Aka, 55 books to read to slow yourself down and reimagine yourself as part of the creative, fun, difficult, and beautiful new/old resistance. The story of creating the list follows the list. I’m refusing to organize or categorize this list. The point is to explore, find something important to you, leave the Internet, and go find some books to read!
- Man’s Search for Meaning. Viktor Frankl.
- The Slave Ship. Marcus Rediker.
- The Half has Never Been Told. Edward E. Baptist.
- The Civil Disobedience Handbook: A Brief History and Practical Advice for the Politically Disenfranchised. James Tracy, Editor
- A Fighting Chance. Elizabeth Warren.
- Hot, Flat, and Crowded. Tom Friedman.
- Poetry as Insurgent Art. Lawrence Ferlinghetti.
- Your Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist. Sunil Yapa.
- Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self. Danielle Evans.
- Teaching the Cat to Sit. Michelle Theall.
- We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For. Alice Walker.
- Overcoming Speechlessness. Alice Walker.
- Silent Spring. Rachel Carson.
- Ishmael. Daniel Quinn.
- A Chinamen’s Chance. Eric Liu.
- The Other One. Hasanthika Sirisena.
- Culture Jam. Kalle Lasn.
- Power. Linda Hogan.
- Mean Spirit. Linda Hogan.
- Solar Storms. Linda Hogan.
- Republic of Outsiders. Alissa Quart.
- The Twentieth Day of January. Ted Allbeury.
- Deceit and Other Possibilities. Vanessa Hua.
- Fire Shut Up in My Bones. Charles M. Blow.
- Unbought and Unbossed. Shirley Chisholm.
- The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton 1965-2010. Lucille Clifton.
- Popular Songs: The Political Poems of 1890-1820. Percy Bysshe Shelley.
- The Hero With a Thousand Faces. Joseph Cambell.
- Women, Race, & Class. Angela Davis.
- Don’t Bite the Hook. Pema Chondron .
- When Pain is the Doorway. Pema Chondron.
- When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times. Pema Chondron.
- The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times. Pema Chondron.
- The Left Hand of Darkness. Ursula K. Le Guin.
- Four Ways to Forgiveness. Ursula K. Le Guin.
- Tehanu. Ursula K. Le Guin.
- Sun Dogs. Lee Maracle.
- Daughters. Lee Maracle.
- Ravensong. Lee Maracle.
- Perma Red. Debra Magpie Earling.
- Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around: Forty Years of Movement Building with Barbara Smith. Edited by Alethia Jones and Virginia Eubanks with Barbara Smith.
- Words of Fire: An Anthology of African-American Feminist Thought. Beverly Guy-Sheftall.
- Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America. Melissa Harris-Perry.
- Divine Rebels: Saints, Mystics, Change Agents – And You. Caroline Myss.
- Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches. Audre Lorde.
- Wretched of the Earth. Franz Fanon.
- Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging. Sebastian Junger.
- Indian Killer. Sherman Alexie. (to start)
- Demand the Impossible. Bill Ayers.
- Rules for Radicals. Saul Alinsky.
- Ten Days in a Mad-House. Nellie Bly.
- India’s Struggle For Independence. Bipin Chandra.
- Non-Violent Resistance (Satyagraha). M. K. Gandhi.
- Emotional Agility. Susan David.
- Why I Am Not A Feminist: A Feminist Manifesto. Jessa Crispin.
This week I asked my 500ish online friends for recommendations for books to read. These are people I trust, not strangers. A diverse group, although as a middle aged white woman I know I will always be pushing to do better–no friends with disabilities responded, for example.
