One Book Meme


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.

Uh… Amorpha, Moggymania, Bookgirl, Jessadriel, Rarkrarkrark

I’m not even sure how many of them read this blog, but there you go.


About Mel Baggs

Hufflepuff. Came from the redwoods. Crochet or otherwise create constantly and compulsively. Write poetry and paint when I can. Developmentally disabled, physically and cognitively disabled. I'm not really part of any online faction or another, even ones that claim me as a member. The thing in the world most important to me is having love and compassion for other people, although I don't always measure up to my own standards there by a longshot. And individual specific actions and situations and contexts matter a lot more to me than broadly-spoken abstract words and ideas about a topic. My father died in 2014 and that has changed my life a lot in ways that are still evolving, but I wear a lot of his clothes and hats every day since he died and have shown no sign of stopping soon.

13 responses »

  1. A Tolkien fan? I KNEW there was a reason I like you so much :). Tolkien had an amazing mind and incredible patience and persistence. His attention to detail and his ability to create an incredibly realistic imaginary world was extraordinary. When you read the books edited by his son you can really get a sense of how much of his life he spent developing, changing, and refining his ideas. I can’t wait until my kids are old enough to share his books with them.

  2. Yeah. After reading some of the other preliminary stuff, I’m shocked he managed to work it into something as good as he did. Like if there had been as many wraiths as he originally intended, it would’ve come off a lot worse.

    Did anyone ever publish any of his stories that supposedly came after Lord of the Rings?  Or did he manage to destroy those?  He said in his letters that he wrote some but was unsatisfied with them.

  3. “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.”

    I know you don’t like deadlines, but … I have to ask … [when] are you going to write this book?

  4. I also have read pretty much all my books many, many times. People used to call this “obsessing over the same book” when I was a kid, and would try to discourage it, but I honestly can’t get everything out of a good book (or even a bad one, though I might not be compelled to read a bad one twice) in a single pass. Especially if there are a lot of different characters; multiple readings are necessary in order to “get to know” each character, and even each different setting. Reading isn’t too different from real life for me in that respect.

    And regarding a politically-themed book by autistics…that sounds like it would be an interesting project. It might work as a sort of collaboration, but then again, that could be difficult for folks who can’t work on other people’s schedules (which I know applies to many of us).

  5. With regards to the political autist book, it is something all the big publishers are seemingly not interested in. I know that through trying to get interest for my DVD.

    Well Jessica Kingsley will happily publish a book by the renegade Lathe making us all out to be mercury victims, and all manner of other stuff in which to my mind we are objectivised.

    I wonder how much of this suppression is market forces, and how much outright prejudice?

    Mind you it kind of spoils the stereotypes by having politically active autistics, I mean we just don’t have the thery of mind for that sort of thing do we?

  6. Did anyone ever publish any of his stories that supposedly came after Lord of the Rings? Or did he manage to destroy those? He said in his letters that he wrote some but was unsatisfied with them.

    One draft of The New Shadow (I believe that’s what it’s called; Anthea bought it a few years ago and I haven’t actually read it since then) is in The Peoples of Middle-Earth. It’s all right, I suppose– interesting premise, but I had that kind of uncomfortable squidge of recognition that comes of reading something which was never meant to be printed in its extant form.

  7. I’m afraid I’d write almost everything that’s been done before myself. ie: autiebiography so I prefer not to. Less and less to say I think about all those things as time goes on. I don’t know any of the politics except that which has probably come around several times. So what would an outline look like?:

    1. The defacto political “groups” out there.

    2. Various “alliances” and “exchanges”/”opinions” and “efforts to change” or “promote new image”(games and falsehoods) and perhaps the big spats too.

    I’m analytical. I remember at some age putting kid’s names in circles and figuring out “political roles”. ie: some people criticize “everyone” and some people suck up to “everyone”. And it so happens that both these are liked in different ways or hated but “famous”. Perhaps an index of the movers and shakers ie: a “who’s who” at the end?

    Someone who has a lot of experience in this area should do the job. It wouldn’t be me but if someone ever wanted to give me one of their questions, I’d be ok but I’ve got a new take on “fame” right now. I want to remain concealed. If I do anything good, I’d just assume no one knew it was me… not out of being some saint, on the contrary, out of avoiding the trouble. Perhaps being able to “accept” the trouble is necessary. I would…only if it were clear I made some little monsters here or there out of it.

  8. Pingback: 5 new books reviewed « Action For Autism

  9. What about a compilation of the stuff you have on this blog ? It seems to me that you already HAVE a book -you just need to put it into a book format and into print. There HAS to be some editor that would accept what you wrote I would think. I’m understanding more what you mean by being political. But topics like EYEBAllS and the one on “She couldnt have written that” etc have more meaning than just ” see what people who are autistic can do”. I dont know how to explain it other than feeling the frustration of ” I been lied to big time !!!” and realizing that my unbelief in a system that could somehow KNOW if a person could think or not (esp if they couldnt speak) was correct. Likewise the idea of a certain pattern of behaviour would automatically prove whether or not you were intelligent never made sense either. As in whats the difference between an alcoholic or a person who eats all the time and a person who is “diagnosed” with whatever that supposed syndrome is where a person with “MR” eats everything in sight ? They both do the exact same thing !!!

  10. As it happens I did try to get my autiebiography published, writing a fuller version than appears on my webpage took up most of a long summer vacation. Initially I tried mainstream publishers, and then after they rejected me you know who, who informed me that the market was saturated with autiebiographies (never mind having published more since)

    I don’t know whether it was a case of my writing being bad, or me having led an uninteresting life (I don’t think so) or because I deliberatly decided to flout the convention of starting at the begginning and going through to the end, it is more episodic than that with jumps backward and forward in time (post modern as you might expect from me)

    It is not just my autiebiography it is partly a biography of my mums involvement in disability politics, a story I believe ought to be told

    However it is still autiebiography and yes there probably is too much of it for me to expect that mine is meritorios enough for publication, the project is now abandoned.

    As for poetry well I believe my poetry is good enough for the mainstream, but no-one makes any money publishing poetry so whats the point :) My poetry features in my videos anyway, and even creeps into the odd paper, like the one that is featured in the forthcoming AWARES conference.

    I urge people to read that BTW if they have not already seen practically the same in “our voices” as it is condemnation of the idea of “normalisation”

    Probably what is needed is a good book of political essays, however whenever such a co-operative writing project starts up nothing seems to happen (leastways not with any I have been involved in)

  11. Larry’s DVD does fall into the category of the “book you wish had been written,” though it isn’t a book. It is thought-provoking and political, with a tiny bit of visual autiebiography thrown in. Tough to market in a publishing environment geared more toward “self help,” although it actually inolves self-help in the larger sense.

  12. I’m thinking of writing a book called ‘Normal Person’s Burden’ about disability discrimination. But every time I try I find it too vast to write about. I need help organizing it so I can get all I want in there. Maybe I’ll get some disability rights writing and start arranging it in categories and rearranging until I find something I like then make chapters based on that.

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