Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Books I read in 2021

Dudu ascending stairs
This year, I published a novel, a ~5900-word essay on Giancarlo DiTrapano, a ~6300-word essay titled "Partnership Before Sexism and War," some poems, and I read 90 books, including ~50 nonfiction, ~22 fiction, ~7 poetry (approximations because some were hard to categorize and I probably counted wrong). 

I wrote about 30 of them below (see full list here, favorites here).


The End of the Day (2020) by Bill Clegg
. I liked its intricacy and range—how it zoomed in and out of minds and bodies and time, from decades to microseconds—and its depiction of Alzheimer's.  

Fake Accounts (2021) by Lauren Oyler. I liked how it combined plotless autofiction with a plot-twisted overarching structure. I underlined, "We were all self-centered together, supporting each other as we propped up the social media companies."

Jacket Weather (2021) by Mike DeCapite. I liked its concise, imaginative descriptions of NYC, its humble tone, and its focus on relationships and friends and cooking and herbs and food. 

Body High (2021) by Jon Lindsey. I liked its parts on the narrator's mom. After reading it, I emailed Jon to say I enjoyed it. We'd emailed because I'd published his Gian remembrance. He asked if he could submit to Muumuu House. I said yes. He sent a piece titled "Our Bros." I rejected it. He sent a mom-focused essay. I published it.

Hello Friend We Missed You (2020) by Richard Owain Roberts. I liked its short chapters and its narrator's comically detached confusion. I wanted more on the dad. I read this after Richard interviewed me for Wales Arts Review. Richard is Welsh.

Fuccboi (2022) by Sean Thor Conroe. I liked its slang, its focus on eczema, the narrator's conversations with his parents, and the narrator's interests in books, history, and natural health.

Very Cold People (2022) by Sarah Manguso. I liked its concise, careful, slant, surreal portrayal of growing up as a woman in a dominator society. I blurbed it. It's Sarah's first novel as her eighth book. 

Last Resort (2022) by Andrew Lipstein. I liked its understated sense of humor and vivid scenes and clear prose. Blurbed this too. It's Andrew's first novel as his first book.

Milk Fed (2021) by Melissa Broder.
 I liked its warmth, humor, sympathy, darkness, storyline, and realistic and comical depictions of struggles with food and a dysfunctional parental relationship. 

The Gate: A Memoir of Love and Reflection (2000) by Riane Eisler. I'm putting this with "Novels" even though its subtitle calls it a memoir because, in an interview I did with Riane that is forthcoming somewhere, she said, "While the book essentially describes my childhood in Cuba, it is not strictly speaking a memoir. The publishers wanted to call it a memoir, so that is how it was marketed, but it is really a cross between the literal truth and the symbolic truth."

The Gate is based on Eisler's childhood in Cuba after she and her parents escaped the Nazi invasion of their country, Austria, in 1939. Eisler's dad, according to the novel, had "seemingly incessant affairs." Eisler, as a teenager, in the novel, rebelled against Marx and Engels in part because of an overly dogmatic boyfriend, but she remained impressed by Engels' thoughts on the suppression of women: "It was the first time I had seen or heard anything—a book, a movie, even a conversation or a passing comment—that so much as hinted that women had any such problems at all, that the situation of women was not simply as it should be and had always been."

Amazing book
1996 (2005) by Gloria Naylor. An intricate work of self-defense in the form of a taut and disturbing novel about being surveilled and harassed by the NSA. Like some nightmarish science-fictional dystopia but real. It begins, "I didn't want to tell this story. It's going to take courage. Perhaps more courage than I possess, but they've left me no alternatives. I am in a battle for my mind." 1996 could be labeled nonfiction except for one aspect: Naylor imagines the lives of the people tormenting her (eventually reading her thoughts and implanting voices into her mind) and includes their perspectives. 

Naylor's first novel won both the American Book Award and the National Book Award and was turned into a miniseries by Oprah's production company, and she published novels steadily from 1982 to 1999, but her normal, large publisher apparently didn't publish her sixth novel, 1996. Instead, Third World Press, the largest independent black-owned press, founded in 1967, published it in 2005. It's her last book (she didn't publish any from then until her death in 2016) and the only book by her that seems hard to find. Her non-1996 novels seem popular, with paperback editions from Vintage, Penguin, Hyperion.

