct which was scary for me at the time!

And I have actually managed to write 13,000 words to my novel! This is a huge accomplishment for me since I have been ignoring my WIP for about two to three years now! I am excited to say that it is a YA magical realism novel with latinx rep. My excitement for this novel has no words because I finally feel like I have figured out the missing piece to the puzzle to bring my novel into workable fruition!

Number of Books Read
I have read 33 books this year so far! This has been the year of audiobooks for me! I have gone through sooooo many books due to the fact that I have been consuming most of them through audio. The number of books that I have read through audiobook is 20 books out of the 33 I have read in total! Out of those 20 books that I have listened to there are some that I have combined with reading the physical book as well. Children of Blood and Bone was one book where I actually needed to read the physical book because it’s typically hard for me to digest fantasy books. Although I still combined COBAB through physical and audio due to lack of time and the fact that I was a few weeks away from meeting her in person! EEEK! For those of you that are reluctant to audiobooks, I urge you to give it a try! They are so many books out there now with some AMAZING narration that can just bring the book to life sometimes more than actually reading it physically! Sometimes books have music and different voices! The best audiobooks I have read are definitely the Harry Potter ones! Jim Dale is the king when it comes to narration!

My Year of Books for 2018
My goal for 2018 was rolling along rather nicely due to transitioning to mostly audiobooks with my busy schedule and then October happened! The month of October was pure INSANITY FOR ME! Along with teaching full time, being a college adjunct, I also enrolled myself for an all-day workshop for three Saturdays in order to have an intern for the new school year! The month of October was the hardest month for me and October is my favorite month of the whole year! So it was a major bummer because I am the queen of Halloween and I always look forward to all things spooky!

https://giphy.com/embed/HEkttXqy9AwOQ

via GIPHY

Then came November and November was the time for NaNoWriMo which was just another disaster. I was focusing on my WIP and I DNFed so many books that month it’s not even funny!

Although…there are still 11 days away and I am currently listening to The Afterlife of Holly Black and plan to finish a Hallmark fluffy romance. And I plan to add in some poetry and picture books to my list because that counts as reading too! (First-grade teacher life…don’t judge.) So your girl is going to have 50 books achieved before the year is over!

Goals for Next Year 2019
My goal for next year is to read the same amount of books that I always pledge to read every year which is 50 books! I wanted to increase to 60 books but I am honestly not focused on reading challenges as much. My main reading challenge is to push myself to read more recently released books more than backlisted books. I am the queen of backlisted books and I can never get caught up to the recently released books! Also, I want to continue to read more diverse books since I have read some amazing ones like The Poet X, Analee, in Real Life, and The Hate U Give. And I want to read more books on Netgalley since I have never really given Netgalley a real chance and it would be great to reach out to publishers more for recently released books.

Book reviews have also been a challenge for me this year and my goal is to write at least two book reviews a month. One of my favorite things to write is book reviews and I make my book reviews extremely interactive and over the top with book playlists, book castings, pop culture references, and gifs. I love writing book reviews and delving really deep into the review but it typically takes me about two days to finish a book review. I want to put an end to pressuring myself to always write one book review a week because it’s just not realistic to my life frankly.

The year 2019 is going to be the year where I am going to focus more on the essentials and not add unnecessary stress to my plate if it’s not serving me. I have even finally figured out ways to simplify my blogging schedule and plan to schedule in three posts a week instead of five posts a week which wasn’t working out for me. I am not setting my blog posts to specific days anymore because it just adds too much pressure for me.

BookTube and book blogs have added so much unnecessary pressure to my reading like never before and this is the year where I am tired of comparing myself to other people. Compared to many people in the world reading 30 something books is quite an accomplishment and for the first time in a few years, I am finally ok with that! Let’s take away the stress of reading and start to just enjoy the act of reading for 2019!

You Oughta Know: We the Corporations: How American Businesses Won Their Civil Rights by Adam Winkler

Happy Monday, Shelfies! I hope you had a great weekend. Mine included recording my second podcast interview, a writer’s meetup, and a Christmas party. Despite all the toing and froing, I managed to read two books this weekend (more reviews coming soon)! Today, I wanted to tell you about one more book from the Miami Book Fair’s National Book Award Finalists in Non-Fiction panel. It’s another surprising pick from me (all the Miami Book Fair books are).

