Book Club: Books with characters you feel an affinity with

 In this month’s book club, Bessma Bader selects interesting titles from authors Kevin Wilson, Brené Brown and Maurice Sendak filled with characters you feel an affinity with


I have, possibly, an unhealthy attraction to books. Each book I read elicits a nostalgic feeling in me when I think back on them. There are the ones I miss, the ones I cannot believe I read, the ones that upset me and the ones that moved me.

The ones that were recommended by people I love spark two feelings; the one the book gave me and the one for the person who recommended it. But the feelings I love the most are the ones I develop for certain characters in books – ones where I find I ‘get’ them. And if I could speak to them, they would get me. I feel for them. I want to reach into the words and say: “I understand! I have felt that way!” Here are three books with which I have felt a kinship. 



Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson / Text Publishing

Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson, published by Text Publishing

Lillian gets a letter from her old friend and roommate, Madison, after years of not speaking. She wants her to be her children’s nanny. There’s one thing that makes these children a little different from others. I cannot explain to you how accurately Lillian embodies our ability to love our children fiercely with all their flaws – even when that flaw is combusting into flames when they feel a strong emotion. Even when we are getting burned by them, and are protecting others from them, we still love them unconditionally.

This is not a story that ties up all its loose ends and makes any kind of logical sense in the future. But to me, this is a story of a sensitive and complicated child who needs help learning to self regulate. It’s a story about the people who care for these children. And how much they try despite the difficulties. No, my children do not combust in the literal sense. But If you are the parent or the caregiver of any child who has trouble self-regulating, who has tantrums, who took a while to learn how to hold their anger in, then you will find a friend in Lillian.



The Gifts of Imperfection / Penguin by Brene Brown /

The Gifts Of Imperfection, by Brené Brown, published by Vermilion (Penguin Books)

If you don’t know who Brené Brown is, then put this down and listen to her Ted talk about shame. Yes, she researched shame! This book started all the catchphrases we hear now about living “wholeheartedly” and the importance of feeling worthy as you are, without expectations. I’ve always held the quality of authenticity highly, and I strive to be as authentic as is possible in a very judgemental world. This book was an excellent guide to doing just that.



Where The Wild Things Are / Maurice Sendak / Penguin

Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, published by Bodley Head (Penguin Books)

“The night Max wore his wolf suit and made mischief of one kind and another his mother called him ‘wild thing’ and Max said ‘I’ll eat you up!’ so he was sent to bed without eating anything. That night, a forest starts growing in his room, and an ocean appears with a boat which Max rides to get to where the wild things are.

I was this child, acting out and upset at the world – wanting to run away but wanting, even more, to be home. My sons have all been this boy at one time or the other. There are very few books that I genuinely enjoy reading to my children, and this is one of them. Beautifully written and with my favorite line: “But the wild things cried, ‘Oh please don’t go – we’ll eat you up – we love you so!’”



The one book everyone should read
Books to help overwhelmed moms
– Books to inform, inspire & entertain
– March book club
– Audiobooks to immerse yourself in

About the author

Bessma bint Bader is an avid blogger and qualified parenting coach with a passionate interest in child development and education. She began her popular blog, Ya Mamma, in 2010 where she shares pertinent insights into the trials and tribulations of parenting, inspired by her five young children.

Since 2010, Bessma has been on the board of Saut as its treasurer – a charitable organization that promotes the welfare of people with Downs Syndrome. She is also on the board of the King Khaled Foundation, which is dedicated to improving the social and economic conditions for thousands of Saudi citizens.

Bessma is also the co-founder and owner of The Playroom – a play center in Riyadh, built around the belief that child-led play fosters creativity, encourages divergent thinking and builds good social skills.


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