How to Make a Bird by Meg McKinlay, illustrated by Matt Ottley
This beautifully poetic picture book is an ode to creating and letting go: “Breathe deeply / and take your time. / The making of a bird / is not a thing to be hurried.”
Or maybe it’s about giving and releasing: “So you will gather it into your hands / and cast it gently upon the air. / Those wings you so carefully made / will stretch out just a little, / and your bird will tremble / as it fills, inside its tiny, racing heart, / with the dreams only a bird can dream…”
Some might say Bird is really a book for grownups. (I challenge you to read it and not think about an empty nest.) But I say it’s bigger than that: Children should hear lovely language, too, even if it’s elevated, and stories can expose them to abstract concepts they might not grasp yet. Why not? Poetry is an experience, and this book is just that.
Lovely. Definitely worth a read.
Everything Sad is Untrue by Daniel Nayeri
If you will listen, I will tell you a story. We can know and be known to each other, and then we’re not enemies anymore.
I’m late to this award-winning, star-earning wonder of a YA autobiography. Wow. What an ambitious and beautiful and funny and heartbreaking and hopeful book. Daniel and his family flee Iran because of religious persecution after his mother, a Christian convert, is detained by the secret police. They eventually settle in Oklahoma — a world away from everything Daniel’s known. The book is a non-linear collection of stories: his family history interwoven with Persian history interwoven with memories in a new world that isn’t always welcoming. Daniel tells his stories to the reader as Scheherazade told her stories to the king in One Thousand and One Nights. The book has one of the simplest and most heartfelt descriptions of Christianity I’ve ever read:
Sima, my mom, read about him [Jesus] and became a Christian too. Not just a regular one, who keeps it in their pocket. She fell in love. She wanted everybody to have what she had, to be free, to realize that in other religions you have rules and codes and obligations to follow to earn good things, but all you had to do with Jesus was believe he was the one who died for you.
And she believed.
80/20 Running: Run Stronger and Race Faster by Training Slower by Matt Fitzgerald
I’ve been running for almost twenty years now — nothing fancy or fast, just ten or so miles split over two days (with a few laps at the gym thrown in). I’ve tried various ways to improve my speed over the years (which pretty much peaked when I turned forty), and have tried to be better about varying the types of runs I do (high intensity, intervals, slow, distance, etc.), but, well, I always seem to pretty much settle into the same distance and pace — a pace that perhaps isn’t doing me any favors. The last few races I ran left me really zonked. I’ve been curious about bettering my running base.
In January I did low heart-rate training, which meant I “ran” at a pace so slow my fitness tracker would buzz to ask if I was still exercising! But I learned so much. I felt like I could keep running for hours, I was so energized. I realized my standard pace is wearing me out, and I wanted to help my body be more efficient. Enter 80/20 running. This is a training method most endurance athletes use, whether they realize it or not. The idea is that 80% of training miles are at an easy pace and the other 20% at medium to high intensity. By easing back you build endurance, cut back on fatigue, and increase aerobic capacity. Sign me up for that!
What have you been reading lately?