I have such hopes for my summer reading. And after a sluggish start earlier this year, I am thrilled to announce, I feel back on track. Largely reading graphic books for my soul, I’m breezing through the world of illustrated words. My mother works in a school and I always send my favorite book list back to her to order for the school library. Not that I needed a rationale for why I read so many children’s books, but that’s just a good incentive.

2016 book lists: here, here and here and here’s how I began 2017

Books in red are for children (varying ages), so if you’re an adult into only adult books skip to the darker black titles instead. 

2017 Summer Reading List: What Have You Been Reading?

2017 Summer-Reading-List-What-Have-You-Been-Reading

Crushing on this bookshelf as we’re looking for another one at home.

1. The High Street, Alice Melvin

She’s my new favorite illustrator. Of course Alice Melvin is highly celebrated and doesn’t need me to give her points, but I can’t appreciate her enough. She has the most amazing details in her illustrations and creates a whole new fascinating world for the readers.

2. The Witch’s Walking Stick, Susan Meddaugh

The story is okay, but the illustrations are fabulous! I love the watercolor and ink details and spent a ton of time on each character because it was so nicely done.

3. Captain Abdul’s Little Treasure, Colin McNaughton

Firstly, it’s a relief to read oriental sounding names in a western sounding book. The language is really fun and the book also comes with a story CD that makes for a wonderful hear. I like the super rich illustrations but personally that’ll perhaps never be my drawing style. It’s rich and dense.

4. The Octopuppy, Martin McKenna

I think the book has its heart in the right place, but it’s nothing that I will remember forever. So one of those quick, easy reads.

5. Reunion, Pascal Girard

I had this book along when I went to get my hair done at the salon. It’s one of these fast reads that feels a bit voyeuristic.

6. An Unreliable History of Tattoos, Paul Thomas

Very detailed illustrations, wacky storytelling but less compelling than I had hoped it would be.

7. Sam Gabel and the Magic Pen, Dylan Horrocks

I could not finish it mindfully because it felt so unnecessarily racy. Maybe I am just not the right audience for this type of graphical work.

8. Rosalie Lighting, Tom Hart

There’s very few people who can genuinely create something so moving and talk about the loss of a child. This really is phenomenal work and as I read it, I felt it had some big Japanese influences. It reminded me of Spirited Away. It’ll be an absolute dream to attend some of Hart’s workshops.

9. Secrets I know, Kallie George and Paola Zakimi

It’s a book with beautiful illustrations and a big heart. After all, you can add sweetness in tea with sunshine. What’s not to love? It made me so happy. And Paola Zakimi, I love your art. I do.

10. A Hat for Mrs. Goldman: A Story about Knitting and Love, Michelle Edwards and G. Brian Karas

There are no shortcuts for kindness and empathy. Both age well. This is a heartwarming story of empathy and such a beautiful read-aloud for kids when you’re trying to teach them something about life and giving. Edwards has written a ton of essays on knitting and keeps her love for the art alive in this little big book.

11. Things to do, Elaine Magliaro and Catia Chien

It’s a very important book for the reason that we’re increasingly raising children in a world of busy. Boredom is seen as the enemy instead of being a space for generating creativity. Whenever a child (or an adult) says, I’m bored, they’re not applying themselves. This book is the antidote. There are so many things to do, so much beauty to take in. I was particularly inclined to take a photo of the Elaine’s author bio in the end. She’s a grandmother who’s worked as a teacher for three decades before she published this beauty. I want to share this with more women of her age who become invisible. I want to make a note for my future self, that there’s so much creativity within us. Chien’s illustrations are lovely.

12. The Riddlemaster, by Kevin Crossley-Holland and Stéphane Jorisch

It reminded me of the questions set up by the Yaksha for Yudhistra in Mahabharata. These questions are naturally less complex but they’re deeply profound in their simplicity. I especially like treasure the children discover after they solve the riddles. The illustrations feel like fine art adding a great finesse to the whole project.

13. Adrift: An Odd Couple of Polar Bears, Jessica Olien

We need this book for our world. We need to teach ourselves and our kids that you don’t need to be like the other person to be able to appreciate them.

14. Story genius, Lisa Cron

I’d been wanting to try this book out for a while and it took me longer than I expected. I have to admit that this isn’t a book that you can just read. This is a book that is like a text book. It forces you to work as you read. I’m glad I went through the exercises, although I do believe it needs you to constantly work to make the method muscle memory.

15. Of gardens and graves, Suvir Kaul

Immediately after reading this book, I wrote to Mr Kaul and he responded too. I was amazed at how strongly your mother tongue can move you. This is a book that’s very much an outside-in narrative because the author himself wasn’t in the valley in 1990. But he’s perhaps spent more time there since the migration than most of us, giving him a very unique perspective of the post 1990 world. The poetry is so disconnected to what I’m used to. And it’s also clear how vastly disjointed experiences on either side have been.

16. Amusing ourselves to death, Neil Postman

It’s shocking and profound if you’re new to the media industry. Since I do not belong to the category, I found it a bit “old.”

17. Kashmiri Phrases and Proverbs by J Hinton Knowles

This book is a true gem. I am amazed that so many old phrases and proverbs are still alive.

18. Fireboat, Maira Kalman

If there was ever a book that I wanted to write, this is it. It’s so local, unique and still carries such a strong universal emotion that it’s uplifting even if you don’t belong to that time frame. Maira Kalman’s work is magic.

19. A Child of Books, Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston

An ode to old English classics, this is a book for keeps. It deserves to be on the list of the top 100 beautifully designed books in the recent years. The illustrations are exceptional.

20. 100 Ways to Happy Chic Your Life, Jonathan Adler

I’m obsessed with Jonathan Adler. I really am. Not sure if I can afford his designs, but his book is a riot of design and chic life ideas that I wanted to make it into a reminder book. I want to keep checking it as if he’s my personal design coach. Such an easy and delightful read.

What are you reading these days?

Currently reading: The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, Julia Cameron ; A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle and a ton more children’s books.

Upasna Kakroo

Upasna is a published author and has been blogging since 2003. She solves marketing challenges by the day and sketches every night. Her children's books, illustrations and other creative products are available on this site for browsing & purchases. She currently lives in Plymouth, Michigan, in the United states.


Y · June 16, 2017 at 02:29

This is so inspiring! Also, Maira Kalman is truly magical 🙂

My really boring half yearly reading list here: http://yaminigirey.co/2017/06/16/what-have-i-been-reading-i/

    Upasna Kakroo · June 16, 2017 at 13:25

    I feel like I almost cheat with my lists because the children’s books are such quick reads. I also feel that I’ve exhausted all “adult” reading in my childhood. Your list is so inspiring! I need a sabbatical to read and enjoy them 🙂

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