This summer reading list is one of my FAVORITE things to put together each year!
As I’m working on my dissertation, many of my reading choices are centered around my research which covers the topics of feminism, intuition, self-trust, embodiment, and women leading in male-dominated fields. I’ve also been deeply entrenched in my anti-racism work, so that’s reflected here as well.
And of course, there are a few just for fun reading picks in here!
1. Caliban and the Witch- Silvia Federici
“Caliban and the Witch is a history of the body in the transition to capitalism. Moving from the peasant revolts of the late Middle Ages to the witch-hunts and the rise of mechanical philosophy, Federici investigates the capitalist rationalization of social reproduction. She shows how the battle against the rebel body and the conflict between body and mind are essential conditions for the development of labor power and self-ownership, two central principles of modern social organization.”
Laura’s Note: An important part of my research is how women experience gendered workplaces, and how bodies are an inherent part of both the capitalist system and leadership. Also, I’m taking Dr. Kimberly George’s audio course where she helps to walk us through the learnings from this text and puts the information in context with what we’re experiencing in the collective right now.
2. Light In The Dark: Rewriting Identity, Spirituality, Reality- Gloria Anzaldúa
“Light in the Dark is the culmination of Gloria E. Anzaldúa’s mature thought and the most comprehensive presentation of her philosophy. Focusing on aesthetics, ontology, epistemology, and ethics, it contains several developments in her many important theoretical contributions.”
Laura’s Note: Another book that was introduced to me by Dr. Kimberly George, and I’m loving the weaving together and affirmation of intellectual knowledge and spirituality. This is sometimes where I get tripped up in my dissertation, writing a very academic research project what combines extremely practical and logical aspects with things that are considered more esoteric and not commonly addressed in the academic space, especially as applied to practical leadership practices.
3. This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do The Work- Tiffany Jewell
“Who are you? What is racism? Where does it come from? Why does it exist? What can you do to disrupt it? Learn about social identities, the history of racism and resistance against it, and how you can use your anti-racist lens and voice to move the world toward equity and liberation. Gain a deeper understanding of your anti-racist self as you progress through 20 chapters that spark introspection, reveal the origins of racism that we are still experiencing, and give you the courage and power to undo it. Each chapter builds on the previous one as you learn more about yourself and racial oppression. 20 activities get you thinking and help you grow with the knowledge. All you need is a pen and paper.”
Laura’s Note: This book is part of my anti-racism work. I would like to learn from this work and incorporate it into what I speak with my own children about, and walk them through the thought exercises (they’re 6 and 4, but it’s never too early to have these discussions. I am also training to be a BOLD facilitator for young girls (BOLD is a program that aims to help young girls build confidence and self- esteem, create a healthy body image, and establish positive habits) and I’m working on a reading list for the groups that I will facilitate, and anti-racism is definitely one of the topics that I’ll be including.
4. The One- John Marrs
“A simple DNA test is all it takes. Just a quick mouth swab and soon you’ll be matched with your perfect partner—the one you’re genetically made for.
That’s the promise made by Match Your DNA. A decade ago, the company announced that they had found the gene that pairs each of us with our soul mate. Since then, millions of people around the world have been matched. But the discovery has its downsides: test results have led to the breakup of countless relationships and upended the traditional ideas of dating, romance and love.
Now five very different people have received the notification that they’ve been “Matched.” They’re each about to meet their one true love. But “happily ever after” isn’t guaranteed for everyone. Because even soul mates have secrets. And some are more shocking than others…”
Laura’s Note: This one is just for fun! Planning on reading it over the course of a weekend for a brain break.
5. Where the Forest Meets the Stars- Glendy Vanderah
“After the loss of her mother and her own battle with breast cancer, Joanna Teale returns to her graduate research on nesting birds in rural Illinois, determined to prove that her recent hardships have not broken her. She throws herself into her work from dusk to dawn, until her solitary routine is disrupted by the appearance of a mysterious child who shows up at her cabin barefoot and covered in bruises. The girl calls herself Ursa, and she claims to have been sent from the stars to witness five miracles. With concerns about the child’s home situation, Jo reluctantly agrees to let her stay—just until she learns more about Ursa’s past. Jo enlists the help of her reclusive neighbor, Gabriel Nash, to solve the mystery of the charming child. But the more time they spend together, the more questions they have. How does a young girl not only read but understand Shakespeare? Why do good things keep happening in her presence? And why aren’t Jo and Gabe checking the missing children’s website anymore? Though the three have formed an incredible bond, they know difficult choices must be made. As the summer nears an end and Ursa gets closer to her fifth miracle, her dangerous past closes in. When it finally catches up to them, all of their painful secrets will be forced into the open, and their fates will be left to the stars.”
