Weekly Non-Fiction Reading List 10.24.22
This week I finished 9 books from some amazing authors. I’ve been struggling with my mental health lately, so there are a few great mental health books on this list. There are also books about social justice, class and status and much more. Enjoy!
Each of the links to the books are affiliate links, so if you use my link to purchase any of these books, some comes back to support what I do (and it also helps fund my reading habit).
All the White Friends I Couldn't Keep: Hope - and Hard Pills to Swallow - About Fighting for Black Lives by Andre Henry
I cannot put into words how much I loved this book. It was exactly what I needed and have been looking for, and I binged it in less than a day. I hadn’t heard of Andre Henry, but something else I was reading recommended his book. Andre is a Black activist who wrote a book about systemic racism, police violence, mass incarceration and other issues Black Americans face, but more importantly, how he had to set boundaries and cut certain white people out of his life.
I’ve read so many “kumbaya” books about how to bridge political divides, and I’ve grown more and more annoyed with them because they’re not realistic. Andre starts his book discussing the gaslighting of black people about racism, and how he learned he had to get rid of people in his life who did this. As a half-Black person who hasn’t had to deal with nearly as much as people like Andre, I’ve been increasingly pissed about this gaslighting, so I can only imagine what Black Americans go through.
Andre makes incredibly strong arguments about why we should eliminate racists, racism apologists and racism deniers from our lives. What really connected with me is that Andre isn’t a jerk. He’s actually extremely compassionate. But he explains that for our own mental health and to spend more time focusing on working towards change in this country, we have to stop wasting our time on these people.
This book has the perfect blend of anger, compassion and taking action. I’ll for sure read this book again in the future when I feel like I’m going insane from the gaslighting, and I really hope more people check this book out.
The Sunny Nihilist: A Declaration of the Pleasure of Pointlessness by Wendy Syfret
I usually don’t read the same book twice in a year, but I hit a rough patch of depression and decided to give this one another read. As much crap as nihilism gets, it’s what pulls me back to reality in a good way and improves my mood. Wendy Syfret was the first one to really shine a light on that for me with this book. She explains how there are different types of nihilism, and it doesn’t have to be this thing that sends people down some terrible dark path. When you realize how little everything matters, it’s really freeing, and Wendy highlights that perfectly in this book. While she mainly started using nihilism for her anxiety, it helps me with depression, and I’m glad this book exists.
Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
I both loved this book and got extremely bored with it. The boredom aspect is strictly a personal preference type of thing, so I definitely recommend everyone check this book out. Kristof and WuDunn showcase how in America, the situation you’re born into really influences your later outcomes in life. More specifically, the book highlights the lower class. While yes, it’s possible to succeed regardless of where you came from, the vast majority of Americans born into poverty, or grew up in abusive households or experienced trauma at a young age are far more likely to experience a lifelong struggle that they can’t crawl out of.
The book does a fantastic job discussing all of the socioeconomic issues that make the “American dream” so difficult for the lower class. The authors talk a lot about trauma, sexual and physical abuse, drug addiction, overdoses and suicides that are a result of these traumas or simply being born into the wrong class. What bored me about the book is that I’m not a huge fan of stories (why I mainly read non-fiction), and a majority of the second half of this book was stories about specific individuals. That’s definitely something a lot of people enjoy, and it connects with them, but it’s just something that loses my attention.
I still highly recommend this book to better understand the disparity that’s happening in this country regardless of what political ideology you subscribe to.
Beyond Your Confines: The key to free your mind by Chris Warren-Dickins
This is one of the better mental health books I’ve read in a while. Chris Warren-Dickins seems like a great therapist, and he was able to pack a ton in this short book, and I think it’d be hard to find anyone who wouldn’t benefit from this book. The book gives a lot for readers to think about when it comes to where our issues stem from and what’s going on underneath the surface. In my experience, getting down to the root of the problem is one of the best ways to begin working on our mental health.
What’s great about this book is that it includes a ton of research, which is always a good thing because there’s so much bogus mental health advice out there. Along with the research, Warren-Dickins provides a ton of practical tools like mindfulness and other ways to regulate emotions that the reader can use to begin managing their mental health.
I think one of the best aspects of this book is that the author discusses how wealth disparities, being a minority and other difficult life circumstances can affect our mental health differently. He also discusses how it’s important to recognize one’s privilege and how it’ll make your circumstances differ from others. It’s a fantastic book all around, and I definitely recommend it.
Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities by Rebecca Solnit
Fantastic book, and Rebecca Solnit is an excellent writer, but the style of the book just isn’t for me. I’m sure 90% of the people interested in social and political change would love this book, so definitely get a copy if you fall into that category. My only issue is that I’m just not a fan of books that are stories about people and history, so that’s a personal thing. Rebecca does an excellent job discussing how activists have managed to maintain hope and fight for change, which is extremely inspiring. It’s a much-needed book, but it’s just not my personal style of book I like to read.
Humility Is the New Smart: Rethinking Human Excellence in the Smart Machine Age by Edward D. Hess and Katherine Ludwig
This was a really good book and one that you should definitely read if you want to become a better thinker and avoid thinking errors that we’re all susceptible to. Hess and Ludwig premise the book by discussing how AI and machines are going to start taking jobs (and already have), so becoming a better thinker is going to make you more valuable in the workplace.
Personally, since I read a ton of books on this topic, there wasn’t much new, but I still really enjoyed the book because it has everything a book like this needs. It has a ton of research and studies as well as stories. I’m not a fan of how often people use Ray Dalio in books like this, but I forgive the authors for doing so. It’s for sure worth the read.
Life Is Hard: How Philosophy Can Help Us Find Our Way by Kieran Setiya
I absolutely loved this book. I was unfamiliar with Kieran Setiya’s work, but I instantly become a fan. Kieran is a philosopher, and this book discusses a wide range of challenges we all face in our lives. It discusses relationships, our emotions, death, climate change and so much more. But, what’s great about this book is how many questions Kieran has us readers ask ourselves as we read, which is what great philosophy books are all about. I highly recommend this book and can’t wait to check out more of Kieran’s work.
Facing Social Class: How Societal Rank Influences Interaction by Susan T. Fiske and Hazel Rose Markus
This is one of my new favorite books on the topic of social class and status. Although this book says it’s by Fiske and Markus, each chapter is actually written by different researchers studying class and status. There’s so much research in this book, which will help you better understand how life is different if you’re born in the lower (working class) or middle and upper classes. Class affects our outcomes, how we handle situations, and most importantly, how our children are affected. The book also starts off with a lot of social theory, which is awesome to really set the tone for the book.
This book is a must-read. It’s heavy on research and academic language, but I do think it’s something that anyone can read and understand. There are plenty of stories and interviews that help explain what the research shows.
A Guide to Rational Living by Albert Ellis and Luke Erlenbusch
I’ve been struggling with depression lately and have been turning to my favorite mental health books. I absolutely love Albert Ellis and Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT), and I hadn’t read this book, so I grabbed it. It’s phenomenal and really helps the reader understand that how we feel is often a choice. While some people hate hearing this, I find it extremely empowering. By realizing we’re choosing to be upset by different situations, we then learn we can make the choice to reframe those situations and manage our emotions in a much better way.
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Thank you for including my book. This has made my day!