What I Read in May

Don’t let this list fool you. While I only finished four books in the month of May, I read a ton for my upcoming yoga teacher training. They were all pretty hefty texts, though, that I am just now finishing (in June). I will review them each later, but I hope to integrate what I learned from them into blogs about my study of yoga instead of doing my traditional monthly list.

True Yoga by Jennie Lee

In True Yoga, yoga therapist Jennie Lee discusses each of the eight limbs of yoga–going beyond the asanas that we practice in yoga class. After each chapter, she provides the reader with affirmations and exercises to perform to help us embody the yogic principle she is teaching. I can highly recommend this book for anyone looking to take their practice to the next level.

The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron

It’s not an exaggeration to say that this book has changed my life. Julia Cameron sets out a twelve-week creative recovery course for readers. In it, she gives concrete exercises about how to unblock your creative self, whether you are a writer, painter, dancer, actor, gardener… whatever. I can honestly say that I went from someone who feared she may never write creatively again to someone who is a draft into a new novel, draws and crafts regularly and has lots of ideas ready to roll.

I have been struggling with a blog post about how much I was negatively affected by my MFA program, but I have not yet had the chutzpah to publish it. All I will say now is that this book effectively helped me lift the blocks created by that program. While Cameron does talk a lot about God, she offers different ways of looking at the divine to help with your recovery. Well worth working through this book–even if you are not a spiritual/religious person.

Disobedience by Naomi Alderman

I have been a massive fan of Naomi Alderman since I finished The Power for my book club a few months ago. Disobedience was a much different book. While The Power is a futuristic science fiction tale about women gaining the power to control electricity, Disobedience is a quiet story about a young woman returning to her Orthodox Jewish community after her rabbi father died–and the lives she upends by returning. It tackles the themes of whether or not you can ever return home, the various manifestations of romantic relationships, the meaning of friendship and our place within a community.

I won’t lie. This is not the sort of book I generally read, but I could not put it down. I was fascinated by the peek into Orthodox Judaism (at least as practiced by this community) and moved by the stories of the three protagonists. Also, Alderman’s use of language is just exquisite. This is my favorite passage from the book (I loved it so much, I wrote it in my own writing journal):

For those who can’t read my handwriting: “There was a time when Esti thought that Ronit’s face contained the world, but now, well, it’s just a face. She’s grateful for that, grateful for the change, because it’s not good to see the world in a face that doesn’t belong to you, that’s always turning away from you.”

Diary of a Ghost Girl

I round out this post with the first book I finished this month, Diary of a Ghost Girl by Shay Alexi–a chapbook published by Glass Poetry. This was a wonderful book, and I cannot wait to see what Shay Alexi comes out with next.

One of my favorite poems from the collection was “In Which Our Children’s Children Make a Myth of Us on a Playground.” In it, Alexi uses images of Ophelia from Hamlet to offer a more optimistic view of what women can expect in the future: “nobody has to play Ophelia this time/ except for everybody does wear flowers/ except for everybody does float/ on their backs/ in the river/ naked/ (giggles)/ but nobody has to drown/ right, nobody has/ to drown except/ sometimes they want to/ except they don’t/ and isn’t that a good story.”

While there is still sadness, girls are no longer doomed as poor Ophelia was in Hamlet– something this is possible due to the love of the mothers who appear only as myths to their granddaughters. I also love that idea–that you don’t need a female victim to make great literature!

If you cannot tell, I would highly recommend every book I finished in May, which is a rarity.

Also, I’m often asked how you can support the blog. One way is to subscribe to my various social networks and this blog, but you can also support us by purchasing the books through the links above. No pressure! I am a library lover myself, but if you do plan to buy the book anyway, we get a small kickback if you buy through our links.

Read anything excellent last month? Share below!