If you drag your feet leaving the world of Stranger Things, allow me to cure your ST hangover. Whatever your favorite part of Stranger Things, there's a book here for you. Do you crave something creepy? Nostalgic? Girls fighting monsters? Youth solving mysteries? Here's your next binge list.
We're back with another love list, with the same message as usual: pleasure matters. I wrote about this on my Instagram:
pleasure matters, and taking stock of such pleasure is essential.
lately the news really gives me big feelings. not just anger, but like, this place has a lot of straight up evil in it, and i am very helpless to stop any of it. i heard about a little girl who said if she could have any super power, it would be softness- she could touch any bad guy and soften them. honestly, yeah. add in the people who have apathy. anyhoo, i’m remembering that it’s okay to stop taking in the news for a bit to relearn/remember joy and beauty and pleasure. that’s political activism too.... to remember and prove that life is worth saving and loving. long way to say: i like leaves with water droplets. they make me feel better.
→Holst’s Venus, the Bringer of Peace from The Planets.
nadine: this month’s classical rec is for those soft summer mornings. Holst’s Planets Suite in general inspired many movie scores -- you may hear echoes of popular movie themes in Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Neptune… what i like most about Venus is the gentle dreamy dancing tune. there’s a depth and an undeterrable idealism in that tune. i hope Venus does indeed bring you some peace this month.
→ Mother’s Daughter by Miley Cyrus
nadine: to me, this is about the very contradictory messages that our generation has received growing up -- especially those of us who were afab and raised by at least one feminist adult. i think we were taught to stand up for ourselves, to affirm our boundaries, to accept no ill treatment, to tear down walls and smash glass ceilings… but then we inevitably had other adults around us send us the (sometimes very clear and unambiguous) message that doing so made us “freaks,” “nasty,” “evil.” sometimes it was the very same adults saying “you can do anything,” and “no, not that, sit back down young lady.” this song is almost like: “see the monster you created? it’s beautiful. we’re beautiful. we will not change. we will not make ourselves small. we will not try less. and don’t you dare try to take away our freedom.”
→ Comfortable by Lontalius
m: i discovered this song through nothing.nowhere’s livestreams, and it stops me in my tracks every time i hear it; it’s one of my favorite songs…
→ wildly idle (humble before the void) by hand habits
gray: idk man i just love hand habits. i love the little “scenes” scattered on this album and their beautiful atmospheric quality. oh, and having the last lyric on the album be, “i’m gonna grow”? here at the sprout club, we stan. fave tracks: in between, cowboy (scene), sun beholds me.
→ high as hope by florence + the machine
gray: file under laying-on-the-floor-and-doing-nothing music. fave tracks: sky full of song, patricia, no choir.
→ Stranger Things season three.
m: 80’s music has been more popular at the pool lately, and i half expect billy to strut by. need i say more?
m: i saw this video, and it blew my mind, and that's when i knew i had to actually sit down to watch this movie. i loved it. if anything, watch it for the art.
→ Heartstopper by Alice Osman
m: this webcomic is so stunningly lovely. gives me all the warm and fuzzies, while simultaneously wanting to punch all the mean boys in the world. read for wholesome lgbtq+ content. comes in print and for free online, on tapas.io.
→ on earth we’re briefly gorgeous by ocean vuong
gray: m included this in last months love list, but i hadn’t read it yet. well, now i’ve read it and i just think it needs to be on this month’s list. so now there’s two of us telling you to read it. so if you haven’t, now you have to.
→ Woman World by Aminder Dhaliwal
m: men have gone extinct, leaving only women alive, leaving me fighting to keep a straight face as i read this comic at work. hilarious, relatable, and surprising.
→ “the writing advice that’s secretly good life advice” by molly conway
gray: the best writing advice always has the foundation of “just write.” as conway puts it, “the worst thing i’ve ever written is still better than the best thing that only ever lives in my head.”
→ LitHub’s Most Anticipated Books of 2019, Part 2
m: LitHub’s list of books coming out in the remaining months of 2019 is absolutely juicy. it took me ages to sift through, and left me utterly overwhelmed at the amount of good work coming out. if you need something to read, this is your go to.
→ everything by Adrienne Maree Brown
m: this person, and their pursuit of wholeness and justice, is poetry. Start with The Creative Independent's feature, and then start Emergent Strategy asap, on dealing with and creating change.
→ cold brew everything.
m: finally realized i could make coffee and chai and let them brew overnight in the fridge. actually life changing.
→ trump is a ra_ist
choose one: c / p.
tea that is not new, but true.
→ nadine: tell me what you want, what you really really want… but seriously. in all-caps in my morning pages, i wrote: “who am i and what do i need from life and what do i want to offer the world?” it’s like part of me knows exactly what the answer is. but then i keep writing: “do i really want this?” with the wild hope that maybe i’ll go, oh, right, i don’t, phew! but i do, i do, i do.
