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Books That Will Open Your Heart (and probably make you cry)

By Amy Love, Secret Book Stuff

Love Stories by Trent Dalton 

Just as NSW lockdown was ending, a new book by one of Australia’s best-loved writers hit the shelves. I had promised myself I would hold onto that delicious, slower pace of life, even when things started heating up again – you know, when streets were busier and people more frantic and the pressure of life ramped up. Love Stories by Trent Dalton has been my salvation. It’s a collection of … yes, you guessed it… stories about love. For the past few weeks, I have committed to sitting on the front veranda with my morning coffee and reading just one story. A moment of slow among the hectic-ness of this time of year. Honestly, it’s tough to stop at just one. But I’m savouring the words, the emotions, the raw truths told. Trent sat on a street corner in Brisbane for two months earlier in 2021, and asked people to tell him love stories. The result is this beautiful hardcover book. Every single story makes me cry – so be prepared.

Betty by Tiffany McDaniel

I have raved about this book on Instagram for months now, and it was recommended to me by one of my favourite fellow booksellers. A warning: Betty by Tiffany McDaniel made me weep so loud that my neighbour popped his head over the fence to see what all the fuss was about. This book completely undid me. I adored it. The author’s mother, Betty, was born in a bathtub in 1954 to a Cherokee father and white mother, the sixth of eight siblings. It’s a story of poverty, racism, violence and cruelty (stay with me… it’s not all dark, I promise!) but also the power of words, stories, and spirituality. Tiffany has fictionalised her mother’s life into novel form, based on what she knows of how she grew up, and the result is stunning. My absolute favourite thing is the relationship between Betty and her father, who teaches her the ways of the world through Native American spirituality and connection to nature. So, I guess when I said this was a list of books that will open your heart – I really meant, books that will rip your heart out and sew it back together again.

Atlas of the Heart by Brene Brown

How could I write this list without mentioning the incredible Brene Brown? Her brand new book, Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience, is all about the 87 human emotions and experiences that define us. What does it mean to be human? A question I legit ask myself every day, and Brene answers so thoughtfully, lovingly, in this book. She says, ‘I want this book to be an atlas for all of us, because I believe that, with an adventurous heart and the right maps, we can travel anywhere and never fear losing ourselves.’ Hook, line, sinker. 

Amy Love is the founder of Secret Book Stuff, a social enterprise and online store celebrating books and reading, which she runs with her partner, Laura. Tell them what you like to read, and they’ll find your perfect (bookish) match at secretbookstuff.com. You can find Amy at @secretbookstuff and @helloamzlove

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