I’m really loving sharing these mini book reviews each month and I think it’s helped to keep me accountable to my intention of reading more. I’ve always been a total bookworm, often hiding under my covers when I was young, reading light shining onto the pages so that I could devour “just one more chapter.” But I definitely got into the habit of just reading for school, and then just reading for work. Really creating space to read for pleasure and absorb as much of the things I’m interested in as I can is lighting me up and feeding my creativity.
I really enjoyed everything I read in July. Here’s a peek at what I added to my bookshelf...
The Magicians by Lev Grossman
I bought this on holiday but ended up reading it when I got home, over the course of two days while I was sick in bed. I couldn’t stop reading! This is book one in a trilogy of fantasy novels that feel like the perfect fusion of Narnia and Harry Potter but with an injection of darkness and psychological complexity to give them a grown up edge. The Magicians tells the story of Quentin Coldwater, who is pulled into the world of real-life wizardry when he "accidentally" turns up for an entrance exam to a prestigous school of magic. This is Quentin's fantasy brought to life but there's a darker side to the enchantment as Q and his fellow students navigate a world of obsession and privilege and have to grapple with the question of what role magic can really play in the "real" world. The book ends with a quest and absolutely left me itching to pick up the next book in the series.
The Naturalista by Xochi Balfour
I recently interviewed Xochi for the podcast so of course I had to pick up her book and while it might seem strange to read a cookbook from cover to cover, I did exactly what while on a train to Brighton. And let me be clear: this is so much more than a cookbook. It’s chockablock full of whole foods recipes, natural beauty concoctions, and mindfulness practices but it also feels like a scrapbook of Xochi’s worldview. She shares pieces of her journey, her philosophy on wellness, and tips for living a mindful, peaceful life. The photographs are absolutely stunning; after interviewing her I told Xochi that I wanted to live within its pages because each one exudes a sense of serenity. intention, and connection. Each of the recipes I’ve tried has been absolutely delicious, the beauty products have been luscious, and it’s a book that I enjoy flicking through when I need a dose of inspiration.
The Intention Generation by Makenna Johnston
Makenna is an upcoming guest on the podcast and reading her book in preparation for our interview I was so surprised at the depth she’s packed into a relatively short number of pages. She draws on her background in philosophy but has created a book that is at once practical and easy to read (even though she is dealing with dense, complex subjects). The main crux of The Intention Generation is that we need to shift away from a culture of expectation to one of intention. Expectations have led us to environmental degradation, unhappiness, and disconnection from our fellow humans. On the other hand, intentions are set apart by the depth of vision they require, the inspired action we take to achieve them, and the non-attachment we must cultivate in order to hold them. This is far from a “5-point plan to create better goals” (thank god!) and is a really poignant read for anyone who desires more clarity in their life and to have a greater impact on the world.
Let It Out by Katie Dalebout
Katie is also a future guest on the podcast and I was really inspired to hear the story of how she wrote this book. After attending the Hay House Writer’s Workshop she submitted a book proposal and won a contest to have her book published. But it wasn’t purely that simple. She faced a lot of resistance to making that submission and it was only when she really tuned into her intuition and followed the whispers it was giving her that she actually followed through. Let It Out tells the story of how Katie recovered from an eating disorder and transformed her life with journalling, but primarily the book consists of 52 journalling tools that the reader can use to transform their own life. It’s really comprehensive, from busting through fears and getting over money blocks to cultivating gratitude and meal planning. I’m an avid journaller and it’s been a hugely transformative tool for me throughout my life. For the most part I just sit down and free write on whatever’s coming up for me that day, using it as a way to probe and explore. But having the tools Katie outlines in her book is a great way to be a bit more intentional and to really create shifts in the areas of our lives where we might be feeling a bit stuck.
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
The Red Tent is one of those books that I’d seen pop up over and over again and it had been recommended to me by multiple people. I finally read it during our recent trip to Amsterdam and I could barely put it down! The book retells the story of a minor biblical character, Dinah, from her perspective but it’s also so much more than that. It’s a story about how women’s bodies and women’s wisdom were honoured in ancient societies and it offers a lot to think about in how we choose to reclaim that reverence in the modern day. It’s a beautiful and heartbreaking novel that you don’t need to have any religious affiliation to enjoy. In fact, I think it’s a really important book for all women to read.
Waking the Tiger by Peter Levine
I read this book over the course of a couple of months as it’s fairly dense and technical in places. Peter Levine is one of the world's foremost experts on trauma. In this book, he helps us to understand trauma in a new way, dispelling myths that trauma only happens after horrific, life threatening events (in fact he thinks most humans alive today are suffering from trauma) and reassuring us that trauma is not a life sentence. We can heal from it. He explains in-depth why animals don't get traumatized, what makes humans different so that we do, and how we can learn from animals to draw on the innate healing systems that we share with them. Reading this book is part of a larger research project and fascination for me but I do think it's a really important book for parents, for anyone working with trauma sufferers, or anyone who thinks that they may have been traumatized.
Autobiography of Our Orgasms Volume 1, edited by Besty Blankenbaker
This is another book that I’ve been savouring over many months. It’s the follow up to Betsy’s memoir, Autobiography of an Orgasm (you might remember her from episode 12 of the podcast) and it consists of stories written by numerous authors about their own experiences with orgasm, sexuality, and sexual healing. The power of this book comes from the fact that these stories are not always polished - not every one of the writers is a professional author. They’re all bravely telling their stories and sharing their real life experiences. Some of them are difficult to read and yet all of them foster a sense of connection and intimacy. Sex and sexuality still largely remain taboo topics in our society, especially when it comes to the personal side of things. These books peel all of that away and allow us to see ourselves in the words of others. The two most powerful words in the english language are “me too!” and this collection definitely created many “me too!” moments for me.
I’m always looking for new books to read! What have been your favourites lately?