As any voracious reader knows, there are so many books out there, it can be hard to choose just what to read next. So what could be better than a hand-picked recommendation from someone in the know? Every Wednesday the XOXOAD team likes to find out what some of its favorite authors are reading; today we’ve asked Alexandra Jamieson, author of the upcoming Women, Food, and Desire, to tell us!
Surrounded by books.
That’s how I grew up.
A librarian aunt, history teacher dad, and a mother who had every book Anais Niin ever wrote. Our favorite family trips were to Powell’s City of Books in my hometown, Portland, Oregon. My brother and I eagerly awaited those trips when we could choose any book we wanted. The hard part was choosing one.
Each book was like a new friend, a new trip across the universe, waiting to be explored and known.
Choosing to share what books I love the most now is equally as challenging.
From the stacks of cookbooks with floured pages in my kitchen, to erotica and comic books lining my bedside floor, to the self-help and health books stuffed in my purse for subway rides, my life is filled with stories, ideas, and their tellers.
But I’m seeing a pattern in my book choices lately.
The books I’ve chosen to read (and sometimes re-read) are the ones that ask the big question, and help me answer it: what do you want?
In A Natural History of the Senses Diane Ackerman reminds me of the forgotten senses that make life worth savoring. A nature writer, memoirist, and poet, Ackerman shares biological and botanical insights that transforms my simple bottle of vanilla extract into a sensual history lesson. Through her intimate scientific explanations of how our senses work, I’ve developed a deeper love for my nervous system, nose, and ears.
Her writing is lyrical, smart, and funny. Each exploration of each sense, with incredible examples from the Arctic icebergs to plants in the Amazon, and rocks around the world, is an invitation to meditate and truly enjoy the treasures of living with our senses fully engaged.
I dare you to eat a simple meal, or explore a new lover, after reading her book. You’ll delight in the audacity of your senses, and each new experience will dazzle you.
The Desire Map, written by Danielle LaPorte, is a “planning and self-help guide” but not in the usual sense. This is a soul-filled work which guides the reader to create “goals with soul.” The framework of choosing goals based on how you want to feel, rather than what you want to achieve, has made a big impact on my own work. What if instead of breaking sales records, getting a bigger apartment, and revamping my whole wardrobe, I based my daily decisions and quarterly planning on feeling “turned on,” “vital,” and “free?”
It’s a practical new-age way of living that I can get behind: rather than chasing (arbitrary) goals, let’s focus on how we want to feel. It’s a lot more fun, and it seems to be working.
The final book I’m reading (yes, all three at once) right now is You Are A Badass by success coach and speaker Jen Sincero. Filled with hilarious personal stories, and a few precise curse words, this is a self-help book for people who would rather die than be seen with a self-help book. When getting past, and growing through, life’s challenges, I’d rather be laughing than working too hard. Sincero’s book takes the best of self-help and turns it into a manifesto for the ready-to-be-over-it-already crowd. Me included.
Women, Food, and DesireAlexandra Jamieson
Revolutionize your outlook on food! With love, deep compassion, and fearless honesty, Jamieson, a holistic health counselor and co-star of award-winning documentary Super Size Me, calls upon all of us to boldly use food as a tool to cleanse ourselves of the nutritional, emotional, physical, and mental blocks that limit our ability to live full, meaningful, and joyful lives.
A Natural History of the SensesDiane Ackerman
Diane Ackerman's lusciously written grand tour of the realm of the senses includes conversations with an iceberg in Antarctica and a professional nose in New York, along with dissertations on kisses and tattoos, sadistic cuisine and the music played by the planet Earth. "Delightful . . . gives the reader the richest possible feeling of the worlds the senses take in."--The New York Times.
The Desire MapDanielle LaPorte
What if you got clear on how you actually wanted to feel in your life, and then created some "Goals with Soul"? With The Desire Map, Danielle LaPorte brings you a holistic life-planning tool that will revolutionize the way you go after what you want in life. Unapologetically passionate and with plenty of warm wit, LaPorte turns the concept of ambition inside out and offers an inspired, refreshingly practical workbook for using the Desire Map process.
You Are a BadassJen Sincero
Bestselling author, speaker and world-traveling success coach, Jen Sincero, cuts through the din of the self-help genre with her own verbal meat cleaver in You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life. In this refreshingly blunt how-to guide, Sincero, serves up 27 bite-sized chapters full of hilariously inspiring stories, life-changing insights, easy exercises and the occasional swear word.