The Book of Forgiving by Desmond and Mpho Tutu

I picked up The Book of Forgiving: The Fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and Our World to read during Lent along with the folks at Cafeteria Christian. I love Desmond Tutu, though, and I'm not good at sticking to a reading schedule, so I finished it way ahead of time. I was frustrated by this book at first because it felt like it was barely scratching the surface. I wanted more details, more explanation, and I just wasn't getting it. I'm so glad I stuck with it, though! Each chapter revealed another layer, and another, and yet another. The same stories circled back, but with a deeper understanding of the forgiveness process as the book moved on. I got a…

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How To Do Nothing by Jenny Odell

I went into Jenny Odell's How To Do Nothing thinking I was getting a general "how to slim down your social media usage" type of book, but this completely surprised me! I loved its nuanced, anti-capitalist perspective. Odell discusses the far-reaching implications of how our attention is being used as a commodity, as well as how to subvert that in deeply meaningful ways. She makes great points about how the ability to choose to unplug from social media involves a lot of privilege, and how it misses a larger, more important point. Instead, she encourages readers to resist and redirect our attention in order to regain control, without giving up connection and community. (Including a cool bit about the free,…

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Amateur by Thomas Page McBee

In his memoir Amateur, Thomas Page McBee tackles the masculinity crisis and toxic masculinity, drawing from his own experiences as a trans man. McBee's insights complement the works of both Julia Serano and Brené Brown. If you're like me and the thought of reading about boxing makes your eyes glaze over, don't worry - it's honestly not too bad, and he connects it to broader, truly important points. This was so compelling that I listened to the audiobook straight through. Even though I was left feeling grieved at the end, I also had a lot of points to mull over, things I'd never considered before. Amateur is the kind of book that sparks compassion, encourages discussion, and effects change.

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Fiction/Nonfiction Book Pairing

  Nonfiction November Week 2: (Nov. 4 to 8) – Book Pairing (hosted by Sarah of Sarah’s Book Shelves): This week, pair up a nonfiction book with a fiction title. It can be a “If you loved this book, read this!” or just two titles that you think would go well together.  My book pairing for this week's prompt is Friday Black, a collection of speculative fiction short stories by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah with Citizen: An American Lyric, nonfiction essays, images, and poetry by Claudia Rankine. If you found one of these books powerful, I think you'll find the other equally compelling. (If you haven't read either, run to the bookstore.) They both creatively tackle the exhaustion that comes with…

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Nonfiction November TBR

I'm starting off Nonfiction November with One Coin Found: How God's Love Stretches to the Margins by Rev. Emmy Kegler, but I gathered up all the nonfiction in the house that I've been wanting to read but haven't gotten around to. So this is my TBR stack of possibilities (because I'm a total mood reader). Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life by Helen Czerski Life from Scratch: A Memoir of Food, Family, and Forgiveness by Sasha Martin The Survivors: A Story of War, Inheritance, and Healing by Adam P. Frankel The Unspeakable Mind: Stories of Trauma and Healing from the Frontlines of PTSD Science by Shaili Jain Marx at the Arcade: Consoles, Controllers, and Class Struggle by…

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My Year in Nonfiction (So Far)

It's time for Nonfiction November! Week 1: (Oct. 28 to Nov. 1) – Your Year in Nonfiction (hosted by Julz of Julz Reads): Take a look back at your year of nonfiction and reflect on the following questions. What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year? My favorite nonfiction read of the year so far has to be Pema Chödrön's Welcoming the Unwelcome. She is so kind, wise, and down to earth. Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year? I gravitate heavily toward memoir when it comes to nonfiction. I enjoy reading about others' experiences and learning from them. What nonfiction book have you recommended the most? The audiobook of Split Tooth by…

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Southern Lady Code by Helen Ellis

It's been a long time since I read a book that had me mark "Did Not Like It" on Goodreads. Southern Lady Code just got worse and worse the longer I read. The humor felt completely outdated, and I didn't find it funny. Ellis romanticizes some really messed up stuff, does that gross "gay friends as trophies" thing that straight women so often do, is casually ableist, and brushes off racism like it's a cute, innocent character flaw. I really enjoyed the stories in Ellis's American Housewife, and I think that's the only reason I held out hope for this book and didn't set it aside.

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Welcoming the Unwelcome by Pema Chodron

Pema Chödrön's new book Welcoming the Unwelcome is vital for anyone who wants to do their part to help ease the polarization happening in our communities and our relationships with others. If you wonder how you can possibly affect and contribute to the world when things seem so overwhelming, this book will give you hope! Though Chödrön writes from a Buddhist perspective, she also writes in a humble, down-to-earth style that all readers, regardless of faith, will find accessible and relevant. Welcoming the Unwelcome is her first book in over seven years, and it does not disappoint. This is a balm to all who are weary of the intense divide we are seeing today.

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Trans Power by Juno Roche

I haven't read any book on trans experiences quite like this one. TRANS POWER brings up perspectives and conversations that you don't tend to hear very often. The intimacy, the love for people in the community is so powerful I almost feel protective of the words inside. I love how NOT binary this book is. It creates an incredibly affirming, empowering space. Juno says after interviewing Michael, "They always push me to extend my line of thinking beyond my comfort place to a place where it tests the idea." And really, that's what TRANS POWER does for its readers. This is an emotional read that encourages readers to push their intellect beyond simplistic statements of what it means to be trans into deeply nuanced discussions. Best of all, it…

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The Stonewall Riots by Gayle E. Pitman

In The Stonewall Riots: Coming Out in the Streets, Gayle Pitman gives younger readers (middle grade and up) a history of LGBTQ discrimination and the fight for equal rights, with Stonewall as the pivot point. In an age-appropriate but non-reductive way, Pitman conveys how dangerous it was for people to be gay in the 1950s and 1960s, as well as how widespread internalized homophobia was. She also puts the gay liberation movement in context with other movements going on in the '60s, giving readers a sense of how quickly and dramatically these movements arose, and how people had to utilize direct action because traditional forms of political activity (naturally) weren't effective. She shows the complexity of everything leading up to…

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