Monday, January 16, 2023

Books I read in 2022 (and an update on my writing)

I published three essays this year—

"New Cosmologies" (Document Journal, ~2000 words) 

"The Purpose of Dreams" (UnHerd, ~1300 words)

"The Story of Autism: How We Got Here, How We Heal" (Mars Review of Books, ~7000 words)

Me and Leo
I'm working on three books—

Self Heal. Nonfiction in which I share how I cured my autism, ankylosing spondylitis, eczema, migraines, chest pain, etc. naturally. Includes chapters on mind, love, and my physical deformities.

True History. Nonfiction in which I tell a fuller, more accurate, more hopeful version of human history than we've been taught. (This will include a form of my partnership essay from 2021 that got paywalled but which I expanded and posted here.)

The Dream. Science-fiction novel told in first-person by an alien who references terrestrial research on physics, cosmology, and government secret projects. This used to be nonfiction but now I think it'll be better as a novel. It will span from the unknown beginnings of universe to billions or trillions of years into the future. Reality seems weirder, more complex, more magical, and more awe-inspiring than any science-fiction/fantasy novel/movie I've seen/read. I hope to convey this with this book.

I'm focusing most on Self Heal, which I want to publish next, but the three books overlap and I'm regularly taking a break from Self Heal to work a little on the other two books. True History will be publishable by a mainstream publisher, while the other two books may not be.


I read 87 books this year—40 nonfiction, 33 fiction, 6 poetry, 5 magazines, 3 comic books or graphic novels. Here are my thoughts/notes on around half of them.


Sad Pictures for Children (2014) by Simone Veil. Amusing, sometimes-meta comics about alienation and sadness. Simone Veil used to be called John Campbell. I first read this in 2015, I think. There's a compartment at the end of the book that contains a real, dead wasp.

Exalted (2022) by Anna Dorn. I blurbed this—"a fun, funny, druggy, wise, and surprising page-turner about highs and lows and parents and relationships."

Wandering Star by Tommy Orange. I read a draft of this, a sequel to There There, Tommy's first novel. It's dark and grim while also being entertaining and playful. It follows some characters from There There and examines The Sand Creek massacre from 1864.

The Novelist (2022) by Jordan Castro. I highly enjoyed rereading this for Jordan and I's conversation for The Paris Review. It's an intellectual feast that's also poignant, relatable, really funny, and, despite examining a lot of neurotic behavior, refreshingly optimistic.

Earth Angel (2023) by Madeline Cash. Weird, funny, deadpan stories. Read one here.

Life Is Everywhere (2022) by Lucy Ives. My favorite parts were the autobiographical-seeming parts about a relationship that ended in divorce. The character Ben would wake in the middle of the night criticizing his wife. I've done this with one or more partners. Seems like a widespread problem. Learning that minds work on negative feelings in dreams (see my sleep essay), and that we're supposed to sleep through this nightly psychotherapy, has helped me.

The Easter Parade (1976) by Richard Yates. My third time reading my favorite Yates novel. It's as bleak as I remembered. I still like it because of how true-to-life it seems, and how its protagonist continually strives for a better life. This is opposed to the off-putting bleakness of books in which characters almost-gleefully wallow in sadness and stagnancy while also being self-righteously resentful toward people who are doing better than them.

Tell Me I'm An Artist (2022) by Chelsea Martin. Funny novel about art school. I liked its pace and the detached, semi-autistic tone of the narrator, who works on a project in which she tries to re-make the movie Rushmore without having seen it.

I Fear My Pain Interests You (2022) by Stephanie LaCava. New York Times Book Review asked me to review this (if they review your book, they later ask you to review a book, it seems) and I did.

Books by Gloria Naylor. I read two Naylor novels this year—Mama Day (1988) and Bailey's Cafe (1992). My favorite Naylor book by far is still 1996 (2005), in which Naylor writes about being "gangstalked," and which I recommend everyone read, in part because learning about gangstalking is partially protective against it. See my previous year's list for more on 1996.

Exquisite Mariposa (2019) by Fiona Alison Duncan. Intimate autofiction with original language and ideas. Its protagonist is "determined to liberate [her]self from a claustrophic labyrinth of inner/outer confusion." I liked its concision, its focus on self-improvement/healing and flow states and alternative modes of living, and that it quotes Terence McKenna.

