It is Saturday night, and having just arrived home from a three-day road trip that took me from vancouver to merrit to kamloops and then to the sunshine coast, I am too worn out to socialize, and also too exhausted to think of much interesting – so I thought I would post my recent booklist here at a friend’s request.
This winter I spent a lot of time reading around certain themes – the history of human civilizations, ecological healing, trauma recovery and community development. Out of that long list of reading materials, I have culled a few of my favourites for short review.
Books I have recently read and would recommend (in no particular order)
Guns, Germs & Steel: The Fates of Human Societies Jared Diamond
This was published in 1997 and has since won a number of awards including the Pulitzer Prize. It is a powerful argument about the impact of the ecological and thus material forces that have shaped our histories of development as peoples of the world.
Walking on Water: Reading, Writing & RevolutionDerrick Jensen
Jensen is one of my favourite authors of the last two years, and his A Language Older than Words remains one of the most powerful books I have ever read (and re-read). This recent work is another critique of civilized society through an exploration of the repressive nature of the formal education system. This is another well-written work by Jensen that contains intelligent analysis inside humorous examples and the occasional rant at the system. For would-be teachers, or anyone interested in further exploring themes of education, this book includes an excellent bibliography.
Gone to Croatan: Origins of North American Dropout Cultureus Essays – Ron Sakolsky & James Koehnline, eds
This is another “hidden” history of North America, exploring the social formations and cultural expressions of America’s tri-racial communities in the early days (up until the 1900s) of colonization. These various tribes were made up of disenfranchised Europeans, runaway African slaves, and displaced First Nations people. The multiple essays in this anthology provide a fascinating and inspiring look at those who rebelled against the homogeneity of white colonization by their very existence.
My Name is Chellis and I’m in Recovery from Western CivilizationChellis Glendinning
Glendinning’s theory is that all humans in the civilized world are suffering from an “original trauma” caused by our disconnect from and continuing assualt on the natural environment. This puts all of our society in a continual state of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder that is further compounded by the fresh traumas that we encounter in the course of our lives. I don’t know if I entirely buy all of her arguments, but I certainly agree with her central premise which is that we are living in an extremely detrimental way to our psychological and physical well-beings and the only remedy for this disconnect is something quite drastic.
Plant Technology of First Peoples in British Columbia J. Turner
This is an encyclopedia of how First Nations people in BC used plants, and what purposes different plants served in day to day life. I grew up here, partly in the forest, and I found it fascinating to find out what different common plants could be used for.
Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma A. Levine
Levine offers a counter to standard trauma therapists who encourage patients to endlessly talk through trauma. The premise behind the therapy recommended in this book is that our bodies store trauma in physical locations and in order to heal, we must access those locations, release the trauma and reconnect our physical and mental selves. I personally find a combination of bodywork, physical exercise and counselling to have been the only thing effective for my healing – which makes me inclined to agree with a lot of what Levine says in this book.
WoodSquat Vidaver ed.
This is a journal of essays about the now-infamous Woodward’s Squat that Vancouver’s homeless and local activists erected a tent-city in front of for three months in the fall of 2002. Recently released, this is an important collection of photos, essays, legal documents and celebration about resistance in one of Canada’s poorest neighbourhoods.
Creating a Life Together Leafe Christian
This is one of those must-have how to books for people interested in intentional community-building. Christian walks through all the potential issues including vision, land, legal options, community problem-solving and much more.
Books I am currently reading: