Here are three more non-fction books I’ve read in the past few weeks.
Sister Outsider – Audre Lorde
I felt a great pressure to love this book. It was my first time reading Audre Lorde, and she is so unilaterally revered among my favourite intellectuals that I was afraid not to like her work. I needn’t have worried. It’s one of these books that got me on a guttural level. As Lorde discussed the creativity of difference, the usefulness of anger and the need for sisterhood, it felt like she was laying my mind flat for me to inspect, but with such gentle hands that the exercise never felt unpleasant. Her words are love and compassion, even when she describes the realities of exclusion and self-loathing . This is a beautiful book, and what a beautiful human being Audre Lorde must have been.
Unspeakable Things – Laurie Penny
This is a discussion of various manifestations of gender oppression, such as cybersexism, sexual taboos, the limited definition of romantic love… Typically, I had heard Laurie Penny described as “angry”, and I was curious to see how this translated in the writing of a feminist my age. I wasn’t disappointed. Not only is Penny’s focus on the particular brand of sexism with which I’ve had to deal, but her words are also relatable in their cynicism, and oh-so-blunt. She uses her keyboard like a weapon, and she fires mercilessly (it’s fitting she describes bringing her laptop to demonstrations). On the down side, she expresses herself in word vomit and tweet-shaped tidbits, which makes her book quite messy and her thought process difficult to follow. In any case, her insight and determination are inspiring, and I heard her call to revolution loud and clear.
(I made a few observations about the cover of Unspeakable Things– you can read them here.)
Between the World and Me- Ta-Nehisi Coates
This is a short book, but poignant and important. Talking to his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates describes the “dream” of superiority of the “people who think they are white”, and how it results in the plunder of the black body in America. I’ve heard this “dream” discussed under other names, and I believe it causes the plunder of a lot of different bodies, but Coates does an especially great job of pointing to its consequences for a particular group of people. He doesn’t shy away from facing those most hurt by the dream, or from reflecting on his own pain. He also gives a much-needed reminder on the realities of slavery. In short, his book won’t give you hope, but it’ll make sure your eyes are wide open. Read it, whether you need to wake up from the dream or reckon with it.
All three books are worth your time, but Between the World and Me might be the most urgent. And it’s 150 pages, so no excuse. Do consider picking up Sister Outsider though. Please. It’s a series of essays, so you can put it down easily, and the reward will be immense.
If you want to chat about these books, please don’t be shy!
You can find my previous Non-Fiction Reading Round-up here: