What I’ve Been Reading

Not long ago, I was asked by a friend, with whom I had been sharing some of my personal work and ideas around trauma, for a list of what I was reading and what was helping to shape and inform my process, beliefs and transformation. It took me a while to compile the list, in fact I sort of avoided it for a while but I wasn’t sure why. It wasn’t until I was later asked to contribute ideas to another list that I realized I had been avoiding that first list because I felt like at least part of the expectation was to provide the names of trauma related, self-help or personal growth related books, articles, etc that I experienced as helpful and that in reality, I had reached a place where I realized that I could not recommend one trauma related or self-help book and, in fact, had a strong desire to burn them all. I experienced them all, even the most widely read and praised among them, as an extension of Mainstream Trauma Culture (MTC), as limiting and pathologizing and oppressive and as written from the point of view of savior, helper, observer and not from those who actually live the reality of the effects of trauma and almost all are written by privileged white men.

And I realized that the books and reading material that had influenced me most in my work and personal growth were books and materials related to oppression, to social issues, cultural critique, etc… in other words, books that offered no pat nor easy answers nor solutions nor universal meanings in neat and tidy boxes, but rather continued to aid me and companion me in my deconstruction and unraveling and undoing. The first book on my list is and will always be a transgressive and humanizing kind of memoir in which I found the courage to begin voicing my dissent within MTC and resisting the pathologizing of mySELF and the ways in which I had managed to survive.

(This list is by no means complete nor comprehensive and is a conglomeration of what I have been reading over the past three and a half years and is in no particular order of importance except the first four books being perhaps the most influential in starting me down the path towards what would become this space. I am constantly reading and have my nose in no less than three or so books at a time, usually, though my essay/article reading has slowed considerably with my disconnection from social media. I will update this list periodically with my latest discoveries. Feel free to add your own recommendations in the comments.)


Added on 3/21/18:

Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body and Primitve Accumulation by Silvia Federici

Social Capital by David Halpern

The Origin of Capitalism: a Longer View by Ellen Meiksins Wood

The Colonizer and the Conlonized by Albert Memmi

The Society of the Spectacle by Guy Debord

Purity and Danger: An Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo by Mary Douglas

Hiding from Humanity: Disgust, Shame and the Law by Martha Nussbaum


The Chronology of Water by Lidia Yuknavitch

Blood and Guts in High School by Kathy Acker

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay

Queering Sexual Violence: Radical Voices from Within the Anti-Violence Movement  Edited by Jennifer Patterson

Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection by Julia Kristeva

The Ethics of Opting Out: Queer Theory’s Defiant Subjects by Mari Ruti

Feeling Backward: Loss and the Politics of Queer History by Heather Love

Touching Feeling: Affect, Pedagogy and Performativity by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick

The Promise of Happiness by Sara Ahmed

Queer Phenomenology: Orientations, Objects, Others by Sara Ahmed

Living a Feminist Life by Sara Ahmed

No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive by Lee Edelmen

Deviations: A Gayle Rubin Reader by Gayle Rubin

Cruel Optimism by Lauren Berlant

Sex or the Unbearable by Lauren Berlant

What Do Gay Men Want?: An Essay on Sex, Risk and Subjectivity by David Halperin

Big, Big Love: A Sex and Relationships Guide for People of Size (and those who love them) By Hanne Blank

Virgin: The Untouched History by Hanne Blank

Straight: The Surprisingly Short History of Heterosexuality by Hanne Blank

Reproductive Justice: An Introduction by Loretta Ross

The Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fannon

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein

Worlds of Hurt: Reading the Literatures of Trauma by Kali Tal

The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson

An Archive of Feelings: Trauma, Sexuality, and Lesbian Public Cultures by Ann Cvetkovich

Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America by Linda Tirado

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich

Bright-sided: How Positive Thinking is Undermining America by Barbara Ehrenreich

The Power and Paradox of Physical Attractiveness by Gordon L. Patzer

No More Heroes: Grassroots Challenges to the Savior Mentality by Jordan Flaherty

Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence by Judith Butler

Slavery by Another Name: The Re-enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II by Douglas A. Blackmon

The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism by Edward E. Baptist

An Indigenous People’s History of the United States (Revisioning American History) by Roxane Dunbar-Ortiz

Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire

Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines by Alexis Pauline Gumbs

Why People Die By Suicide by Thomas Joiner

This Bridge Called My Back: Writings By Radical Women of Color Edited by Cherrie Moraga and Gloria Anzaldua

Teaching Critical Thinking: Practical Wisdom by Bell Hooks

Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom by Bell Hooks

The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

I am Not Your Negro by James Baldwin

Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde

A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn

Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings that Formed the Movement by Kimberle Crenshaw

Intersectionality (Key Concepts) by Patricia Hill Collins


Articles and Essays:

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