“If we read 50 books every year for the next 40 years, we get to read 2,000 more books.”
I mentioned this to my partner the other day and he looked up, alarmed. “That’s not enough!” he said.
“Fine, how about 100 books a year for 70 years?”
7,000 books still didn’t seem like enough, but it was a start.
Since starting my social media break last week, I’ve noticed something interesting.
I’m hungry for more books.
Books feel like a breath of fresh air. Like a complete conversation in a world that’s forgotten what more than a sentence feels like. The comparison between a book and Twitter is divine, and real.
I’m back on track to read 50 books this year, but I want to read more.
Someone recently asked me how I read so much. Two things really help: first, quitting social media. (To be completely transparent, I am still stumbling into this social media break—I’ve posted a few things for my groups and then caught myself in the swirl again on Friday. You don’t have to be perfect to really cut it back.)
The second thing that helps is reading twenty pages every morning. If I get myself into the slow, steady speed of a book first, my brain wraps around the ideas and wants to know more. It’s easy to keep reading another ten pages at various moments throughout the day when I start the day with uninterrupted reading. With small kids at home, this means I get up early.
I love reading books.
A great way to enjoy summer even when chaos seems to be everywhere is to dive into (or hide inside of) a great book.
PS: If you’re looking for book recommendations, here are four recently that I’ve read and recommend. Invisible Women is phenomenal and will change how you see the world—it’s a book I would like every human to read. I’ve sent copies to my dad, my friends, and we’re reading as part of our book club in The Wise Women’s Council next month.
Invisible Women, by Caroline Criado Perez.
This book is one of the best books I’ve read of all time, and critical reading for every human being today: our policies, medical practices, technology, and design standards are completely missing data about women, and killing or harming them as a result. None of our tools and data sets are “gender neutral,” they are gender blind, or gender ignorant. As a result, women are left in poverty, to die of heart attacks, misbelieved at the doctor’s office, and killed more frequently across almost all areas because we routinely use a default male as a stand-in for all human bodies. A few examples: automobile voice recognition software has a harder time understanding women’s voices. Algorithms are now being used to review CVs for jobs and have demonstrably discriminated against women in the hiring process. Tax codes penalize women through higher tax rates, leaving them in poverty in higher rates. Even the layout of cities and our transportation infrastructure is designed for male movement, not female patterns and the more complex logistics of caretaking movements. You must read or listen to this book.
Forget Having It All, by Amy Westervelt.
I’ve been trying to wrap my head around the complicated and hypocritical cultural tropes about motherhood for ages—that you must fulfill becoming a mother as your highest aim in society, but also, that women with children are a drain on society and shouldn’t “work,” that being a stay-at-home-mom is a thing everyone should do, yet 70% of women are working and 40% of them are breadwinners. The narratives around motherhood, work, marriage, and children are bizarre at best. Westervelt takes us through a thorough history of motherhood and the ways our cultural norms have changed each decade in America—and also how motherhood norms are often strikingly different for white America than Hispanic and Black America.
More Myself, by Alicia Keys.
Loved this book completely. What surprised me was how talented and hardworking Alicia began in her young life, and how much success she had early on—from a storytelling perspective, I thought, “what is this story really about, and where can it go from here?” We glamorize rags-to-riches stories and overcoming insurmountable obstacles. But midway through, I realized how lovely it was to read about aspirational success and hard work and getting to greatness even from a place of huge opportunity, rather than only about the grit and grift it takes to overcome supreme obstacles. The herculean effort stories are often glamorized; sometimes it’s good to read about great things happening to great people, and the ascension to becoming more of who you are, year by year. Also, if you have the chance to listen to a book read by a musician, do so. She sings throughout the book.
feminism is for everybody, by bell hooks.
I could listen to this audiobook a dozen times and learn more each iteration. It’s a radio show, a manifesto, a dictum, a reminder that feminism is anti-sexism and involves—and benefits—everyone. Feminism is not for white women, and it’s not for the privileged, and it’s not just for women. It can and must be for everyone.