On my latest book list

Alright, we got a playlist THANK YOU! Now could we please have a book list?


Yes, yes. I know what time of year it is. Fair warning, though. I’ve spent the last long while coming out of my own personal dark night of the soul, so this year’s book list is pretty intense. It’s all about nature and art and death and resurrection. There’s some old-school wisdom and some new-school wisdom. Some of it is candy, and some of it is just plain weird. All of it has helped me gain perspective on who I am and what I believe to be true about the universe.

So, without further ado, here is my latest book list:


Religion Without God by Ronald Dworkin

Modern Man in Search of a Soul by C.G. Jung

The Gift by Hafiz

The Conquest of Happiness by Bertrand Russell

Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell

On Having No Head by D.E. Harding

Letters From A Stoic by Seneca

Metamorphoses by Ovid

The Republic by Plato

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

The Rings of Saturn by W.G. Sebald

The Dark Half by Stephen King

The Omen by David Seltzer

Siddhartha by Herman Hesse

Tinkers by Paul Harding

I Married You For Happiness by Lily Tuck

The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women Across the Ancient World by Adrienne Mayor

M Train by Patti Smith

The Executioner’s Song by Norman Mailer

A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit

Loving & Hating Charles Bukowski by Linda King

I Knew Jim Knew by Jim Walrod

How to See: Looking, Talking, and Thinking about Art by David Salle

Color: A Natural History of the Palette by Victoria Finlay

Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers by Leonard Koren

Concerning the Spiritual in Art by Wassily Kandinsky


On a bunch of heavy books

Even though September has passed, any chance we could still get a book list?

Yes, yes. I know I’ve owed you a fresh book list for some time now. Unfortunately, my library isn’t as fun as it used to be, but that’s what happens when an incompetent, narcissistic grifter becomes president and a bunch of punk bitch neo-Nazis feel emboldened enough to march through the streets with tiki torches dressed like little racist Best Buy employees.

We live in interesting times, y’all. I’m still hopeful that this country will get its shit together and the Democrats will win back the House in 2018. I’m also looking forward to the day when the Mueller investigation finally sinks the Trump administration. Until then, stay frosty, and enjoy this list of slightly more serious books about the fucked up world we’ve created for ourselves.

The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President by Bandy Lee, MD

The People Are Going to Rise Like the Waters Upon Your Shore: A Story of American Rage by Jared Yates Sexton

Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History by Kurt Andersen

The Retreat of Western Liberalism by Edward Luce

On Tyranny: Twenty Lessions from the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder

We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coates

What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton

Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History by Katy Tur

Religion for Atheists: A Non-believer’s Guide to the Uses of Religion by Alain de Botton

Consciousness: Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist by Cristof Koch

From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time by Sean Carroll

The Body Keeps The Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk MD

Fuck Feelings: One Shrink’s Practical Advice for Managing All Life’s Impossible Problems by Michael Bennett MD

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan (They can’t all be serious.)


On another bunch of books

Your book recommendations reignited my love of reading. Thank you. Will you be posting any more recommendations soon? It is September, after all.


Yes, yes. I love our September booklist tradition, especially in a month when I have a book of my own hitting the shelves. Here’s the latest snapshot of what I’ve been reading lately. As always, it’s a mixed bag. There should be a little something here for everyone:

Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés

Girls and Sex by Peggy Orenstein

The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick

Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks

Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks

Change Your Story, Change Your Life by Carl Greer

The Red Book (Liber Novus) by Carl Jung

The Highest State of Consciousness edited by John White

The Divine Within by Aldous Huxley

Delta of Venus by Anaïs Nin

Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth

Dreams from Bunker Hill by John Fante

Triggers by Marshall Goldsmith

Dropping Ashes on the Buddha by Zen Master Sueng Sahn

The Examined Life by Stephen Grosz

Fun-Sized Advice

On more fun-sized advice

Do you give to charity? My friends (some of whom make more than I do) totally recoiled when I said I give a significant portion of my income to charity. I have zero idea how prevalent it is.
Yes. I give to Planned Parenthood, March of Dimes, and two local charities that I can’t name without revealing my location.

