Everything from graphic novels to critical theory. These are a few of the books that rock our worlds and open our minds.
by Regena Thomashauer (aka Mama Gena)
“So many of us were taught to keep a lid on anything and everything outrageous. To just turn it off. We turn off our life force, turn off our feelings, turn off our sensuality, and as a consequence, we turn off our power.”
This book is my new bible. Mama Gena synthesizes the issues of disconnection women feel with their intuition and desire as a lack of connection with our pussies. She encourages us to greet our pussies, know what the look like, what they feel like, and notice how squeamish that makes a lot of us even when we mention the P word. It was alarming to realize how little I knew about that part of my body. Mama Gena guides you into a deep exploration of what it means to be in touch with your “turn on.” This is not at all solely a sexual principle, this reverberates out into the entirety of our lives, asking us to put our desires, goals, dreams and wishes as priorities in our lives.
by Danielle LaPorte
This book changed my life. It whittles down everything you "think" you want, into core desired feelings. Instead of looking for outside achievements as satisfaction; you begin to be attracted to and more grateful for the activities and people whom provide you with one of your core desired feelings.
I consult the workbook portion of this book often as one of my re-alignment rituals when I feel chaotic or lost.
by Clarissa Pinkola Estés
From Publishers Weekly - "Folklore, fairy tales and dream symbols are called on to help restore women's neglected intuitive and instinctive abilities in this earthy first book by a Jungian analyst. According to Estes, wolves and women share a psychic bond in their fierceness, grace and devotion to mate and community. This comparison defines the archetype of the Wild Woman, a female in touch with her primitive side and able to rely on gut feelings to make choices."
This book has made me take a good, hard look at the stories we've heard about classic, female archetypes. It challenges the social narrative around womanhood and calls on the reader to re-acquaint themselves with their true, wild nature. I take it slow, read a story out of it once every few weeks, keeps me fierce AF.
by Leonard Slain
From Amazon - "This groundbreaking book proposes that the rise of alphabetic literacy reconfigured the human brain and brought about profound changes in history, religion, and gender relations. Making remarkable connections across brain function, myth, and anthropology, Dr. Shlain shows why pre-literate cultures were principally informed by holistic, right-brain modes that venerated the Goddess, images, and feminine values. Writing drove cultures toward linear left-brain thinking and this shift upset the balance between men and women, initiating the decline of the feminine and ushering in patriarchal rule. Examining the cultures of the Israelites, Greeks, Christians, and Muslims, Shlain reinterprets ancient myths and parables in light of his theory."
Whether you're into Mr. Shlain's theory or not, he makes an incredible case and gives a crash course through Goddess-worshipping cultures and the evolution of patriarchy. An incredibly enjoyable and enlightening read. Also one of my favourites by this author, Sex, Time, and Power: How Women's Sexuality Shaped Human Evolution .
by Ami McKay
From The Globe and Mail - "Nasty women, your party has arrived. Ami McKay’s witches are in town. Granted, the town is New York in the fall of 1880, and there’s only so much rolling a girl can do in that climate. But the real aim of McKay’s new novel is to show a group of believable women leading “an unconventional life,” doing their damndest to liberate themselves from constraints of all sorts, from the pedestrian to the demonic. Although it could use a little more voltage, this overlap of realism and magic is the book’s charm."- Alix Hawley
From the author of The Birth House and The Virgin Cure, this lovely piece of fiction teleports me into the late 1800's in the best way. I feel like I'm reading the story of my foremothers. It's feminist as fuck and a great resource for making magical potions, too.
by Inga Muscio
I love this book. It's progressive to the point of making me think: how have I never even thought about these things? I haven't done enough research to endorse all of her beliefs, but it sure made me think. It shines a scary light on systemic sexism and how everything right down to the evolution of the English language. I found this book really inspiring with my own artwork, and it helped me have the courage to use the word "pussy" liberally.
by Margaret Atwood
Have you heard of it? This is my (Emily) favourite book of all time. I think my English teacher may have secretly let us read it in Catholic school, and I buy this book as a gift when I find out that friends haven't read it. It's obviously a TV show now, so you can watch it (and some fine Toronto actors), but nothing compares to the book. Not a single thing in this book has not happened in history.
by Bryonie Wise
During Bryonie's yoga classes, she recites her poetry, and it's incredible. I saw her book (a compilations of poems) on sale at a coffee shop on Bloor St., and bought it for a friend. Obviously, that friend never got the gift. I read passages from this book to centre myself and remember what's important. It's truly beautiful work. It's also really cool because she lives down the street, and supporting local artists is the best thing ever.
by Louise L. Hay
I (Emily) was given this book during my third year of university, when I was doing an internship at CTV Ottawa. One of the hosts of the show gave it to me; I was quite lost, and he had received it and it really meant a lot to him. I lost it, and recently found it when I was cleaning out my childhood bedroom. The book came up in a conversation with a woman we profiled, and it all clicked. This book is a combo of meditations, spiritual treatments, and excerpts from Hay's lectures. Great for pre-bedtime manifestation of self-love.
by Kristen J. Sollee
Kristen J. Sollee, founder of slutist.com has written one of my favourite books this year. As she dives into the history of female sexual repression, witch hunts, and the obliteration of occult and pagan practices. She lays out a roadmap to the current conversations surrounding feminism, reproductive rights, queer identity and sexual practices. It is my summer read currently, and every page feels like I’ve somehow come home.
by Roxane Gay
An absolute breeze to read. Honest and open and compelling AF. Roxane Gay (author of Bed Feminist) divulges her story of rape, fear and hiding. She relives the tragic even which shaped the development of her body, mind and soul.
“This is a memoir of (my) body because, more often than not, stories of bodies like mine are ignored or dismissed or derided. People see bodies like mine and make their assumptions. They think they know the why of my body. They do not.”
“I buried the girl I had been because she ran into all kinds of trouble. I tried to erase every memory of her, but she is still there, somewhere. She is still small and scared and ashamed, and perhaps I am writing my way back to her, trying to tell her everything she needs to hear.”
I can't recommend this book enough. Her ability to expose her rawness opens a pathway for her readers to identify and know what shame and pain looks like - in all of us.
I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn't): Making the Journey from "What Will People Think?" to "I Am Enough"
by Brené Brown
All of this author's writing has impacted me tremendously. The few books that I re-read every year. This book in particular is based on interviews the author did with thousands of women on shame.
“Shame is a profoundly debilitating emotion. It drives our fears of not being good enough. We can learn to feel shame about anything that is real about us —- our shape, our accent, our financial situation, our wrinkles, our size, our illness, or how we spend our day. "I Thought It Was Just Me" is an urgent and compelling invitation to examine our struggles with shame and to learn valuable tools to become our best, most authentic selves. Grounded in exceptional scholarship and filled with inspiring stories, this is one of those rare books that has the potential to turn lives around.”
—Harriet Lerner, Ph.D. author of The Dance of Anger