Our Last Year (2022) by Alan Rossi. Like The Novelist, Our Last Year closely and self-consciously examines dark material—a temporarily failing marriage—but is ultimately uplifting, and has a non-delusionally positive message. These books are at odds with much of the mainstream literary world, which seems mired in resentful hopelessness. Read an excerpt here. I nominate this and The Novelist for the Pulitzer Prize in fiction for 2022.

[untitled novel] by Matthew Davis. Matthew's novel is told in first-person by an endearingly neurotic protagonist. I liked his carefully wry tone, and his interests in health and intelligence. I published a story by Matthew here. I hope someone publishes his novel.


Odd John (1935) by Olaf Stapledon. An early, literary telling of the "X-Men"-type story. A boy is born with special powers and ends up traveling the world finding others—through telepathy—like him. They start a colony on an island. Stapledon believably writes it as if it really happened. My favorite Stapledon books in order: Star Maker (1937), Sirius (1944), Odd John (1935).

This year, I also tried reading his first novel, Last and First Men (1930), abandoning it after ~80 pages. I abandoned ~20 books this year. Abandoned or read 40-80 pages and skipped to the end.

Books by Arthur C. Clarke. I read five Clarke novels this year—Islands in the Sky (1952), of which I remember almost nothing, and the four Odyssey books: 2001 (1968), 2010 (1982), 2016 (1987), and 3001 (1997). My favorites of the Odyssey series are 2001 and 3001. Clarke seemed limited in his later books by believing mainstream physics, though he does push against it. In 2001, he wrote:

A few scientists—most of them beachcombers on the wilder shores of theoretical physics—asked the disturbing question: "Are we certain that the speed of light is an unbreakable barrier?" It was true that the Special Theory of Relativity had proved to be remarkably durable, and would soon be approaching its first centenary; but it had begun to show a few cracks. And even if Einstein could not be defied, he might be evaded.

And in 3001 humans have gone past fossil fuels by "the harnessing of vacuum energy." 3001 ends with a 15-page commentary by Clarke in which he wrote,

If the inconceivable energy of the Zero Point Field (sometimes referred to as "quantum fluctuations" or "vacuum energy") can ever be the tapped, the impact upon our civilization will be incalculable. All present sources of power—oil, coal, nuclear, hydro, solar—would become obsolete, and so would many of our fears about environmental pollution.

However, he didn't take into account that any such technology would be (1) confiscated and classified by the militaries of the world for national defense purposes (2) suppressed by the oil, coal, nuclear, etc. industries. Both seem to have happened over the 20th century. Steven Greer and others have been working on unclassifying these "free energy" technologies for use by society. When/if this happens—in 20 or 50 or 100 years—society will enter a new era of antigravity and clean energy.

Clarke also, at the end of 3001, published in 1997, points toward antigravity, which according to Greer and others was achieved by secret projects of the U.S. military in the 1950s:

In September 1996, scientists in Finland claimed to have detected a small (less than 1 percent) reduction in gravity above a spinning, superconducting disk.

My favorite Clarke novel is still Childhood's End (1953), which seems like a freer, more awe-inspiring version of 2001, my second-favorite book by him. In Childhood's End, aliens arrive to Earth and end war, guarding humans from themselves, resulting eventually in Earth and its inhabitants being absorbed into an Overmind, which the aliens themselves are unable to join.

Clarke seemed also limited by his adoption, in or after the 1950s, of the mainstream view of aliens from the 1970s to the 2010s—that they haven't visited Earth and haven't been found elsewhere—a view that is now losing credibility. He wrote in 3001:

Although the "Aliens are among us" mania had already subsided when he was a boy, even as late as the 2020s the Space Agency was still plagued by lunatics who claimed to have been contacted—or abducted—by visitors from other worlds. Their delusions had been reinforced by sensational media exploitation...

Actually, it seems that aliens have visited Earth for millennia and especially after the development of nuclear weapons, and that unacknowledged special access projects (USAPs), initially connected to the U.S. government but which have evolved into transgovernmental, partially corporate, mob-like, oversightless groups have hoaxed alien abductions, using man-made UFOs and fake aliens.

When a writer gets too much mainstream approval, it becomes harder for that writer to explore non-mainstream ideas—something to be on guard for while reading and writing.


Wild Kingdom (2021) by Noah Cicero. I got a new perspective on Noah from this. It covers his childhood. Sample lines: "My father loved his grill." "One day, when I was very small, I couldn't stop staring at the grill." "I liked how the salamanders felt in my hand."

