A list of books I've read or aspire to read one day. My goals for reading: chill offline time, learn cool things, stop reading things when I'm not enjoying reading them. You can help me with 'learn cool things' by reaching out if you've read any of these and want to discuss them or share what you learned!
Books labelled "home library" are available to borrow if you're a friend living near me :)
I'm trying to abandon more books before I finish reading them, to incentivize myself to stop reading things I don't enjoy reading. Current goal: 20 books started after Nov 23, 2020 (at least one chapter read) and since abandoned. Current progress: 13/20 (65.0%)
Essays and interviews on anxious attachment, shame, masculinity, harm, transformative justice, and nurturance. Reading this brought up a lot of feelings for me. I especially liked this essay on gaslighting.
tags: nonfiction, relationships, essays, community
Recommended by my doctor to deal with the pain that I've been assuming was nerve issues. After reading this book, I'm pretty sure most of the pain I've felt more recently was coming from my fear of nerve issues, and since starting this book the pain has already substantially decreased. I'd recommend this book to anyone -- it has tips to deal with physical discomfort and pain, but also has some really great advice about managing anxiety (which is related). It was really cool to see so many parallels between the way I've changed my relationship with anxiety and the way I want to change my relationship with pain.
Started reading this for a local bookstore's book club, but eneded up making other plans that night. It was neat to read the essays, but wasn't quite what I wanted -- it would be cool to have a 201 version of this without explaining the fundamentals of gender and transition things, and getting into advanced gender fuckery. I might try to make a collection like that some time.
Recommended by a friend who identified with neurodivergence after reading this, and saw symptoms in me as well. This book helped me understand more about myself and many of my friends -- one of my biggest realizations while reading was that investing in my hobbies brings me a lot of joy and shared interests are a lot of how I feel connected to people. I also now more easily notice when I'm feeling sensoriliy overwhelmed or desire more structure. I'd recommend this book to most people I know!
Quite engaging and easy to read. An interesting and somewhat depressing exploration of the pursuit of happiness. Definitely more like a collection of short stories than a novel. I liked the first half more.
So many words I have to look up and so many sentences with way too many commas for me to be able to parse. But it's historically relevant and short, so still seems worth the read. Only got through it because it was for a reading club I'm in.
(This book is the sequel to Six of Crows.) This duology is so great. Characters with interesting backstories, hiest plots that are clever and keep surprising me. There’s a bit of gay stuff, there’s a lot of fun banter, there are disabled characters, there’s some stuff around forced sex work, PTSD, racism, and poverty. I’d definitely recommend them!
A zine critiquing cancel culture in leftist communities. She writes about a lot of things I've been thinking about lately: trauma, identity, judgement, what it looks like to set boundaries, and how to take responsibility for harm.
tags: nonfiction, politics, trauma, community, home library
Read this in a group of four and we got through all twelve chapters. I think I'm glad I did it -- the rituals felt important, and there were some helpful thoughts I had from reading and especially from book club conversations. But overall, the book did not impress me -- too much emphasis on God and a view of spirituality that I don't vibe with, written from a lens of privilege, missing a lot of context of how tech affects people's lives now (it was written in the 90s), and surprisingly fixated on ways to deal with partners and friends who tear you down creatively. Some of the tasks were great, but a lot of them didn't feel relevant or helpful. I'd love to write a version of this some day that has the 10% I enjoyed and added commentary.
A very approachable read in terms of language and pacing. Emotionally it hit me like a ton of bricks. A woman has trauma from trans stuff and spending time on the leftist internet, spends all her time reading books and biking alone, and is checked out of her relationships and her life and her self. This book helped me feel more empathy for people who have trouble connecting with themselves and others, but it also felt very real and depressing.
Read for book club. Interesting to learn more about this discourse, but this book is so frustratingly focused on capitalism and on allowing 'low-skill workers' to benefit from moving to 'the wonderful USA' (and how that would also bring the USA more money). Couldn't bring myself to finish it.
A girl moves to NYC and falls in love with a punk lesbian who got stuck on the Q line in the 70s and can't get off. The characters are all fun, the story is wholesome and queer af and sometimes very hot. This book is totally written to appeal to a queer punk city-life nerdy kinky demographic, but hey I'm not complaining.
This book explores attachment theory in a more thoughtful and nuanced way than most other resources I've seen. It helped me better understand what I want from relationships, things that might be getting in the way (including a variety of types of trauma), and strategies to create those relationships. Definitely recommend.
tags: relationships, nonfiction, trauma, home library
A collection of deliciously unnerving short stories with themes around the experience of living in a women's body. I particularly enjoyed the first two and last two stories. I often found myself confused about what happened in the stories, since it's not often I read something where the aesthetic of the story matters more than concrete details of the plot, and I enjoyed reading analyses of the stories online.
A short read, an accessible introduction to anarchist ideas, and decent advice for effective collaboration. It feels a bit like a political pamphlet making bold claims without much to back them up, but the ideas feel useful to think about regardless.
