I've really conscious about reading more and making time with a good book a solid part of my daily routines over the past few months. I've always been a book worm but I'd definitely gotten into this cycle of reading almost exclusively for work or to "better myself." Like almost everything else before I made the decision to change directions, reading had started to feel like a chore.
But now I'm being really selective to only read books that bring me joy or make me think deeply. When I do pick up a self-help book, I'm really conscious of the difference between those that transmit wisdom and those that offer preachy, 5-point plans to "fix" your life. Spoiler: I only keep reading when it's the former.
For that reason, each of the books I read in May and June had a real impact on me.
Hollow City: The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine's Children by Ransom Riggs
I devoured the first peculiar children book in a matter of days earlier in the year and so I was really looking forward to the second instalment in this series. Being transported back into the world of children who live in time loops and can create fire with their hands, float, raise the dead, and see invisible monsters was exactly the kind of escapism I needed during my self-help cleanse. In this book, the peculiar children embark on a perilous journey to London in order to save Miss Peregrine and foil the disastrous plan the wights have in store. This sequel didn't disappoint and while it wasn't quite as good as the first (I always enjoy the initial process of world building and learning about how a particular magic works), it was still a page turner and the suspenseful cliffhanger means I'll definitely be picking up the third book.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
This has been one of my favourite books since I first read my grandma's old copy when I was a teenager. It tells the story of Francie and her family growing up in Brooklyn in the early 1900's. Despite their poverty and the adversity they face, these characters have an insatiable lust for life and devotion to bringing beauty and pleasure into their simple lives. It always inspires in me a commitment to savouring life's little luxuries and being more intentional with how I write my own story.
Qoya: A Compass for Navigating an Embodied Life that is Wise, Wild and Free by Rochelle Schieck
I started reading the Qoya book back in February when it was released but it demanded to be savoured. Each chapter represents a different point on the compass and weaves Rochelle's personal story of living an embodied life and the lessons she's learned with the story of Qoya and suggestions for rituals, pilgrimages, and community activities. This book never feels preach-y and Rochelle isn't afraid to go deep in sharing the wisdom she's learned through her shamanic studies and from her own trials and tribulations. At its heart, this book is all about guiding you home to the wisdom you hold in your body and connecting to the truth that you have all the answers you need inside of you.
Becoming: Sex, Second Chances, and Figuring Out Who the Hell I am by Laura Jane Williams
I devoured Laura's story on our flight to Canada; as she's an IRL friend and podcast guest, I'd be anticipating the release of Becoming for quite a while now. After Laura's high school sweetheart left her and married her best friend instead, she felt broken. And she turned to promiscuous sex to numb the pain. But when she moved to Rome to write a "sex memoir" about this story, she realized she didn't like the woman she saw within its page. So she declared a year-long vow of celibacy. Becoming tells all of this and we see Laura step into her wholeness, into her truth, into the messy, imperfect, authentic, beautiful person that she is. And through her words Laura gives us permission to do the same. To reclaim who we are and write a new story if we don't like who we're becoming. It's a memoir but it reads like fast-paced, page turner fiction and yet there are deep truth bombs and life lessons nestled within its paragraphs as well. Highly recommend.
Mel is a former actress who struggled with eating disorders food for years. But since dismantling that prison, she's become an advocate for ditching diets, eating whole foods, loving our bodies, and intuitively finding the path to wellness that suits you, in this season of your life. What I wish this book had had more of was Mel's raw, in-the-trenches experience of transforming her relationship with food and her body. While I know this isn't the case, it almost came across like this was a really easy, overnight decision. However, the book is peppered with useful information, tools, and mindset shifts and even though I consider myself pretty knowledgable about nutrition and wellness, I definitely took away some things that have helped me look at food and my body more positively. If you're just starting out on the journey of healing your relationship with food, this book is a great place to start.
Love Your Lady Landscape: Trust Your Gut, Care for 'Down There' and Reclaim Your Fierce and Feminine SHE Power by Lisa Lister
I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy of Lisa's new book and I let myself read it through quickly first but now I'm going back through, savouring each page, completing the exercises, and giving the experience the reverence it deserves. In this book, Lisa talks about a time 5,000 when women's bodies were revered and our wombs were known to be portals with a direct connection to the divine. But for the last 2,000 years patriarchy has reigned supreme and our femininity has been mired in guilt, shame, and pain. Through theory, anatomy, history lessons, personal stories, and powerful rituals she guides us to reclaim our SHE Power - the seat of our creativity, femininity, and well, power. So yes, Lisa has set me on a pilgrimage of healing my sexuality, connecting with my pelvic bowl, and reconnecting with my pussy. RAWR!