I need to get off the Internet more often right now, so that I don’t continue to get sucked into the complete partisan hell circus my country is unleashing every single day at us now. I want to more fully join the new creative, fun, difficult, and beautiful new resistance. Be a better accomplice and friend. I will still be online sometimes. Yet, as a creator I need big infusions of slowing down, resting, listening, wandering, and inspiration to be myself and to do my work well. Outrage helps my work too, but not all outrage all the time. That’s just not me. I’ve aged out of being able to sustain rage. When I don’t demand these other things, I become a reactor, not a creator. I become unrecognizable to myself. I end up sharing “news” that is actually lies. (Yep, I did that just yesterday. Thank God for smart friends who check when in my outrage I forget to!) I don’t think that being just another reactor and tantrum thrower is what we need right now (although I really needed to be that for a while this week). I think we need to remember who we really are. And by “we” I mean me and most of the people I know.
I asked specifically for creative, inspiring, resistance books. Both fiction and non-fiction. This is what I heard back in 3 days! Wow. I forgot what a deeply curious and gloriously book nerdy group of humans my friends are. Yay! The numbers in the list just represent the order in which I received the recommendations from various parts of my online world. I am not categorizing them–the point is to explore the list and find something new and important to you. Personally, since I want to read all these books, I will be reading them out of order in whatever order I can borrow the books from others, check them out of our library, afford to purchase them (some came very highly recommended), and find them personally inspiring. I own the Viktor Frankl book and all the Ursula K. Le Guin books if you live nearby and want to borrow them. Also, if you’re a friend and you notice that we’ve missed a creative resistance book that you love (in our few days of collective online brainstorming), please share it with me and I’ll add it to my reading list.
If you don’t have time to read 53+ resistance books this year, then follow me on FB or Twitter. I will be reading and sharing excerpts from these books online in 2017 and beyond. Trying to recommend specific books for specific friends. And hopefully, one day soon, I’ll find myself writing a book of creative resistance too. But this is not that year for me. This is a year of listening even more closely to my/our ancestors. To all of the people and groups who have already been doing this for a long time. Some for a very long time.
Note: I occasionally update this list with new books as trusted people and authors recommend them to me.
My mom Linda was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease by a doctor in 2007. She was just 60 years old. Mom, dad Jim, sister Jen, and I all knew that something was going seriously wrong with Mom for several years before that diagnosis. Memory troubles showed up. Anxiety and depression showed up. All new to her. More significant personality changes, such as not wanting to talk on the phone with us anymore, not wanting to visit Jen and me anymore, not wanting to do many of her favorite things, and avoiding spending time with other family members, friends, and large groups of any kind. She began spinning in worry about simple things, such as spending hours worrying that she would forget to feed the dog at 4 p.m. In those early years, worry spinning began causing her to repeat herself: such as asking me 15 times, in 30 minutes, to make sure she didn’t forget to take a bottle of water into the theater with her.
The more we read about the disease, the more we suspected Mom had Alzheimer’s. Even so, it took us years to finally get her to the doctor for that official diagnosis. She was remarkably sly at avoiding that doctor visit, including cancelling appointments behind Dad’s back: another completely-not-like-her thing to do.
Back then, I was terrified and felt utterly alone. I think we all did. And why wouldn’t we? In my country almost nobody is in a rush to diagnosis this disease: not the people who have the disease, not the people who love them, and not even many of our doctors. As a country, this disease terrifies us.
Fast forward to the fall of 2015.
We are an entirely different being today: a collective being. Reflective and thoughtful. Calm within storms some days. Creator of storms other days. Able to drop worry, stress, fear, ego, and even people, if need be, in the blink of an eye. We’re becoming quite the bad ass together. More fluid and funny too. I’m a creator now: poet and artist in addition to writer and editor. My sister recently became a mom. We even speak a wordless new language now. Speak collectively out of habit. From my perspective today, the difficulties we experienced before are mostly symptoms of trying to tackle change and chaos, and trying to fix unfixable problems, as lone individuals. The result of standing in a river alone and trying to make what is right now back into what used to be. How impossible and exhausting that was.