Laura’s Note: Another one that’s just for fun! This one appeals to me because of the magical aspect of it. Heard it is an amazing book. Can’t wait to dig in.
6. Emergent Strategy- adrienne maree brown
“Inspired by Octavia Butler’s explorations of our human relationship to change, Emergent Strategy is radical self-help, society-help, and planet-help designed to shape the futures we want to live. Change is constant. The world is in a continual state of flux. It is a stream of ever-mutating, emergent patterns. Rather than steel ourselves against such change, this book invites us to feel, map, assess, and learn from the swirling patterns around us in order to better understand and influence them as they happen. This is a resolutely materialist “spirituality” based equally on science and science fiction, a visionary incantation to transform that which ultimately transforms us.”
Laura’s Note: I love the non-linear writing style of adrienne maree brown, and this book has been breaking my brain in all the best ways.
7. Honoring Your Ancestors: A Guide to Ancestral Veneration- Mallorie Vaudoise
“Learn how to connect to your ancestors and receive the benefits that come from veneration―deeper spirituality, more love in your life, better outcomes in creative pursuits, powerful magic and spellwork, and an improved sense of wellness. Filled with hands-on techniques and tips, Honoring Your Ancestors shows you how to create an ancestor altar so you can work with ancestors of all kinds. Author Mallorie Vaudoise also shares fascinating ideas for incorporating rituals, spells, family recipes, and even practices like music and dancing to help you open this wonderful new dimension of your spiritual journey. Ancestor veneration is one of the most widespread spiritual practices in the world. This book shares the important distinctions between working with blood ancestors, lineage ancestors, and affinity ancestors while helping you recognize the signs that your ancestors are responding to your petitions and offerings. You will also explore important topics like mediumship and ancestral trauma so you can be sure to develop a veneration practice that’s uplifting and affirming for you.”
Laura’s Note: My ancestors are mostly of Italian descent, and when they came to the US from Italy many of their traditions and parts of the culture were intentionally not passed down to their children and grandchildren. As I explore my spirituality, it is important for me to reconnect with my own ancestors and derive my practices in a non-appropriative way. This book is part of the studying that I’ll be doing, along with attending an ancestral wisdom school to reconnect with my Southern Italian ancestral ways (Blood + Belonging) starting in the fall.
“A collection of essays spanning politics, criticism, and feminism from one of the most-watched young cultural observers of her generation, Roxane Gay. “Pink is my favorite color. I used to say my favorite color was black to be cool, but it is pink—all shades of pink. If I have an accessory, it is probably pink. I read Vogue, and I’m not doing it ironically, though it might seem that way. I once live-tweeted the September issue.” In these funny and insightful essays, Roxane Gay takes us through the journey of her evolution as a woman (Sweet Valley High) of color (The Help) while also taking readers on a ride through culture of the last few years (Girls, Django in Chains) and commenting on the state of feminism today (abortion, Chris Brown). The portrait that emerges is not only one of an incredibly insightful woman continually growing to understand herself and our society, but also one of our culture. Bad Feminist is a sharp, funny, and spot-on look at the ways in which the culture we consume becomes who we are, and an inspiring call-to-arms of all the ways we still need to do better, coming from one of our most interesting and important cultural critics.”
Laura’s Note: Short essays on feminism are my fave. And Roxane Gay is brilliant.
9. The Body Is Not An Apology- Sonya Renee Taylor
“Humans are a varied and divergent bunch with all manner of beliefs, morals, and bodies. Systems of oppression thrive off our inability to make peace with difference and injure the relationship we have with our own bodies. The Body Is Not an Apology offers radical self-love as the balm to heal the wounds inflicted by these violent systems. World-renowned activist and poet Sonya Renee Taylor invites us to reconnect with the radical origins of our minds and bodies and celebrate our collective, enduring strength. As we awaken to our own indoctrinated body shame, we feel inspired to awaken others and to interrupt the systems that perpetuate body shame and oppression against all bodies. When we act from this truth on a global scale, we usher in the transformative opportunity of radical self-love, which is the opportunity for a more just, equitable, and compassionate world–for us all.”
Laura’s Note: I got the audiobook for this one. I recently attended a workshop where Sonya Renee Taylor did a reading, and I was mesmerized by her voice and her words. And we can all use a little (a lot) more body love every damn day.
(Quoted descriptions from Amazon. Links are not affiliate links, just provided for your convenience if you’re interested in checking them out!)
Until Next Time,
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