My Favorite Recent Reads (& A Bonus!)

One of my favorite discoveries of the last couple of years is the ability to check audiobooks out of my local library using an app on my phone. I used to commute everywhere via buses and subways and when I did that, I read all the time. Then I moved to Portland, commenced working from home, and all but stopped reading. When I realized that audiobooks (which I had previously eschewed as the domain of the elderly) would allow me to read while I walked (something I do a good deal of), I dove in. Over the last year, as I have added more and more walking to my days, I have been barreling through books. Honestly, I usually read a lot of true crime/serial killer stuff (I don’t even know why, but I do) but since the beginning of 2018 I’ve been diversifying my reading/listening and even, gasp!, taking on some actual physical books again. So, today I want to tell you about some of my favorite books I’ve read so far in 2018 PLUS one that I haven’t read yet but whose release I’m so excited about that I couldn’t wait to tell you. So, without further ado,

Love’s Not Color Blind: Race and Representation in Polyamorous and Other Alternative Communities

by Kevin A. Patterson

I can’t say enough about how good/useful/necessary this book is. Love’s Not Color Blind is, I believe, a must-read. Our communities have serious issues and Kevin breaks them down beautifully. Also, it must be said, his writing is FUN to read.

Can’t Help Myself: Lessons & Confessions from a Modern Advice Columnist

by Meredith Goldstein

Do you ever feel like you give folks advice for a living but aren’t really sure wtf is going on with your own life? (or is that just me?). Check out this gem from the Boston Globe’s “Love Letters” columnist Meredith Goldstein (who is kind of amazing, btw). I may have cried in the middle of O’Hare airport because of this book.

Unscrewed: Women, Sex, Power, and How to Stop Letting the System Screw Us All

by Jaclyn Friedman

Unscrewed is an important look at sexual politics, feminism, and the rules of power in America and also, perhaps unexpectedly, it’s a really enjoyable read.

Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick

by Maya Dusenbery

As a woman who has struggled for YEARS with unexplained, mysterious health issues and who spent years feeling like no one believed me, and who has often suspected that doctors see the symptoms they don’t understand as ploys to gain attention rather than something they should learn about, this book made me feel seen, heard, and so much less alone. It also made me angry AF. I have quoted this book CONSTANTLY since reading it. 

Beauty Sick: How the Cultural Obsession with Appearance Hurts Girls and Women

by Renee Engeln PhD

I’ve spent a lifetime convinced I was falling short of the mark when it comes to what the world identifies as a woman. Then in 2016, an article was written about my original sex and depression research and the first–very first!– comments posted were a debate about my “fuckability”. Appearance is a Thing. This book addresses it beautifully. 

Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman

by Anne Helen Petersen

A super-smart look at the expectations we, as a society place on women and how, when their behavior doesn’t match those expectations, we judge and punish them. Using a different woman as the case study for each “too” (I had to skip the Hillary Clinton chapter as the 2016 debacle still hurts), Petersen paints a fascinating portrait of how, as a woman, you often can’t win.

Trainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear . . . and Why

by Sady Doyle

I LOVED this book! This look at the culture of building up famous women and then gleefully watching as they fall apart (Britney Spears comes up a lot) is incredibly well done. It grabbed me from the intro when the author mentioned sex bloggers as a group that often lives in fear of being exposed/treated as trainwrecks by the internet. Doyle is smart, incisive (she made me think critically about Paris Hilton!), and a blast to read. I was shocked by how strongly I related to this book but then I realized that as a woman who copes with mental illness and talks about sex on the internet, that made sense. I was actually sad to finish Trainwreck!

All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation

by Rebecca Traister 

One of my biggest regrets in life was that I didn’t know that the life I live now was an option until after I found myself unhappily married. I am a single woman not by circumstance but by nature and this look at the lives of single women, the history of that concept, and the societal response to women living independently was fascinating and a delight to read.

Girl Boner: The Good Girl’s Guide to Sexual Empowerment

by August Mclaughlin

In a world that is simultaneously obsessed with and terrified of sex, this book is so very important. August does an amazing job delivering valuable information in an exceptionally comfortable way. This book feels like talking with a trusted friend.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer

by Michelle McNamara

As I mentioned, I love true crime and serial killer reading. (It seems a lot of folks in our industry do! Stella Harris once suggested to me that it’s because sex folks “are, as a rule, less squicked by bodies and have a very different barometer for what makes good conversation” I loved that) Anyway, this book has levels. It documents McNamara’s hunt for the GSK but also, as she passed away mid-way through writing it, it spoke to me as an author whose book isn’t completed. Now I have conversations like this:

We were discussing the possibility that a new supplement would kill me…

Anyway, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is more than worthwhile. Check it out!

BONUS BRAND NEW BOOK- Tongue Tied: Untangling Communication in Sex, Kink, and Relationships

by Stella Harris

Speaking of Stella Harris, she has a new book! Seriously, this book is brand-spanking new and, as I write this, I haven’t read it yet but Stella Harris is someone who I so dearly admire; a fabulous person and awesome sex educator and I whole-heartedly recommend reading anything she writes.

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