What I’m Reading: Railsea by China Miéville
There was a time when wen we did not form all our words as we do now, in writing on a page. There was a time when the word “&” was written with several distinct & separate letters. It seems madness now. But there it is, & there is nothing we can do about it.
Humanity learned to ride the rails, & that motion made us what we are, a ferromaritime people. The lines of the railsea go everywhere but from one place straight to another. It is always switchback, junction, coils around & over our own train-trails.
What word better could there be to symbolize the railsea that connects & separates all lands, than “&” itself? Where else does the railsea take us, but to one place & that one & that one & that one, & so on? & what better embodies, in the sweep of the pen, the recurved motion of trains, than “&”?
An efficient route from where we start to where we end would make the word the tiniest line. But it takes a veering route, up & backwards, overshooting & correcting, back down again south & west, crossing its own earlier path, changing direction, another overlap, to stop, finally, a few hairs’ width from where we began.
& tacks & yaws, switches on its way to where it’s going, as we all must do.
What I’m Reading: The Cancer Journals by Audre Lorde
I was going to die, if not sooner then later, whether or not I had ever spoken myself. My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you. But for every real word spoken, for every attempt I had ever made to speak those truth for which I am still seeking, I had made contact with other women while we examined the words to fit a world in which we all believed, bridging our differences. And it was the concern and caring of all those women which give me strength and enabled me to scrutinize the essentials of my living.
What I’m Reading: Dream More by Dolly Parton
…happiness is your commitment to appreciating all that is good in life, big and small. It’s pretty easy to be happy when everything’s going great. But life’s not like that. It’s like one of my favorite old sayings goes, ‘If you want the rainbow, you have to put up with the rain.’
I wake up every day expecting all to be good and right. And if it’s not, I set my mind to making it so by the end of the day. You just have to figure out where the unhappiness is coming from and then set about fixing it
It’s easy to let your unhappiness sit there, jut like it’s easy to let your anger sit there. But you can’t do that. You have to feel it and fix it.
What I’m Reading: Positive Psychology for Overcoming Depression: Self-help Strategies for Happiness, Inner Strength and Well-Being by Miriam Akhtar
I’m familiar with the workings of positive psychology, but this would be a great introductory book for someone who isn’t. It approaches strengthening our positivity muscles in a direct and accessible type of way. & the writing and brainstorming exercises are practical but not too textbook-y. It isn’t a cure (& doesn’t claim to be one). But what it will assist with is building up your resilience to potentially prevent a downward spiral.
What I’m Reading: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente
“When you are born,” the golem said softly, “your courage is new and clean. You are brave enough for anything: crawling off of staircases, saying your first words without fearing that someone will think you are foolish, putting strange things in your mouth. But as you get older, your courage attracts gunk, and crusty things, and dirt, and fear, and knowing how bad things can get and what pain feels like. By the time you’re half-grown, your courage barely moves at all, it’s so grunged up with living. So every once in awhile, you have to scrub it up and get the works going, or else you’ll never be brave again.”
This will be the book I have up my sleeve as a cool auntie to gift to the young people in my life (when they’re a little older) who have a penchant for escapism, dreams, & strange creatures. It features a preteen named September (born in May, if you must know) during what she thinks will be a great escape to a wondrous land. But in this new place there is still pain, heartbreak, and violence. A little Lewis Carroll & a little Neil Gaiman.
Womanthology: Heroic provides 300 pages filled with short comics all written & drawn by women. Thematically, the focus is on the heroism and strength. It also includes some instruction and advice on creating comics and making it within the industry.
There was quite a range of skill levels & I liked that not all of it was super-chique or professional. While not all the art or stories appealed to my own aesthetics, I was drawn in by the variety of stories featuring strength of all different types. (Personal, professional, emotional, family…) There were quite a few stories that made me shed a few tears. I totally recommend this to anyone who needs a power boost in re: inspiration, art, or the power of collaboration.
What I’m Reading: Writing Through the Darkness: Easing Your Depression with Paper & Pen by Elizabeth Maynard Schaefer, Ph. D.
This was a great book for me because it was both personal & academic in nature. The author describes her own experience with depression, provides writing prompts throughout along with a great bibliography/resource list in the back. I found her discussion of why she went ‘public’ with her own story & the why or why not behind doing the same with your own memoirs to be insightful. It did leave out a fair bit of the subtleties of mental health stigma. Of course, that wasn’t this book’s main focus.
Writing can be so therapeutic & it was great to see it treated as an adjunct form of treatment for depression.
What I’m Reading: The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be & Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown
When we can let go of what other people think & own our story, we gain access to our worthiness-the feeling that we are enough just as we are & that we are worthy of love & belonging. When we spend a lifetime trying to distance ourselves from the parts of our lives that don’t fit with who we think we’re supposed to be, we stand outside of our story & hustle for our worthiness by constantly performing, perfecting, pleasing, and proving. Our sense of worthiness – that critically importance piece that gives us access to love & belonging – lives inside of our story.
This book was recommended to me ages ago. My ‘to-read’ list is a bit lengthy so it fell by the wayside until somewhat recently, when it finally arrived via hold at my local library branch. Perfect timing, public library.
It is divided into ten ‘guideposts’ that are meant to assist us in letting go of unhealthy traits & embrace new (healthier) ones. Brené Brown discusses how it is our imperfections & vulnerabilities that are the factor that connect us all as human beings. & come on, the whole thing about “Who I Am” vs. “Who I’m Supposed to Be” hits home. Big time.
What I’m reading: Seriously…I’m Kidding by Ellen DeGeneres
“It’s nice to think we can trust each other. It would be depressing to walk around every day thinking people are lying to us all the time. I prefer to believe people are good and honest and respect me enough to tell me the truth. It’s not easy to find those people all the time, but they’re out there. They’re usually the people who don’t hesitate to tell you when you look tired or that you have broccoli hanging from your lip. They might be blunt and sometimes they might hurt your feelings with their candor, but honestly? You’ll appreciate it.”
I wouldn’t call this a memoir or an autobiography. It is a collection of musings on a gamut of different topics – things that cross Ellen’s mind with some good advice thrown in here & there. An amusing and poignant read – several moments hit home with me right now. I chuckled a lot & kept trying to read bits aloud to Robin while he attempted to sleep (partners beware!).
What I’m reading: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
The secret to life is to put yourself in the right lighting. For some it’s a Broadway spotlight; for others, a lamplit desk. Use your natural powers – of persistence, concentration, insight and sensitivity – to do work you love and work that matters. Solve problems, make art, think deeply.
I think this is one of the best books I’ve read about the subject of introversion. Susan Cain tackled the subject matter so thoroughly. She visits arenas that promote extroversion (Harvard Business School, Wall Street…) She also interviews psychologists and neurologists to explain concepts like group thinking, the meaning behind being able to delay gratification, and the trait of ‘sensitivity’.
This isn’t a “X is superior to Y” type of book like any of the books on introversion I’ve read. (Thank goodness!) This is book detailing how we react to and interact with the world in different ways; each of these ways should be treated as equals. Cain points out how by solely valuing extroverted characteristics, we are doing everyone a great disservice in regards to what we could be accomplishing.
If you love an introvert, or have a child that is an introvert – well, she covers that as well. Regardless of where on the sliding scale you see yourself, I think this book has a lot to offer for understanding the people around us.