My list of books to read this month

“The Body Is Not An Apology: The Power of Radical Self Love”

By Sonya Renee Taylor

Sonya Renee Taylor is a slam poet whose movement of radical self love started in a conversation she had with another woman before a slam poetry competition. Sonya’s friend shared an intimate secret: She didn’t always use protection when she had sex because she was disabled and felt like it was too much to ask. Sonya responded, to her friend as much as to herself, “Your body is not an apology.” This new book is an exploration of that idea, and it takes great steps to clearly define the differences between radical self love, self confidence, and self acceptance. Through stories and prompts, the book asks readers to examine how they might give greater radical love to their bodies and, in the process, the bodies of other humans around the world.

“Best-interest buying is also about reducing the harm our purchases cause other bodies. What are three ways you can reduce the harmful or exploitative outcomes of your purchases?”


“Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic”

By Sam Quinones

This 2015 book by journalist Sam Quinones foresaw the way the 2016 election would shake down, at least in terms of the desperation so many small- or medium-sized towns were feeling to change something, anything to stop the devastating slow build of addiction in their communities. Moreover, this book is an incredible, concise look at how we got in this mess in the first place. From interviews with families who lost children in addictions that began at, of all places, the doctor’s office, to the families in tiny Mexican villages who started running heroin to the States as means for their own survival, to the advertisers and doctors whose cartoon-dollar-sign-eyes added to the trouble. This book reads like a thriller, even though it’s nonfiction, and is thoroughly researched: Quinones spent decades covering crime and Mexico for various print journalism outlets. I highly recommend this book, and if you’re in Chicago, try to read it in the, um, next few weeks, OK? At 6:30 pm on Monday, June 25, City Lit Books in Logan Square is hosting a book club circle about “Dreamland.” See you there!


“Imagine Wanting Only This”

By Kristen Radtke

A good friend of mine recently recommended this book, which came out last year. It’s a graphic narrative memoir (how cool are all those words strung together as one thing?!). At a funeral for Kristen Radtke’s uncle, she drove through an abandoned mining town. She was so moved and curiously crushed by the sight of its emptiness that it inspired a journey that took her to many other deserted places around the world. Her black and white illustrations further compound the story’s deep dive into the murky black depths of grief, loss, and loneliness. What’s left of us when we’re left behind?

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