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.