roobs vs the christmas list, or: why books are better than people

my maw will never let me live down the christmas, aged maybe 6 or 7, that my christmas list consisted in its entirety of 'a pencil sharpener'. in latter years, the only thing i've gotten good at asking for is books. so when i put out a call on instagram for your book suggestions, i found myself in literary heaven.

feel free to add them all to your list, i'm sure you deserve them.

ps. the copy & paste function (obvs instinctively typed 'pasta' there by accident) has intermittently given up on me, so i've just had to type out what feels like 700 blurbs so i haven't spell-checked it whatsoever, and i'm not even sorry. i believe in you enough to think you'll be able to work it out. (the ones with real grammar/punctuation are obvs not mine).

pps. i've tried my best to organise these into categories as best i can, although there are obvs crossovers so just figure it out

ppps. i haven't read any of these books, and am literally just passing on recommendations/copying synopses from the internet so i accept no liability whatsoever for if they're deep-down not very socially responsible/just a bit crap. based on the very brief blurbs online the following all seem fine, but soz if not. don't shoot the messenger and all that...

pppps. i'm obvs not saying these are the only books worthy of reading - there are a million i can think of off the top of my head which deserve a place on your to-read list, but included here are *only* the ones that have been suggested to me. i'll do a follow-up with some other necessary reads if/when i recover from just having to type almost 3000 words for a project i thought was gonna take me 15 mins. pls someone buy at least one of these to make it all worthwhile. 



gender trouble
  • judith butler
  • Since its publication in 1990, Gender Trouble has become one of the key works of contemporary feminist theory, and an essential work for anyone interested in the study of gender, queer theory, or the politics of sexuality in culture. This is the text where Judith Butler began to advance the ideas that would go on to take life as "performativity theory," as well as some of the first articulations of the possibility for subversive gender practices, and she writes in her preface to the 10th anniversary edition released in 1999 that one point of Gender Trouble was "not to prescribe a new gendered way of life [...] but to open up the field of possibility for gender [...]" Widely taught, and widely debated, Gender Trouble continues to offer a powerful critique of heteronormativity and of the function of gender in the modern world
inferior: how science got women wrong
  • angela saini
  • shedding light on controversial research and investigating the ferocious gender wars in biology, psychology, and anthropology, angela saini takes readers on an eye-opening journey to uncover how women are being rediscovered. she explores what these revelations mean for us as individuals and as a society, revealing an alternative view of science in which women are included, rather than excluded
nasty women
  • 404 ink
  • with intolerance and inequality increasingly normalised by the day, it’s more important than ever to share real experiences. nasty women is a collection of essays, interviews, and accounts on what it is to be a woman in the 21st century.
  • sara pascoe
  • Sara Pascoe has joked about feminity and sexuality on stage and screen but now she has a book to talk about it all for a bit longer. Animal combines autobiography and evolutionary history to create a funny, fascinating insight into the forces that mould and affect modern women
how not to be a boy
  • robert webb
  • looking back over his life, from schoolboy crushes, to discovering the power of making people laugh, and from losing his beloved mother to becoming a husband and father, robert webb considers the absurd expectations boys and men have thrust upon them at every stage of life
on intersectionality
  • kimberle crenshaw
  • in this inclusive introduction to crenshaw’s groundbreaking work, readers will find the key essays and articles that have defined the concept of intersectionality collected together for the first time
delusions of gender
  • cordelia fine
  • sex discrimination is supposedly a distant memory. this title dispels the pseudo-scientific claims about the differences between the sexes. it shows how old myths, dressed up in scientific finery, help perpetuate the status quo. it reveals the mind’s plasticity, and shows the influence of culture on identity.
we were feminists once
  • andi zeisler
  • surveying movies, television, advertising, fashion, and more, zeisler reveals a media landscape brimming with the language of empowerment, but offering little in the way of transformational change. witty, fearless, and unflinching, we were feminists once is the story of how we let this happen, and how we can amplify feminism’s real purpose and power
witches sluts feminists
  • kristen j sollee
  • juxtaposing scholarly research on the demonisation of women and female sexuality that has continued since the witch hunts of the early modern era with pop occulture analyses and interviews with activists, artists, scholars, and practitioners of witchcraft, this book addresses and illuminates contemporary conversations about reproductive rights, sexual pleasure, queer identity, pornography, sex work, and more
playing the whore
  • melissa gira grant
  •  Based on ten years of writing and reporting on the sex trade, and grounded in her experience as an organizer, advocate, and former sex worker, Playing the Whore dismantles pervasive myths about sex work, criticizes both conditions within the sex industry and its criminalization, and argues that separating sex work from the "legitimate" economy only harms those who perform sexual labor. 

