A Book about an Issue that is Important to You: Picks for the TPL Reading Challenge 2022

September 6, 2022 | Lucas

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Picking books for this category was challenging because there are so many issues that are important to me! Some issues that come to mind are waste reduction, climate change, time management, conflict, poverty, healthcare, inequality and human rights. Issues that are important for one person may be different for another. This post includes recommendations from me, TPL staff and members of our TPL Reading Challenge Facebook Group.

My recommendations

Visible Mending by Arounna Khounnoraj

Visible Mending: Repair, Renew, Reuse the Clothes You Love by Arounna Khounnoraj

I have thrown out many pairs of jeans because they were worn out from chaffing, but I never wanted to let go of those beloved jeans, especially if they fit really well! I also felt guilty about having to throw away a shirt because it had a small hole. I had a friend mend a pair of jeans that I could not let go of and I was impressed at how well my jeans looked and fit! Mending helps keep clothes out of landfill, saves money, and lets you wear the things you love for longer. This handy book introduces different mending techniques that can be used by people of any skill level.  

The Comic Book Guide to Growing Food by Joseph Tychonievich

The Comic Book Guide to Growing Food: Step-by-Step Vegetable Gardening for Everyone by Joseph Tychonievich

A fantastic beginner's guide to gardening with beautiful illustrations. It is packed full of so much information for visual learners like me! 

The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll

The Bullet Journal Method: Track the Past, Order the Present, Design the Future by Ryder Carroll 

This book taught me to write everything down and to track only the things that are meaningful in my life. Without this method, my life would be disorganized and I wouldn't be able to focus on tasks that need to get done. When I think of bullet journals, I think of artistically detailed books, but the core of the method is really simple – write everything down in a bullet-point list! 


Staff Recommendations

These books were recommended by other library staff.

Stolen Focus by Johann Hari

Stolen Focus: Why You Can't Pay Attention–and How to Think Deeply Again by Johann Hari

Hari takes a deep dive into where our attention is going. He explores how we as individuals can mediate our device engagement. He also considers how broader issues like pollution and surveillance capitalism keep us hooked and cause our attention to shift. The blend of personal stories and information from field experts in various fields creates a picture of our world when our attention goes missing.

– Mallory, Librarian

The Creep by Michael Lapointe

The Creep  by Michael LaPointe

This thrilling neo-noir takes place in the world of journalism and operates at the intersection of our increasingly unequal world's most pressing problems. The title is a verb, not a noun, speaking to our gradual drift from a fact-based media landscape to a fictional hall of mirrors. Along the way, the novel explores the death of print, the rapaciousness of housing speculation, and the disposability of the underclass, while offering a page-turning story about a journalistic investigation that goes terribly wrong.

– Kasey, Librarian


Never Silent by Peter Staley

Never Silent: ACT UP and My Life in Activism by Peter Staley

This book is a testament to how activists can make change. I first heard of Peter Staley through the documentary, "How to Survive a Plague". This memoir covers a lot of the same information but with a lot less medical knowledge needed to understand the issues. Peter talks about the early years of the AIDS pandemic and provides hope and inspiration to those continuing to work and fight to end homophobia and this epidemic.

– Anonymous

Prison by Any Other Name by Maya Schenwar and Victoria Law

Prison by Any Other Name by Maya Schenwar and Victoria Law

Although focused on the US, this book is an eye-opening examination of how popular attempts to reform and improve prison systems have the same (if not worse) negative impacts on people, families, and communities touched by the carceral system. A useful follow-up to Angela Y. Davis' classic Are Prisons Obsolete.

– Anonymous

 Radical Kindness by Angela C. Santomero
Radical Kindness: The Life-Changing Power of Giving and Receiving by Angela C. Santomero

“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” —The 14th Dalai Lama. We have 525600 minutes a year to choose kindness. It is not always easy. This book helped me understand a broader definition of kindness and includes suggestions at the end to practice and remember to be kind to yourself!

– Lisa, Director

Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad

Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor by Layla F. Saad

The title is available in many formats and a youth version too. It is a practical workbook for everyone to work through at their own pace as they reflect and consider how we work and live with each other. I read the title when it came out in 2020 and it continues to make me pause and reconsider how to proceed when working through new opportunities or reframing a challenge.

– Lisa, Director

Rule Makers  Rule Breakers by Michele Gelfand

Rule Makers, Rule Breakers: How Tight and Loose Cultures Wire Our World by Michele J. Gelfland

The lessons about tight and loose cultures is an interesting way to think about the relationships in our lives. We may be tight in some areas and loose in others, how can we work and live with others whose comfort zones are different than ours?

– Lisa, Director

March  Book One by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin

March by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell

This graphic novel trilogy is the biography of civil rights icon and congressman John Lewis. Lewis became an activist as a student in part because he'd read a comic book about Martin Luther King. He wanted to create a memoir about the civil rights movement that would inspire others the way that book had inspired him. It's heartbreaking and not always easy to read. Lewis and the Freedom Riders were committed to non-violence but those they encountered were not. He suffered a skull fracture on Bloody Sunday at the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

It's a powerful work sharing Lewis' message that sometimes "good trouble, necessary trouble" is required to defeat injustice.

– Margaret, Librarian

How Beautiful We Were by Imbolo Mbue

How Beautiful We Were by Imbolo Mbue

This novel explores the pressing issues and adverse effects of imperialism and corporate colonialism on humanity and nature. As well as the personal dilemmas of generational trauma and perseverance. I appreciate the global relevance of this interwoven story on personal and planetary healing and urgent calls to action on how important it is to understand and listen to Indigenous leaders on the toxic roots of our issues including the health of the land itself <3.

– Kejo, Librarian

A Garden for the Rusty-Patched Bumblebee by Lorraine Johnson and Sheila Colla

A Garden for the Rusty-Patched Bumblebee by Lorraine Johnson and Sheila Colla

This book is a great guide to help anyone learn more about plants that are native to this part of Ontario and why it is important to plant native species. I'm spending a lot of time learning about native plants, and what I can do to support pollinators. I planted quite a few native plants recently, and I have noticed that my garden is always buzzing with fun and happy bumblebees of various sizes. I love them!

– Nalini, Senior Department Head


French Recommendations

If you like to read in French, check out the list of recommended books for "Un sujet qui vous tient à coeur" – there's a mix of books, ebooks and digital audiobooks to try!

Recommendations from the Facebook Group

These are some of the suggested titles from our Facebook TPL Reading Challenge 2022 discussion group:

You can read all of the responses in the original post. You do not need a Facebook account to read the suggestions.