What’s on your summer reading list?
We asked LRT writers to share their current reading pile – read on for a fabulous array of inspiring and enticing reads covering magic, social justice, sci-fi, poetry, historical fiction, essays, psychology, herbalism and loads more. You name it, we’re reading about it!
And how about you? What’s your favourite book right now, what can’t you put down, what are you excited to pick up? Let us know in the comments!
Boudica: Dreaming the Eagle by Manda Scott
I’m only halfway through book one in Manda Scott’s mammoth trilogy, which is set in Celtic Britain. The central character is Breaca – the girl, then woman, who will become the legendary Boudica, leading her people in rebellion against the Roman invasion and the ensuing decimation of Celtic culture. What is so incredible about this book (on top of the awesome flawed woman hero stepping into her power, and the intense and vividly detailed writing) is its imagining of how Celtic communities may have been organised – whether or not it is historically accurate, it is incredibly inspiring, especially the focus on dreamwork, and the culture of being in reciprocal relationship with nature and spirit.
Upstream: Selected Essays by Mary Oliver
I keep this book in the bathroom, and read one or two essays each time I have a bath. Some of these I have now read many times over. It is soothing and inspiring to get a window into the mind and spirit of a person I admire and love through these meandering essays which are all, essentially, about being a flawed human in this big, challenging, beautiful world.
The Art of Community by Charles Vogl
This short book sets out seven principles to intentionally design, develop and manage a healthy community space. I love the ideas in this book and playing with how they can be adapted and applied to the community space I am currently dreaming into existence.
Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds by adrienne maree brown (US link)
Where has this book been all of our lives? This is the most passionate and beautiful plea for a more aligned, more compassionate, more conscious and more effective social justice movement I have ever come across. adrienne maree brown’s approaches to creating change are radical, rootsy and feel actually possible. I love love love that she implores us to experiment, to try new ways of being. I love that she insists that there is room for multiple ways of being, for multiple voices. Whenever I feel anxious about the state of our movement, I pick up this book, read a few pages, and feel calm. It brings me back to my values – and then, I know what my power is, what our work needs to be.
Conserve and Control by Otter Lieffe,
I can’t wait to read Otter’s second speculative book! Transfeminism, class and power, environmental issues, sex work, and resistance meet beautifully in the healer’s words. You can support her on Patreon!
Le guide pratique du féminisme divinatoire by Camille Ducellier
I read it quickly a couple of months ago. This revised edition by a witchy feminist publishing house is encouraging me read it again. The practical guide to divinatory feminism is fun, creative and artistic. Some of Camille’s works are available in English on her website.
A nos humanités révoltées by Kiyémis
A poetry collection published by a newly founded intersectional feminist publishing house. Weaving from personal/political experiences and consideration, this is an afrofeminist statement.
Black Words by Lisette Lombé
Lisette is a powerful performer. Her written words on their own are just as strong. In this book, many of her collages are compiled along with her poetry. She tells her own story as a mixed-race woman living in Belgium, she honores her bounds with Congo, and she makes it resonate with many other lives – real or fictional.
The conjunction of art, pop culture and interviews relating to feminism and witchcraft makes it a very pleasant magazine. They’re beautiful artworks in and of themselves, especially The Crone issue. Even if I don’t relate to the triple goddess archetype, there’s enough fluidity and perspectives for me to enjoy how Sabat Magazine celebrates it. I wish they will use more diverse photograph(er)s in the future though. The first issues feature mainly white and thin normative bodies.
Toutes les combinaisons du Jeu Lenormand by Sylvie Lacombe
I struggle to find a feminist/queer non-predictive approach to Le Petit Lenormand. It’s a classical deck for cartomancy in Belgium and France though, and I feel drawn to it. This book is very heteronormative, not very useful at questioning capitalism. However, it’s a convincing reference to Lenormand and its cards’ associations. Now I need to find out my personal approach!
What I’ve just finished reading…
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
I don’t read a ton of fiction (Trying to change that! Open to recommendations!) but I got lucky this past year by stumbling across a few fun gems, including Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. If you’re a Harry Potter fan or wanted to be a Harry Potter fan but was like “Where are the queers? And folks of colors as lead characters? And excellent teenage dialogue with expletives?” then Carry On is your remedy. What appears at first to be a Harry Potter rip-off (albeit a clever one) is something far more grand and wonderful.
One Simple Idea: How the Lessons of Positive Thinking Can Transform Your Life by Mitch Horowitz
If you’re looking for a book to explain where the tenacious positive thinking and ‘good vibes only’ movement came from and how it continues to influence modern esoteric communities (including the tarot community), I highly recommend One Simple Idea. What I liked about the book is that Horowitz highlights the incredible shortfalls of positive thinking and the ways it can cause real harm (i.e. blaming the victim narratives) while finding the few gems that are actually useful for magickal folk like us who are committed to social change.
What I’m currently reading…
Southern Folk Medicine by Phyllis D. Light
I’m finally reading Southern Folk Medicine and it’s so good! If you’re a traditional western herbalist, it fills in the southern story of herbalism in the US that has been missing for too long in our wider herbal culture (which has, until recently, been very North and Northeastern focused). It’s part memoir, part tutorial, and talks about the unique form of southern energetics.
Doreen Valiente Witch by Philip Heselton
I’m reading this biography on Doreen Valiente, and it’s great. Valiente was a friggin’ badass: Witch, spy, and rebel who bucked against systems that tried to make her small. Alongside calling out other (usually male) magicians on their BS and plagiarism, she revolutionized the structure of Wicca, including re-writing and adding to some of our most precious texts like The Charge of the Goddess. And she was hilarious, incredibly tenacious, and I want a movie to be made about her life – including all the time she spent crisscrossing the country on public transportation tracking down hard-to-find information about the Craft, like the proto-internet Goddess she was.
Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho
So far, so good. Alternative history of England; lots of folks of color; and talks about magic, institutional oppression, and politics. YES.
What I’m planning on reading…
I’m trying to read more fiction so I’ve heard that Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor is great so I’ve added that to my list. And I love a good graphic novel, so I’ve added Witch Boy by Molly Knox Ostertag to to my list as well. Oh! And our very own Cassandra Snow’s Queering the Tarot book slated to come out in 2019!
Planetary Threads: Patterns of Relating Among Family and Friends by Lynn Bell
I heard Bell speak (about shoplifting, wealth and financial stress in families) at the recent United Astrology Conference, and I picked up this book because of her clear and engaging style. So far, I’ve been learning about how each astrological house reflects a different sort of upbringing. The 10th house of career can also be the house of weighty family expectations; the happy 5th house of self-expression can reveal why an undervalued kid might grow up to struggle with managing money.
Feel Free: Essays by Zadie Smith
Just came in from my library holds! Zadie Smith, one of my favorite novelists, has an ability to simultaneously see and find interest in many perspectives on a given subject. Her characters are always complicated, contradictory, full of doubts, mistakes and humanity. I suspect these essays – about art, politics, parenthood, and living between the US and UK – will be too.
Some Hell by Patrick Nathan
There aren’t any real bookstores where I live, so when I travel, I end up spending hours browsing in indie shops, breathing the paper smells and fantasizing about what I might read next. This very messed-up sounding gay coming of age story was displayed by the register at Community Bookstore in Brooklyn and I read it start to finish on my plane ride home. While I hated the ending (sorry, Patrick Nathan!), the writing, characters and situations resonated closely with the gay darkness of my own teenagerdom (and not in a Y.A. sort of way – so don’t give this to your 17-year-old friend unless you want to freak them out forever).
Volume 6 & 7 of Lumberjanes from BOOM! comics
I was really nervous when Noelle Stevenson stopped being listed as a writer on these, but the last few volumes have proven how strong the team still in place is. They continue to explore genderqueerness as well as femme power, and I am always so enchanted by them. They’re honestly very silly sometimes, but I need that right now.
Your Art Will Save Your Life by Beth Pickens
This book is a really fast read and a really great pep talk for working artists, but beyond that there’s some tangible advice about grants and forming relationships with other working artists. Really loved this.
Queer Magic: Power Beyond Boundaries edited by Lee Harrington and Tai Fenix Kulystin
This book of essays takes a really powerful look at magick from and for marginalized people. I’m really excited for some of the visual art inside breaking up the standard essay format and really love some of the writers included. (Psst – Read Asali’s review of this book here!)
The Center of Everything by Laura Moriarty
SO, I actually picked this book up because my recent brain injury got confused and thought this is the same writer who penned Big Little Lies, which is a huge guilty pleasure love of mine, but it’s definitely a different writer. I sometimes really love books about small town life though (having grown up and fled that environment) and the young girl as protagonist is really good at drawing us in.
The Spiral Dance by Starhawk
I just started this this morning and am only three pages in. This is a Pagan standard that I’ve just never gotten around to reading until now. I’m not Wiccan, but there’s still a lot there for Goddess worshippers of any ilk.
Excited to read:
Queer Magic by Tomas Prower
I love Prower’s other book about Santa Muerte, and this walk through queer, magical history coming out on June 8th already has a ton of buzz around it. I seriously can’t wait.
Meaty by Samantha Irby
I absolutely loved We Are Never Meeting In Real Life and Meaty is next on my To Be Read pile for a lot of reasons. Her viewpoint is so frank and so hilarious, and as a chronically ill queer person there are so many pieces I relate too throughout all of her work.
The Twelve Faces of the Goddess by Danielle Blackwood
This book weaves astrology and goddess lore together and promises plenty of other magic tips and tricks. I knew nothing about this until I saw it out and about but in leafing through it, I was really excited by the way Blackwood pulls those different influences together.
Space Opera by Catherynne Valente
One of my favorite writers of all time takes on science fiction with music, love, and (according to early reviews) glitter. This is one I snatched as soon as it came out, but my To Be Read pile has it a little bit backed up.
The Alphabet Versus the Goddess by Leonard Shlain
Shlain, a neurosurgeon, spent 7 years compiling the research for this book, where he argues that the fall of Goddess worship / rise of Patriarchy coincides with the rise of alphabetic written languages. With a focus on Europe and Asia, he traces the shift from right-brain cultures to left-brain cultures. I’m only half-way through this glorious text, and I want to everyone I know to read it!
Alchemy: An Introduction to the Symbolism and Psychology by Marie-Louise von Franz
This is a series of lectures given by a student-turned-colleague of Carl Jung tracing the history of alchemy and discussing how it’s a mirror of emotional processing. The first few chapters were dense, but from middle to end I was entranced. Have magick and psychology always kind of been the same thing?
Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism by Chögyam Trungpa
I read this a few months ago, but I keep returning to it as a reference for my personal practice and also for community building in a feminist context. If you’ve ever been curious or confused about spiritual materialism, this is my recommendation.
I Don’t Want to be an Empath Anymore by Ora North
To be transparent, I edited this book, but I’ve also been re-reading it lately. This book made me realize that I am an empath, while also offering a series of tips & tools for moving through life feeling all the feelings.
In the Next Room (The Vibrator Play) by Sarah Ruhl
Oh look, I do actually read fiction sometimes, haha! This is one of my favorite plays & playwrights. The Vibrator play, based on historical fact, digs into gender & sexuality & hysteria.
…how about you?
What’s your favourite book right now, what can’t you put down, what are you excited to pick up? Which of our books have you read…and what did you make of them? Let us know in the comments!