About a month ago, as I was searching for independent, Black-owned bookshops to buy from instead of Amazon, I stumbled across The Lit Bar, a bookstore located in the Bronx, NY that runs its online shop through BookShop. It didn’t take much poking around for me to fall in love with BookShop’s mission: to help financially support local, independent bookstores by giving away over 75% of their profit margin to stores, publications, authors, and others who make up the thriving, inspirational culture around books. I immediately bought a book and signed up for their affiliate program.
Since I have ADHD, it’s often hard for me to start and stay focused on a book. Since starting ADHD meds, however, I’ve rediscovered my love for reading. The other issue with having ADHD is that I want to read everything at once which makes it difficult to pick a book and stay focused on it without itching to read three other books at the same time. So it’s actually really convenient that when I order 20 books at a time from BookShop, I know that 10% of my purchase is being donated to independent bookstores across the U.S.
Because I have a huge list of books I’m dying to read right now, I thought it would be fun to list them here to maybe give you some reading inspiration and also hold myself accountable. I’ve narrowed it down to eight books because there are about four months left in the year (what!? how did that happen!?) and I’m a slow reader so I’m thinking I can probably read two books a month. I’ve highlighted two books about each of my main interests: mental health, grief and loss, diet culture, and social justice. Not surprisingly, you’ll notice that some of these books address one or more of these topics because, like I keep saying, THEY’RE ALL CONNECTED.
The best part about this, aside from us basically starting a Rosey Rebecca book club, is that if you purchase any of the books using the links below, not only do I receive a 10% commission, but BookShop donates a matching 10% to local, independent bookshops across the country! How great is that!? So let’s get to it, shall we?
BOOKS ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH
Depression in a Digital Age: The Highs and Lows of Perfectionism by Fiona Thomas
This book has been on my list for a while. I found Fiona on Instagram while researching ways to manage depression a couple years ago and planned to order this book then and then, well, depression happened. I’m really looking forward to reading this.
Fiona was your average 80’s baby. She grew up without an iPhone, used actual landlines to make calls, and didn't have the luxury (or perhaps the curse) of Facebook during her adolescent years. But though her childhood took place in an analogue world, she found herself suffering from the same problems many young people face today; the race for perfectionism, high levels of anxiety, a fear of success.
After an unfulfilling university experience, a stressful beginning in a management career, and a severe case of impostor syndrome, Fiona suffered a nervous breakdown in her mid-twenties. Amongst therapy and medication, it was the online community which gave Fiona the comfort she needed to recover.
In Depression in a Digital Age, Fiona traces her life dealing with anxiety and the subsequent depression, and how a digital life helped her find her community, find her voice, find herself.
I’m really excited about this book because I have a hard time structuring my day. Plus, just generally interested in reading more about ADHD since I was so recently diagnosed.
Stop paying the high cost of disorganization.
Late fees on forgotten bills. A home full of clutter and unfinished projects. Eroding respect with your friends, family, and colleagues. Health worries from doctor's appointments you keep meaning to schedule. Nonstop anxiety as you wait for the other shoe to drop.
You deserve better.
Order from Chaos will teach you how your brain works and how to stop getting in your own way. Mixing stories from the trenches of her own experience as a mom and wife with ADHD with wise, well-researched advice from her years as a blogger at The ADHD Homestead, Jaclyn Paul shows you how to design your own system for restoring order.
Past failures don't have to define you. Order from Chaos offers a helping hand to get you on the path to a more peaceful and rewarding life.
BOOKS ABOUT GRIEF AND LOSS
It’s OK That You’re Not OK: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn’t Understand by Megan Devine
I am excited to read this important book by Megan Devine, the author of the blog Refuge in Grief. I can relate to so much of what she talks about when it comes to grief and loss and I think it’s an important read for people who have never experienced loss as well.
In It's OK That You're Not OK, Megan Devine offers a profound new approach to both the experience of grief and the way we try to help others who have endured tragedy. Having experienced grief from both sides--as both a therapist and as a woman who witnessed the accidental drowning of her beloved partner--Megan writes with deep insight about the unspoken truths of loss, love, and healing. She debunks the culturally prescribed goal of returning to a normal, happy life, replacing it with a far healthier middle path, one that invites us to build a life alongside grief rather than seeking to overcome it
Many people who have suffered a loss feel judged, dismissed, and misunderstood by a culture that wants to solve grief. Megan writes, Grief no more needs a solution than love needs a solution. Through stories, research, life tips, and creative and mindfulness-based practices, she offers a unique guide through an experience we all must face--in our personal lives, in the lives of those we love, and in the wider world.
Since my father died in 2011, reading about death has been hard for me. In researching books about grief, I stumbled across The Glass Eye and was intrigued by how Jeannie Vanasco writes not only about losing her father at a young age but about the way the experience affects her mental health as well.
The night before her father dies, eighteen-year-old Jeannie Vanasco promises she will write a book for him. But this isn't the book she imagined. The Glass Eye is Jeannie's struggle to honor her father, her larger-than-life hero but also the man who named her after his daughter from a previous marriage, a daughter who died.
After his funeral, Jeannie spends the next decade in escalating mania, in and out of hospitals―increasingly obsessed with the other Jeanne. Obsession turns to investigation as Jeannie plumbs her childhood awareness of her dead half sibling and hunts for clues into the mysterious circumstances of her death. It becomes a puzzle Jeannie feels she must solve to better understand herself and her father.
Jeannie Vanasco pulls us into her unraveling with such intimacy that her insanity becomes palpable, even logical. A brilliant exploration of the human psyche, The Glass Eye deepens our definitions of love, sanity, grief, and recovery.
