What to Read (by Aimee Herman).

Photo Credit: Mike Geffner of Inspired Word NYC 

I am on a strict diet lately. Luckily, this diet allows for carbs. And meat. Sugar is permissible as well. Dairy is allowed, though as a lactose intolerant, I already limit that to a minimum. Alcohol may be consumed. Isn’t this diet great?

My diet has all that stuff plus……BOOKS. I cannot get enough of them lately. Even amidst teaching and grading papers, I feel truly naked when I exit my apartment without a book in my bag. It is called a book bag for a reason!

In the back of my notebook (which I also carry with me wherever I go), I keep track of my books chewed up and swallowed (lips thoroughly licked).

I want to tell you to read The Racial Imaginary, edited by Claudia Rankine, Beth Loffreda and Cap Max King. I want to tell you that I engaged with each essay in this book with my pen which created a tornado of questions on each page. This book dives into the various languages of race written by poets, scholars and various thinkers. It is uncomfortable and remarkable and should be taught in every classroom where race has been spoken about or spoken around.

I want to tell you to read Debbie Harry Sings in French and Supergirl Mixtapes by Meagan Brothers. I want to tell you that after reading Brothers’s newest book, Weird Girl and What’s His Namewhich won’t be OUT until September, I read her previous two and begged this author to write more because I’ve already begun going through withdrawals. I can tell you that what led me to binge on her books, which are YA (young adult) and I’m OA (old adult), is that she crafts characters who breathe on the page. I can smell their breath. I can feel the impact of their traumas dripping onto me. That is good writing.

I’d like to also tell you that I could barely wait to get my hands on Maggie Nelson’s newest mind-stretcher, The Argonauts. Nelson is a poet, a critic, a blend of so many other voices, which she gracefully uses to stain her memories and disjointed narrative into a tie-dyed masterpiece. Here, Nelson divulges a private life that becomes a conversation piece. On gender. On sexuality. On the other side of labels and restricted ways to be. How to be on the other side of all that. On parenthood. And lust. And love. And being outside and inside and creeping around the margins of existing.

Still hungry? I want to tell you that the first time I ate The Chronology of Water by the magnificent Lidia Yuknavitch, I lost my balance. I had a panic attack. I french kissed the sky and I’m afraid of heights. I dug into myself so deep that it was no longer masturbation; I gave birth to myself. This is what happens when you read this book. This is a memoir. This is a long poem. This book is a journey through the shit of adolescence and father trauma and what happens when you engage in a lifelong love affair with water. I read this book several years ago, but picked it back up just recently and find myself re-reading it to drown again. To remember how one can really unhinge walls and frames with words.

I know what you’re thinking. Either I’ve got a tongue full of splinters or……or……

Yes. I have a body full of splinters from the books I’ve been reading and there is no satiation with this diet. Only an influx of questions and expansion of mind and vocabulary and community. I find community in these pages. I understand my queerness in these pages and my bent sexuality and my mental illness and my addiction(s) and and and and…….

You can too.

So……read. Ok?

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