Books I’m Glad I Read

I read a lot, and I love matching people up with the next book on their journey. This is meant to be a centralized, organized list of books that I’ve read and think others might benefit from. It is NOT a list with any authority whatsoever. Most books in the world remain unread by me, and their omission from this list is not a commentary on their quality.

Note: I’ve done my best to link to authors’ and publishers’ websites, and to avoid linking to certain evil corporate behemoths with popular affiliate programs.

Favorite 3

I like all of the books on this list, but these are the three that make me want to go door to door handing out copies.

  • Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer – A blend of modern ecological science and Indigenous ways of knowing, and an absolutely life-changing book. Kimmerer layers stories over each other like a botanical illustrator layers colored pencil, until the reader is left with the image of a relationship with nature so real that you want to step into it. Warning: Side effects may include running away to become a regenerative farmer.
  • White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo – This is the book that helped me stop getting defensive on behalf of harmful power structures and start making real progress on my racial justice education. It teaches White people how to understand and meet their own needs around racial justice issues without letting them derail the conversation.
  • One of these three permaculture gateway books depending on the setting:
    • Suburbs: Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway – Focuses on what the average suburbanite can do to grow food, sequester carbon, heal nature, and work towards social justice from their own back yard.

Personal Healing & Growth

  • The Politics of Trauma by Staci Haines – I’ve suffered a lot of hurt in activist spaces, and in society at large. I’ve had trouble connecting to a lot of mental health books that looked at healing in a (White cishet male) vacuum. This was the first book I read that actually talked about the issues I was facing AND the context I was facing them in.
  • The Body Is Not An Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor – I didn’t read this one for a long time, because I didn’t think loving my body was important to me. A) I was wrong about that, and B) it turns out its chock full of insightful social analysis. Explores the ways that social expectations (the default body being White, male, straight, thin, able-bodied, cisgender, etc.) alienate us from our bodies and from each other, and puts forward Radical Self Love as an alternative to the body hierarchy thinking we grow up surrounded by.
  • Say What You Mean by Oren Jay Sofer – Nonviolent Communication has helped me learn to recognize my needs and find strategies for meeting them without relying on the conflict strategies I was taught by the society around me.
  • Unf–ck Your Habitat by Rachel Hoffman – This book is the only reason my depression cave is finally getting clean. It’s an actively anti-shame cleaning system. If you live in a space, and you wish that space was a nicer place to be, there’s a bunch of free content on the website.
  • The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll – Not only has this been keeping me more organized, but it’s also done wonders for my sense of accomplishment to have a physical record I can flip through of all of the things I’ve done. Depression likes to erase that stuff from my brain, but it can’t reach my BuJo.
  • How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan – Primarily a book about the science, history, and experience of psychedelics. I found it particularly interesting for the discussions of the science of mystical experiences.
  • You Are Not So Smart, by David McRaney – A look at the ways our brains serve as imperfect filters and interfere with our view of the world. You can’t understand the world until you understand how you understand the world.

Economic Structures

Race & Anti-Blackness

Indigenous Cultures & Colonization

Gender & Sexuality

  • Sex at Dawn by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha – A book about pre-agricultural sexual practices. But more broadly, a book about why everything I thought I knew about pre-agricultural life was wrong.
  • Healing Sex by Staci Haines – An introduction to using somatic practices that helped me process trauma and improve my relationship with my body.

Movement Building & Education

Political & Religious Structures

  • One Nation Under God, by Kevin M. Kruse – A beautifully researched and written guide to how American Christianity got so damn weird. (Spoiler alert: it was corporate influence.)
  • Enemies: A History of the FBI, by Tim Weiner – If you’ve spent time in lefty activism circles and found yourself wondering why we’re always tripping over our own feet, this book will give you the answer.

Ecology & Food

Fiction

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