Did you know that American businesses have nearly all the same civil rights as AmericanWe the Corporations citizens? I didn’t before I attended a panel featuring the National Book Award Finalists in Non-Fiction at the Miami Book Fair. Author Adam Winkler (no relations to Henry Winkler) shared some interesting and alarming facts about what he describes as “the most successful but least well-known ‘civil rights movement’ in American History.” For example, did you know the first Supreme Court case on the rights of corporations was decided before the Dredd Scott Case? Did you know the court ruled that a corporation was a citizen and could exercise the rights of a citizen over a half century before African Americans and women were able to get such issues before the Supreme court (and even longer before they received the same protections and provisions)?

In his book, Winkler explores how corporations have used some of the strategies of other civil rights movements to reshape the law, namely through the courts. While I’m not usually one to read a lot of history, political or governmental, the things I learned in the short time Adam spoke on the panel fascinated me. My purse said “no” to buying this book after the session, but I have it on my list of books to read in 2019 as both a book to expand my reading palate but a source of random trivia to pull out at parties (you’re welcome!).

Your Turn: What’s the best piece of trivia you learned while reading a book? Share what book it’s from if you remember.

Author Interview: Kelsey Baldwin, Author of Strong Girl, Brave Girl

Happy Friday, Shelfies! Today, I invited author Kelsey Baldwin to By Her Shelf to talk about her book, Strong Girl, Brave Girl: A Single Mother’s Candid Story of Reconciling a Life Unexpected and Navigating the Messy In-Between. Grab your morning cup of coffee (or tea, or beverage of choice), and get to know Kelsey By Her Shelf!

KelseyBaldwinHeadshot2

What’s the elevator pitch (short summary) for Strong Girl, Brave Girl?
SGBG is about my journey as a single mother, going through a pregnancy and divorce at the same time, and how I’ve reconciled a life that looks completely different than I ever expected since then. It covers a wide range of life changes beyond divorce including dating after divorce, moving to a new city (twice!), giving birth, and becoming a mother without a partner.

Why was it important to you to tell this story? Who is it written for?
The more I shared about my story on my blog in the years before writing the book, the more I knew a book was on the horizon. I’ve always loved writing and always wanted to write a book. Once I saw how my story was inspiring + encouraging people, I felt like I couldn’t not write it! I also wrote it a lot for myself to work through a lot of the seasons I’ve been through (writing is like therapy to me!), and I wrote it for my daughter to read someday to see that her family might be really different than the others around her, but she has extra people who love her and parents who aren’t perfect. And hopefully she can find some encouragement in that.

BookQuotes36

Why did you decide to write Strong Girl, Brave Girl, when you were, as you say, still in the middle of this story?
I decided to tell this story candidly, from the middle of my mess, not from the end with a wrapped up bow and rose-colored glasses. When I’m going through difficult seasons, the most helpful conversations were with women who were going through something similar. They were struggling with the same things I was, and they didn’t have it all figured out either. I wanted to be that for other women, because the middle of our stories is where we connect with each other.

How did you make time to write this story while running Paper & Oats and raising a human?
I gave myself plenty of time to write, and worked it into my calendar during a slower season for my business. I wrote mostly at night after my daughter went to bed, that’s when I feel my most creative!

Why did you choose the publishing route you took, and how has it changed your perspective on books?
I didn’t know anything about traditional publishing except that it takes a LONG time to get a publisher to say yes, and then it takes a LONG time to get it released after that. I didn’t want to drag this out forever, and I really wanted to write it on my terms and my timeline. As a former book designer, I knew the design side of things very well (which is a hang up for a lot of self-published authors), which helped make it an easy decision, too. Plus, having an existing audience who was interested in my story gave me a good head start for marketing. Someday I’d like to pursue traditional publishing, but for this very personal book, I knew self-publishing was the right choice to start.

Do you plan to release another book in the future?
Yes! I’d love to write more books! Not sure what they’ll be about, but I really loved the entire process, so I’ll for sure be doing more.

Where can readers find out more about you and your work?
My website — www.paperandoats.com — has all my current projects, teaching, articles, and more about my business. I also hang out on Instagram a lot, so you can follow @paperandoats for some good behind-the-scenes stuff.

