Invisible Voices

a voice for the voiceless

Current reading list

I go through ebbs and flows where I am reading a lot of non-fiction or I am reading a lot of vampire fiction. (Don’t ask, I need a vice! Or, only ask if you want recommendations!) Having first been motivated by the upcoming anarchist bookfair in nyc of last weekend, and then fired up by the people, ideas, and event itself, I’ve been reading less of the vampire stuff and more of the thought-provoking stuff in the past couple weeks.

So my current or recent reads (no particular order):

And a whole bunch of photography books that likely no one is interested in. Plus some stuff on buddhism, depression and meditation. Fun stuff! Oh, and code stuff, which likely is about as interesting as watching rocks grow to most people.

So the books on my bookshelf that are waiting for me to read makes a much longer list (thanks in large part to AK Press, who faithfully sends me books every month, and which I not as faithfully get to eventually):

  • Durruti in the Spanish Revolution by Abel Paz
  • Free Comrades by Kissack
  • Granny Made Me an Anarchist: General Franco, The Angry Brigade, and Me by Stuart Christie
  • Beyond Bullets by Boykoff
  • Possibilities: Essays On Hierarchy, Rebellion, and Desire by David Graeber
  • Marketing Social Change by Alan Andreasen
  • Carbon Trading – a critial conversation on climate change, privatisation and power: development dialogue no 48, september 2006
  • Bird Flu: A Virus of our own hatching by Michael Greger
  • Rebel Alliances: The means and ends of contemporary British anarchisms by Benjamin Franks
  • The Subversion of Politics: European Autonomous Social Movements and the Decolonization of Everyday Life by Georgy Katsiaficas
  • Empty Cages by Tom Regan
  • Speciesism by Joan Dunayer
  • Che Gurevara and the Latin American Revolution by Manual “Barbarroja” PiΓ±eiro

I have many more, such as “Rogue Economics” and “The Revolution Will Not Be Funded” that I definitely want to read. Probably “End Game” as well.

I can’t recommend, yet, the books I haven’t read, but for anyone interested in anarchism (who hasn’t already read a lot on it), I think that “Conquest of Bread” is a great book. For people interested, in general, in living sustainably and likely a bit outside the confines of wage-slavery, “Nowtopia” and “food not lawns” are great books, with “food not lawns” being (surprise) very focused on gardening. I have found both to be incredibly motivating. They definitely make me feel that if I am not happy with the way things are, then I should change what I have the most power over – which happens to be me and my life. So gardening, forming community and performing acts of mutual aid, these are the things I can do right now.

Other books that I think we should all read would include “Aftershock” and “The Joy of Conflict Resolution” (and that last one, maybe both, are books I’d recommend to everyone everywhere, not just activists, or people interested in AR or anarchism).

So that’s where I’m at in my reading at the moment. I have a lot of reading to get through – so much, in fact, that I often ignore those great heaping piles of books and reach for the fascinating world of vampires.

What are you reading? What would you recommend?

lenny at ps

14 responses to “Current reading list

  1. Lenn April 19, 2008 at 5:27 pm

    I have the same problem–too many books, so little time. I also really enjoy documentaries, but often can’t find them free online & can’t afford to buy them. Just recently, I saw “King Corn” on PBS about the growing of corn, how it’s used, etc. Though it’s not the intention of the creators of the film, the film shows cattle feedlots that are packed with cows being fed nasty corn & other animal cruelty issues. It also presents appalling info about our food supply.

    Anyway, I have never heard of the “Food Not Lawns” book–will try to find that! And on the topic of food, did you realize that even organic food is made with slaughterhouse products? When I discovered that, I did some research that started with Googling “vegan organic gardening”. The search results only showed websites from England. Vegan organic methods aren’t even on American radar screens.

    So deeper research eventually led me to Masanobu Fukuoka & his so-called natural gardening / farming. Along with the realization that the only ethical and healthful way to eat is by growing your own food, I realized that his method was pretty much THE way to go (except I don’t agree with his use of poultry droppings). But trying to implement it has been lonely–I can’t even seem to find any online groups on the subject.