Forever Magazine. I read issues 3 and 4 of Forever this year. Favorites: "Library" by Eli Todd, "Chapter Uno" by Matthew Davis (chapter one of his novel), "Hot for Hyperbole" by Anna Dorn. Forever published a cookbook by me this year, based on stuff in my novel Leave Society.


Plague of Corruption: Restoring Faith in the Promise of Science (2020) by Judy Mikovits & Kent Heckenlively. Mikovits, a celebrated pioneer in the treatment of HIV-AIDS, discovered in 2009 that many vaccines are contaminated with the cancer-causing retrovirus XMRV, that 3 to 8 percent of the population now carry the retrovirus, and that ~67 percent of people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (derided by the medical establishment as "yuppie flu") have the retrovirus. For her discoveries, she was temporarily jailed without charges, and is now viewed by the mainstream not as a brave whistleblower but a "disgraced scientist." She wrote, "If you read the Wikipedia version of my life, you will find that our work has been discredited, that what we believed to be an infection was simply lab contamination." And:

Cat playground I made this year
Kent [her co-writer] tells me that the freedom to publish a book and lay out your side of the story may be the last actual freedom we have left in this country. Maybe he's right. The courts are corrupt, the media, politicians, scientists and physicians are bought off or bullied into silence.

Her book, like many books that conflict with mainstream narratives, was unpublishable by most publishers, including the Big Five. It was published by Skyhorse. Read her papers here.

NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity (2015) by Steve Silberman. I strongly disagreed with this book, unfortunately. See my autism essay.

The Age of Autism: Mercury, Medicine, and a Man-made Epidemic (2010) by Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill. I recommend this for an accurate view on the history and causes of autism.

Thinking in Pictures: My Life with Autism (1995) by Temple Grandin. Grandin is maybe the most known autistic person. She acknowledges the role of vaccines in autism—saying that some people may be susceptible to the mercury in some vaccines—and promotes diet and nutrition for alleviating autism, but she also trusts pharmaceutical drugs, and has been on antidepressants for something like two decades. I enjoyed reading about her life. She designs equipment for factory farms—"one third of the cattle and hogs in the United States are handled in equipment I have designed."

Imagine You Are An Aluminum Atom: Discussions With Mr. Aluminum (2020) by Christopher Exley. I recommend this for learning about aluminum's health effects from the world's leading expert on aluminum, co-author of the 2018 paper "Aluminium in brain tissue in autism."

The Fat of the Land (1946) by Vilhjálmur Stefánsson. I first read this in 2018. Reread it this year after getting interested again in the carnivore diet. In my current draft of Self Heal, in a chapter titled "My Diet Journey," I wrote about my first reading of it:

Excited about the carnivore diet, I read The Fat of the Land (1956) by Vilhjálmur Stefansson, who ate animals exclusively for five years while living and traveling with Eskimos. Later, Stefansson and a colleague underwent a study at Harvard where they ate only meat, fat, and organs for a year. On this Eskimo-inspired diet, Stefansson felt “more optimistic and energetic” and “looked forward with more anticipation to the next day or the next job." He added: “This may have a bearing on the common report that the uncivilized Eskimos are the happiest people in the world.”

I also read My Life with the Eskimo (1913) by Stefansson this year. He wrote, "Most travellers who have visited the Arctic lands have commented upon the fact that Eskimo children are never punished, or, in fact, forbidden anything." Stefansson noticed a family calling their kid "mother," inquired about it, and learned that when an Eskimo is born it has its own soul but is also inhabited by the soul of a deceased person, who acts as its guardian. Therefore, young Eskimo children are both themselves and one of their grandparents. Stefansson wrote:

The fact that the child possesses all the wisdom of the dead John is never forgotten by its parents. If it cries for a knife or a pair of scissors, it is not a foolish child that wants the knife, but the soul of the wise old man John that wants it, and it would be presumptuous of a young mother to suppose she knows better than John what is good for the child, and so she gives it the knife.

The Carnivore Code (2020) by Paul Saladino. Revelatory on the level of Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, The Big Bang Never Happened, and The Chalice and the Blade. I recommend this for anyone with intractable health problems, anyone wanting to improve or optimize their health, and anyone wanting to reduce pain and suffering in oneself, animals, and the world.