I've noticed how good it feels to get off of my phone and just be mindful of things around me. I feel more creative, have more energy to think about things. This book talks more about this and I loved the anitcapitalist lense. I was finding it difficult to read chapters filled with historical anecdotes and abandoned in chapter 3. I was hoping the author would more quickly and clearly connect the anecdotes to the main ideas of the book.
A memoir about a humanities professor that studies technology and how it affects human communication, self-image, social dynamics. My friend couldn't put it down, and said she’s had a fascinating life and writes so honestly and vividly.
Recommended by a friend - historical ficiton about two musical, Chinese families. I had very slowly made my way through half of the book, but ran out of library renews after four months. I found it hard to get into - there were so many subplots it switches between and I never got that invested in any of them.
A short, fun, and easy to read novel (written for kids / young adults), which is exactly what I've been looking for recently. Sci-fi mystery, and some exploration of friendships, class, and race. I really enjoyed it.
Read this as part of research into what it would take to set up an urban community home. This book focuses a bit too much on specific rural/ecovillage details for my interests, and I'm skeptical of some of the author's opinions, but overall there was a wide variety of useful information here. I took some notes I might post here later :)
A really great introduction to thinking about the world more complexly and interconnectedly. Includes several tips for making systemic changes. This is one of the few non-fiction books I've read that didn't feel like it had a lot of filler.
Jazz music has intrigued me for years - I enjoy listening to jazz, but I'm especially interested in learning more about musical improvisation, especially in a collaborative setting. A friend recommended this book to help me think more about this. I read the chapter he recommended, put it down, and the library asked for it back :p I took some notes I may put up here later.
I really liked the first essay (of three) that talks about how the author relates to anarchism without getting into any history or technical terms. The second essay was dense with references to things I didn't know, which got too effortful for me to read.
I appreciate the nuance with which he talks about race, tying together seemingly contradictory concepts and experiences. He has a lot of interesting ideas, but I found some of his writing hard to follow (long winding sentences, references to media and culture I'm not familiar with). I enjoyed the autobiographical chapters a lot more than the more abstract academic chapters.
Picked this up at an anarchist bookstore - it's a short read with lots of pictures, which I appreciated. Learned a lot about the restaurant industry, but also class/labour politics in general. You can read the pdfs of the works in this book here.
tags: politics, nonfiction, illustrated, home library
A set of writing tips, each tool described in only a few pages. I found a lot of useful advice in here! There were some aspects of this book I didn't like as much: the author used some confusing metaphors, some of the tools I disagreed with or felt weren't explored in enough depth/nuance, several of the writing examples felt tedious to read, and the tools were a bit more focused on journalism and fiction-writing than I wanted. There was still lots of great food for thought though, and I found enough of the advice useful that I made a summary of the tools that you can find here.
Taught me a lot about prisons (especially in the USA and California), history, politics, and race. Short and to the point - there were many references and terms I had to look up while reading, but this was also one of the few non-fiction books I've read that didn't feel like it had a lot of filler.
This book is advertised as sex science, but has a very self-help vibe to it. The tone frequently feels babying and the author uses some confusing metaphors, but also there are a lot of really interesting and useful concepts in it that have significantly helped me think through my feelings around sex (e.g. the accelerator/brake model) and I'd still recommend this book.
Started reading this as part of a book club at work. I don't usually like reading coding books, but it talks about some things I've been thinking about in developing my eng skills - making tradeoffs to help the code you write be less complex, such that people who work with your code in the future can understand it more easily and be less likely to create bugs and create unnecessary future complexity. We stopped reading when covid hit, but maybe I'll finish it some time!
A friend kept recommending this book to me, saying it was really helpful for them reframing their art away from the blocking feeling of needing to be 'good enough' (which is something I also struggle with). Also one of the author talks about their experience as a conductor, which is a skill I'm interested in and trained in, so seems like a cool book to check out.
After not reading much for a while, I devoured the first of this trilogy in a few days and it was awesome. I enjoyed the first > second > third book, but still really enjoyed the series overall. Loved how the story included polyamory in this super casual way that just was and wasn't even that important to the plot.
I love this book! A collection of short writing from folks of different backgrounds, each talking about their thoughts and experiences with relationships, surviving abuse, and consent. One of the pieces is just a long list of questions, many of which I found useful exercises for reflection (e.g. 'how do you give yourself or someone else space to figure out what you/they want?', 'how might you act out gender binary behaviours, even within queer relationships and friendships? how might this affect expectations and consent?')
tags: consent, relationships, nonfiction, trauma, home library
A great introduction to queer theory, with lots of pictures. Reading this book changed the way I think about queerness, taught me some interesting queer history, and introduced me to the idea of queer as a verb ('to queer' something, challenge binaries) vs. an adjective (an identity that describes someone).
tags: queer, nonfiction, illustrated, home library
This book helped me think about how to approaching learning things and dedication to skill-building over a long period of time. I found some aspects of the book annoying, but have definitely come back to the ideas it discusses. You can check out some notes I took on it here.
Hank is one of my favourite 'humans from the internet' and I enjoyed his book for a lot of the reasons I enjoy his videos. This book was so casual in tone and easy to read, had a fun sci-fi story, and touched on a lot of interesting ideas around fame, power, and influence.