1996 got little press. Its largest coverage was maybe a five-minute interview on NPR, in which Naylor said, "But they now have technology that is able to decode the brain patterns, and to detect what people are actually thinking." If, in 20 or 50 or 80 years, we become a partnership species, 1996 will be taught in schools, and people will study Naylor's life. I learned of this book from David Fishkind, who told me about it in an email, after which I encountered it again in Microcosm and Medium (2018), Joseph P. Farrell's book on the cosmic implications of mind control.


Everything Is Totally Fine (2022) by Zac Smith. I'm publishing this on January 18, one year after reading it. I've read it five times. I wrote the description online. It's Muumuu House's first book in 10.25 years. Giacomo Pope designed the cover. The first printing is 600 copies, which with printing, shipping, royalties, stickers, and advanced reader copies, was ~$8.00 per book. I gave Zac 60 books, will send ~140 to people/stores, and am paying Zac $2.50/book upfront for the remaining 400. Paying upfront makes the process easier. One story in Zac's book is titled "Holding Your Breath So You Don't Have to Breathe So Much Sometimes." Four stories' titles are tied for briefest: "Tree" "Roof" "Loss" "Bugs". 

People from My Neighborhood (2021) by Hiromi Kawakami. Strange stories that are mostly three pages, with some longer ones. This could be the Japanese Everything Is Totally Fine, or Everything Is Totally Fine could be the American People from My Neighborhood, even though I'm pretty sure Zac hasn't read this and that Kawakami hasn't read Zac. The two books came out at similar times (Zac's was originally planned for 2021), contain short, surprising, funny, varyingly zany stories, have an overall idea, are similar lengths (152 and 161 pages). Kawakami is 30+ years older than Zac. Story titles from her book: "Chicken Hell" "The Elf" "Baby" "The Baseball Game" "Pigeonitis" "Refrigerator". 

Leo eating fish

Exit, Carefully (2021) by Elizabeth Ellen
. A moving, detailed, intimately autobiographical play by Elizabeth Ellen about one night—decades ago—and four characters, Beth Bates (19), her mom Linda (39), her mom's boyfriend (35), and her grandmother (68). An excerpt:

BETH. That was the first thing Mom said to me when I got off the plane a year later. "Well, you got fat."
LINDA. I never said that.
BETH. Yes, you did. I remember. I wrote it in my journal. You said, "Well, you got fat." Just like that. Right in the airport. That was my welcome home. And you and Gary wondered why I had a chip on my shoulder."

At one point Beth "blurts out" to her mom: "I was terrified you were going to kill yourself," and her grandmother says, "Oh honey, Linda would never kill herself."

A Completely Nonexistent Carnival (2021) by Cavin Bryce Gonzalez. Wasn't sure what to put this under. It looks like poetry—one-paragraph prose poems and one-sentence-per-line poems—and seems to be ~100 pages (it has no page numbers). It's told by a socially isolated, suicidal, funny, playful, emotional person who smokes cannabis even though, according to him, he doesn't like it. "The wooden floors have absorbed so much bong water," writes Cavin. One of my favorite pair of sentences: "Change. All I want is change so I caught and am now training a falcon to take my place in the world."


The Red Zone (2022) by Chloe Caldwell. 
I blurbed this "highly entertaining book about the menstrual cycle, sexism, bickering, divorce, marriage, stepmotherhood, holistic gradual self-healing, and the layered effort to move from impulsivity and fear to stability and growth." It comes out in April.

Bad Lawyer: A Memoir of Law and Disorder (2021) by Anna Dorn. Anna and I had an email-conversation about this and Leave Society

Toxic Legacy: How the Weedkiller Glyphosate is Destroying Our Health and the Environment (2021) by Stephanie Seneff.
 Seneff, an MIT senior researcher, knows a lot about glyphosate—Earth's most-used pesticide, which in the U.S. is in most foods. She co-authored, with Anthony Samsel, six papers on glyphosate's role in most-to-all modern diseases. I'm unable to find my copy of this, but I remember it being informative, positive, and sometimes very dense, like a scientific paper. 

Jell-O Girls (2018) by Allie Rowbottom. I liked its Jell-O facts, its detailed and psychologically complex scenes on caring for a dying mom (the second half of this memoir focuses on Allie's relationship with her mom, who undergoes treatments for cancer and dies), its description of patriarchy as a curse, and Allie's usage of her mom's notes to help write about her mom.


