August to September Books I Read

In this post, we’ll go over the books I read August through the end of September, 2021. I got my books at the following locations:

Over the last couple months, I read a total of six books, and only five are pictured as I listened to the Still, Together audiobook.

Edit (October 9th, 2021): Oops, I forgot that I read two more books: Men Explain Things to Me and The Faraway Nearby, both by Rebecca Solnit.

Night Falls Fast

by Kay Redfield Jamison

** trigger warning: suicidal ideation, suicide

I read An Unquiet Mind by the same author, and wow can she write. This book is all about suicide – the causes, life experiences, community impact – every facet I could think of lives in this text. It’s well researched, compassionate, empathetic, intelligent, kind. I absolutely recommend this book to anyone (in the right state of mind to deal with this subject matter and with a support network such as a therapist).

Little Weirds

by Jenny Slate

A stunning little book of short stories. It’s very weird, quirky even. But not in a self-indulgent way. There’s real pain in it, not the appearance of it for plot (*cough* unlike *cough* No One Belongs Here More Than You).

From A Prayer, “As the image of myself becomes sharper in my brain and more precious, I feel less afraid that someone else will erase me by denying me love.

I absolutely bawled my eyes out over “I Died: Bronze Tree” while sitting on my living room floor ravenously getting through the last quarter of the book. Go read it for yourself if you like very weird things.

Disability Visibility

edited by Alice Wong

** trigger warning: SA, suicidal ideation (all trigger warnings are listed before each story so you can skip any you want!)

Wow, just wow. I highly recommend this anthology. These stories are from people with all kinds of disabilities, seen and not seen. It was horrifying and sad and angering, and worth every ounce of energy to get through each page. I highly recommend this book to anyone, and especially to people who work in public and who say they want to do the work to promote diversity and inclusion. It’s also generally helpful for just recognizing the sheer scope of human life, and that this world really is built for only some human experiences, not all human experiences.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

by Jean-Dominique Bauby

** trigger warning: life-altering injury

I’ve been meaning to read this book for so long. It’s been on my shelf and I was so afraid it would be so sad. It’s melancholy. It’s compact. It’s packed and unpacked and tidy and very messy and hard and easy. I was tired. I thought of the missing and what struck me was Bauby’s relentless living, just doing the thing of living. Every single day.

There is life in the diving bell, the immobilized appearance of stasis where your brain functions normally but your body does not do what it did once. Bauby doesn’t get existential really. He dreams of food, tastes it even. He manufactures a way to write a book with no pen, no hands, no paper, no computer. He makes others extensions of himself and recognizes the futility of his infantile need for others (paraphrasing him). I recognize in him the feeling of “I’m stuck and yet my brain is immaculately aware of the details of all of this, and I must use my imagination because otherwise I will crumble like a hard cookie.”

Group

by Christie Tate

** trigger warning: suicidal ideation, eating disorder

Exhausting. I really loved the beginning of this book. Maybe the first half? But I became tired of the author. It could have been the subject matter that knocked me down. She goes into group therapy and the members are just bad to each other (the author poses it as an alternative type of therapy). They yell at one another, degrade one another, have full-blown tantrums, and the takeaway is that the author is able to grow intimacy through years of this and “score” her heart to allow romantic love in.

I’ll spare you the fucking pain of getting through the last quarter. She meets her now-husband when she gives up the search for love. I rolled my eyes. She realizes that her therapy group members were there all along and “They had always loved me.” Then she goes on to say that she “wouldn’t die alone. These people would surround me. They would help my family plan a proper burial.” Like I said, exhausting. Too harsh? Maybe. I don’t really recommend this book. And also please only read it if you’re in a decent state of mind and have support around you.

Still, Together

by Manoj Dias

A quick read, or in my case, a quick listen. Dias talks about the different ways in which stillness and consciousness can improve relationships. I particularly enjoyed the section about workplace consciousness. He posits that one should feel they are doing good at their job, or at least not causing additional harm. I have had this thought many times before, and like to ask myself questions like this. How am I showing up at work? Am I generally doing more good than harm (as far as I can perceive and interpret it)? It had some good questions, and also some good guided meditations.

Men Explain Things to Me

by Rebecca Solnit

A quick detonation of ideas, all sewn together under the topic of feminism, femininity, female identity, and the erasures that come with being born in one type of body. She starts off with a hard-hitting and all-too-familiar story about mansplaining. It’s as infuriating as King Kong Theory and Invisible Women.

The Faraway Nearby

by Rebecca Solnit

Uncomfortable, still, murky. I find it so strange when authors use external tragedy to weave their story. She spends time talking about leper colonies and then jumps into her mother’s illness. Maybe I missed the connection, but I’m exhausted by hyperbole. I’m tired with too much comparison when the initial story itself may be bolder and more honest without all the intertextuality. Perhaps she’s using strangers’ pain to keep a distance from her own? I don’t recommend reading this, especially not alone in Joshua Tree with no cell service like I did. That was faraway nearby.