These Five Books Might Change My Life

I borrow library books like I’m filling out a social networking profile. Like this record of books defines me, whether I actually read them or not. By bringing them home, I’ve made it known that the information in these books is something I’m interested in obtaining, and that’s half the battle. Like adding “clean out closet” to your daily to-do list for a month straight (is that just me?) — the fact that you’ve acknowledge its existence is at least worth something.

This week’s definitive library visit is all about how my oldest boychild is having some issues with time-management as it relates to schoolwork, and I’m having some issues with brain-management as it relates to productivity. Also: light feminism.

These Five Books Might Change My Life:

The Essential 55

by Ron Clark

“An award-winning educator’s rules for discovering the successful student in every child.”

Reason for borrowing: Embarrassingly, the phrase “New York Times Bestseller” / Want to know what rule: “Do not save seats” has to do with life and whether it could be applied to grocery shopping, another thorn in my side.

Raising Your Spirited Child

by Mary Sheedy Kurcink

“A guide for parents whose child is more intense, sensitive, perceptive, persistent, and energetic.”

Reason for borrowing: Use of the word ‘sensitive.’ / Promises of a four-step program for success, which is just crazy. / Book is well-worn.

Do The Work!

by Steven Pressfield

“Our enemy is not lack of preparation; it’s not the difficulty of the project, or the state of the marketplace or the emptiness of our bank account. THE ENEMY IS RESISTANCE.”

Reasons for borrowing: Published 2011 / Mildly interesting cover art can be studied at awkward moments and in public parks / This, clearly: “Resistance is the shadow cast by the innovative self’s sun.”

Sisterhood, Interrupted

by Deborah Siegel

“From radical women to grrls gone wild.”

Reasons for borrowing: Forward and jacket quote by Jennifer Baumgardner

Disciplined Dreaming

by Josh Linkner

“A proven system to drive breakthrough creativity.”

Reasons for borrowing: Desire to become a better human / Written by a jazz musician, which reminds me of The Cosby Show, which invokes a sense of calm.

Have you optimistically checked out a bunch of books lately? Do you want to get that off your chest? Maybe recommend something good in the process?

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Laneia is the Director of Operations and founding member of Autostraddle, and you're the reason she's here.

Laneia has written 917 articles for us.


  1. Books I currently have checked out:

    + The authentic career: following the path of self-discovery to professional fulfillment

    + I could do anything if I only knew what it was: how to discover what you really want and how to get it

    + Nobodies to somebodies: how 100 great careers got their start

    + Level 26 (a book about a serial killer)

    Anyway you look at it I think this list means I’m very confused.

  2. I checked out Invisible Man, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and The Brothers Karamazov while I was thinking that I would be really productive and awesome during my last few weeks before heading back to school. I haven’t made a significant dent in any of them, because sitting on the couch and watching Glee is way more fun right now.

    Also my parents read a lot of books like #2 (except they were all about dealing with a super-shy kid with anxiety issues). I’m way better-adjusted now that I’m not seven, so that’s probs good?

  3. I feel really cool because the other day I managed to talk down an astronomical library fine. Then I rewarded the family by letting us come home with 26 books, half for the kids and half for me. I’m most excited to read Foxfire (finally!) and
    She looks just like you : a memoir of (nonbiological lesbian) motherhood. Are we doing the book club again? Because I swear I’ll do better this time!

  4. I went a step further and bought a book called “Your Own Worst Enemy: Breaking the Habit of Adult Under-Achievement” by Kenneth W. Christian Ph.D… haven’t even cracked the cover. I feel like it would change my life if I would stop putting off reading it…

  5. I have a stack of about 20 plays sitting on my desk, with the idea that because my schedule is lighter this year, I can get around to reading the hundreds of plays that, as a dramaturg, stage manager, and English major concentrating in dramatic lit, I ought to already have read. All the things everyone in the theater references and pretends to have read, but far fewer actually have.

    This wonderful plan doesn’t really take into account the long and time-consuming process of Honors research, and the fact that after lots of work (even though very little of it is in class proper), I want to get stoned and watch True Blood, not read even more. Whoops.

    But if they sit on my desk for long enough, I will eventually have to read them, right? (And surely end up being glad I did so.)

  6. I am at a miraculously low number of books right now, somehow!

    Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus is on my desk right now because I’m a huge modern American history nerd, and I love reading about how we got where we are now.

    On the Rez is in my messenger bag because I’m 1/4 Cherokee and took all these Native American classes in college and started feeling feisty about it in what is probably a really irritating way if you are closer to fully Native!

    and lastly, I am reading the kickass graphic novel compilation of Kingdom Come comics, and so far it totally freaking rules.