Ain't I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism (1981) by bell hooks.
 hooks, who died this year, observed/explored in her first book that black women, unlike black men, suffer from both racism and sexism. I like that she stresses that in sexist societies, the dominant sex is also a victim: "Unfortunately, our over-emphasis on the male as oppressor often obscures the fact that men too are victimized. To be an oppressor is dehumanizing and anti-human in nature, as it is to be a victim." 

All About Love: New Visions (2000) by bell hooks. I was reading this during and after my friend Gian died. Chapter eleven is about death. hooks writes, "When we allow our dead to be forgotten, we fall prey to the notion that the end of embodied life corresponds to the death of the spirit." And, "We do need to have endless anxiety and worry about whether we will fulfill our goals or plans. Death is always there to remind us that our plans are transitory." 

Getting the Love You Want (2019) by Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly Hunt. Helpful book on relationships. I like that it assumes that people have dysfunctions stemming from childhood that can be changed gradually. 

Dissolution: No-Fault Divorce, Marriage, and the Future of Women (1977) by Riane Eisler. Eisler's first book. It was published when she was in her mid-40s. It was informed by her experiences as an attorney and divorcee. It discusses the history of divorce in the U.S., the "no-fault divorce" law which began to be adopted by states in 1969, and alimony and child support. It ends with a divorce checklist and a sample marriage contract. Ideas that Eisler explored in her later books appear in this book. It was interesting to see how she worded these ideas in 1977, before coining the terms "partnership" and "dominator." On the devaluing of caring work: 

Men who design and manufacture the weapons that kill and cause massive human suffering have the right to cash wages, but women who nurture and care for children and supply the food and services without which our society would instantly collapse do not have the same right.

On equal rights:

The goal of feminism cannot be a bigger slice of the existing social pie for women or a reversal of roles so that men rather than women become the second-class sex. Both sexes lose in a system of social organization based on power-centered, hierarchical relationships designed to perpetuate mistrust and fear.

On change: 

...I believe that the basic agent for institutional, legal, technological, and even natural change is always the individual, and that in that sense, all change, and indeed all revolution does begin at home.

The End of War (2012) by John Horgan
. An optimistic anti-war book arguing war began less than 12,000 years ago and can become obsolete. Something I learned from it: The first deadly gang attack in chimpanzees occurred more than a decade after Jane Goodall and others began to observe them. "Goodall, who began supplying bananas to chimpanzees in 1965, expressed concern that the food 'was having a marked effect on the behavior of the chimps," wrote Horgan. "They were beginning to move about in large groups more often than they had ever done in the old days. Worst of all, the adult males were becoming increasingly aggressive."

Planet Earth: The Latest Weapon of War (2000) by Rosalie Bertell. Bertell, a Catholic nun and antiwar activist, writes in Planet Earth that the military, out of every human endeavor, is most responsible for destroying nature—through wars, general land usage, research and development, nonstop exercises and practice, toxic products, etc. Bertell shares evidence that the military may be responsible for some-to-many modern natural disasters, including major earthquakes. Some sentences I underlined:

-"When Iran nationalised its oil industry in 1951, the US and British governments supported a coup to overthrow the prime minister."
-"When a country sells a weapons system to another, it then can get funding from its own government to create a counter-weapon."
-"Projects that the Pentagon wants to keep secret from the US Senate Oversight Committee are called 'black projects.'"
-"Policies in the future must be pro-poor, pro-nature, pro-democracy, pro-women and pro-children."

Some other books I read about partnership:

Nurturing Our Humanity: How Domination and Partnership Shape Our Brains, Lives, and Future (2019) by Riane Eisler and Douglas P. Fry 

The Real Wealth of Nations: Creating a Caring Economy (2007) by Riane Eisler

Undrowned: Black Feminist Lessons from Marine Mammals (2020) by Alexis Pauline Gumbs

Witchcraft and the Gay Counterculture (1978) by Arthur Evans


Who Built the Moon? (2005) by Christopher Knight and Alan Butler. The moon and the sun appear to be the same size—or around the size same—because the sun is around 400x farther from Earth and 400x larger than the moon (it varies because Earth and Moon's orbits aren't perfect circles). This and other seeming coincidences—like that Sun and Moon rise and set within the same range on the horizon, with the sun making its cycle in a year, the moon in a month—convinced Knight and Butler that the moon was built. Not believing in aliens, they suggest time-traveling humans built it.