BookQuotes3

Reading Questions
What book made you fall in love with or reignited your love of reading?
“Bird by Bird” by Anne Lamott. I really love all things Anne Lamott — her writing and her teaching on writing was a huge inspiration for me writing my book. It’s effortless, not dramatic, but it sounds like you’re sitting across the table from her.

What book might people be surprised to find on your shelf?
I have a couple books about the LGBTQ community that I got when my brother came out as gay a few years ago. They definitely helped me understand him better and get a picture of what it’s like to be gay in middle America.

What are your ideal reading conditions?
Quiet, in bed or on the couch, fireplace going, warm drink in hand, low lights 🙂

What are you currently reading?
I’m currently reading “Finding God in The Waves” by Mike McHargue and “It’s Okay to Laugh (Crying is Cool Too)” by Nora McInerny.

What book is currently on top of your TBR pile?
Anne Lamott’s new book, of course — “Almost Everything” 🙂

What book are you most looking forward to (not yet released)?
I’m really looking forward to Nora McInerny’s new book “No Happy Endings” — how she writes about her story is super inspiring to me!

Lightning Round
Print, eBook, or audiobook?
Print all the way!

Buy or Borrow from library?
Buy — I can’t finish a book before it’s due back to the library, haha!

Bookmark, dog ear, or scrap paper to hold your place?
Scrap paper — usually a little scribble from my daughter or a plane ticket.

Write/highlight in book or leave it pristine?
Maaaaybe write in pencil, but not usually. I like to loan out books, so notes feel too personal to me.

Worst book habit?
Not finishing them in a timely manner! I either finish a book within a couple days, or it takes me months and months, haha!
BookQuotes28
KelseyBaldwinHeadshot3Kelsey Baldwin is an author, designer, and entrepreneur. She runs Paper + Oats, an online blog and resource for creative entrepreneurs looking to do business on their own terms. She helps fellow creatives organize, design, and market their digital products, so they can share what they know, and look good doing it. As a single mother, she is also an advocate for women learning to sustain themselves and gain independence through online business. Her first book – Strong Girl, Brave Girl – chronicles her journey through divorce while being pregnant, and is now available on Amazon. She lives in Missouri with her daughter and dog, forever in search of their next ice cream cone.

 

You Oughta Know: That’s Not What Happened by Kody Keplinger

Happy Friday Eve, Shelfies! Today I’m featuring another book I discovered at the Miami Book Fair (was this a fruitful event or what? My TBR pile is crying for mercy!), this time a Young Adult book. Like the others, I’d never heard of it before I stepped foot on Miami Dade College’s campus for this event. This book comes with a trigger warning for all my Highly Sensitive People (HSPs). 

During my time at the Miami Book Fair, I got the opportunity to catch up with my friend and By Her Shelf Contributor Alex, who lives and teaches in Miami. Alex was there with her book club, who had researched and planned for the fair down to bringing a rolling suitcase full of books to be signed by their favorite authors. Their primary focus was YA panels/authors, so I saw Alex in passing, but we did meet up and go to one panel together: Truth in Troubled Times: YA Heroes Speak Up. Kody Keplinger, author of That’s Not What Happened was on this panel. Alex and I were a little late, but the portion of the discussion I caught piqued my interest in Kody’s book.

That's Not What Happened

That’s Not What Happened is set three years after a school shooting. One of the shooting victims, Sarah, has become a martyr, as everyone knows she died proclaiming her faith. Or do they? Sarah’s best friend, who was there when she died, claims this isn’t true. The best friend struggles with her desire to tell the truth in the face of the potential consequences.

I’m adamant about one thing when it comes to reading: if a book has an intriguing premise, I pay little to no attention to the genre. This book’s premise definitely hooked me. When Columbine happened in 1999, I was week’s away from my last summer vacation before I started high school. I vividly remember the news reports Surrounding the shooting. Americans weren’t used to mass shootings at schools. We weren’t in danger of becoming desensitized to this level of violence.

I was one of those teens who bought a copy of She Said Yes: The Unlikely Marytrdom of Cassie Bernall. Bernall was one of the victims in the Columbine shooting who early reports claimed was killed after responding “yes” to one of the shooters when asked if she believed in God. The book was written by her mother, Misty Bernall. Cassie’s friend, who was next to her when she was shot, told a different story.