    A few reasons I concluded that the only way to make sure your food is grown COMPLETELY ethically and healthfully is go grow your own:

    1) As already mentioned, organic farming supports the animal slaughter industry (bonemeal as fertilizer, for example).
    2) Even local organic farms seem to still exploit animals in some way (by producing & selling eggs & even meat products, for example).
    3) Any form of farming (larger than a personal garden) that does not follow the concepts expressed by Masanobu Fukuoka is not supporting a naturally balanced environment for plants, animals, or people (I didn’t have any clue what a naturally balanced environment even was until I read about natural farming).

    I know that local organic farms are still relatively much better than many other options. But I prefer to not be causing destruction of any kind with my behavior. And I like to at least know what the ideal is and strive for it as much as possible.

    Deb, I would love to hear your assessment of any book you read.

    Hope this wasn’t too off topic!

    Another off-topic thought: Did you know that Oprah recently did a show exposing the cruelty of puppy mills? I can’t find anywhere online to watch it–darn! I have found almost nothing to respect Oprah for, but this is pretty awesome. I read somewhere that Oprah said she would no longer purchase her dogs–she would adopt!!

  2. Deb April 19, 2008 at 7:33 pm

    Have you looked to see if your local library has documentaries? I have two friends who are always recommending documentaries to me, but I have a really hard time taking the time to watch videos. I don’t know why!

    Veganic gardening, as I’ve heard “vegan organic” termed, is something I have heard more and more about in the past couple years. I think it is likely with people growing their own food, more than the farmers who are selling produce. It is definitely an issue with what they use as fertilizer, as well as what other practices they have. At farmers markets you can at least learn more about their operations, and try to find farmers who are not into animal exploitation. But if you google “veganic gardening” you will find more u.s. based sources, though i’m not sure if it would put you in touch with any actual gardeners.

    I’ve never heard of Masanobu Fukuoka, but I have a feeling that some of what he talks about would be similar to what is talked about in food not lawns. She definitely sees the entire cycle, she doesn’t just focus on growing a tomato or whatever. She also has some really fantastic ideas for tying in other environmental ideas, and she’s a strong advocate for seed swaps and community gardening.

    Here’s the website:

    There’s a link to a tribe forum, which I hadn’t noticed before, but which looks like it is a good resource. I am pretty clueless about gardening, so at this point I’m more a believer in it than someone who’s having any success with it! I need a mentor! lol.

    I’ll have to get ahold of a book on this natural farming and see what I can learn from it. Another term I have been hearing more and more lately (and which is mentioned in “nowtopia” is Permaculture. I don’t know much about it, but I want to start learning. Wiki’s article makes it sound a lot like both natural gardening and what is discussed in food not lawns (though I didn’t read enough to know how close it is).

    One of the things I loved about food not lawns is that she’s actually pushing all of us to garden regardless of whether we have land – container gardening, urban “guerilla” gardening, etc. And I think it is really important! And the gardening thing was totally on-topic as far as I’m concerned. πŸ™‚

    As for Oprah, I definitely had heard about the puppy mill episode of hers! Mary wrote about it, but I don’t know if there is anything more than the preview available to be watched online.

  3. vegansofcolor April 20, 2008 at 8:40 am

    HAHAHAHA re: vampire fiction–I love it too. Or really, most kinds of paranormal fiction (I like werewolves better than vampires usually). Not quite so shocking as I read a lot of science fiction/fantasy, but even among people who read those, a lot of the time the vampire/werewolf stuff is seen as embarrassing. πŸ˜› I like Carrie Vaughn (werewolf radio talk show host!), Kelley Armstrong (um, basically any kind of supernatural finds their way into her books eventually), Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse books (vampires in small-town Louisiana, w/o the condescension that sometimes you get when people write about small towns), & I also like Kim Harrison, but I’m cooling on her a little bit.

