Copyright 2019, AK Press
I love books. Not simply the written word, not only prose, but books. This site exists mostly so I can keep track of the books I read. Adding a completed book is a delightful ritual, and whenever I can’t recall which book I read that thing in, I can scroll through the reading page and find it fairly quickly. I was the 12 year old kid who asked for adult-level non-fictions at Christmas (and got them, and read them). I am now a college dropout who reads multiple academic books a year for fun, because I enjoy them. Books!
One of my focuses this year is embracing joy and pleasure, a result of past years’ reading (adrienne maree brown’s Pleasure Activism is your key here) and my ongoing healing and growth. For years, the mantra that most resonated within me was Julien Baker’s lyrics from Appointments: “Maybe it’s all gonna turn out all right / and I know that it’s not / but I have to believe that it is.” Those lyrics captured for me the idea that hope is a discipline (to quote the idea I first heard from Mariame Kaba). But sometime last year I noticed that the resonance of these lyrics had faded. No longer was I in a place where I knew that it wouldn’t turn out all right and still was choosing to act and believe like it would. Instead, 2022 marked a turning point into a period of life where—to my utter and ongoing surprise—things were going well. My life was stable and full of love, I was no longer struggling to hold on.
And so I needed a new mantra. What emerged, somewhat organically, was an inversion of a Mary Oliver line. Long have I loved her poem Don’t Hesitate, and long has the concluding line “Joy is not made to be a crumb” been a helpful reminder for me. I have always lived as if joy was made to be a crumb, a tiny morsel I was allowed to delight in occasionally and only once all other tasks were accomplished and I had nothing better to be doing. I no longer believe this (maybe one day I will write about that healing journey lol) and as I expanded my capacity to experience joy, I also found I wanted more than Oliver’s negation statement (of what joy is not meant to be). And thus, in a moment of silliness, I typed into a group chat the declaration that “joy is made to be a big crusty loaf.” A mantra, newly resonant, delivered to me from my dad joke brain.
Joy comes in many forms, but as mentioned above, books is one of my original joys. I feel an immense excitement when I pick up a book that seems interesting; in my hands I hold the knowledge and work of some other human I may never meet! But I can change the way I think by listening to the things they have written, and exploring the ideas they present.
However, joy this year needs to be a bit frugal because my partner and I are pursuing a few dreams that reduce my book-buying budget. So I thoughts to myself, what if I survey my bookshelves and build a reading list based on what I have! Maybe I’ll find 10 or 12 really exciting books that will help reduce my desire to buy more books! I did this, and uh, I found 32 books (plus there are 3 more on the way lol). Below is my list of books, I’m capturing here as much for reference (again, I use this site more than anyone else), but also so I can check in again next year and see how I did!
To Be Read, that I Own
(in the order that I saw them on the shelves)
- Race After Technology, Ruha Benjamin
- Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness, Simone Browne
- Ghost Work, Mary L Gray, Siddharth Suri
- Whose Global Village: Rethinking How Technology Shapes our World, Ramesh Srinivasan
- Systems Thinking for Social Change, David Peter Stroh
- An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back, Elisabeth Rosenthal
- Caliban and the Witch, Sylvia Frederici
- The Right to Maim: Debility, Capacity, Disability, Jasbir Puar
- Capitalism & Disability, Marta Russell
- Waste: One Woman’s Fight Against America’s Dirty Secret, Catherine Coleman Flowers
- Polution is Colonialism, Max Liboiron
- A Terrible Thing to Waste: Environmental Racism and its Assault on the American Mind, Harriett A Washington
- The Whiskey of Our Discontent, Gwendolyne Brooks
- Black Futures, Jenna Wortham & Kimberly Drew
- As Long as Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice, from Colonization to Standing Rock, Dina Gilio-Whitaker
- The History of White People, Nell Irvin Painter
- From #Blacklivesmatter to Black Liberation, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
- Sinews of War and Trade: Shipping and Capitalism in the Arabian Peninsula, Laleh Khalili
- Capitalism and the Sea: The Maritime Factor in the Making of the Modern World, Liam Campling
- Pluriversal Politics: The Real and the Possible, Arturo Escobar
- Stop, Thief!: The Commons, Enclosures, and Resistance, Peter Linebaugh
- Neither Vertical Nor Horizontal: A Theory of Political Organization, Rodrigo Nunes
- Full Catastrophe Living, Jon Kabat-Zinn
- Debt: The First 5000 Years, David Graeber
- Unthinking Mastery: Dehumanism and Decolonial Entanglements, Julietta Singh
- How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, Walter Rodney
- As We Have Always Done: Indigenous Freedom Through Radical Resistance, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson
- Wastelanding: Legacies of Uranium Mining in Navajo Country, Traci Brynne Voyles
- To Be a Water Protector: The Rise of the Wiindigoo Slayers, Winona LaDuke
- Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty, Dorothy Roberts
- All Our Relations: Native Struggles for Land and Life, Winona LaDuke
And every year since it was published I have said I was going to read Donna Haraway’s Staying With the Trouble and every year I haven’t! Will this year be different? It’s too early to tell.