Many people, lacking knowledge of human history, inaccurately think vegetables are healthier than animal foods, and that eating meat is unethical. Actually, it seems that eating meat from animals raised on their natural diet helps the planet, sequesters carbon, is crucial for optimal functioning and for creating healthy babies, and is what we've done for millions of years and are still adapted to doing.

We began to scavenge brains and bone marrow around 3.2 million years ago, and started hunting around 2 million years ago. By 1.5 million years ago, we were hypercarnivores, getting at least 70 percent of our food from animals, according to this paper on the history of the human diet. We mainly used plants for medicine and as a survival food. Plants contain antinutrients (oxalates, lectins, phytates, etc.) that cause leaky gut and other problems. Animal foods contain many nutrients absent in plants—cholesterol, creatine, carnosine, taurine, DHA, heme iron, vitamins D, K2, B12.

We're still adapted to be hypercarnivores, with a stomach pH (1.5) equivalent to that of scavengers, and small guts compared to chimpanzees. The past 12,000 years have been a chaotic free-for-all, diet-wise, with the incorporation of grains and vegetables, as we try to discern which of the tens of thousands of species of plants are the least toxic and how to further detoxify them. Many aborigine groups (Hadza, Masai, Inuit, etc.) still eat almost exclusively meat, resulting in near-perfect health.

Toxic Superfoods: How Oxalate Overload Is Making You Sick—And How to Get Better (2022) by Sally K. Norton. Norton was a vegetarian for eight years and a vegan for eight years and now eats mostly meat. She examines one of the more destructive antinutrients, oxalates, in this book. Many foods promoted as "superfoods" are high in oxalates—almonds (and other nuts and seeds), soy, spinach, turmeric, cacao, cinnamon, chard, etc.

Antinutrients list by Judy Cho
Carnivore Cure: The Ultimate Elimination Diet to Attain Optimal Health (2020) by Judy Cho. Cho, a nutritional therapy practitioner, promotes the carnivore diet from a different angle than Saladino (a doctor) that is just as compelling. Cho was plant-based for 12 years and now eats 99 percent meat. People who reach the carnivore diet seem the most informed on diet and health, having tried the other diets, having the most intractable health problems, and having examined human history.

I've found that people on carnivore or animal-based (meat plus fruit and honey) diets care as much or more about animals and the environment as vegetarians and vegans, but that they're simply better informed. For example, crops are harvested with giant machines that kill many rabbits, rodents, and other small animals—which are also separately killed to prevent them from eating the crops—and so eating large animals, like cows, results in less death and suffering than by eating only plants.


The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962) by Thomas S. Kuhn. A classic that I found somewhat rambling and short-sighted. Kuhn analyzed scientific revolutions, examining the Copernican revolution, in which people realized Earth goes around the sun, and the Einsteinian revolution, in which people replaced the theory that light is a wave in the aether with the theory that light is a particle-wave through a vacuum. Nikola Tesla called Einstein's theories on light and gravity "a mass of error and deceptive ideas” (read about this in my cosmology essay), so I read Kuhn's analysis of the Einsteinian revolution as an unconscious examination of a false, regressive revolution.

Conceptions of Cosmos: From Myths to the Accelerating Universe: A History of Cosmology (2007) by Helge S. Kragh. Most scientists believed in an eternal universe before the probably-erroneous Big Bang theory gained prominence in the 1960s. "If there was a paradigm shift, from an eternal to a created universe, it occurred only in the 1960s," wrote Kragh.

Principia Mathematica 2: A Complete Toolkit for Hacking the Physical Universe (2021) by David de Hilster & Robert de Hilster. David de Hilster and his dad, Robert, theorize in their Particle Model, partially derived from Glenn Borchardt's work, that "the entire universe is made up of particles," and that the motion of these particles explain light, magnetism, gravity, and electricity. Mainstream physics says electrons are partless. The Hilsters argue that what is called an "electron" is a particle made of particles, which themselves are made out of particles, ad infinitum, and that particles—each of which is unique—continue infinitely in the other direction too, increasing in size, with stars, galaxies, superclusters, etc. They wrote:

Given that there are infinite levels and an infinite variety of unicosms, [the Particle Model] does allow for the existence of other "beings" at other levels. That is possible since there are infinite places for these beings to live if they do exist. There are no extra dimensions needed.