    I blog about everything I read here, & I started tagging the urban fantasy/vampire/werewolf etc. stuff if you want more recs. Hee. I’d be curious to see who you’re reading!

    On a more expected reading-list note, The Revolution Will Not Be Funded was really great!!

    (& yeah, I really loved Aftershock too)

  4. Deb April 20, 2008 at 9:37 am

    I’ll have to spend some serious time on your book blog. We obviously have really similar taste in books! I havn’t read Kelley Armstrong though her name looks really familiar, but all of the others, I’ve read all of their stuff! Recently I’ve been reading Lilith Saintcrow, which had me pretty close to obsessed for a while – heavy on the demons. And Patricia Briggs, shape-shifting mechanic mixed up in werewolves, and with a mentor from faerie. Karen Chance – clairvoyant raised by vampires and suddenly given the power of the “pythia”, with the ability to jump through time, and with the job of protecting the timeline.

    Really, there’s very little that is just vampires or just werewolves, or whatever. Back in the day, I think it used to be more like that…at least, it was Anne Rice who got me hooked, and she kept her vampires and witches separate! I keep calling it “vampire fiction” mostly as a shortcut, and I think a carryover from when I got hooked on Anne Rice! I’ll call it vampire fiction even when there’s no vampires in there! lol.

    It is always great to meet someone else who likes the paranormal stuff! I just looked at Kelley Armstrong’s books on amazon and realized that I had been looking at a few of her books at the bookstore on Friday (no wonder her name looked so familiar!) and had almost picked one up. I’ll have to pick hers up at the library for sure!

  5. Mary Martin April 22, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    At the Palm Beach Film Festival last weekend, a film based on Confessions of an Economic Hitman was shown for the first time, and I was working so I missed it! I’m interested to hear what you think, although it’s probably not going to be much news to you. Just received Manufacturing Landscapes, by the way. Have you seen Revolution OS? It’s sort of a primer on the history–and the drama behind–Linux, which was all news to me.

    Love the goat, of course. And re-watched the Ari video just because it makes me smile. I love that damn kid’s voice!

  6. Deb April 22, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    Confessions was really good. Not shocking, in the sense that it was something I hadn’t heard before (I’d read up on Argentina and Bolivia’s issues with IMF previously, and am pretty well versed on the issues there), but it was still the kind of book to make me sit up and take notice, given that it was written by and marketed towards a pretty mainstream crowd.

    Manufactured Landscapes was incredibly disturbing, but something I’d highly recommend!

    I haven’t seen (or heard of) Revolution OS, but unixes and linuxes are discussed a fair amount in CS classes (at least they were in mine) and I’d have geek-talks with coworkers debating the whole issue of open source operating systems, etc. I believe OSX was opened by Apple…yup, went and looked:

    “Major components including the unix core were opened…”

    Glad you enjoyed the video and ari! We told Chris this past weekend that we needed an Ari sequel. πŸ˜€

  7. Gary April 25, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    Impressive list!

    Currently I’m reading “Brutal,” by Brian Luke. He explores gender issues in animal rights that, from my perspective, have gone mostly uncovered, such as the fact that personal care companies are far less likely to drop animal testing if their main customers are men. He also brings up interesting points, such as the high number of men’s personal care products that have cowboy or animal domination names. The author also picks apart the argument that hunting is a natural instinct in men, and shows the overlap in hunting (as done by men in the West) and sexual predation.

    I also just started reading Ethics and the Beast. It’s an interesting take on animal liberation advocacy. The author, while not defending speciesism, shows how one can be a speciesist and still be morally obligated to abide by the great majority of ASR positions. This information may be valuable when advocating to people who respond with “but humans are different (or more valuable).” The author also asks, “Precisely – as opposed to generally – what do we mean by animal liberation and animal rights?”

    Almost forgot: The Feminist Care Tradition in Animal Ethics – an anthology compiled by Josephne Donovan and Carol J. Adams. The essays explore limitations to thinking of animal liberation and our relationship to animals strictly in terms of rights or interests.