coming of age

  • lindy west
  • coming of age in a culture that demands women be as small, quiet, and compliant as possible - like a porcelain dove that will also have sex with you - writer and humorist Lindy West quickly discovered that she was anything but. Shrill provocatively dissects what it means to become self-aware the hard way, to go from wanting to be silent and invisible to earning a living defending the silenced in all caps
open: a toolkit for how magic and messed up life can be
  • gemma cairney
  • Open: A Toolkit for How Magic and Messed Up Life Can Be is full of honest advice about the big, bad and beautiful things that growing up is all about: from mental health to families to first love, and everything in between.
darling days: a memoir
  • io tillet wright
  • unfolding in animated, crystalline prose, an emotionally raw and devastatingly powerful memoir of one young woman’s extraordinary coming of age - a tale of gender and identity, freedom and addiction, rebellion and survival in the 1980s and 1990s, when punk, poverty, heroin, and art collided in the urban bohemia of New York’s lower east side.
where am i now
  • mara wilson
  • A former child actor best known for her starring roles in Matilda and Mrs. Doubtfire, Mara Wilson has always felt a little young and out of place. Tackling everything from what she learned about sex on the set of Melrose Place, to discovering in adolescence that she was no longer “cute” enough for Hollywood, these essays chart her journey from accidental fame to relative (but happy) obscurity. They also illuminate universal struggles, like navigating love and loss, and figuring out who you are and where you belong.
smoke gets in your eyes
  • caitlin doughty
  • most people want to avoid thinking about death, but caitlin doughty - a twenty-something with a degree in medieval history and a flair for the macabre - took a job at a crematory, turning morbid curiosity into her life’s work. an unusual coming-of-age story full of bizarre encounters and unforgettable scenes


come as you are
  • emily nagoski
  • an essential exploration of why and how women’s sexuality works - based on groundbreaking research and brain science - that will radially transform your sex life into one filled with confidence and joy
a billion wicked thoughts
  • ogi ogas and sai gaddam
  • neuroscientists ogi ogas and sai gaddam reveal the mechanics of sexual relationships based on their extensive research into the mountains of new data on human behaviour available in online entertainment and traffic around the world. not since alfred kinsey in the 1950s has there been such a revolution in our knowledge of what is really going on in the bedroom. what ogas and gaddam learned, and now share, will deepen and enrich the way you, and your partner, think and talk about sex
who’s been sleeping in your head
  • brett kahr
  • in the largest study ever undertaken on sexual fantasy, world-renowed psychotherapist and researcher brett kahr reveals the astonishing truths behind secrecy, shame, and taboo in this groundbreaking book based on surveys of 23,000 men and women from eighteen to ninety years of age
  • jesse bering
  • a groundbreaking look at our complex relationship with our carnal urges and the ways in which we disguise, deny, and shame the sexual deviant in all of us, perv brings hidden desires into the spotlight



between the world and me
  • ta-nehisi coates
  • in a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about american history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father to his son, ta-nehisi coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis. americans have built an empire of the idea of “race” - a falsehood that damages us all but falls most heavily on the bodies of the black women and men - bodies exploited through slavery and segregation, and today threatened, locked up, and murdered out of all proportion. what is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? and how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves from its burden?

why i'm no longer talking to white people about race

  • reni eddo-lodge
  • Exploring issues from eradicated black history to the political purpose of white dominance, whitewashed feminism to the inextricable link between class and race, Reni Eddo-Lodge offers a timely and essential new framework for how to see, acknowledge and counter racism. It is a searing, illuminating, absolutely necessary exploration of what it is to be a person of colour in Britain today.


mental health 

the body keeps the score 
  • besser van der kolk
  • Renowned trauma expert Bessel van der Kolk has spent over three decades working with survivors. In The Body Keeps the Score, he transforms our understanding of traumatic stress, revealing how it literally rearranges the brain’s wiring—specifically areas dedicated to pleasure, engagement, control, and trust. He shows how these areas can be reactivated through innovative treatments including neurofeedback, mindfulness techniques, play, yoga, and other therapies. Based on Dr. van der Kolk’s own research and that of other leading specialists, The Body Keeps the Score offers proven alternatives to drugs and talk therapy—and a way to reclaim lives
cracked: why psychiatry is doing more harm than good
  • james davies
  • psychological therapist james davies uses his insider knowledge to illustrate for a general readership how psychiatry has put riches and medical status above patients’ well-being
doctoring the mind
  • richard bentall
  • In Doctoring the Mind, leading clinical psychologist Richard Bentall reveals the shocking truths behind the system of mental health care in the West. With a heavy dependence on pills and the profit they bring, psychiatry has been relying on myths and misunderstandings of madness for too long, and builds on methods which can often hinder rather than help the patient
depressive illness: the curse of the strong
  • tim cantopher
  • written by a leading consultant psychiatrist, this book explains that depression tests the strong of us. dr cantopher guides the reader through the nature of depression, its history, symptoms, causes, and treatments.


