5 Books to Understand Me

I usually don’t do list posts, but this idea grabbed me. 5 books you’d give your partner to help them understand you. Idea came across my twitter feed from @Nicole_Cliffe@twitter.com and I immediately started figuring out what my five are.

You might have seen me share the list on Twitter and Fedi, but I thought it might be fun to share a bit about why I picked these five.

My 5 Books

The Sabbath by Heschel
Their Troublesome Crush by West
Planting Life by Mahler*
Mother of Demons by Flint
Deerskin by Mckinley

The Sabbath by Abraham Joshua Heschel

Heschel’s work is usually found on any list of ‘books to read to learn about Judaism’. If the list is for ‘Judaism in the 20th century’ it will be at the top.

The Sabbath explores the relationships between time, space, and humanity, with an emphasis on how Judaism is a religion of time, and the Sabbath a counterweight to the daily-life emphasis on controlling space. I think it would help a new partner understand not just my relationship with my faith, but how I have come to approach and view many things in daily life.

Their Troublesome Crush by Xan West

This novella about an autistic enby exploring a new kinky relationship with xir metamour was the first time I was ever jealous of a fictional character. Not for that specific relationship, but for the queer, Jewish, kinky, polyamorous family they were part of.

If I could create my perfect family, it would be very like the family in this book.

Planting Life in a Dying City by Jess Mahler

Okay, yeah, it isn’t published yet. Or even fully written. But it’s my book so I can always share the draft, right?

Anyway, in some ways Planting Life, even more than I, is my exploration of the meaning and importance of family.

Some years ago, I read a piece by Lois Bujold about how each story in the Vorkosigan saga is a meditation on a different aspect of parenthood. I think like the theme of parenthood for Bujold, the theme of family will be foundational to just about all of my longer fiction. But I think Planting Life conveys that theme and the meaning behind it better than anything else I’ve done so far..

Mother of Demons by Eric Flint

I really debated this one or A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett. But where Tiffany Aching helped me better understand myself, Indira Toledo shaped and largely reflects how I see and understand the world. I’ve already got 3 books about who I am, a look at how I perceive the world around me is a good one for folks who are going to be in my life.

For all Flint’s flaws (and he has several) he has a wonderful way of making clear the interconnections of history, culture, and belief. Learning to see those connections, largely through Flint’s work, has been a major formative factor in how I relate to the world around me.

Deerskin by Robin McKinley

Like it or not (and I don’t), trauma has had a major impact in my life. Deerskin is not just a beautiful story, and a heartrending exploration of trauma and the path of healing. It’s also the book I turned to year after year when I needed a reminder that the trauma is mine, but the sin and shame and guilt and hatefulness is not. That those things belong to the ones who traumatized me. That I deserve to reject those things, to live my life free of them and happy with who I am — even if the trauma keeps me from running as freely as I once did.

I highly recommend it to anyone struggling with their own trauma and healing.

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