How do you tell someone to get over it (!!!) without coming across as harsh? My brother is heartbroken over someone he dated (drama the entire time) for like 3 months and I can’t keep being sympathetic. I know this makes me sound like a complete dick and I hate myself for it.
It requires that you be both empathetic and firm. Respect that the pain he feels is real while at the same time enforcing emotional boundaries that prevent him from wallowing in your presence. Say something like, “I understand that you’re still heartbroken, but you can’t bring that shit around me anymore.”

Is my life going to get better?
I can’t predict the future, and “better” is an impossibly subjective concept, but you can definitely change your circumstances. Start there and see what happens.

What is the title of the last one of those three books in your ‘stay wild’ photo? I can make two out: Triggers by Dr. Marshall Goldsmith and Diplomatic Pursuits by Joseph van Westphalen, but not the very last one.
The third book is Ernest Hemingway on Writing. (I love that my readers are such bibliophiles. You guys are impressive even when you’re being creepers.)

Why does Hillary act like she’s making history as if she’s the first rich white woman to succeed at the expense of marginalized women?
Oh, fuck off. Hillary isn’t perfect, but goddamnit, she is making history. If you can’t see that, then you’re blinded by that massive fucking chip on your shoulder.

Do you still do drugs sometimes like in your wild days or did you get over it?
Both. I’m over it, and I still party on special occasion. I’ve gone from a couple times a week to a couple times a season.

I’m addicted to you. I need more updates please! (sorry I know you have a life and whatnot but I NEED MORE.)
Patience, dear. I come and go in waves. Always have, always will.





On books about the police

Can you recommend a good book on this “fuck the police” stuff? I want to look deeper into this.


Rise of the Warrior Cop by Radley Balko
If you only read one book about police in America, this is the one. It’s well researched, politically balanced, and it will let you decide for yourself whether you wanna say “fuck the police.”

Our Enemies in Blue by Kristain Williams
Again, if you’re only looking to read one book, this is another great one to consider. It’s also well researched and incredibly thorough, but its entire premise is “fuck the police,” and the author makes no excuses for his position.

Police Brutality: An Anthology edited by Jill Nelson
I haven’t read this, but it looks like a decent collection of essays.

Brotherhood of Corruption by Juan Antonio Juarez
Juarez is an unreliable narrator and a poor writer, but there is still a lot of brutal, street-level truth to be found in this book.

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
This is a seminal work. A must read. It’s less about police and more about systemic racism, but you need to understand the big picture.

Crook County by Nicole Van Cleve
This hasn’t been published yet, but I got my hands on an advance copy and it’s a groundbreaking indictment of the court system.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
This is a personal book about the realities of being black in America, but it’s beautifully written and touches on police violence, so it goes on the list.

Understanding Power: The Indispensible Chomsky edited by Mitchell and Schoeffel
Honestly, you can’t read enough Chomsky. This collection is a great starting point. Focus on his ideas about state power, but by all means, go wherever it takes you.

Discipline and Punish by Michel Foucault
This book is the most difficult, but it’s also the most important. It’s a philosophical masterpiece about society’s relationship with incarceration. It will challenge you. Accept the challenge.


On books about the middle east

Oh, Coquette. How can one possibly start to understand ISIS, ISIL, the Saudi regime, the Syrian crisis—hell, the entire Middle East as something more than a bewildering source of violence? I read The Grand Chessboard when you recommended it a while ago, but now I need something that helps me gain a little more perspective about that part of the world; I’m thinking about big-picture surveys of the history, political and economic control, and shifts in cultural and religious thought in that region. It’s a tall fuckin’ order, I know, and I recognize that I’ve got an icky Western stance that imagines a huge diverse part of the world as one big blanket mess that can somehow be understood through a few books. But I want to learn—or at least start. Any reading suggestions?

