(This book meme was passed on to me from Spontaneous Rising, I'm not going to formerly pass it on to anyone, but I would be interested in the lists of anyone that care to share)
A Book that Changed my Life
This may be a shock to some:
This is what comes to my mind first b/c I discussed it with a new friend yesterday. By the time I was twelve years old I had read it stright through six times, annotated it, developed arguments about it, committed many passages to memory, and mapped out contradictions. I was a very shy kid and I started to develop my own voice by asking questions of everyone about the inconsistencies in the Bible. Questions that I notcied were very disturbing to the adults who believed it was gospel truth. I observed their evasions and their fear/anxiety. I began to watch closely (listen to) how people used the text and misinterpreted it (or were ignorant about what it actually said). Eventually devastated by an inability to come to terms with what I was seeing/reading/hearing I abandoned my faith. A rift that left a huge whole in my life and left me damaged for a long time (you could actually say it is something I still haven't totally come to terms with). While I suffered a great disappointment in my relationship to this text and the religion--I also learned a lot from it. It also left me with a thirst for more knowledge and the lack-of-fear of questioning anything and a healthy skepticism of received/naturalized/reified doctrines/beliefs/knowledge.
The Cunning of History by Richard L. Rubenstein for when I was wrestling with the nature of evil in the world it gave me some clues about how evil can truly develop out of the slow progression of institutional/legalistic decisions (the link includes other books that helped).
Studs Terkel's interviews (in particular C.P. Ellis on how a truly despicable person can change and do good through having experiences with those they hate)
Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky and We Are Everywhere by The Notes From Nowhere Collective. For providing lessons on localized and global resistance.
War and Revolution in Vietnam by Kevin Ruane and People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn. Beginning to read history against the grain.
Situationist International Anthology. If you don't like the dominant culture--critique it, rewrite it, and begin to create your own. Very important were the concepts of derive and detournement.
Doggy Bag by Ron Sukenick
While I'm not a fan of avant-pop fiction. This book did hammer in the way in which media can fill in the gaps of our consciousness (in particular pages 121-140)
A Book I've Read More Than Once
Ideas for Action by Cynthia Kaufman
A book that I would also give to young people as a beginning map of current social issues and movements.
Literacies of Power by Donaldo Macedo
When I was trying to understand the problems of academia, and, in particular, the reproduction of knowledge in my discipline: English Studies.
The Botany of Desire--Michael Pollan
Because I am fascinated by the subject and admire his writing style.
Xenogenesis Trilogy by Octavia Butler
What happens when survivors of a post-apocalyptic Earth come into contact with a truly "alien" "other" species and are forced to adpat in order to survive.
A Book I Would Take With Me if I Were Stuck on a Desert Island
The Companion Encyclopedia of Anthropology: Humanity, Culture and Social Life. Edited by Tim Ingold.
Wow, this book is coming in the mail and I can't wait--but when will I find the time to read it? If I was stranded on a desert island I would have the time necessary to grasp the various threads of this book.
A Book that Made Me Laugh
The last one I remember:
Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs (uncomfortably)
A Book that Made Me Cry
The Vietnam Reader. Edited by Stewart O'Nan
I'm reading this for a peace studies course I am teaching. Such a waste of young lives on both sides of the war and a documentation of the dark side of humanity (with glimpses of those struggling to overcome it/come terms with it). Powerful literature...
Culture of Make Believe--Robert Jensen
A long history of the dark side of humanity set down in an attempt to do something about it.
Writing War in the Twentieth Century by Margot Norris
The sections on the Holocaust and Hiroshima.
A Book I Wish had been Written
War: A Look at an Archaic Form of Human Relations
A Book I Wish had Never been Written
Mein Kamp by Adolph Hitler
Books I've been Meaning to Read
Performance Studies: An Introduction by Richard Schechner
Days of War, Nights of Love: Crimethink for Beginners
U.S.A Trilogy by John Dos Passos
Ethno-Techno by Guillermo Gomez-Pena
A Force More Powerful by Peter Ackerman and Jack Duvall
I'm Currently Reading
I'm half way through the Vietnam Reader mentioned above. Also I'm just finishing Writing War in the Twentieth Century by Margot Norris. My current fiction read is Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being.