It’s clear the seed of the idea for the plot of this book came from Columbine, but according to what I gleaned from Keplinger’s comments during the panel, her book is more concerned with how the media covers tragedy, creates “inspiration porn” from survivors stories, and most importantly, how the stories of those involved in these tragedies get distorted in that lens. It’s also about having the courage to speak up. This book was written before the Parkland tragedy, but Keplinger said she was amazed by the way many of those students have stood up and used their voices in the wake of the tragedy. I’m sure my experience of Columbine when I was in the age group of the victims, and more recent school shootings will influence my reading of this book. It will be interesting to see the differences in how Columbine was handled versus how the events of this book are handled 17 or 18 years later in a very different America.

If an examination of what happens in the aftermath of a mass shooting tragedy, the struggle of a teenager trying to speak up and tell the truth when others would prefer she didn’t, or an examination of how our current culture packages tragedy for distribution sounds like something you’d be interested in, then you might want to give That’s Not What Happened a try.

Your Turn: Are you a Highly Sensitive Person? How does this effect your reading life? What iconic event in your lifetime impacts how you view fiction on a related subject?

Note: There could be things I’m not remembering about this book that could be a trigger or turn off for some readers. I haven’t had a chance to read this one myself or spend time discussing it with the author, and when it comes to books, I’m usually OK with material that would be triggering to others, so I can’t guarantee I did the best job identifying the major ones.

Another Small Step and Giant Leap: Podcast Update

Happy Hump Day, Shelfies! Tomorrow, I’ll return to books I discovered during the Miami Book Fair, this time with a Young Adult (YA) selection from a panel. Today, I wanted to update everyone on the By Her Shelf Podcast. So much has happened since I announced my idea to start a podcast 40ish days ago. If you’re interested in how the podcast sausage is made, keep reading. 

On November 2, 2018, I announced I had taken the first step to creating and launching the By Her Shelf Podcast (read all about it here). What happened after I bought the microphone? SO. MANY. THINGS! If you’re thinking of starting your own podcast, here’s what I’ve done to move toward my goal, and what I have left to do.

  • I emailed people I know/have worked with to be potential guests first. Starting with people I knew who were very likely to say yes was a great confidence booster and guaranteed I had at least a few guests. I also made sure to email one person who was a target guest, someone I knew online and occasionally interact with, but who wasn’t guaranteed a yes from. I’ll try a reach guest (or dream guest) once I have more episodes under my belt. I can share more about the content of this email with those who want to know.
  • I signed up for Zoom. I needed to find a good platform to record interviews with people who aren’t in my area. Some people suggested Skype, but through research I found Zoom was easy for me and guests to use and free for what I need it for.
  • I scheduled interviews with those who agreed to be on the show. 
  • I emailed the scheduled guest a Guest Prep Email. I emailed my guest an email before their scheduled show with a brief summary of the show’s premise, preliminary questions (things I like to know about guests before I interview them), questions they might want to think about and prepare an answer for in advance, and a list of things I need from them for promo (bio, picture, etc.). I can also share more about this if anyone is interested.
  • I tested my software, equipment, and “show flow.” Fellow BHS contributor Christina and I recorded a test episode to get rid of some of the butterflies and plan for some worst case scenarios (my enneagram 6 is showing, lol).
  • I researched and found possible theme music. 
  • I researched my guest. I checked her social media, website, books, and etc.
  • I prepared a one page cliff note for the interview. This page included the guest’s bio, questions to ask, and useful bits of information that I can use to follow a line of discussion.
  • I spoke with my guest for a few minutes before hitting record. Although I follow her on social media, I had never spoken to my guest before. I used the first couple minutes to get the jitters out and connect with her a little bit before we started recording.
  • I remembered to press record!
  • I spent a couple minutes after the interview thanking my guest and letting her know my favorite thing we were able to talk about. 
  • I realized I forgot to have her share where listeners can connect with her. Ugh. You live and try and learn to do better the next time.

Here’s what I have left to do with this episode:

  • Write show notes, including all relevant links.
  • Name the episode.
  • Create episode graphic.
  • Prep the newsletter for the episode.
  • edit and upload the episode.
  • Add theme music.
  • Work on preparing show for iTunes.

