Books That Changed Me In Big Or Small Ways

Here’s the code:

SF = science fiction
W = wisdom
P = politicizing personal story/narrative

Here’s my list, which will grow, coded:

The Art of War, Sun Tzu (Denma Translation)

The Autobiography of Malcolm X, with help from Alex Haley (i haven’t read Manning Marable’s biography yet) (P)

The Dispossessed and the Earthsea Series and the Left Hand of Darkness (and I expect anything else I ever read) by Ursula K Leguin (SF, P)

Downtown, Anne Rivers Siddon (P)

The Four Agreements and The Mastery of Love, both by Don Miguel Ruiz (W)

Gloria Anzaldua Reader (P, W)

The Middle Passage, Charles Johnson (SF)

Neuromancer, William Gibson (SF)

Every single thing Octavia Butler ever wrote! (SF)

The Prophet, by Khalil Gibran (W)

Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu [translation by Stephen Mitchell] (W)

7 thoughts on “Books That Changed Me In Big Or Small Ways”

  1. I haven’t read Stephen Mitchell’s translation, but did you know there is a translation of the Tao Te Ching by Ursula LeGuin? I think it’s every bit as perfect and wonderful as you would expect it to be.

  2. Good evening, Adrienne!

    I wanted to write a quick message to you. I am an elementary teacher in Ohio who has a heart for social justice and creativity (the arts) and I spend my summers doing things that restore me, so that I can continue to do the work that I do during the year.

    One of the things that I have recently started doing (now that I am getting older) is going on longer and longer walks. I have always been an avid exerciser, but walking has never been my ‘thing’ but has become a new passion of mine. I say that to say , that during my walk today, I began listening to a new podcast that I have stumbled upon (Truth Be Told) and found the episode that featured you and your work! What a blessing!!!

    I promise to keep it brief, so I will not expand on the many things that you touched on that I LOVED, but rather will tell you the main reason I am writing.

    I am a believer in divine moments and as I walking this evening, my family is preparing for a short trip to Detroit…a place that none of us have ever been even though a mere 3 hours away. We are traveling there because of my daughter’s National Invention Convention competition. Yes, she is an 11-year old black girl from a suburb who is living her authentic life as a lover of science, art, and softball!

    What an interesting intersection that I have found you (well, actually your work) at the same time my young daughter is living her purpose!!!

    I felt compelled to write to you and share this because I know you will ‘get’ the significance of this moment.

    I wanted to thank you for putting out there in the world, the goodness that you do and celebrate how you are empowering others to be who we are created to be!!!

    I have so much more to say, so I am sure I will send you more messages.

    I am eager to see the beauty and JOY of Detroit and if there are any things that you would recommend that we see as we are here, I would be grateful for the advice!

    In love, peace, and JOY,

    Lee Rutherford

  3. HI!
    I just discovered you. I feel an instant connection in spirit. In vision. in purpose.
    The prophet by Khalil was my bible when I was 16. its probably the book that shaped me most. Seeing this made the connection that was already obvious evident.
    Sending you a cordial salutation from Germany. Hoping to colaborate with you some day.

  4. As a eldest Virgo sister with a Sun in Leo and Moon in Scorpio bowing to you and your Fantastic Life. Heartfelt gratitude for Emergent Strategy (my companion that I keep with me in my carrying bag), your recipes (Lemon Ginger Drumstick Soup–yum!), this book list (some favorites of mine too & new introductions), and Octavia’s Parables podcast (Bravo! pivotal dialogue inquiry wisdom for the 2020s). Thank you thank you thank you.

  5. I am working on reconnected with the indigenous ways of my ancestors and have reconnected with the The Four Agreements. It occurs to me that this book is more radical than the simplicity of the language it is written in would suggest, especially as a practical guide for untangling the effects of domestication and colonization of our minds.

  6. If you like Ursula le Guin (she’s one of my favourite authors too) I’d recommend reading anything by Becky Chambers as well.

  7. Great list! I am a White sister and ally, Adrienne. In the sf (speculative fiction) category I highly recommend N. K. Jemison’s Broken Earth trilogy. Your writing is so brilliant, I suspect you are very well-read, so you probably already know about N. K. Jemison. So this is a shout-out not just for you, but in solidarity and friendliness with anyone else who may be reading this comment.

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