  7. Just moved into my apartment on campus early, had nothing to do, went to the library in search of Anything To Read and checked out:

    The Naked Civil Servant, by Quentin Crisp (I love when I check out a book and I’m surprised I haven’t read it yet.)

    The Girls Next Door: Into the heart of lesbian America, by Lindsy Van Gelder and Pamela Robin Brandt (it was also with the gay stuff and looked like fun.)

    Complete Novels of Jane Austen. (My roommates had not moved in, I had no work to do, my computer was being fixed.)

  8. i just recently saw the naked civil servant (film). was soooo surprised i hadn’t seen it up to then.
    right now i’m reading
    Inferno-Eileen Myles yeah, realize I’m pretty late for the book club
    Fresh Air Fiend:Travel Writings-Paul Theroux
    A zine all about Prince
    Just Kids-Patti Smith (again, late)
    The Best Travel Writing 2001
    The Best Travel Writing 2008
    other zines about typewriting and traveling. sometimes Prince.

  9. I wanted to check out rubyfruit jungle and tipping the velvet but my library had neither so I’m reading any/all other books Sarah Waters and Rita Mae Brown have written, including a murder mystery series partially narrated by a cat. Cats, cats, cats.

    • My mother loves the cat mystery book series, which I think makes my mom even more adorable.

      A couple years ago, I saw Rita Mae Brown would be speaking at a local bookstore and decided my mom and I would go together, and I could use the event for an elaborately/awkwardly-planned coming out. I imagine it would have been something along the lines of “Look, Mom, one of your favorite authors and I have so much in common. We both think cats are awesome. Also, into pussy. Get it? Ha! So, uh…yay?”

      I really think it would have gone well.

  10. I am so going through a “define myself by the books I read” phase (as if this isn’t a lifelong phase, let’s be honest). I went to the used bookstore and got “A Foucault Reader,” a collection of critical writings by Michel Foucault, philosopher and queer/gender/sex theorist, a collection of essays by Amiri Baraka, a book about class issues, and Abbie Hoffmann’s “Steal This Book,” which is basically an anarchist’s handbook. I feel like such a smug bitch when I read them in the breakroom at work, like, “Yeah, strange co-workers, just go ahead and ask me what I’m reading. I dare you.”

  11. Like adding “clean out closet” to your daily to-do list for a month straight (is that just me?)

    No, that is definitely not just you! My whole planner reads like a broken record, although the tasks become increasingly written in bold font or all caps to convey the urgency that I (don’t) do them.

  12. Books I end up checking out every single time I go to the library in addition to anything else that catches my eye/ I originally came to get:
    ‘Posters: a concise history’ by John Barnicoat
    ‘Opus. Volume one’ -Barry Windsor-Smith
    ‘The Big Book of Fashion Illustration’ -Martin Dawber

    Books I love that I think you should read too (obviously not every single book I love, that’d be too long):
    ‘Things Fall Apart’ -Chinua Achebe
    ‘Time and Again’ -Jack Finney
    ‘Slaughterhouse-Five’ -Kurt Vonnegut
    ‘Forever’ -Pete Hamill
    ‘In Cold Blood’ -Truman Capote

    And most of all, to me:
    ‘My Name is Asher Lev’ by Chaim Potok
    To date, this is the only book I’ve read that has hit so strong a note with me, with who I am as a person & artist and my family background/relations, that I was completely & utterly weeping by the time I finished it. I don’t have enough or the right words for this, but read it. Absolutely read it.

  13. I have quite a few books in the works and stacked up in my pending pile. I just started work in the library and I think I’ve brought home a book every other day. Haha. I’ve also made 5 trips to the University Bookstore for supplies/textbooks and unnecessary necessities like foreign language dictionaries.
    Harry Potter y la piedra filosofal (the others are in the pending pile)
    Kane Chronicles: Throne of Fire
    The second of a series about Nicolas Flammel
    The Well of Loneliness
    Rubyfruit Jungle
    The Works of Charles Darwin
    A book about Spanish Syntax
    A book about French Grammar
    Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit
    Written on the Body
    I think there are a few more. We moved so some of these are in a suitcase.

  14. Books I currently have from the library/other loaning sources:

    A Pictorial Guide to the Living Primates (because I still want to cling to the remaining shreds of my hopes and dreams)
    The Bust Guide to the New Girl Order (because I started reading the interview with Iggy Pop at Half-Price Books, but knew I didn’t want to actually buy it)
    She’s Such a Geek!: Women Write About Science, Technology, and Other Nerdy Stuff (because, yay! Also, the virtual fireplace made me decide I need to learn to code or…something)
    Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk (already finished it, but I’m just hanging onto this book until they make me return it)
    Feed (because my first roommate was awesome and loaned it to me during her visit)

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