Some people receive long, healthy individual lives to become something more than they once were. Others, like us, receive and accept diseases like this: diseases that require us to become something new, something different, and something more than individual selves each new day. This disease surfaces our collective selves. Our dragon selves. Our river selves.
So yes, as a dragon/river/human/community hybrid being, this disease doesn’t terrify me now. Not anymore. Even though I myself may end up with it as soon as 10 years from now. Thank you Alzheimer’s.
In August I was sitting outside a coffee shop, in the warm sun, having lunch with a friend who is also an Alzheimer’s care partner. In addition to talking about our marriages, food, the wild world of indie authoring and self-publishing, our mid-life aspirations, and our families, he brought up the subject of euthanasia. We talked about when and if our loved ones might make that choice and when and if we, ourselves, would ever make that choice. I’ve never had this conversation with anyone: not my husband, my parents, or my sister. It was a deep, lovely, moving, weird, and fascinating conversation, woven into and around talk of annoying husband quirks, great new food spots in the area, and the stubborn expansiveness of mid-life waistlines.
As I drove home, I realized that I’d just had yet another amazing, life-affirming conversation that I wouldn’t have been strong enough to have before Alzheimer’s disease entered my life. With a close friend I may not have had without this disease. And, even more amazing, that I’d just spontaneously taken a 4-hour lunch break out of the middle of a glorious, sunny work day. The old Lori would never have done that. Never. Thank you Alzheimer’s.
Our new book, The Grace of Dragons: Receiving the Gifts of Dementia Care Partnering, is another gift of our experience. A gift born of finally learning to slow way down and make time for what matters most. It is a collection of essays and poems that I wrote between 2012 and 2015 — the years my panic about Mom’s disease had subsided enough for me to notice beauty again. Create beauty, anywhere and from within anything. The essays and poems have been grouped in the book by one of the gifts they share in common, out of chronological order, so dates, times, and world events may seem a bit jumbled and confused. That’s ok. In this world, the gifts are the focus. Everything else is background noise.
Thank you Alzheimer’s.
We would like to announce the arrival of our new baby, aka, our new book, Year 1 Poet.
She was born in paperback form at 2 p.m. on November 30, 2014, weighing 100 pages.
She is a little genre-bender already. She tells the true story of a writer getting lost and becoming a poet. She also contains 32 poems and 15 beautiful accompanying illustrations. Near the end, she also contains tips for writers becoming poets (tips I had to create for myself to undo my training as a writer) and tips by emerging artists for other emerging artists from both me and her three illustrators (aka, her aunties and uncle).
Starting tomorrow, she will be available at Open Books: A Poem Emporium, my favorite bookstore in Seattle. She’s also available on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com. She’ll be available on Whidbey Island soon too.
We intended to get this announcement out weeks ago, when she first arrived in the world, but we were swamped with new-book-parent things. She keeps us up at night, planning for and imagining her future. She keeps us scurrying here and there, learning how to create e-book and audio book forms, how to best share her with the world, and meeting local book sellers.
Here’s me—exhausted, unkempt, and glowing—holding her for the first time. Notice that her professional-photographer father was so excited that he forgot entirely about proper lighting. Oh well, if book parenthood is about anything at all, it’s about humility, about not being able to do it all, and about falling more deeply in love with yourselves: eye bags, unwashed hair, and all.
Her auntie Tabitha made a whole bunch of birth announcements for us in the form of postcards, e-postcards, flyers, and bookmarks. Thanks Tabitha! Distant friends, you’ll see them on social media for the next month. Forgive our oversharing. We really love her and we think everything she does is adorable and world-changing. Nearby friends, you may encounter her birth announcements on community boards, in coffee shops, and in bookstores.
In lieu of cards and gifts, please purchase a copy for yourself or friends, write a review on Amazon.com or Goodreads (her baby books), and/or tell those you love about her so they can find her for themselves. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do this without you.
I’m excited to announce that the hard copy of A Travel Guide for Transitions is now available on Amazon. Woo hoo!