Infinite Universe Theory (2017) by Glenn Borchardt. Borchardt argues that Einstein's theories of relativity are wrong, and that the Big Bang theory—which is based on Einstein's theories—is also wrong. Borchardt offers his own cosmology, Infinite Universe theory, which says the universe is infinite in space, time, and even scale—meaning that there is no smallest or largest object. Zooming in from stars to atoms, one can go down forever, and the same in the other direction, zooming out from humans to galaxies to supercluster complexes, and so on. I wrote about this in a forthcoming essay.

Slightly-smiling alien
The Healing Power of UFOs: 300 True Accounts of People Healed by Extraterrestrials (2019) by Preston Dennett.
 Positive depictions of aliens seem rare in dominator culture. Dennett collects 309 accounts, from 1914 to 2018, of aliens healing humans (earlier draft of this sentence: "Dennett collects 309 accounts of aliens healing humans from 1914 to 2018"). Dennett wrote, "After studying the accounts of healings, I began to look at UFOs more as floating hospitals than anything else."

Notfinity Process: Matter-In-Motion (2021) by George S. Coyne. I found Coyne from his interview with David de Hilster. In Notfinity Process, Coyne collects and explains many problems with mainstream physics, including problems with Einstein's theories of relativity, problems with both quantum mechanics and regular mechanics, and problems (63) with the Big Bang. He also explores alternate models of all these topics, including ones by Borchardt.

Covert Wars and Breakaway Civilizations (2012) by Joseph P. Farrell. I recommend this for a larger perspective on dominator culture. Farrell, a self-described "documents researcher," examines a topic that our dominant culture views as a "conspiracy theory" (a dismissive term the CIA began to help popularize in the 1960s): breakaway civilizations (also called shadow governments or deep states). Farrell defines the breakaway civilization as “a segmented poly-centric integrated network" that is international and factional, with much infighting, but is also U.S. dominant. The best analogy, in Farrell’s view, is the Mafia, which has “families” who talk and plan but also fight. 

Some other books I read in aliens/extraterrestrials research this year: 

Dark Mission: The Secret History of NASA (2009) by Richard C. Hoagland and Mike Bara

The Hunt for Zero Point: Inside the Classified World of Antigravity Technology (2001) by Nick Cook

Microcosm and Medium: The Cosmic Implications and Agenda of Mind Control Technologies (2018) by Joseph P. Farrell

UFOs and Nukes: Extraordinary Encounters at Nuclear Weapons Sites (2017) by Robert Hastings

The Higgs Fake: How Particle Physics Fooled the Novel Committee (2013) by Alexander Unzicker

Hidden Energy: Tesla-inspired Inventors and a Mindful Path to Energy Abundance (2019) by Jeane Manning and Susan Manewich.


Thank you for reading my list and/or scrolling to the end. Read my 2020 list here.


  1. I like the embedded images in addition to the books. My favorite list of the year!

  2. Thanks for posting, enjoyed reading

  3. Great to see my book Notfinity Process: Matter-in-Motion (2021) on your list. Thanks Tao! It is now available in hardcover format published by Chappell Natural Philosophy Society.

    1. You're welcome. I hope to reference your work in a future book. I have a question for you:

      If the universe is hierarchically infinite, going on forever in both directions, inward and outward, zooming in to atoms and electrons and zooming out to stars and galaxies, what do you think humans will see when we zoom in extremely far past the electron, or zoom out extremely far beyond the cosmic web?

    2. In the standard model of particle physics, baryons such as protons and neutrons, and mesons such as pions, are composed of quarks which are considered to be fundamental particles. The electron is also thought of as an elementary particle. However if the universe has no limit in terms of size in either direction, then there is no fundamental particle. As technology continues to develop high energy particle colliders even greater than the Large Hadron Collider, physicists may discover that the quark is not fundamental. Then we will have to come up with a new name for whatever particles compose the quark. This process of finding ever smaller particles may go on as long as our technological advances permit.
      With the new James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) launched December 25, 2021, and unfolded on January 8, 2022, we will soon be getting images to the edge of the observable Universe. According to the Big Bang theory, which I do not accept, JWST will show us what the Universe looked like not long after the supposed Big Bang. But I think we will get back images that show the Universe with fully formed galaxies as far back in time that we look. So in answer to your question, the further out we look, the more we will see stars, galaxies and large structures that resemble what we have already seen.