→ m: i retook the personality tests (myer briggs via 16personalities, strengs finder, and enneagram) for the first time in a year and was somewhat pleasantly surprised to see shifts in my self. I was the same myer briggs, but through 16personalities’ percentages, i could see growth such as being more in touch with intuition. feels like healthy growth. on the flip side, i don’t know what enneagram i am, and this leaves me overjoyed… the 6 has felt like a straightjacket, and i am shedding it. moral of the story: we are ever evolving beings, always creating ourselves. and sometimes the worst circumstances teach us to become more like we always wanted to be. i think this is what faith is. i am not thankful for what has happened to me, but i am thankful for who i have become.
→ m: “am i a perfect living realization of my values and beliefs?” -- emergent strategy by adrienne maree brown. your work matters. everything about the world feels heavy and impossible, but the way that you carry yourself and hold responsibility for the energy you bring into a space matters.
find something you loved this month. tell us about it.
Hello, happy July!
I was inspired by Rhiannon McGavin this afternoon to tackle my poetry shelf gone ary, to the tune of Aimee Nezhukumatathil vs. the Garden, on the VS podcast. I loved it. Hearing Aimee's voice made me love her poetry more and more. Such sweetness and generosity flows from this podcast. If you like poetry or words at all, I highly suggest it.
As for my shelf, here's the deal. I work at a library and enjoy minimalism, and thus rarely buy books. However, I do buy 3 types of books: poetry, comics, and books from author events, and I try to write about the occasion on a post it note to keep in the book, as I love getting poetry, zines, or comics on vacation or an occasion. I quite love documenting this, because it equips me to remember stealing a book from the English Department when I turned in my last final ever, and decided I was owed at least one nice thing for free, or a coworker slipping a perfect book into my life midmeeting, or curling up on the floor of a bookstore across the country, overwhelmed with words. I love that. Anyhoo, the poetry section was shelved normally, and there was absolutely no room for any more. And we know I will continue to buy books. That, and the mountainous stack in front of it has been stressing me out.
Inspired further by Rhiannon, I flipped the stack, kept it in alphabetical order, and further sorted what I have and haven't read fully (the stack obscuring some comics are either too long to fit, a few of my issues of Poetry, and just a bit of my to-read stack... oh I have so many, piled all over. Just wait till you see the shelf dedicated to books about poetry. And anthologies. I have yet to tackle my bedside table too. Sigh.) I kept a jar of Los Angeles shells, origami flowers, and vintage typewriter ribbon cases out, but this time, they're not squashed behind a stack of books!
I love seeing people's bookshelves, as well as their book wishlists. What are some books you still just have to buy, and why? My list is based on poetry or fiction that I just have to underline. I'm looking forward to foraging Powell's for On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong, Brute by Emily Skaja, Soft Sciene by Franny Choi, and Wisdom of Insecurity by Alan Watts.
I'd love to see your shel(f/ves), and to buy list. What has you smitten lately?
Enjoy the summer time,
It's no secret or surprise that canon is white, cis, and male, so I'm not even going to delve into this topic. All I'm going to say is that the canon does not have to be this way, because history has not been white, cis, and male, and if you'd like to sink into the diverse, magnificent world through books, it's wonderfully possible, especially armed with the resources below!
Perhaps the most difficult part will be locating the following books, but I suggest requesting your library or local indie book store to purchase such books and writers, and using used bookstores, whether online or in person. Indiebound is also good, if you do not have access to such shops.
feminizing the canon
The Second Shelf, a book shop and magazine, is an invaluable resource for not only rare or collectible books by women, but also discovering that women have been publishing high quality, notable work for a very, very long time. Not only this, but The Second Shelf is a woman owned business, so the purchase of a magazine helps both you and the lit world. While you wait on your magazine, peek into the Second Shelf Instagram.
The Paris Review also has a brilliant series profiling underread women authors, called Feminize Your Canon. It makes my heart flutter.
It's important for me to note that these resources are careful to be intersectional.
creating trans canon
Not all canon to embrace is historic. There are some voices that (as we know it) are only just being equipped to be heard and reached.
RL Goldberg has written a great list for The Paris Review called Toward Creating a Trans Literary Canon.
expanding the canon
Enough of all this all-white canons. I recommend avoiding lists written by white folks, as our view of culture is vastly misrepresentative of reality. This is the whole problem.
The Well Read Black Girl is an absolutely amazing resource for books by people of color, from people of color.
Books by Native Americans is one of the most difficult tasks for me, but this list is a good start.
queering the canon
Move beyond Oscar Wilde with these titles and articles on and for queer theory and canon via Brown University, or this article via Advocate.
This is the most brief, incomplete guide one could possibly make, and I am okay with this. I so encourage you to do more research and collect lists as you read, you expand your view of the literary world, and thus people.
An okay place to start is the list ALA has compiled of book, print, and media awards.
You'll notice the lists contain backlist books, but it's important to remember that we are actively creating a new canon for generations beyond us. The books published today matter, and it matters that we read them. Be loud about the books you love. Tell us- and your friends, your coworkers, the social media void- about what you're reading.
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