The best books to help process big emotions

Kindra Neely Author Of Numb to This: Memoir of a Mass Shooting
By Kindra Neely

Who am I?

I’m deeply passionate about helping others find ways to work through their emotions. After surviving a mass shooting in 2015 the first place I turned to was the library. I quickly found myself frustrated and lacking when I couldn’t find books to help me understand what I was going through and what to expect next. It was terribly discouraging as I found it difficult to express myself to my loved ones. When I started to find books like the ones on this list, it opened a world to me that I had to be a part of – books that help people process difficult emotions. 


I wrote...

Numb to This: Memoir of a Mass Shooting

By Kindra Neely,

Book cover of Numb to This: Memoir of a Mass Shooting

What is my book about?

Kindra Neely never expected it to happen to her. No one does. Sure, she’d sometimes been close to gun violence, like when the house down the street from her childhood home in Texas was targeted in a drive-by shooting. But now she lived in Oregon, where she spent her time swimming in rivers with friends or attending classes at the bucolic Umpqua Community College.

And then, one day, it happened: a mass shooting shattered her college campus. Over the span of a few minutes, on October 1, 2015, eight students and a professor lost their lives. And suddenly, Kindra became a survivor. This empathetic and ultimately hopeful graphic memoir recounts Kindra’s journey forward from those few minutes that changed everything. 

The books I picked & why

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The Magic Fish

By Trung Le Nguyen,

Book cover of The Magic Fish

Why this book?

The Magic Fish felt like a beautiful stain glass window into the life of first-generation immigrants. Every time I pick it up, I read it straight through and from that first read it has had a permanent place on the shelf of books I have to pull from for inspiration or to recommend. I think it uniquely captures this experience in a way that is so personable, it’s impossible not to like. When the characters found a way to communicate through stories it felt like a triumph. 

The Magic Fish

By Trung Le Nguyen,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Magic Fish as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Where We Live: Las Vegas Shooting Benefit Anthology

By Mike Allred, Brian Michael Bendis, Ivan Brandon, Kurt Busiek, Amy Chu, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Neil Gaiman, Kieron Gillen, Mike Mignola, Mark Millar, Greg Pak, James Robinson, Gail Simone, Brandon Graham, Rob Williams

Book cover of Where We Live: Las Vegas Shooting Benefit Anthology

Why this book?

I won’t lie, this is a difficult one for me to get through having survived a mass shooting myself. As an anthology, it serves as a powerful testimony to the survivors of the 2017 Las Vegas shooting which took the lives of 60. What I think is unique about this anthology is that several artists and authors collaborated on pieces that share social perceptions on a myriad of issues surrounding mass shootings in the U.S. Where We Live serves as a near time capsule dedicated to the effects of the deadliest single incident mass shooting.  

Where We Live: Las Vegas Shooting Benefit Anthology

By Mike Allred, Brian Michael Bendis, Ivan Brandon, Kurt Busiek, Amy Chu, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Neil Gaiman, Kieron Gillen, Mike Mignola, Mark Millar, Greg Pak, James Robinson, Gail Simone, Brandon Graham, Rob Williams

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Where We Live as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On October 1, 2017, Las Vegas, Nevada suffered the worst mass shooting in modern American history, resulting in 58 deaths and over 500 injured. It broke my heart. Las Vegas is my home. I felt like something needed to be done to help in a unique way." - JH WILLIAMS III, Artist & Curating Editor

This "unique way" was the genesis of the WHERE WE LIVE anthology-a riveting collection of both fictional stories and actual eye-witness accounts told by an all-star line-up of the top talent working in comics today. All the creators have graciously volunteered their time and talent…

Spinning

By Tillie Walden,

Book cover of Spinning

Why this book?

I received a copy of Spinning as a birthday gift a few years ago. It’s always great to get a book from a friend that they personally pick out for you based on what they think you’ll like. I find this to be one of the most relatable memoirs that I’ve picked up in the last few years. I think the author’s experiences – although unique to their life – speaks deeply to many young women growing up with the pressure to embody the ideal of their gender and the punishing isolation that can come from those expectations. I return to this title often, when I feel a lack of courage to be myself, and it reminds me that fitting into those expectations will not rid me of whatever insecurities or discomfort I feel.

Spinning

By Tillie Walden,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Spinning as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


The Wendy Project

By Melissa Jane Osborne, Veronica Fish (illustrator),

Book cover of The Wendy Project

Why this book?

Although shorter than the other books on my list, I think the story and art is none the less impactful. The Wendy Project deals with grief, especially grief in younger readers with a gentle understanding. I loved the unique approach to the whole book as well. The book is the journal of the main character Wendy, who receives it and starts to draw in it during the events of the story. I found The Wendy Project in my hands at a time when I was struggling to acknowledge my own grief, and it certainly nudged me to face it.  

The Wendy Project

By Melissa Jane Osborne, Veronica Fish (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Wendy Project as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

16-year-old Wendy Davies crashes her car into a lake on a late summer night in New England with her two younger brothers in the backseat. When she wakes in the hospital, she is told that her youngest brother, Michael, is dead. Wendy, once a rational teenager, shocks her family by insisting that Michael is alive and in the custody of a mysterious flying boy. Placed in a new school, Wendy negotiates fantasy and reality as students and adults around her resemble characters from Neverland. Given a sketchbook by her therapist, Wendy starts to draw. But is The Wendy Project merely…

Heartstopper: A Graphic Novel: Volume 1

By Alice Oseman,

Book cover of Heartstopper: A Graphic Novel: Volume 1

Why this book?

As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I would recommend Heartstopper to any person of any age who is questioning or has family or loved ones who are questioning. What speaks to me most is that while the characters are going through the throws of discovering themselves and dealing with the unpleasant aspects of bullying, they are surrounded by friends and family that love and support them. Struggles are often met with healthy solutions, though not forced upon the characters. I think this is a beautiful and delicate work that shows the freedom and happiness that comes with not only loving others, but yourself. 

Heartstopper: A Graphic Novel: Volume 1

By Alice Oseman,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Heartstopper as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*Now an acclaimed live-action Netflix series!* Boy meets boy. Boys become friends. Boys fall in love. A bestselling LGBTQ+ graphic novel about life, love, and everything that happens in between.

'Absolutely delightful. Sweet, romantic, kind. Beautifully paced. I loved this book.' RAINBOW ROWELL, author of Carry On

Charlie and Nick are at the same school, but they've never met ... until one day when they're made to sit together. They quickly become friends, and soon Charlie is falling hard for Nick, even though he doesn't think he has a chance.

But love works in surprising ways, and Nick is more…


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