If you just want some general perspective on that part of the world, I’d recommend James Gelvin’s “The Modern Middle East.” (Be sure to get the fourth edition.)

If you want a little less history and a little more “Grand Chessboard” style politics, I’d recommend you go with Karl Yambert’s “The Contemporary Middle East.”

They’re both offer big-picture surveys of the region. With either book, you’ll learn a ton.



On another bunch of books

Can you post some more book recommendations? You’ve already given me two of my all time favorite books (“Shock Doctrine” and “Veronika decides to die”).


Yep. It’s September, and like clockwork, you guys are asking me for books again. Here’s the latest snapshot of what’s on my bookshelf. As always, it’s a mixed bag. There should be a little something here for everyone:

The Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Sapiens: A History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

Purity by Jonathan Franzen

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig

The Terrorist’s Dilemma: Managing Violent Covert Organizations by Jacob Shapiro

Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy

The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II by Denise Kiernan

Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright

Bitch Planet #1 by Deconnick & De Landro

A Renegade History of the United States by Thaddeus Russell

Lost in the Cosmos by Walker Percy

Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion by Sam Harris


On a capitalism reading list

“We are surrounded by capitalist tools. The trick is not using them for their intended purpose.” Would you make a reading list based on this, please?

Sure. Here’s a trio of easily accessible books that will give you a broad but critical overview of the current state of American capitalism:

Supercapitalism by Robert Reich

The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein

Profit Over People by Noam Chomsky

If you wanna go a bit further down the rabbit hole:

The Capitalism Papers by Jerry Mander

America Beyond Capitalism by Gar Alperovitz

And finally, if you’re in the mood for a challenging, interdisciplinary mindfuck, here’s the cherry on top:

The End Of Capitalism (As We Knew It): A Feminist Critique of Political Economy by J. K. Gibson-Graham


On things made by women

Breaking Bad has left me feeling a bit over-saturated by men’s crises, so I want to take a month where I exclusively think about things made by women. You’ve got taste, could you recommend me some good books, lectures, films, music?

Off the top of my head, try reading The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht and Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward. Get your daily news from Rachel Maddow. If you can, catch “In A World…” while it’s still in theaters. Binge watch Top of the Lake and Orange Is the New Black on Netflix. Listen to Lorde’s new album on repeat.

That should make for a pretty decent month.


On a bunch of books

I need some new books, and you are way overdue for another reading list. Pretty please!

Okay, okay. What is it about September? I’ve been getting this question at least once a day for a while now.

I don’t have time at the moment to put together a curated list, but I can give you a quick snapshot of what’s currently on my bookshelf. It’s a mixed bag. A few classics, a bunch of contemporary stuff, and a bit of non-fiction. Some are great. Some aren’t. All are worth reading for one reason or another:

The Easy Hour,
Leslie Stella

The Camera My Mother Gave Me, Susanna Kaysen

No Touch Monkey, Ayun Halliday

The Postmortal, Drew Magary

Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates, Tom Robbins

Lionel Asbo, Martin Amis

The Dharma Bums, Jack Kerouac

The End of the Affair, Graham Greene

The Drunkard’s Walk, Leonard Mlodinow

Valley of the Dolls, Jacqueline Susann

Motley Crue: The Dirt, Nikki Sixx and Neil Strauss

Just Kids, Patti Smith

One Day, David Nicholls

The Hummingbird’s Daughter, Luis Alberto Urrea

Queen of America, Luis Alberto Urrea

Ecstasy, Irvine Welsh

Porno, Irvine Welsh

How To Stop Time, Ann Marlowe

Emergency Public Relations, Cindy Rakowitz

Meditations for Beginners, Jack Kornfield

Mindsight, Daniel J. Siegel, MD

Am I A Monkey?, Francisco J. Ayala

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk, David Sedaris