Quick overview

All posts still in progress. If you have additions you want to suggest, please let me know in the comments or on twitter @schomj.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Influential Books

In Jessica Olin's Essential Reading post asked the question "So, how about you? What are your favorite books that you think inform who you are?"

Because I am who I am, that set me to wondering which books I would credit/blame for being me.

Like Jessica O., one of the books that had a sustaining influence on me was by Ursula K. LeGuin. But in my case it was The Disposessed that stays with me the most. I can't even describe all the things this book left with me, but its presentation of an anarchist utopia that didn’t make me roll my eyes, the way it questions the concept of freedom, and its presentation of science as a living, growing thing had a profound impact on how I viewed the world for a long time.

I can’t pick just one Terry Pratchett novel, the Discworld is just too big and too amazing. But I can narrow it down to two primary influencers: Wyrd Sisters was the first Pratchett novel I ever read and the first fantasy novel I read that featured actual adult women making actual adult decisions unrelated to their love interests.

The second Pratchett novel I would pick is Guards! Guards! Captain Carrot, Sam Vimes, dragons, politics, policing, and life all dealt with humorously and lovingly and angrily, as appropriate.

Violence and the Sacred by René Girard. I know people have strong feels on this book, and I came to it as a layperson not as a philosophy expert so I can’t really explain why this book resonated with me so much. I think because it helped remove a veil of illusion that had been over my eyes about the ongoing, culturally sanctioned use of violence and sacrifice.

Diary of a Madman and Other Stories. Nikolai Gogol's absurdist, satirical, farcical, tragic 19th century Russian stories. As Jenny Holzer famously said, “Protect me from what I want.”

Susan Wendell's The Rejected Body: Feminist Philosophical Reflections on Disability allowed me to recognize and accept myself as having a disability in a way that has really helped me emotionally and physically.

I can’t actually remember the book that introduced me to Buddhism (it had a purplish paper cover with a Dharma wheel on it, was from the ‘60s or ‘70s, and talked as much about cosmology as about the Buddha, but it started me on a path that has impacted me powerful). So, instead I’ll showcase Ayya Khema’s Being Nobody, Going Nowhere. This book talks about the four noble truths and the noble eightfold path in really practical terms, and explains why meditation and the dhamma are so valuable in a way that removed a lot of my performance anxiety around it.

There are probably some that I’ve overlooked, but it’s lunchtime and food is as important to me as books are.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

#CritLib and Diversity Related books that I've read

(and would recommend to others)

Got the idea to do this from seeing April Hathcock's excellent list.

These are books I've read in the past five years or so. I'm always looking to add new things to Mount To-Be-Read, so please don't hesitate to suggest additional titles!

Fiction and Poetry
•    Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
•    The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth #1) by N.K. Jemisin
•    The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard
•    Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
•    Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff
•    Notebook of a Return to the Native Land by Aimé Césaire
•    Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older
•    Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson
•     Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
•    Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
•    The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
•    Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor


Non-Fiction
Class
•    Good White People: The Problem with Middle-Class White Anti-Racism by Shannon Sullivan
•    The Wages of Whiteness (revised edition) by David R. Roediger
Disability
•    Claiming Disability: Knowledge and Identity by Simi Linton
•    Fantasies of Identification: Disability, Gender, Race by Ellen Samuels
•    The Rejected Body: Feminist Philosophical Reflections on Disability by Susan Wendell (one of my favorite books ever!)
•    Understanding Disability: Inclusion, Access, Diversity, and Civil Rights by Paul T. Jaeger (very 101 approach)
•    Zami by Audre Lorde
Gender/Sexuality
•     Asexualities : feminist and queer perspectives edited by Megan Milks and Karli June Ceranowski
•    Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference by Cordelia Fine
•    Disappearing Acts: Gender, Power, and Relational Practice at Work by Joyce K. Fletcher
•    Fantasies of Identification: Disability, Gender, Race by Ellen Samuels
•    Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center by bell hooks
•    The Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality by Julie Sondra Decker
•    The Rejected Body: Feminist Philosophical Reflections on Disability by Susan Wendell
•    Zami by Audre Lorde
Race
•    Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
•    Black Magic: Religion and the African American Conjuring Tradition by Yvonne Patricia Chireau
•    Borderlands/La Frontera Gloria E. Anzaldúa
•    Fantasies of Identification: Disability, Gender, Race by Ellen Samuels
•    Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center by bell hooks
•    The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
•    Good White People: The Problem with Middle-Class White Anti-Racism by Shannon Sullivan
•    An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
•    Never Caught: The Washingtons' Unrelenting Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge by Erica Armstrong Dunbar
•    The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America by Andrés Reséndez
•    Possessive Investment in Whiteness by George Lipsitz 
•    Science, Colonialism, and Indigenous Peoples: The Cultural Politics of Law and Knowledge by Laurelyn Whitt
•    Spoken Soul: The Story of Black English by John Russell Rickford
•    The Wages of Whiteness (revised edition) by David R. Roediger
•    Waking up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving (I didn't actually care for this one, but it's recommended a lot to white people who are new to anti-racism discussions)
•    Zami by Audre Lorde
Library/Education
•    Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paolo Freire
•    Radical Cataloging: Essays at the Front edited by K.R. Roberto
•    Sorting Things Out: Classification and its Consequences by Geoffrey C. Bowker and Susan Leigh Star (specifically relates to the political impact of classification decisions)
Politics/Other
•    Bastard Tongues: A Trailblazing Linguist Finds Clues to Our Common Humanity in the World’s Lowliest Languages by Derek Bickerton
•    An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
•    The Language Hoax: Why the World Looks the Same in Any Language by John McWhorter
•    On Revolution by Hannah Arendt
Religion
•    Black Magic: Religion and the African American Conjuring Tradition by Yvonne Patricia Chireau
•    God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World, and Why Their Differences Matter by Stephen R. Prothero
•     Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know--And Doesn't by Stephen R. Prothero
•    A Vanished World: Muslims, Christians and Jews in Medieval Spain by Chris Lowney