I was tagged for this twice, and finally finished it.
1. One book that changed your life?
I suppose Combatting Cult Mind Control by Steve Hassan. Despite many disagreements I have with the exact content and theory behind it, it helped me recognize some of the professionals in my life for what they were. It’s written by a guy who used to be a Moonie, then he used to be a deprogrammer, but found deprogramming too brainwashing-like in itself and became an “exit counselor” (um). He’s managed, despite many holes in the way he sees things, to accurately describe the effects of brainwashing in a way that a person who’s been through it could recognize it immediately despite nothing else getting through. At least in my case. This is not even my favorite book, nor one I have read often since, but I guess at one point it was useful.
2. One book you have read more than once?
I’ve read nearly all books more than once. I have trouble understanding them on first reading, or even second. Lord of the Rings might hold an all-time record though.
3. One book you would want on a desert island?
Something practical, like a survival manual. (Yes, I wrote this response before seeing the many others like it.)
4. One book that made you cry?
Beyond Bedlam edited by Jeanine Grobe. Too close to home I guess. It’s a collection of writing by women who’ve been in the psych system. Combination of poetry, fiction, personal stories, and political analysis, including the first analysis I ever saw of the negative impact of therapy on feminism. A quote from one of the chapters:
It must be inspection time again as the floors are getting mopped and waxed and staff is going crazy trying to cover their ass.
It must be inspection time again as we’ve all been given clean sheets and a blanket (it will disappear when this is over).
It’s kind of fun to watch staff running around in circles and trying to get their paperwork done and in order (probably hasn’t been done in months).
It must be inspection time again as we are all getting deliced and haircuts (any other time they wouldn’t care if the bugs were jumping off us, nor our hair in order). We all smell like disinfectant.
It must be inspection time again — only nice thing about it — we don’t have to eat oatmeal today and we’ll get real food.
Well, it’s time for the show to begin: the inspectors are here (let the games begin, first the tour, then the kitchen, and then comes us).
We know better than to talk or move from our chairs. If we do, there will be hell to pay later (I wonder what would happen if they knew the truth about this place).
Inspection team is leaving, we can move around now and talk but we better pray they passed or we’ll be sorry (someday, I will tell the truth about this hell hole and the ones that run it).
From “The Silent One” by Myrna Renner.
5. One book that made you laugh?
Nearly anything by Terry Pratchett. A Hat Full of Sky maybe, if I had to pick one.
6. One book you wish had been written?
A book by an autie about autistic people that’s actually political, informed by at least something like disability politics and the like, rather than this long string of autiebiographies, self-help manuals, self-dissections, poetry (usually poetry that would never have been published if the person were not known to be autistic), and medicalistic textbooks.
7. One book you wish had never been written?
I’m oddly not going to go for any of my least favorite books. It seems weird to not want a book to exist just because you don’t like it.
So I think I’m going to have to say Autism: The Eighth Color of the Rainbow. Why? Because, despite the author’s best efforts and good intentions, it’s a book on how to communicate with autistic people by a person who has a great deal of difficulty understanding even a simple sentence by an autistic person, and will find hidden meanings from out of left field (I’ve described her as “so exaggeratedly NT it becomes a social deficit” before). The two autistic people I know (besides me) who were represented in the book view it as a misrepresentation of them and their lives — not a deliberate one, just an inevitable one. In short, a person who has immense trouble communicating with autistic people writing a book on “How to speak autistic” is not going to go well, and while such a book should be written, I at least wish it had been written differently. (No doubt if the author comes across this paragraph, speculations about hidden motives I couldn’t possibly imagine will abound. When I tried before to calmly correct the story of a friend, she not only got the corrected version wrong as well but figured I must be jealous of the friend. Another autie who’s in the book on the other hand was once driven to meltdown by her illogic, and she viewed this as “making an important emotional connection”. But the reason is, put simply, stunning levels of inaccuracy, nothing more, nothing less.
8. One book you are currently reading?
The War of the Ring edited by Christopher Tolkien. A bunch of J.R.R. Tolkien’s drafts of The Lord of the Rings, with commentary.
9. One book you have been meaning to read?
The Bible. I have read large chunks of it but I’ve never managed to get through the whole thing.
10. Tag five people.
I’m not even sure how many of them read this blog, but there you go.