  8. Deb April 25, 2008 at 7:59 pm

    Those sound like interesting books!

  9. johanna April 26, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    Deb — I just read the 3rd Patricia Briggs this week. I have to take some time to write it up before I post it on my book blog… I don’t know, I was pretty disappointed. I really liked the first two, but I felt like the 3rd fell into a lot of traps that I dislike in paranormal fiction. (If you haven’t read the 3rd one yet I won’t spoil it here…)

    Sort of related to what I didn’t like about the Briggs: I think part of what can be interesting is the tension between human morals/customs & what’s presented as biological imperatives (when you’re a wolf, etc.). That’s one thing I really love about Carrie Vaughn’s books — her heroine Kitty, in the first one, is torn between werewolf pack norms (involving submission, etc.) & what her human side tells her is sexist garbage. In Kitty’s case, her pack was messed up & unhealthy, but I think the tension was valid, & in too many books it seems to be just an excuse for female characters to joyfully submit over & over again to dominating alpha males. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes that’s pretty hot, but when it seems to be the STANDARD for how paranormal women operate, I’m not too excited about it.

    & I know this is partly b/c the genre came out of (or @ least is strongly influenced by) romance, which still has a lot of conservative aspects in a lot of it, but… gah, I want more queer paranormals. Or @ least ones where everyone isn’t super-focused on marrying/having babies (& some of that, again, is passed off as biological drive — oh no, female werewolves can’t have babies! etc. etc. — but when it comes up EVERYWHERE… bah). I suppose I was asking to be fatigued on it considering I just read the _My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon_ anthology (& I’ve also read its prequel, _My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding_), so I’m just burnt-out on overwhelming het-ness & baby-making-ness & traditionalness. πŸ˜‰

    Phew! Sorry for the super-long comment — I don’t get to talk about social analysis of these books too often. πŸ˜‰

  10. Deb April 26, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    Johanna, I know what you mean about the 3rd Briggs! I still enjoyed it, to some extent, but it did fall into a lot of the typical traps.

    I think that because my first paranormal books were Anne Rice’s, and that’s all I read for a while, I have sort of missed that there’s not much queer paranormals. There do seem to be at least some characters sprinkled throughout the books I read, so I guess it hadn’t really hit my radar!

    The issue of alpha and dominating males is why werewolves don’t always appeal to me, though there are some definite exceptions. Laurel K. Hamilton does a pretty good job of having really strong female characters (in her “vampire hunter” series with anita blake, but also her fey series…though I do feel like the vampire hunter series has lost its thread), and Jeanne Stein (“The Watcher” is one of the ones, main character is Anna Strong) also does a good job of this (bounty hunter gets turned into vampire) though there are a few things that I don’t like her her books also.

    I think I end up finding books where the main characters aren’t interested in marriage & babies, because that just bores me to no end!

    I am reading my first Kelley Armstrong, by the way! “Bitten” is the one I picked up, and I’m liking it quite a bit. Yesterday I read a book by Jenna Black (“The Devil Inside”) which only has demons in it, and it has a pretty hot and steamy gay couple as the main supporting characters.

    Another werewolf author that I have enjoyed is Rachel Vincent. I think she does a better job of showing different ways the women end up dealing with that sort of typical macho werewolf behavior, and it is the main female character who really is in charge, or at least 2nd in command.

    I could probably talk about paranormal books forever! So no problem about the long comment. It was a pleasure! πŸ™‚

  11. John McLaren April 27, 2008 at 5:43 pm

    One organization working on vegan organic in the US is the Center for Vegan Organic Education based in Burton, Washington. These two gals, Amy S. Duggan and Olga Schifani, spoke at the Vegetarian Summerfest a few years ago, and it was truly inspiring. There are a few farms that are vegan organic like Hugenot Street Farm in NY state. I understand that the British have a labeling law for vegan organic grown produce, and the US branch of VON is working on it state-side. It’s important that people start to think about how their food is grown because if we support the animal killing by purchasing food that was grown on the bones and blood and manure of innocent victims we aren’t eating ethically. Sometimes I think it’s better to eat non-organic than to eat food grown with slaughterhouse biproducts, don’t you?

