10 Books to Pick Yourself Up With (And a Song of Resilience)
a book list by Cesca Janece Waterfield, author of the Bartab: An Afterhours Ballad
shelved under Self-Help
Manuals meant to motivate are never as plainly instructive as "How to Reinvent Yourself" or "The Art and Science of Starting Over." But that’s okay. Reinvention is a note passed between you and your essential self – the voice inside that just knows. Remember the woman you pictured when your grandmother enigmatically said, "Still waters run deep"? When launching your voyage to self-discovery, what you take along is between you and her – your original spirit, your sixth sense.
Still... a little direction, a favorable wind or whisper can clarify the rhythms and blues of living through inevitable storms, or at least help you find a groove in the sway.
The Pleasures of Cooking for One by Judith Jones
Virginia Woolf famously said, "One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well." We often save the good stuff for when guests visit. This cookbook asks, why wait? Jones, who was editor for both Julia Child and James Beard, offers delicious recipes and dozens of tips for experimentation so that when dining alone, you can fix food as fine as the company.
Kinky by Denise Duhamel
Instead of taking lessons from Barbie, like most every American girl has since 1959, we could all learn a thing or two from Denise Duhamel. In Kinky, the poet gives us 43 poems about Barbie that, like their curvaceous protagonist, are neatly accessorized — with social commentary and playful charm. It’s not all dreamhouse bliss, however. Duhamel inventively explores and challenges issues of sexuality, body image, race and culture in a way that, unlike those dreary statistics and documentaries, you’ll want to return to.
The Blessing: A Memoir by Gregory Orr
In this haunting memoir, acclaimed poet Gregory Orr describes the defining moment of his early life — when he accidentally killed his brother in a hunting accident. With candor and lucid insight, he reveals how the tragedy would influence every moment that followed and ultimately lead him to a life of poetry and civil rights activism. Even when describing unimaginable grief, The Blessing is wrought with beautiful prose and is a lesson to anyone of the mysterious triumphs even our darkest days can yield.
Appetites: Why Women Want by Caroline Knapp
Knapp provides compelling evidence for what social science data has incontrovertibly shown — a woman’s drives are limited and directed by the culture-at-large. While its premise may sound academic, Appetites is accessible and readable; its face sadly familiar. By the time they’re toddlers, girls have been saturated in biased edicts. As women, they’re targets of powerful messages at odds with their well-being and fulfillment. Rising in this dissonance, how does a woman know what it is she needs? What she wants? It’s difficult to imagine a more important topic or a writer more capable than Knapp of illustrating what can happen when our instincts for survival — for food, love, self-worth, success — are distorted. More importantly, Appetites will prompt you into making your own discoveries of what sustains your soul.
Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office: 101 Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers by Lois P. Frankel
It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, this book offers guidance on how to avoid unconscious self-sabotage and stake a claim to the prime real estate of self-confidence. While Frankel focuses on professional judgment calls, she follows each common "mistake" with coaching pointers that are practical and realistic steps in a lifestyle of self-respect and assurance. That kind of guidance can empower every corner of living.
I'll Be Your Mirror edited by Nan Goldin, David Armstrong, Hans Werner Holzwarth
Not only is photographer Nan Goldin one hell of a survivor, she documented her life in provocative images that resonate with the spontaneity and intimacy of snapshots. From her bohemian drift through New York City's demimonde to her rise as an international star in the art world, I’ll Be Your Mirror collects some of Goldin’s most memorable images. These questions of sexuality, desire and the quest for beauty feel familiar. They may remind you that each day of your life comprises a narrative of your making and even your most personal experiences have universal value.
Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir by Natalie Goldberg
A series of short timed writings, this old friend gets you writing immediately. The writing prompts are excursions into your life and memories. The advice of Goldberg — a widely respected writing instructor and proven memoirist — can lead you to a new way of looking; a new awareness of sensual details. And whether you aim to explore your life in the pages of a private journal or share your story with the world, you’ll take from this book what you put into it.
Nina Hartley's Guide to Total Sex by Nina Hartley
No matter what your flavor, this straightforward and informative book has something for everyone. Written by registered nurse, former stripper and porn star, this book is adventurous, funny and easy to read. It’s an essential tool for improving, intensifying or renovating your sex life.
Life: Heaven on Earth: 100 Places to See in Your Lifetime by Editors of Life Magazine
If you don't have a dream destination, how will you know when you arrive? This book is 128 pages of breathtaking landscapes, pulse-soothing seascapes, and stunning panoramas. It can inspire your next vacation or simply offer a relaxing respite on a hectic afternoon.
The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom: Practical and Spiritual Steps So You Can Stop Worrying by Suze Orman
Any revision of your life has to include an evaluation of your relationship to money and investing. Orman’s straightforward advice emphasizes overall accountability and includes specific tips anyone can implement.
Pick Yourself Up with Anita O'Day
In the school of hard knocks, jazz singer Anita O’Day could be headmistress. But she’s unlike any disciplinarian you remember. This Mistress of Reinvention devised an innovative and signature vocal style because a botched throat surgery left her unable to sing conventionally. She changed her last name from Colton to O’Day, which is Pig Latin for "dough," or slang for "money." O’Day was pioneering, witty, bold, hip, irreverent and gorgeous. Although she died in 2006, performances like those on Pick Yourself Up have immortalized the "Jezebel of Jazz."