I’ve never been very good about reading one book at a time. There are so many books, and there’s so little time — I’m nearly always in the middle of several books at a time. I’ve recently finished Queer (In)Justice (written by Joey Mogul, Andrea Ritchie, and Kay Whitlock), which I’d strongly recommend to everyone, and I just started Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness yesterday (I can already tell it’s going to be excellent). I’m also in the middle of The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex, by INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence, which I’ve been working my way through it for a while now.
There are a number of books I already own and am in the process of reading (or was, before I got distracted by a different, newer, shinier book):
- Arbitrary Justice: The Power of the American Prosecutor (Angela Davis)
- Speaking Sex to Power: The Politics of Queer Sex (Patrick Califia)
- Waist-High in the World: A Life Among the Nondisabled (Nancy Mairs)
- The Philosopher’s Toolkit (Julian Baggini and Peter S. Fosl) — It’s not like most of the other books I’ve been meaning to read, but since I never feel quite knowledgeable with the questions people ask upon discovering that I received my B.A. in philosophy, I decided it could be helpful.
There so many books I’d love to buy, and if I won the lottery, I would go on an epic book-buying spree. As it is, I’ve managed to compile a short list of books I’m saving up to buy, even without winning the lottery:
- Assata: An Autobiography (Assata Shakur)
- Race to Incarcerate (Marc Mauer)
- Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty (Dorothy Roberts)
- Instead of Prisons (Prison Research Education Action)
- Abolition Democracy: Beyond Prisons, Torture, and Empire Interviews with Angela Y. Davis (Angela Davis)
- Prison Nation: The Warehousing of America’s Poor (Tara Herivel and Paul Wright)
If you can’t tell, my current focus is prison abolition and the prison industrial complex. I strongly dislike feeling ill-informed or unknowledgeable, and my immediate reaction to feeling as though I don’t know enough to try to find books. Books, of course, can’t substitute for actual lived experience or learning from real people, but the right books can make a good start.
There are also a number of books whose release I am eagerly anticipating:
- Captive Genders: Transembodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex (Nat Smith and Eric A. Stanley) — This sounds fantastic. I am absolutely going to buy it once it’s available. It appears to be a combination of “the transgender, gender variant, queer liberation movements, and the movement for the abolition of the prison industrial complex” . . . in other words, everything I am looking for in a book. The only way I could be more excited about this books is if it were written by the beautiful and amazing folks at TJLP (which, sadly, it’s not).
- Normal Life: Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics, and the Limits of Law (Dean Spade) — To be honest, I’m not positive what the title of this book actually is. I’ve also seen it called Critical Trans Politics and Gender Is Compliance: Trans Politics and Law Reform in a Neoliberal Landscape. Frankly, I’m hoping for that last title; I like the way it alludes to his essay, “Compliance is Gendered: Struggling for Gender Self-Determination in a Hostile Economy.” The point is, Dean Spade is writing a book. And even though I’m no longer as fanboyish about him as I’ve been in the past, I can’t wait to read his first book.
- Violence Every Day: Police Brutality and Racial Profiling Against Women, Girls, and Trans People of Color (Andrea Ritchie) — I went to an excellent workshop she did at Swarthmore College last year, and I also briefly met her again at a book signing she and Joey Mogul did for their book Queer (In)Justice. Given my previous experiences, I can only imagine her book will be very much so worth reading.
- The Revolution Starts At Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities(Ching-In Chen, Jai Dulani, and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha) — I’ve never met any of the authors — I discovered the book because a friend posted a link on Facebook — but this book looks really intense and interesting. And the fact that they’re trying to create “safety from abuse without relying on the prison industrial complex” absolutely makes me want to read it.
So, those are my current reading lists. What are you reading now? Are there books you’re planning to read? What books do you think I should be reading? Have you read any of the books on my lists?