There are several things here I can elaborate on, and more to tell, but this is the basic gist of what’s going on with the podcast. I have another interview scheduled for Friday, more to schedule, and more emails to send. I want to be able to release a few episodes when the podcast launches, which will be early next year.

Your Turn: What reading/book related podcasts do you listen to? What would you like to hear on a book related podcast? What should I avoid?

Want to be a guest? Fill out the guest form here, email byhershelf@gmail.com, or leave a comment and I’ll get back to you!

 

Get in My Kindle: Meet Cute by Helena Hunting

Happy Tuesday, Shelfies! I’m interrupting my regularly scheduled programming (Highlighting books you oughta know from the Miami Book Fair) to bring you this special Get in My Kindle bulletin. If you’re a fan of romantic comedies that could win trope bingo blindfolded, read on. If not, I promise a more literary book will be highlighted…eventually.  

Title: Meet Cute Meet Cute

Author: Helena Hunting

Release Date: April 9, 2019

Description: Kailyn Flowers was always calm, rational, and controlled-until she ended up sprawled all over Daxton Hughes, the former actor she totally crushed on as a teenager. Then she did the unthinkable: She became a mortifying fangirl in five seconds flat, which may or may not have included professing her undying love. And oddly, he didn’t run away. In fact, their meet cute led to a friendship she never saw coming. Of course, she never saw his betrayal coming, either…

Now Dax needs her help. As guardian to his thirteen-year-old sister, he’s in way over his head. And though Kailyn hasn’t forgiven Dax, she isn’t heartless enough to make him fend for himself, either. Soon their friendly meetings turn into flirty dinner dates, and Kailyn can feel their chemistry is as explosive as ever. But how can she possibly let down her guard again to a guy who has heartbreak written all over him?

Why I Can’t Wait to Read: How cute is this cover? Even though I know you can’t judge a book by its cover, you have to admit this cover kind of nails it for a romantic comedy. I am a rom-com super fan. I will watch or read most offerings in the genre. What can I say; I LOVE love. But there are a couple things that make this particular rom-com my special brand of candy: second chance romance, friends to enemies to lovers, a potential smart mouthed teen, and, from the other description I read, a conflict between love and career. Sign me up!

Affiliate Links:

Paperback:
//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ss&ref=as_ss_li_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=ericadhearns-20&language=en_US&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=1538760185&asins=1538760185&linkId=88cb6d765fa71e4b827f1fbb3aa485b6&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true

Kindle: 
//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ss&ref=as_ss_li_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=ericadhearns-20&language=en_US&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B07G73X7H2&asins=B07G73X7H2&linkId=18c2474dd99e578187cb80e87622d209&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=true

Your Turn: Meet cutes–love them or hate them? Do you share my love of a good rom-com? Share your favorites with me below!

You Oughta Know: One Person, No Vote

Happy Monday, Shelfies. Today’s post is the second in my little series of Miami Book Fair highlights. It’s about one of my favorite parts of the fair. Enjoy!

After the Exchange for Change presentation I chronicled in my previous post, I was in great spirits for my next stop: a panel featuring National Book Award Finalists in Non-fiction. While all three authors and books were phenomenal and deserve their own spotlight, Dr. Carol Anderson and her book, One Person, No Vote, stood out to me the most. Dr. Anderson is a dynamic, engaging speaker, and her book, while political, tells the story of a moment in time with passion and vivid detail I didn’t expect from the genre.

One Person, No Vote

One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression is Destroying Our Democracy focuses on

the rollbacks to African American participation in the vote since the 2013 Supreme Court decision that eviscerated the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Anderson explains how voter suppression works, charts the passing and enacting of voter suppression laws since this ruling (known as the Shelby ruling), and explores the activism and organizing geared toward restoring the basic right to vote to all Americans in the lead up to the 2018 mid-term elections.

Since this talk was occurring shortly after the midterm elections had taken place (though Florida was still doing recounts. Sigh), Dr. Anderson’s book opened the discussion. Dr. Anderson’s opening was good; so good, in fact, the whole room burst into spontaneous applause after she read a passage from her book detailing the 2017 special senate election in Alabama.