    3. Thanks for the response.

      Yes, we will see stars and galaxies and clusters and superclusters, but what if we look much farther out, say a trillion trillion trillion light-years out. Then what? Is the cosmic web, in your view, a tiny part of a component of a much larger thing, the same way an electron is a part of an atom, which, depending on where it is, comprises a larger thing, like a tree or person?

    4. Tao, the problem is that the 2 trillion galaxies of the observable universe is only about 46.6 billion light-years in its radius. This is based on using the Big Bang theory (BBT), which I do not accept. This means that regardless of how powerful we make our telescopes it would not be possible to see anything further out because the light has not had enough time to reach us. Beyond the so-called observable universe Wikipedia states: "It is plausible that the galaxies within our observable universe represent only a minuscule fraction of the galaxies in the universe. According to the theory of cosmic inflation initially introduced by its founders, Alan Guth and D. Kazanas,[25] if it is assumed that inflation began about 10−37 seconds after the Big Bang, then with the plausible assumption that the size of the universe before the inflation occurred was approximately equal to the speed of light times its age, that would suggest that at present the entire universe's size is at least 3 × 1023 (1.5 × 1034 light-years) times the radius of the observable universe." I think that your suggestion about the cosmic web being a part of a much larger object is correct. That is why I refer to reality as a notfinity process. Our entire observable universe could be a cell within a larger entity. I posted the following on my FB page today that relates to this. https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/universe-brain-shape-cosmic-web-galaxies-neurons-b1724170.html?fbclid=IwAR2Kdp3z8rL8d8VTfTBkeWXOq2uEQlyUV5blr8lf8dHJwO4NFMF-vX7SOl4

  4. Really cool to think of Zac Smith and Hiromi Kawakami's story collections together.

    I like this quote from Rosalie Bertell: "When a country sells a weapons system to another, it then can get funding from its own government to create a counter-weapon."

    All the selected quotes throughout are great.

    1. People/Everything from My Neighborhood Is Totally Fine.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Everything Is People from My Totally Fine Neighborhood

    4. Everything Fine Is Totally My People from Neighborhood

    5. My Fine Neighborhood Is Totally Everything from People

  5. I love the idea that the moon is man-made; although I can't put my total finger on why; it kind of reminds me of Trauman's Show (Truman) and how Christof lives in the moon; One of the main proponents for Flat Earth, in a documentary I saw, I can't remember the guys name; He looks a lot like Jim Belushi's neighbor in ACCORDING TO JIM; says that the reality is that we are actually living on a stageset, like in that film; The moon looks so unreal at times, I wouldn't be surprised if it came out as being constructed out of whatever;

  6. The first author showcased on this list, Bill Clegg, is Tao Lin's literary agent. 

    Here we have an example of a particular form of 'dominator culture' where authors and insiders in the publishing industry routinely scratch each other's asses, or -- as in this unfortunate case, give an extra-greasy hand job -- to promote each other's products while not being in the least transparent about their relationships.

    An honest writer would tender the reader a short disclaimer.  A dishonest one does what this one did.

    1. It's just a few lines in a lengthy post published on blogspot. Not exactly going to have a pivotal impact on next week's NYT bestseller list.

    2. Hey, you got some of that shit on your nose. It's just a little. No need to wipe it off. It'll be fine. Let everybody see it and make up their own minds.

  7. It's worth pointing out sure but a bizarre thing to muster up so much ire & vitriol over.

    1. I appreciate you pointing that out, Luke.

      And I'm really very sorry.

      I also regret making up that dab of shit for your nose. The bad corruption metaphor. Nobody needs that.

      Again, I'm very sorry.

      I want you to know I love you.

      I'm just so upset and angry tonight at dominator culture I could pull my eyelashes out.

      Just put my eyeballs out with radioactive pokers.

      Like Tao says, dominator culture is always trying to make us think things about vaccines and what happened on 9/11. Never the truth from their dumb scientists and lying media.

      Dominating us with its giant, sweaty, fat ass all over our poor faces until we can't breathe any more. We drown in its ass-sweat alone.

      It's like a Covid mushroom cloud of domination. Goddamn it and its ever-fattening pig god.

      Maybe Tao can make it stop . . . make the dominator society leave us, instead of us having to leave it.

      Me and you, baby.

      Thanks for writing.

      'Til death,


  8. i loved leave society.
    can i be your intern this summer?

    1. I don't have internships, but thank you for reading my book and wanting to be my intern.

    2. would you ever be interested in being interviewed ? either via zoom or email ?