BOOKS ABOUT DIET CULTURE
Anti-Diet: Reclaim You Time, Money, Well-being, and Happiness Through Intuitive Eating by Christy Harrison
Christy Harrison’s book has been on my list for quite a while. I am a huge fan of her Food Psych podcast and from listening to it on a regular basis, I just knew her book would be a must-read. Without even reading it yet, I feel I can confidently recommend it as a primer on the ins and outs of diet culture and a good read for anyone looking to find food freedom and body acceptance.
68 percent of Americans have dieted at some point in their lives. But upwards of 90% of people who intentionally lose weight gain it back within five years. And as many as 66% of people who embark on weight-loss efforts end up gaining more weight than they lost. If dieting is so clearly ineffective, why are we so obsessed with it?
The culprit is diet culture, a system of beliefs that equates thinness to health and moral virtue, promotes weight loss as a means of attaining higher status, and demonizes certain ways of eating while elevating others. It's sexist, racist, and classist, yet this way of thinking about food and bodies is so embedded in the fabric of our society that it can be hard to recognize. It masquerades as health, wellness, and fitness, and for some, it is all-consuming.
In Anti-Diet, Christy Harrison takes on diet culture and the multi-billion-dollar industries that profit from it, exposing all the ways it robs people of their time, money, health, and happiness. It will turn what you think you know about health and wellness upside down, as Harrison explores the history of diet culture, how it's infiltrated the health and wellness world, how to recognize it in all its sneaky forms, and how letting go of efforts to lose weight or eat "perfectly" actually helps to improve people's health -- no matter their size. Drawing on scientific research, personal experience, and stories from patients and colleagues, Anti-Diet provides a radical alternative to diet culture, and helps readers reclaim their bodies, minds, and lives so they can focus on the things that truly matter.
This is an important read to truly understand the roots of diet culture, and because everything is connected, it’s also a good look at race, class and gender prejudice.
How the female body has been racialized for over two hundred years
There is an obesity epidemic in this country and poor black women are particularly stigmatized as "diseased" and a burden on the public health care system. This is only the most recent incarnation of the fear of fat black women, which Sabrina Strings shows took root more than two hundred years ago.
Strings weaves together an eye-opening historical narrative ranging from the Renaissance to the current moment, analyzing important works of art, newspaper and magazine articles, and scientific literature and medical journals--where fat bodies were once praised--showing that fat phobia, as it relates to black women, did not originate with medical findings, but with the Enlightenment era belief that fatness was evidence of "savagery" and racial inferiority.
The author argues that the contemporary ideal of slenderness is, at its very core, racialized and racist. Indeed, it was not until the early twentieth century, when racialized attitudes against fatness were already entrenched in the culture, that the medical establishment began its crusade against obesity. An important and original work, Fearing the Black Body argues convincingly that fat phobia isn't about health at all, but rather a means of using the body to validate race, class, and gender prejudice.
Books About Social Justice
I cannot wait to read this book. I’m almost finished reading Reclaiming Our Space by Femista Jones and I think Hood Feminism will be a great next read. As someone who took classes about women’s studies in college, both Feminista Jones and Mikki Kendall have shown me that Feminism isn’t actually Feminism if you’re not including ALL women in your definition.
Today's feminist movement has a glaring blind spot, and paradoxically, it is women. Mainstream feminists rarely talk about meeting basic needs as a feminist issue, argues Mikki Kendall, but food insecurity, access to quality education, safe neighborhoods, a living wage, and medical care are all feminist issues. All too often, however, the focus is not on basic survival for the many, but on increasing privilege for the few. That feminists refuse to prioritize these issues has only exacerbated the age-old problem of both internecine discord, and women who rebuff at carrying the title. Moreover, prominent white feminists broadly suffer from their own myopia with regard to how things like race, class, sexual orientation, and ability intersect with gender. How can we stand in solidarity as a movement, Kendall asks, when there is the distinct likelihood that some women are oppressing others?
In her searing collection of essays, Mikki Kendall takes aim at the legitimacy of the modern feminist movement arguing that it has chronically failed to address the needs of all but a few women. Drawing on her own experiences with hunger, violence, and hypersexualization, along with incisive commentary on politics, pop culture, the stigma of mental health, and more, Hood Feminism delivers an irrefutable indictment of a movement in flux. An unforgettable debut, Kendall has written a ferocious clarion call to all would-be feminists to live out the true mandate of the movement in thought and indeed.
I have always felt strongly about advocating for reproductive rights. In college, the back of my car was covered in pro-choice bumper stickers and I ranted about pro-lifers every chance I got. I believe this book will be a good intro to learning about the history of reproductive rights for anyone who is just getting started and trying to find out how they can join the fight.
From award-winning author Karen Blumenthal, Jane Against the World is deep and passionate look at the riveting history of the fight for reproductive rights in the United States.
Tracing the path to the landmark decision in Roe v. Wade and the continuing battle for women's rights, Blumenthal examines, in a straightforward tone, the root causes of the current debate around abortion and repercussions that have affected generations of American women.
This eye-opening book is the perfect tool to facilitate difficult discussions and awareness of a topic that is rarely touched on in school but affects each and every young person. It's also perfect for fans of Steve Sheinkin and Deborah Heiligman.
This journalistic look at the history of abortion and the landmark case of Roe v. Wade is an important and necessary book.
Find More Books on My Bookshop
So, that’s my reading list for the rest of 2020! I hope you join me in reading one or all of them. Please feel free to check out the rest of the books on my Bookshop and use the search bar below to search for your own interests. Let’s stop ordering books from Amazon and support independent bookstores!
YAY! Let’s read together!
As always, thank you for reading!