I have to be honest: when I first heard the title of this book, I groaned inwardly. I was (and am) suffering from political news fatigue. I’m not an activist; in fact, I ended up in a heated discussion around the 2016 election because I said I had no intention of marching or protesting. I read books to escape into fictional worlds, deep dive into intimate stories of someone’s life, and learn something new, not to ingest more of the distressing political climate. Add to my political news fatigue the fact most books on history, even recent history, give me unpleasant flashbacks to a horrible Honors American History class that nearly shattered my liking of the subject, and you have a huge bowl of No Thanks I’ll Pass.

However, there were a few things about Dr. Anderson’s book that made me buy a copy.

1)Her writing style. She didn’t write the dry political discourse I was expecting, but a nuanced look at an issue that isn’t being openly addressed. As someone who’s been named a Guggenheim Fellow in Constitutional Studies, and is the chair of African American Studies at Emory, Dr. Anderson knows this subject. She has the intellectual pedigree to write intelligently on voter suppression, but more importantly, she has the skill to bring to life the personalities and events shaping this discussion. She found the story, and she tells it well.

2) As a citizen of the United States who regularly exercises my right to vote, I was appalled at all the things I didn’t know were being used to hinder others from doing the same. I had no idea the Shelby ruling had such an impact on the protections afforded under the Voting Rights Act. I have family members in the states she cited as habitual offenders when it comes to voter suppression. I’ve heard them complain about many of the things she wrote in her book, but I never thought of these inconveniences as voter suppression. As Dr. Anderson pointed out, many of the tactics used are worded or presented to seem perfectly reasonable until you step back and see the intended effect. As someone who hates being uninformed, especially about one of my constitutional rights, I felt compelled to by this book and educate myself on what’s happening.

If you’re interested in constitutional law, voter suppression, politics, or one of the major issues that influenced the recent mid-term elections, Dr. Anderson’s book might be a good starting place. You can grab a copy at the links below.

Kindle:

Hardcover:

 

Paperback:

Your Turn: Have you read a book on a topic or in a genre you usually avoid? Were you pleased with your decision or did you regret it?

You Oughta Know: Don’t Shake the Spoon Literary Journal

On November 17th, I got to attend the Miami Book Fair for the first time. I didn’t get toDon't Shake the Spoon spend nearly as much time exploring and attending talks as I would have liked, but I’m profiling a couple of the sessions I attended and books I came across during my brief day experiencing the fair. As I’ve been processing everything I was exposed to and thinking of how I wanted to share it, the first thing I knew I had to share, the thing I wanted everyone who didn’t experience it to know about, was Exchange for Change and their literary journal, Don’t Shake the Spoon.

Before hearing about them at the Miami Book Fair, I didn’t know Exchange for Change existed. If you’re similarly unaware, here’s the description of the program from their website:

The nonprofit Exchange for Change teaches writing in prisons and runs letter exchanges between incarcerated students and writers studying on the outside.

Through this program, many inmates are learning to express themselves and wield the power of the written word. I’m absolutely here for a program that brings the power and dignity of being able to express yourself and share your story to those who might have never known that power.

Don’t Shake the Spoon is a literary journal filled with poems, essays and stories produced in the courses taught by Exchange for Change. They are currently selling their first volume, which I immediately purchased after hearing several pieces performed by guest speakers and volunteers. Listening to the pieces read at the fair and reading through the pieces in the journal, I’m struck all over again at the immense amount of talent existing within people that many have gone their whole lives not realizing they have. I walked away wanting to do something to facilitate this exchange of words and world views, to cultivate a conversation about our justice system, and to just be a part of something that can change someone’s perception of their freedom even in imprisonment.

I’m not attempting to argue about the how’s and why’s of people ending up in prison. I realize the conversations around rehabilitation and prison reform are much broader and nuanced than a simple post can address, and the answers much more complicated than the questions make them seem. What I am attempting to do is to shed a little light on what I think is an amazing literary journal, and an amazing endeavor undertaken by Exchange for Change.

If you’re interested in own voices, then I suggest you give this journal a try. If you’re in the Miami Area and are interested in seeing the students perform their original works at one of the upcoming graduations, or you want to get involved with Exchange for Change, please visit their website.

Stay tuned to find out how one session with National Book Award Non-Fiction Finalists piqued my interest in a topic that usually leaves me with extreme fatigue.

Your Turn: What wonderful book have you recently stumbled upon? Share it in the comments!