The book has 45 full-color illustrations accompanying the stories and quotes from our journey…
Here is their proud father…
We also just made four promotional postcards for the book featuring mini-me and mini-Bas from the book. If you live in the Seattle, USA or Zandvoort, The Netherlands areas, and would like some of these awesome postcards to share with others, give us a shout and we’ll get them to you. We crazy self-publishing types need all the help we can get!
You may have heard that Bas and I wrote a new book. Or maybe you haven’t yet. Bas has been doing a great job telling people about it. I haven’t. I’ve been offline most of the month since. And I could tell you here that my grandmother passed away the day after the book was published, and that that’s the reason I’ve gone dark. But that’s only part of it, as I’m about to admit.
The book is called A Travel Guide for Transitions: Because Freaking Out About This by Myself Totally Sucks. It’s a collection of stories, quotes, and drawings that capture what moving within transitions feels like. I love that it doesn’t attempt to solve anyone’s problems, beyond our own. We hate it when people do that. I also love that there is a high probability that reading it will help you feel better about where you are right now. This is no small thing, I’m finally learning.
If you are a friend, there’s a very good chance that you are described and thanked in the book. We took the time to create a Cast of Characters at the end, describing all the people mentioned in the stories, people who we’ve learned with along our journey over the past year. I started this list almost entirely as an act of self-soothing during my very stressful and overly busy and cranky April. So the list ended up being 16 pages, which is about twice as long as any story in the book. And Bas picked up its quirky tone and went with it. So the Cast of Characters is a weirdly fun and interesting thing to read in and of itself. I’m not exactly sure what this says about us, but whatever it is, I love it. If that makes me an ego maniac, so be it.
So marketing the book. Yeah.
On even my best day, I struggle with marketing my work. Not that I don’t think it’s valuable–far from it–I think we’re documenting a major shift for the better, in both ourselves and our world, and I love telling people about the work, sharing the new narrative. Hard to shut me up about it in person actually, as one poor, unsuspecting human at Office Nomads’ coworking space learned today.
It’s just that, for me, there’s something about telling people about my own work–and then asking them to pay for it–that feels off. I prefer life in the gift economy. Add the money factor and it feels like proselytizing somehow now. Preaching and selling. And also boring. And just icky. Which, I suppose for me as a writer and blogger is great, because clearly I still have some issues to work through and as long as I have personal issues to work through, I still have fodder for creation. Hooray! But for me as a human being who needs to eat and pay a mortgage and buy dog food, however, not wanting money for my work does make things tricky. Throw on the fact that the deep joy for me is in creating the work itself, and you’ll understand that the moment we find ourselves with a finished book, I’m already ready to move on to our next creative project. How Hollywood actors giddily pitch movies they filmed a year ago, day after day, is beyond me. That’s the acting they should receive awards for.
So you can imagine how I felt about facing marketing tasks for this new book in June, having just lost my Grandma Del, quite possibly the world’s funniest and definitely in the top-5 feistiest grandmas of all time. My book-marketing tasks just did not happen. I allowed mourning to take precedence over all else. I crawled under a metaphorical rock. I wandered barefoot on the beach. Watched Eva the dog meet her first lake, and then the ocean for the first time. I cried at the beauty of sunsets with family in 6 different states–South Dakota to Oregon.
This morning I’ve been reading my blog posts from the past 6 months, attempting to get back to myself again. This is the true joy of blogging for me. The remembering who you are part. The noticing who you’ve become part. And especially the recognizing that you’ve written things that came from somewhere else entirely, not you, part, when you shut off your thinking brain and just let go into the joy or into pain. And yet generous people regularly give you credit and praise for it, as if it had come from you. Amazing.
But where was I?
Oh yes, marketing the book. Bleh.
Marketing isn’t fun or easy for me, and I suck at it, to the point that I mostly avoided it for a month and now I still don’t want to do it. Even though I adore the book we just created.
