Alej's Picks - ☼ Essays / Nonfiction ☼

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Saving Time: Discovering a Life Beyond the Clock By Jenny Odell Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593242704
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Published: Random House - March 7th, 2023

Jenny Odell has a mind I wish I had. The way that she absorbs information, turns it over, synthesizes it, and sputters it back out so that I, a simple and uncomplex thinker, can also absorb and understand in an urgent, comprehensive way. From the idea that leisure is this thing that does not equal vacation or sleeping, but some liminal experience, to the way that time shows up in the uncontrollable force that is Mother Nature (all thought humans attempt control and containment), Odell references and hits every mark that we should be considering as we navigate the dangers of capitalism, white supremacy, climate change, and our future. Who can afford to take their time? Who survives the clock as it is?

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Before We Were Trans: A New History of Gender By Dr. Kit Heyam, Ph.D Cover Image
ISBN: 9781541603080
Availability: In stock with our warehouse--usually ships within 1-7 days. May or may not be in stock at Room.
Published: Seal Press - September 13th, 2022

Trans historian and activist Kit Heyam has written something beautiful, exploratory, and handles the history of transness with a brilliant expertise that reshapes how we think about the history of gender variance and the way we talk about it historically and contemporarily. From Nefertiti in Egypt, to Edo Japan, to two-spirit people of Turtle Island--Kit Heyam takes us through the historical spaces and applies our current lens of transness and gender variance. A very good read! And an excellent audiobook if you enjoy listening to your books.

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Who Is Wellness For?: An Examination of Wellness Culture and Who It Leaves Behind By Fariha Roisin Cover Image
ISBN: 9780063077089
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Published: Harper Wave - June 14th, 2022

When I think about who wellness is for, it is easy to answer 'everyone'. But when I look at history, my ancestors' relationship to wellness, and those who have been robbed of their right to being well, I can see that reclaiming our right to wellness is both an act of resistance and an act of self-love. Fariha Róisín shares the most vulnerable and difficult parts of her upbringing as she grew away from her family of origin to bring us a well researched framework of why---and how---wellness was stolen from those who cultivated it in the first place. Meditation should be free. Yoga should not be an aesthetic. Medicine should be readily available. And yet here we are. May we all ask why things are the way they are and find a way to demand that they be different.

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The Baby on the Fire Escape: Creativity, Motherhood, and the Mind-Baby Problem By Julie Phillips Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393088595
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Published: W. W. Norton & Company - April 26th, 2022

I am absolutely blown away by the complexity of the observation of motherhood and the broad experience creatives have when taking on motherhood. Julie Phillips writes critically with much endearment. She gently holds Audre Lorde, Doris Lessing, Alice Neel, Susan Sontag, Usual K. Le Guin, Alice Walker, and other mothers, all the while unfolding the prickly, the messy, the grieving, the sweet, and the heavy. I learned so much about these women, the times in which they experienced their motherhood (if you were married you couldn't go to college??? what????), and the ways that they managed to prioritize their practices amongst all of the challenges that motherhood brings. I gobbled up each section, even the "discomfort zones" where we look at that harder parts of motherhood. I can't recommend this enough to those who are in a creative practice and are already mothers or will become "mothers", whatever mothering looks like to you.

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We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting for: Inner Light in a Time of Darkness By Alice Walker, Rebecca Walker (Foreword by) Cover Image
By Alice Walker, Rebecca Walker (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9781620976739
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Published: New Press - November 2nd, 2021

This book reminds me of the quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson: "The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions." I feel as though my mind has been stretched so greatly by all of Alice Walker's wisdom, her meditations, and her observations on the world around us. I revisited my own meanings I attributed to Cuba, the death of Martin Luther King Jr., birth, and how Whiteness impacts all who are touched by it. I sat with Walker's words on practice. Now is not the time to go with out a practice. Whether that be religious, meditative, movement, writing, walking, dancing, singing, reading, or anything worth doing to live toward a healing existence. Even though this book was written for and in spirit of Black peoples everywhere, I felt that we could all learn more about ourselves through the lens of caring that Alice Walker says is innate to Black peoples everywhere. I felt a hope for the Indigenous ancestors within my blood line when Alice spoke to the hardships experienced by both Native people and Black people at the hands of White supremacy. I felt humbled and grateful for my teachers throughout my life. I felt ready for something new. Inspired would be an easy word to use, but Alice Walker has given the world a gift with her writing. A gift that we should all be grateful to have received. I will be referencing her words for the rest of my life.

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The Anthropocene Reviewed (Signed Edition): Essays on a Human-Centered Planet By John Green Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780525555216
Published: Dutton - May 18th, 2021

John Green, who has always rubbed salt in my teenage-emotional-wound, puts a salve on it at last with this collection of essays reviewing various aspects of the Anthropocene: Canada Geese, diet Dr. Pepper, The Internet, mortification, the QWERTY keyboard, and The Mountain Goats. All things likely relative to John's life, but things you can certainly find in your every day life. Filled with etymology and wisely researched, The Anthropocene Review hits home, both in the heart and the gut. Not me, packing books for shipping and crying at John's time in a children's hospital. Not me, laughing down the sidewalk picturing myself being pissed I keep flying off Rainbow Road in a bad round of Super Mario Kart by little brother keeps winning! John Green, will you stop hurting my feelings and making me laugh all in one go? Or rather, please continue, because I am so grateful that someone could make me feel so many things at once. Because, John suggests, even if it hurts, we should choose to feel it all. I give The Anthropocene Review by John Green 5 stars. "There is some comfort for me in knowing that life will go on even when we don't. But I would argue that when our light goes out, it will be Earth's greatest tragedy, because while I know humans are prone to grandiosity, I also think we are by far the most interesting thing that ever happened on Earth." - John Green

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Postcolonial Astrology: Reading the Planets through Capital, Power, and Labor By Alice Sparkly Kat Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781623175306
Published: North Atlantic Books - May 18th, 2021

Alice Sparkly Kat has written something incredibly eye opening. For me, a long-time astrology enthusiast and a self-proclaimed lover of the signs, I always felt I knew what I was generally talking about. Sparkly Kat blew it all out of the water. This book is well researched, thoughtfully sewn together with current times, and offers new ways for us to look at our lives and identities through the magical thinking of astrology as it is reflected in capitalism, power, and labor. I thought I knew so much, but now knowing the etymology of each planet, including the sun and the moon, gives me a greater appreciation for the tool that is astrology. It also helps me feel more empowered to use astrology as a practice while considering it's relationship with White Supremacy and the harm of marginalized groups and cultures. If you're at the point of astrology where you generally know what the signs, elements, planets, and houses represent, then this book will open up another level of thinking for you and allow you to think more critically about identity and future building via astrological practice.

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Three Women By Lisa Taddeo Cover Image
ISBN: 9781451642308
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Published: Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster - July 7th, 2020

Lisa Taddeo writes elegantly of Sloan, Lina, and Maggie. Each of them completely different in age and location, but each of them connected by the thread of experience that is being a woman under the male gaze. I found this book to be really rewarding to read, but also emotionally challenging as each woman goes through challenges that are universal to many.