It’s been a little quiet here for a while (and one day, maybe, I’ll get to all that happened and mostly led to silence). What also happened is that there was the summer that never was, and now autumn has come and stayed with us here in Berlin, mostly in the shape of leave-less trees, brown leaves on the streets, grey clouds, rain drops and wind (so much wind).—To say: it’s the season for getting the pillows, the blankets, the big mugs for many hot beverages, the cookies, and everything else to get us through the next about eight months until there’s another realistic chance for warmer weather again. And: books. Books are good companions anytime, but even more so in times like these.
And in case you’re looking for new companions to spend time with, here are some of the books I read and enjoyed so far this year.—
A woman loses her hearing in her late 20s. Twelve years later, she regains it. This is a book about the before, during, after of these twelve years. It’s a book about moving from the world of hearing into another world, about what shapes our worlds, and it’s a book about sound. I loved it for the mix of autobiography and the explorations of sound and hearing, and for all I learned from it (including lots of great things about how hearing works, and many things about music). I came across this book because I walked past a book store window, saw it, thought “this looks interesting; I’ll come back for this”, came back, got it, read it, loved it. By far the book I recommended the most to others this year.
Read this at a time where I was trying to get lost, but, most of all, felt very lost. I love Solnit’s writing, and this book is great for the times when one knows that being alone is not the same as being lonely, but is still longing for a good thought to spend the day with. This book is a wonderful companion (plus great source of amazing musings and fun facts about the world).
Roxane Gay is a very important woman and this is a very important book (and her most personal one so far), and nothing I could ever say could do her or this book justice, except: read it.
Briohny Doyle: Adult Fantasy: searching for true maturity in an age of mortgages, marriages, and other adult milestones
A book about being alive in these times and happening to be in your early thirties. A book about relationships, fertility and family, money, class, migration, aging (and ageism), careers, dogs, and what it means to be an adult in times when many things that we were once told were important actually don’t mean anything anymore, to no one—including us. I enjoyed the way that Doyle managed to write a very personal book, but managed very well to talk about the big picture and the important conversations we need to have as a society.
Incredibly personal, touching and gut-wrenching. A fantastic book that I couldn’t put down. About the tragic, beauty, societal and political relevance, and, in the end, personal meaning and impact of desire (and finding out what it entails). Very beautiful.
Great tour of places off the map: places that were never there or disappeared, places that were only made up or didn’t officially exist, and many others that weren’t what they seemed to be. With only short bits and pieces on the many places Bonnett introduces, but this also means that he talks about a lot of places, and the way he talks about them got me very curious to find out more about them.
This is one of those quiet books that hit you when you’re least expecting it. Cory Taylor, a novelist, reflects on her life at a point when there’s not much left of it. This book is a great celebration of life.
Brené Brown: Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
I inhaled this book. I mostly read it for things related to my work in management, and greatly enjoyed it for that, not just for what it is, but also for what it’s not (which is: a management book; most management books suck). It’s a book about vulnerability and what it means, about how shame and a work culture that’s shaped by scarcity impact us and influence how much we are able to dare to say and do; it’s a book about learning to practice empathy, gratitude, and to collectively embrace imperfection, and building shame-resilient organisations with cultures that honest, constructive, engaging feedback is part of. It’s a book about trust, and, in the end, about being human.
They’re good dogs Brent.
- Ellen Van Neerven: Comfort Food
- Jamaal May: Hum
- Rupi Kaur: milk and honey
- Maya Angelou: Poems
- Leonard Cohen: Book of longing
- Kate Tempest: Hold Your Own
- Ellen Van Neerven: Comfort Food (“show your fur / and I’ll show you my feathers”)
That’s all I have so far. I still have about five books that I’m reading at the moment (it’s very likely that there are more and I, again, lost one in my backpack), namely:
- Rosie Waterland: The Anti-Cool Girl
- B.W. Higman: Flatness
- Amy Liptrot: The Outrun,
- Kim Malone Scott: Radical Candor
- Morgan Parker: There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé, ,
and a bunch of books in the queue that are all next. If you have any recommendations for autobiographical books by women, let me know, I’d love to hear them. It’s gonna be a long winter.