The Electric Universe (2007) by Wallace Thornhill & David Talbott. "Electric Universe" people comprise another subculture investigating how mainstream physics/cosmology is in dead-end, and how Einstein and the Big Bang theory are wrong. Thornhill and Talbott argue that electromagnetic forces, not gravity, play the largest role in the structure of the universe. Stars are not powered from within by explosions; they're powered externally with electricity, according to Thornhill and Talbott. Redshift is often cited as evidence that the universe is expanding, but Hubble himself, the discoverer of redshift, wrote in 1947,

It seems likely that redshift may not be due to an expanding Universe, and much of the speculations on the structure of the universe may require re-examination.

Cosmic View: The Universe in 40 Jumps (1957) by Kees Boeke. This book of 40 drawings helps people develop their sense of scale. The first drawing, showing 1.5 meters by 1.5 meters, is of a seated person. The next 25 drawings each zoom out ten times, so that the second drawing shows 15 x 15 meters, and so on. Earth fits in the 8th drawing. The Solar System out to Pluto fits in the 14th. The 19th shows 36 stars. The 24th shows five galaxies. After 26 drawings, the book returns to the seated person, then zooms in over 14 drawings. The 8th shows around 150 atoms of sodium and chlorine in a salt crystal. The 14th shows the nucleus of a sodium atom. Boeke wrote, "Looking back on the whole series of 40 pictures we find that in only 10 of them (3 to -6) is life known to exist. In other scales there may, however, be forms of life we do not yet know." The whole book is online here.

Bankrupting Physics: How Today's Top Scientists are Gambling Away Their Credibility (2013) by Alexander Unzicker & Sheilla Jones. A watered-down version of The Higgs Fake: How Particle Physics Fooled the Nobel Committee (2013), Unzicker's highly entertaining and compelling rant against particle physics. Unzicker, a German physicist, thinks physics entered a dead-end in the 1930s with particle physics. Others believe the dead-end began with Einstein's theories of relativity in 1905 and 1916. To me, the dead-end started 6,500 years ago, with the emergence of dominator culture.

On the Infinite, the Universe and the Worlds: Five Cosmological Dialogues (1584) by Giordano Bruno. Bruno was burned to death by the Roman Inquisition in 1600 in part because he refused to recant his belief that the universe is infinite. This book is technically fiction; it contains five dialogues. The "stand in for Bruno," according to the translator, is Filoteo, who says, "I say the universe is entirely infinite, because it has neither edges, limits or a surface."

Tesla: Man Out of Time (1981) by Margaret Cheney. A biography that underestimates Nikola Tesla by assuming that his criticisms of Einstein were "quite wrong." Tesla consistently stated that Einstein's model of gravity being a curvature of space-time was erroneous. Late in Tesla's life, he often talked about releasing his own theory of gravity, but he never published it. Many non-Einstein theories on gravity have existed since the 1600s—the Le Sage theory, theories by Newton and the de Hilsters and Glenn Borchardt, etc. Mainstream physics still can't explain the mechanics of gravity.

Lost Star of Myth and Time (2005) by Walter Cruttenden. The stars rotate once in a circle in the sky every ~24,000 years. This is called the Precession of the Equinox. The prevailing view is that the rotation is caused by the Earth wobbling on its axis. Cruttenden theorizes, based on ancient science and other evidence, that the rotation is actually caused by the Sun revolving in a ~24,000-year cycle around a companion star, Sirius:

As it does, the Earth is carried through a magnetic or electromagnetic (EM) field of another star, similar to but different from the EM spectrum of our own Sun, causing subtle changes in human consciousness over long sweeps of night. Just as night and day and the changing seasons are caused by the dance of our Earth and Sun, so too is all life gradually affected by a larger celestial motion...

This "third celestial motion of the Earth" (after the day and the year) explains the Vedic theory (from Ancient India) of the Yugas, the Greek teachings of the Great Year, and the Mayan cyclical calendar—all of which state that history goes through cycles.

Recently, Jim Weninger, inspired by research from the Electric Universe, has worked more on this theory—that the sun spirals in a double-helix through the galaxy. It's discussed here.

Astrological World Cycles (1933) by Laurie Pratt. According to Pratt, Vedic texts say that one cycle of the precession of the equinoxes—the Yuga Cycle—takes 24,000 years, which conflicts with the presiding view that it takes 25,722 years, precessing at a rate of 1 degree every 72 years.. Pratt wrote that "there is no proof" that this rate is constant, and that "the ancients claimed that at certain stages of the cycle the rate of precession is slightly more rapid than at other stages."

