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Summer Reads

Our favorite books rethink “beach reads” to inspire change.

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For most, summer is the season where life slows down. It’s long, hot days and warm, fragrant nights make it a ripe time to recharge and re-inspire ourselves before the transformational “back to school” energy of the fall. Our reading list is a prayer for hope and a call for direct action — personal and for the world at large. It inspires you to take steps to make political interventions and personal revelations for a hopeful future — all which can happen while you’re enjoying beach vacation or getting sexy with your summer fling. We’re learning the value of micro-activisms this July and August. .

1. Out of the Wreckage: A New Politics for an Age of Crisis by George Monbiot

If you’re depressed by the current state of global politics and ready for a revolutionary change, George Monbiot's Out Of the Wreckage is a must read. Brimming with passion and optimism, Monbiot imagines a political future where equality and consideration of the environment reign supreme and provides the roadmap for how to achieve it.

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2. The Feminist Utopia Project: Fifty-Seven Visions of a Wildly Better Future edited by Alexandra Brodsky and Rachel Kauder Nalebuff

This collection of essays, edited by Alexandra Brodsky and Rachel Kauder Nalebuff, weave a creative and optimistic feminist future for society. Contributors from Janet Mock to Melissa Harris-Perry share their vision for what a post-patriarchal world looks like. It is not a zero-sum game of women getting to rule, instead, they offer a kind reminder of how everyone benefits it.

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3. Curing Affluenza: How to Buy Less Stuff and Save the World by Richard Denniss

Richard Denniss, an economist and executive director of The Australian Institute, defines affluenza as "that strange desire we feel to spend money we don't have to buy things we don't need to impress people we don't know…." His book, Curing Affluenza: How To Buy Less Stuff and Save The World, considers how overconsumption, culture, and economics impact our individual and collective health with wit and humor. Denniss's book successfully presents possible solutions to how to cure our self in a way that inspires rather than overwhelms.

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4. Wardrobe Crisis: How We Went from Sunday Best to Fast Fashion by Clare Press

We’ve read many books about sustainable fashion and none have made us laugh out loud like Clare Press’s Wardrobe Crisis. Press, who is the sustainability editor-at-large for Vogue Australia, has a knack for sharing complicated and at times downright depressing information in a way that is accessible and humorous. Her book takes us around the globe to answer the question: who makes our clothes? And most importantly, how could it be done better?

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5. Women who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype by Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Clarissa Pinkola Este’s Women Who Run With The Wolves is kind of a secret women’s bible. It is often lovingly and solemnly handed down from one woman to another, and until it’s been read by the recipient, the full impact of the gift can’t be understood. Este’s dense, earthy, poetic book dives so deep into the female psyche it is impossible not to come out the other side completely transformed. With poetic prose and fiery passion, Estes uses myths, fairy tales, and stories to help women reconnect with their “natural wild self” and reconstruct what is broken. If someone hasn’t yet handed a copy to you, it will be the best gift you give yourself. Just be sure to then pass it on.

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6. You Are A Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero

Hate self-help books? So did Jen Sincero, so she reinvented the genre with this hilarious, brash, to the point book about transforming yourself and reaching your goals. Her upbeat and frank writing style helps dispel any stigma you might have about feeling like you need self-help and encourages you to bravely get on with it. If you want to be entertained and forced into action, this is the book for you.

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7. Revolution from Within: A Book of Self-Esteem by Gloria Steinem

Whether you want to fight for a cause that you feel is important, land your dream job, have strong relationships, or discover your authentic personal style, healthy self-esteem is required. In Revolution from Within, longtime feminist Steinem clearly defines what good self-esteem looks and feels like for women, plus the reasons it eludes us and how to fix that. Through extensive research and personal stories, Steinem provides a necessary guide for women to enjoy a loving relationship with themselves and reach their full potential.

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8. Formerly Known As Food: How the Industrial Food System Is Changing Our Minds, Bodies, and Culture by Kristin Lawless

Isn’t food a weird word? Merely four-letters it encompasses so many things in our world from Soylent (“the universe's easiest nutritious food”) to iceberg lettuce. Kristin Lawless’s book Formerly Known As Food is an illuminating and engrossing read that is expansive in its scope yet pointed in its message: the creepy reach of corporate interests has pervasively changed how we eat and effectively altered our genetic makeup, what we think is “healthy” (i.e. non-fat milk), and what we define as food in ways that are irreversible and damaging. Her research spooks you like a sci-fi thriller, but also has the luscious energy of a 1970s feminist manifesto that will galvanize you to “act as if our lives depend on it.”

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9. We are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For: Inner Light in a Time of Darkness by Alice Walker

Reading poet, and novelist, Alice Walker, is like a long, warm embrace from someone you love after a time of turmoil. Her gentle wisdom exudes compassion and acts as a soothing balm against the aggression in the world. Walker reminds us how to connect with nature and each other, in the graceful way only she can: “Sit on the Earth, our Mother, and thank Her for her loyalty and devotion to you, whatever your condition of your people has been. Tell Her that where ever you go, you will never desert her. That you will do everything in your power to return Her the care she has extended to you and yours. That you understand she is your true country and your eternal home. Kiss her pinecones, caress her turtle shells, admire the variety of her clouds, trees, oceans, beans. Remember, She is alive and wanting and needing affection just as you do. You will be with Her always though countries and governments crumble into Her dust.” This is a book to revisit every summer.

Words: Laura Jones

Copy Editor: Sonjia Hyon

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