the practising happiness workbook
  • ruth baer
  • in this important new book, internationally-recognised mindfulness expert ruth baer explores four most common psychological traps that ultimately lead to unhappiness: rumination, avoidance, emotion-driven behaviour, and self-criticism; and offers real solutions for overcoming them. inside, readers will learn to transform their lives using an innovative and transdiagnostic approach to managing stress, anxiety, and unhappiness so that they can live a truly satisfying life.
the miracle of mindfulness
  • thich nhat hanh
  • in this beautiful and lucid guide, zen master thich nhat hanh offers gentle anecdotes and practical exercise as a means of learning the skills of mindfulness - being awake and fully aware. from washing the dishes to answering the phone to peeling an orange, he reminds us that each moment holds within it an opportunity to work toward greater self-understanding and peacefulness.


emotional intelligence: why it can matter more than IQ
  • daniel goleman
  • Daniel Goleman's brilliant report from the frontiers of psychology and neuroscience offers startling new insight into our "two minds"—the rational and the emotional—and how they together shape our destiny
quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking
  • susan cain
  • Passionately argued, impressively researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet shows how dramatically we undervalue introverts, and how much we lose in doing so.


the princess saves herself in this one
  • amanda lovelace
  • a poetry collection divided into four different parts: the princess, the damsel, the queen, and you. the princess, the damsel, and the queen piece together the life of the author in three stages, while ‘you’ serves as a note to the reader and all of humankind. explores life and all of its love, loss, grief, healing, empowerment, and inspirations.


A is for Activist
  • innosanto nagara
  • A is for activist is an ABC board book written and illustrated for the next generation of progressives: families who want their kids to grow up in a space that is unapologetic about activism, environmental justice, civil rights, LGBTQ right, and everything else that activist believe in and fight for. the alliteration, rhyming, and vibrant illustrations make the book exciting for children, while the issues depicted resonate with their parents’ values of community, equality, and justice. this engaging little book carries huge messages as it inspires hope for the future.


the river of consciousness

  • oliver sacks:
  • From the best-selling author of Gratitude, On the Move, andMusicophilia, a collection of essays that displays Oliver Sacks's passionate engagement with the most compelling and seminal ideas of human endeavor: evolution, creativity, memory, time, consciousness, and experience

no logo

  • naomi klein
  • No Logo employs journalistic savvy and personal testament to detail the insidious practices and far-reaching effects of corporate marketing and the powerful potential of a growing activist sect that will surely alter the course of the 21st century. This is an infuriating, inspiring, and altogether pioneering work of cultural criticism that investigates money, marketing, and the anti-corporate movement. 
birth, sex, and abuse: women’s voices under nazi rule
  • beverley chalmers
  • this book is a fascinating and gripping examination of birth, sex, and abuse during the nazi era. dr chalmers’ unique lens on the holocaust provides a stunning and controversial expose of the voices of both jewish and non-jewish women living under nazi rule.


the keeper of lost things
  • ruth hogan
  • a charming, clever, and quietly moving debut novel of endless possibilities and joyful discoveries that explores the promises we make and break, losing and finding ourselves, the objects that hold magic and meaning for our lives, and the surprising connections that bind us
the power
  • naomi alderman
  • suddenly - tomorrow or the day after - teenage girls find that with a flick of their fingers, they can inflict agonising pain and even death. with this single twist, the four lives at the heart of naomi alderman’s extraordinary, visceral novel are utterly transformed
boy, snow, bird
  • helen oyeyemi
  • The fifth novel from award-winning author Helen Oyeyemi, who was named in 2013 as one of Granta's best of young British novelists. A retelling of the Snow White myth, Boy, Snow, Bird is a deeply moving novel about an unbreakable bond

graphic novels

  • noelle stevenson
  • The New York Times bestselling graphic novel sensation from Noelle Stevenson, based on her beloved and critically acclaimed web comic. Kirkus says, “If you’re going to read one graphic novel this year, make it this one
lady killer
  • joelle jones
  • josie schuller is a picture-perfect homemaker, wife, and mother - but she’s also a ruthless, efficient killer for hire! a brand new original comedy series that combines the wholesome imagery of early 1960s domestic bliss with a tightening web of murder, paranoia, and cold-blooded survival




i hope u get them all for crimbo/hanukkah/kwanzaa/just coz someone pure loves you a lot. have a good one xoxoxoxoxox

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