Milkweed and catnip
Ancient Indians divided the Great Year into two parts, ascending ("12,000 years of gradual progress and improvement") and descending, with four ages per part—the Golden Age (when "neither sin nor suffering are common") was from 11,502 B.C. to 6702 B.C., Silver Age 6702 B.C. to 3102 B.C., Bronze Age 3102 B.C. to 702 B.C., Iron Age 702 B.C. to 498 A.D., ascending Iron Age 498 A.D. to 1698. We're now in an ascending Bronze Age.

Looking at human history, these dates make sense—we were a partnership species until around 4,500 B.C. (see my partnership essay), and things have deteriorated since then, reaching a low around 500 A.D., after which things have gradually/slightly improved, though we're still in a low, fraught age.

Mainstream historians set the Yuga Cycle at 4,320,000 years (see Wikipedia), which doesn't make sense. According to Pratt, it doesn't make sense because it's wrong. The error began around 700 B.C., when "a colossal mistake crept into the Hindu almanacs and has been blindly perpetrated ever since." The "erroneous computations of the Four Ages" makes it seem like we're in a Golden Age, which doesn't align with reality.

According to Pratt, we're actually in the Age of Virgo, not Pisces, as most people, getting it backwards, currently believe. This error seems highly relevant to astrologists.

The Cosmic War: Interplanetary Warfare, Modern Physics and Ancient Texts (2007) by Joseph P. Farrell. My fourth Farrell book. I recommend Farrell if you want to complexify your knowledge on what is actually happening on Earth now and throughout history. I recommend reading Covert Wars and Breakaway Civilizations (2012) by him first. I wrote about it last year.


Geology (1991) by Frank H. T. Rhodes. Rhoades wrote, "The ocean floor is made up of volcanic and sedimentary rocks, all of relatively young age [...] the oldest oceanic rocks are 'only' 175 million years old." The mainstream explains this anomaly by saying that the ocean floor is constantly "subducted." A more compelling theory, to me, is that Earth used to be entirely land, and has been expanding since around 175 million years ago, creating the oceans. For more on this theory watch this video and/or read The Earth…But Not As We Know It (2019) by Andrew Johnson, which I reviewed here.

Baseless: My Search for Secrets in the Ruins of the Freedom of Information Act (2020) by Nicholson Baker. Baker investigated the use of biological weapons in the Korean War. He filed many Freedom of Information Act requests. He wrote about the term "conspiracy theory":

Just call it a theory. Inserting "conspiracy" in the middle is a way of trying to shut it down without thought. "Conspiracy theory" has ridicule built into it.

(For more on the term "conspiracy theory," which was popularized in part by the CIA to dismiss non-CIA-approved theories on the JFK assassination, read this paper.)

Baker wrote about the total destruction of North Korea. "Any odd or disturbing or objectionable or irrational act that North Korea leaders may commit in our era must be understood in the context of unimaginable explosive and napalmic trauma inflicted by the United States Air Force between 1950 and 1953." By 1951, two million Korean civilians had been killed. (War seems to have continued or worsened, in increasingly one-sided form, after World War II.) Baker quoted Donald Kingsley, the American in charge of the United Nations Korean Reconstruction Agency:

I doubt that ever in the history of the world, since perhaps the sacking of Carthage, has there been such complete destruction has has occurred in Korea.

Architects of Self-Destruction: The Oral History of Leftöver Crack (2021) by Brad Logan & John Gentile. Entertaining book about a series of bands headed by Scott Sturgeon, also known as "Stza"—Choking Victim, Leftover Crack, Star Fucking Hipsters—that I listened to near-daily in high school and college. Stza emailed me this year asking for help writing his own book. I said I would help edit if he sent me it chapter-by-chapter. He hasn't sent me anything yet.

Dark, Clear, Salt: Life in a Cornish Fishing Town (2020) by Lamorna Ash. Leisurely, calming memoir in which Lamorna wrote about spending time with fisherman and going on fishing trips with them and writing about them and their town, Newlyn.

Sick (2018) by Porochista Khakpour. Clearly-written, insightful, informative book about Porochista's experience with Lyme Disease, including many periods of intense suffering. I related to the chronic health problems, and the healing journey.