So maybe I’m not actually supposed to be doing marketing by myself.
And maybe this is true of Bas and I together, too, because we’re cut from the same lead-with-playfulness-and-energy-and-creation-and-avoid-selling-yourself-as-an-expert-or-your-head-might-actually-explode cloth, he and I.
So maybe we should just ask for help with this. This is what I am trying to learn right now: this asking for help long before I exhaust myself and fall apart business.
Ok, I’m doing it. I’m asking for help.
Will you help us spread the word about this book? By, for example:
- Reading the book?
- Telling other people about the book and about us?
- Giving the book as a gift to someone else?
- Writing a review for it on the Amazon website?
Thank you for your help.
As it turns out, in Lori Land, asking for help is roughly 100 times easier than marketing my own work.
FYI, my favorite idea is giving the book as a gift to a friend who is going through a transition.
That’s what this book is for me.
A gift from a friend during a time of major transition.
And it really helps.
A Travel Guide for Transitions: Because Freaking Out About This by Myself Totally Sucks
This question showed up for me this week after I spent the last three months doing work that caused me to more fully understand what I am, and what I definitely am not.
In hindsight, in my world there is no such thing as the wrong work. If business cards spoke with complete honesty mine would read “Lori Kane. Super Smart. After the Fact.”
In Lori Land there is the work that brings forth your truest self, bringing with it peace, gratitude, and joy, for you, your family, your community, and even your planet, most days, because we’re all connected. I call it, Work Ahhh. It’s work that so energizes you that you’ve already started the next piece of it as you wrap up the current project, without having thought about it much or planned it, more just for the fun of it.
Then there is the work within which you as an individual are learning the hard way about yourself, which isn’t wrong. Like it or not, sometimes we need to learn the hard way to drive a point home. I’m going to call this work, Work Meh. You’re just glad to be done when you’re done.
From March through April, I worked on a project that involved busyness, deadlines, goals, and event planning. These may all be fantastic things for some people, but they are not great things for me. In fact, I think it’s safe to call them the Four Horsemen of a Lori Apocalypse.
I wound up tired, grumpy, stressed, and, eventually, angry at others. But it wasn’t them I was angry at, it was me. I was doing Work Meh and I wasn’t happy about it.
I need space and time: lots of it. I need to float and listen to let go, to reflect, to write, and to make things with my hands, with friends. This is my right work.
My truest self loves to move and feel with the seasons: loves to wonder and think by the decade, century, and millennia. Not attempting to rush through 75 emails before the end of the day.
My story wrangling work is my Work Ahh. And how do I know it’s the right work?
Because it was my refuge when the rest of my world wasn’t working. Because I escaped to it, and played with it, and was reenergized by it. Because even when I leapt into it angry, I emerged smiling. Also. Even though I was busy with other things, I kept at it, kept feeling its quietly enticing pull, like a favorite tune hummed for the pure joy of it.
Today, even when Work Meh creeps in, I am in constant contact with the work I dearly love. So I have one last thing to share.
At the end of this week, our new book will be available! Woo hoo! A Travel Guide for Transitions: Because Freaking Out About This by Myself Totally Sucks.
A book more quirky than cool, like it’s authors, it is home to quotes, essays, and playful, vivid drawings (Thanks Wendy!) about people savoring, thriving, and surviving life and work transitions. By the end of this week, you’ll be able to find it on Amazon.com, available for the Kindle, if you have one, and for the Kindle app, to use on other devices and computers and digital thingys. I’ve been reading it on my iPad. If I can figure it out, anyone can. Well, okay, Bas had to help me, but I eventually got it.
Later in the summer it will also become a print-on-demand book, in case you’re ever feeling demanding, because that where Work Ahhh is leading Bas. And if that’s not enough of us you’ll be able to read lots about it, and all our other work, on our new website, www.OddballEmpire.com, because that’s where our Work Ahhh led us both next.