  12. Deb April 27, 2008 at 7:04 pm

    Thanks for the info. I’ll have to look more into it and see how some of the farms that supply my local organic market fare in comparison.

    I’ve thought a lot about the organic vs. non, and which is more ethical. And I suppose if the only aspect of it you look at is the usage of slaughterhouse byproducts, non-organic would start to seem better.

    But that doesn’t address some very serious issues. Such as:
    – dumping poisons into the earth kills animals
    – non-organic soy kills animals via rainforest destruction, and what it is doing to the humans in places like brazil is equally as bad.
    – monsanto is no more ethical than animal exploiters
    – “conventional” produce often means you’re supporting the drastic reduction in biodiversity, which is a harm that will have a long-term negative effect that will ripple through the species in those ecosystems.

    It isn’t an easy question, since it seems to me that with very few exceptions both types of agriculture are causing a lot of harm and death. However, since I want to avoid the long-term effects of adding yet more poison to the environment, can’t stand the thought of supporting companies like monsanto, and am quite concerned about the side-effects of reducing biodiversity, I continue to buy organic.

  13. John McLaren May 10, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    Thank you, Deb, for your comments. I agree that the choice isn’t easy between organic and non-organic. That’s why we need to bring veganic into the set of options. You provided good reasons for avoiding chemically-based vegetables, but I suggest that the organics industry depends on those types of farming techniques to raise the corn and other plants fed to the animals on factory farms who are then slaughtered. Their meat is fed to people, and the rest of what made up their bodies are fed to organic farmers to fertilize their “naturally-grown” crops. Organics support the factory farms. What else can one typical farm that kills 35,000 hogs a year do with 200 million pounds of waste? This doesn’t even touch the pollution created when the fluids used in such farming techniques is dumped in slurries. Veganic is not more expensive or difficult, and the 3 farms that use veganic methods in the US that I was able to find searching the web are working out just fine, so why isn’t vegan organic proliferating? Who owns the organic farms – often they are owned by the same huge corporations that have “traditional” farm products. The animals raised use 70% of the freshwater in this country – a large percentage of our crops are grown to feed them (using chemicals, quite often, although the lettuce grown using bone and blood and manure from industrial farm animals raised for meat can be labeled organic) I’m up in arms about this situation – it’s like we can’t help but support factory farming unless we can buy everything from a local farmer – and try to find one who can make a living. Of course in one part of the country you can grow a lot of things, but not the variety of foods that vegans require such as beans, greens, citrus, potatoes and carrots. Or, maybe I’m wrong – can anyone chime in here?

  14. Deb May 10, 2008 at 8:59 pm

    John, these are valid points, but in the end, all I can say is to read “Food Not Lawns”, grow your own food, and what you can’t grow yourself buy organic from the farmers markets when available, and from the stores otherwise. If people are lucky enough to live near a veganic farm, they have an obvious best choice of the food they buy in a store. Most of us don’t have that option, and while some organic farms are going to end up with a tie to animal agriculture via manure, that does not change the basic equation, which is that organic produce introduces less chemicals into the environment, and is less harmful overall.

    Even the veganic produce at a store has some harm involved – the transportation of the produce to the market alone is extremely negative. Thus, you can’t do better than growing your own organic produce.

    There is pretty much nowhere in this country where we wouldn’t be able to grow much if not most of what we need. Contact your local gardener’s group, find a community garden, get some books to learn about what works well in your region. Even in the desert, you can grow a pretty amazing variety of foods. Of the things you listed, only citrus would be tricky in large parts of this country (they’re limited by cold) but it isn’t like we need oranges for survival anyway.

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