Diary of a Lost Girl: The Autobiography of Kola Boof (2003) by Kola Boof. Amazing, troubling, inspiring memoir. Boof was born in Sudan in around 1969 (her birthdate is unknown) as Naima Bint Harith. When she was a child, her parents were murdered by government officials. She was adopted by African-Americans, and later returned to North Africa, where, in 1996, Osama Bin Laden forced her to become one of his mistresses for six months. Back in American, she wrote a two-word poem—"Kola Boof"—and decided to use it as her pen-name. After 9/11, people "outed" her as a former mistress of Bin Laden. She was villainized and discredited by mainstream media, with the help of the U.S. government, to a degree that her appearance has been altered, she says and I believe, on her videos on her own YouTube channel.

I learned of Boof through Gloria Naylor's 1996. This year, Robert McCready visited Saint Helena Island, where Naylor's novel is set. I published his story about his investigation here. After publishing it, I searched "gangstalking" on Twitter to find people to share Robert's story with. I found Boof (see tweets here) and we emailed. In her memoir, she wrote:

My purpose as a literary artist is not to be liked, but to be understood—regardless of whether I'm right or wrong. I really could give a fuck. Like most little black girls, I spent my whole life being "dictated to" by American media and niggerati media about what to believe and think—and so now it's my turn, as an African woman and womb bearer, to do the dictating.

I recommend her book for people wanting to get an intimate, insider perspective on world politics, North Africa, and Africa; for people wanting to increase their knowledge of little-examined subjects, like "colorism" and modern-day child slavery; and for people wanting to get outside mainstream U.S. culture for a while to learn about a different world.

Boof has a fatwa on her due to one or more of her other books portraying Arabians in a non-positive manner. Her publisher in Morocco was firebombed after publishing her story-collection Long Train to the Redeeming Sin (2003). I recommend this interview with Boof.

The Lost World of the Kalahari (1958) by Laurens van der Post. Laurens van der Post went on an expedition to find and observe and learn from the last of the African Bushman. He was very pro-Bushman in a way that heartened me. His story of finding a crew to go with him, including a cameraman to record things, was zany and entertaining. His telling of his interactions with the Bushman were moving and interesting. The movie results of his trip are here and here.

Trip: Psychedelics, Alienation, and Change (2018) by Tao Lin. I reread this to harvest things to reiterate (in different words) or further examine (in updated form) in my next three books. Each time I write a new book now, I reread some-to-all of my previous books to avoid unintentional repetitions, remind myself of what I've explored/learned, and to better directionalize my ouevre

I See Satan Fall Like Lightning (1999) by Rene Girard. I like Girard's analysis of Christianity, how it's unique because it "[calls] into question the guilt of victims whom their communities unanimously condemned" (via Jesus), and how "the preaching of Jesus" created the "idea of a society alien to violence." I think he overgeneralizes his insight that mimetic desire leads to violence and conflict, applying it to all of human history, because, like most people, he's missing the part of history (before 6,500 years ago) in which we were peaceful (see my partnership essay). But his insights remain valid if you just change "culture" to "dominator culture" whenever he writes "culture," like in this sentence:

What has happened since the foundation of the world, that is, since the violent foundation of the first culture, is a series of murders like the Crucifixion.

In my view, Christianity is special because it combines a vengeful, misogynist deity (Yahweh) with a loving, humble, equality-promoting person (Jesus). Many people seem against Christianity because of how Yahweh seems like a really bad role model—creating Eve from Adam's rib, punishing women with pain in childbirth, expelling humans from paradise, telling his (I mean no disrespect by not capitalizing "his"—I just prefer not capitalizing deity pronouns, for example I use "she"/"her" for the Chinese creatrix Nüwa) followers to destroy the works of other religions and to only worship him.

But in my view of Christianity, the worse Yahweh was, the more amazing and inspiring it is that Jesus promoted the opposite of his values. This teaches that change is possible/desirable, that admitting wrongness is admirable, and that we can shift toward love in our own lives and across generations/millennia. I view Jesus as a return to our partnership past, when we were peaceful and worshipped nature as a female deity. "Jesus too is still the child of a divine Mother," wrote Riane Eisler. "He is in fact still the child of the Goddess."

We can all relate to Yahweh—upset, unreasonable, jealous, moody—while striving to be like Jesus. This, to me, makes Christianity a uniquely useful religion.


Thank you for reading my list. A full list of the books I read this year is here. I will answer questions in the comments section.