Six Books That Have Expanded My Thinking

June 30, 2021

Books are life, amiright? They have the power to expand our minds, shift our perspective and shine our light out from within. During this season of transition and growth, books have been a source of comfort, curiosity and enlightenment. I have been exploring my relationship with my spririt, my mind, my body, love, mindfulness, gratitude, sexuality and the list just goes on. This, by no means, is an exhaustive list these are just the titles that have abosultely given me pause this year and broken down walls in my mind to let incredible light in. Almost ALL of them are written by Black women because they are the TRUTH, we need to listen to them, elevate and amplify them, give them their flowers AND money (this work aint free). I hope you will add these to your summer reading list and watch yourself bloom.
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle This book has sold millions of copies and been translated into a dozen languages. Chances are you probably read it, know somebody who read it or you've seen it on someone's booklist. This is a fan favorite on mindfulness. The Power of Now teaches its readers to grow in awareness of their thoughts, observing them, understanding they are not their thoughts and how to remain present in their everyday life. I took my time reading this one because the concepts are so foreign to anything we've been taught and I found myself having to re-read sections in order to grasp what I was reading. There is no shame in that statement, some books require your full attention and this is definitely one of them. Takeway: I am not my thoughts, I am the awareness of my thoughts.
The Body is Not An Apology: The Radical Power of Self Love by Sonya Renee Taylor How many of us can say we LOVE ourselves deep? I know I cant say that. There are still so many things about myself that I am learning to embrace every day. I am beginning to observe myself without judgement, accepting and caring for all parts of my being even the things I am told by society I should hate and want to change about myself. There are so many gems in this relatively small book that helped me in my journey towards that deep, radical self love. The kind that has me looking at my naked body in the mirror and changing the script in my mind that tells me my body is shameful and should be covered up to "damn, you are a magical being". Sonya delivers a master class on radical self love, connecting the self love we build within ourselves to building the kind of world we want to exist in. Takeway: Abled body people dont think enough about our disabled community members, we must make space for ALL bodies and ALL needs, seen and unseen. There was a chapter in the book where she talks about adding special needs to the start of a meeting for example, an intro would be, Person's name, preferred pronouns and special accomadation needs (would like to keep door open during meeting for anxiety or a participant might say they need to walk around and stretch if it is going to be a long meeting). The reasons dont need to be stated, that is no one's business but the need should be heard and accepted. We need to learn to accept things that we dont fully understand, period. Those little things single to the community that all are welcomed and restores our lost humanity.
All About Love and Communion: The Female Search for Love by bell hooks How much do you know about love? If you are like me you might answer, "a lot". Psssh, bell hooks makes it clear that although in a lot of ways we are obsessed with finding love, being in love and being loved, we dont know a darn thing about it. And you know what? That is ok. We should always remain curious and this book holds space for our curiousty. This book healed scars I didnt even know was there. Thank you Ms. bell hooks, I am eternally indebted to you. Takeaway: We dont know nearly enough about love and accepting that is a good place to start.
The Selected Works of Audre Lorde edited and with intro by Roxanne Gay This book is a collection of Audre Lorde's essays, lectures and poems. She had a brilliant mind and the ability to express her thinking in a way that is so accessible to the collective. I especially enjoyed her essay on the power of the erotic. My mind was blown as she talked about captialism stripping away our connection to the erotic because of the power it holds. If we sought pleasure in all of life then we would question on the deepest level all of the pain, violence, and terrorism that exists in this world. "There are many kinds of power, used and unused, acknowledged or otherwise. The erotic is a resource within each of us that lies in a deeply female and spiritual plane, firmly rooted in the power of our unexpressed or unrecognized feeling...As women, we have come to distrust that power that rises from our deepest and non-rational knowledge." Takeaway: We have been indoctrinated into an irrational mistrust of our deepest knowing, our sprituality, our sexuality, our feminine power all at the altar of captalism and imperialism. To quote the great all female R&B group of the 90's Envogue: Free your mind and the rest will follow.
Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good by adrienne marree brown I waited months to get my hands on this book and it was worth the wait, but also Yonkers Library system can we buy more than 3 copies for the entire library system to share? This book is a collection of interviews, essays, poems and art from contributers from all different walks of life including the eternally taboo profession of sex workers. Give sex workers their flowers. Stop criminalizing sex workers and start criminalizing a capitalist system built on exploitation that doesnt provide a livable wage, health care for all, housing for all, and free education. This isnt a morale standpoint I am taking here, its just we cant look down at people who are making their way in a system that is set up to see so many of us fail. Takeaway: There is so much work we need to do to get to our truest selves. Rest is radical. Pleasure and joy is radical. Imaginative thinking is radical but lord how we need it in order to survive our current conditions and build a better future for ALL.
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel This last book is also like the first. Read and recommended the world over but it is true. This book simplifies a life well lived in four agreements. 1st. Be Impeccable with your word. 2nd. Don't Take Anything Personal. 3rd. Dont Make Assumptions. 4th. Always Do Your Best. How simple is that? Takeway: "It can all be so simple. But we'd rather make it hard. "- Lauryn Hill I will end the post here. As I started this post, this is by no means an exhaustive list just a few that I have read in this current season of my life that helped expand my world. Have a great book recommendation? Drop them in the comments below! Until Next Time,

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