Happy Monday, friends!
We are, somehow, in the month of August. The days are shortening, and the march to new student orientation has begun in earnest for those of us who work in Student Affairs.
When you work in higher ed, as I do, there is a certain flow to your year. August and September are months of flurried, rushed action. It can be difficult to remember self-care. Last week, I worked long days, rushing on through without a lunch break in the panicked frenzy to try and prepare for the ever-shifting potential situation that will be the Fall 2020 semester. My grocery trip consisted of picking up contact solution and a stack of frozen meals to take for lunches.
Yes, August is a challenging time for me to remember how to care for myself. I just finished a session of Yoga with Adriene titled fundamentals of ease, and am reminded of the importance of trying to find balance, find ease, even in the challenging moments. To just slow down, when you can, however you can. As she always says, a little goes a long way.
As we move into the month of August, many of us reflect back on July. Personally, I feel like half my being is still in March wondering when I’m going to turn 28. But, nevertheless, I spent a good amount of July reading. It feels good to root back into something that has been so fundamental to me throughout my life, and while my relationship to books and reading is in constant flux, nothing makes me happier than lining up my books on a shelf and fondly remembering the good times we’ve shared.
To that end, I thought I’d try something new this week. I’m going to recap and do mini-reviews of the books I read in the month of July. I’d love to hear what you’ve read recently, or are reading, too!
July Reading Recap
Every Body Yoga: Let Go of Fear, Get on the Mat, Love your Body by Jessamyn Stanley
Long have a searched for a book that’s not just a catalog of poses and how to do them, but also a personal narrative about what yoga can do for a person. Finally, in Jessamyn Stanley’s book, I found the balance I was looking for. This book explores Jessamyn’s personal relationship with yoga and is part memoir, part instructional yoga text. I highly, highly recommend for anyone who’s a longtime yogi or yogi-curious.
Me & White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor by Layla F. Saad
Like many people, I have been working to up my education around systemic racism and learn better so I can be better. A friend and I decided to work through the 30 days of Me & White Supremacy together, scheduling weekly phone calls to chat through the experience. This book is in a workbook format and gives you a basic overview/primer on a variety of topics related to white supremacy and systemic racism, then prompts you to reflect on your relationship to these topics. I found it a great starting point.
Some of the reviews on Goodreads complain that this book doesn’t educate enough around each topic. While I also felt called to learn more, I want to remind folks that no one book about complex topics can be read in isolation and expected to teach you everything. Ask yourself why you want one book to teach you everything. Is it because you don’t want to have to read more books on this subject?
I would like to revisit this book once I’ve done more self-education around the topics to see how my reflections shift. I recommend this work and also recommend doing it with a friend or friends, because it is heavy.
White Fragility: Why It’s so Hard for White People to Talk about Racism by Robin DiAngelo
Recently I’ve seen a lot of criticism for this text, and have been listening with interest to that conversation. I read this as part of a professional development group at work and found it a useful starting place for thinking and talking with my white friends & relatives about racism. Like any text, read with an understanding that even writers can get things wrong, and be willing to add other titles to your reading (especially those by BIPOC–black, indigenous, and people of color).
Witch by Lisa Lister
This book has been making the rounds with women who want to tap into their inner power and manifest more spiritual lives. It has received criticism for its focus on certain female anatomy as the root of female power, thus centering cisgendered women. I’ll be honest, even as cis woman with certain anatomical features, it was a little bit much for me to be encouraged so frequently to tap into my “pussy power.”
Still, I found the book an interesting overview of various historical practices related to witchcraft, druids, and paganism in general. I do not, however, believe that I need to tap into the power of my womb for really anything. To each their own.
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
I know, I know. Every book club ever (include our lovely Forever 35 spinoff Book of the Month book club) is reading this book. I likely wouldn’t have picked this up if it hadn’t been our pick for the internet book club and I would have so missed out. I absolutely tore through this gripping, thought-provoking exploration of identity and generational relationships and trauma.
Not Like the Movies by Kerry Winfrey
If you follow me in any shape, way, or form on the internet, you will not be shocked to learn that I adored Kerry Winfrey’s earlier contemporary romance title, Waiting for Tom Hanks. This book is its companion, following the experience of a side character from the former, as her life is thrown into upheaval when her best friend’s script about her life becomes an actual movie.
Kerry is, like myself, an Ohioan who adores romantic comedies, so her books feel like a nice Ohio hug from a good friend for me. Naturally, I loved this book and read it in about a day. Definitely preferred Waiting for Tom Hanks, but mostly because I related to the protagonist more (writer from Ohio who is obsessed with romantic comedies? Hello, myself.)
So, that’s what I read in the month of July! Up next I’ll be taking on The Body is Not an Apology and How to be Antiracist. Let me know what you thought of the monthly reading recap and if I should keep it up! We’ll see if I manage to read anything during the pandemonium that is August.