“You Don’t Say” by Nate Powell

book cover

Subtitle: Collected Stories

Recommended to me by: a friend

This collection of short story out-takes in comic form was recommended to me for “Cakewalk,” about a white girl who dressed in blackface for Halloween, and “Like Hell I Will,” about the 1921 arson and massacre of Tulsa’s “Black Wall Street,” a prosperous Black community. Tulsa race massacre on Wikipedia.

The Midwestern girl in “Cakewalk” is unaware of her transgression. She wants to be loved like Aunt Jemima, and doesn’t understand why the adults around her are horrified. No one explains it to her, even while she’s told to wash the charcoal off her face.

“Like Hell I Will” lays out the terrible, shameful history of the Tulsa race massacre. It is well-told and well-drawn, and at the same time minimized by its inclusion in this compendium of much less serious vignettes from white people’s perspectives.

Nate Powell is the illustrator for “March,” John Lewis’s autobiography in graphic novel form. That might be a better introduction to his work than this collection, which starts with comics drawing from his own life as a rootless young white man in the punk scene.

Available at Amazon.

“Miss Rumphius” by Barbara Cooney

book cover

Recommended to me by: Cathy, who mailed me her copy in this time of social distancing

This children’s book with delicate, detailed, delightful illustrations follows Miss Alice Rumphius through her adventurous life, encounter with disability, and the achievement of her life goal to do something to make the world more beautiful.

Young Alice says to her grandfather, “When I grow up, I too will go to faraway places, and when I grow old, I too will live beside the sea.” Her grandfather never doubts her.

It’s wonderful to see a story take for granted that a single, independent woman can move forward with courage and determination to achieve her goals, which do not include marriage and children. It’s wonderful that the story shows her in middle age and old age, not just as a young woman. An injury keeps in her in bed for a while, and she uses a cane, all as part of the matter-of-fact flow of the story.

Miss Rumphius is white. She befriends people of color in other countries. My only disappointment with the book is that the children visiting her at the end of the book are all white.

Highly recommended! Be sure to spend some time with the details of the illustrations.

From the Powell’s listing, About the Author:
Like Miss Rumphius, the late Barbara Cooney traveled the world, lived in a house by the sea in Maine, and, through her art, made the world more beautiful.

Available at Powell’s Books.

“The Structures and Movement of Breathing” by Barbara Conable

book cover

Subtitle: A Primer for Choirs and Choruses

Recommended to me by: reading Conable’s previous book What Every Musician Needs to Know About the Body

A brief book (45 pages) with lively, pithy anatomical details about breathing for singing. Illustrations show breathing anatomy from lips to pelvic floor, including where are lungs are (from slightly above the collarbones to the bottom of the sternum, and filling the space front to back) and aren’t (no lung whatsoever below the diaphragm doming up from the bottom ribs).

Reminders for singers include

  • How are your ribs moving as you sing?
  • Remember to organize around your spine like an apple around a core.
  • When you take air in, your psine gathers, like a cat preparing to spring.
  • When you are using air to sing, your spine lengthens, like a cat springing.
  • Your diaphragm works on inhalation. Leave the area along to dome back up on exhalation.

Highly recommended for singers and anyone else interested in the anatomy of breathing.

Available at Amazon.

“The Rabbit Listened” by Cori Doerrfeld

book cover

Recommended to me by: Leah K. Walsh

A heart-warming children’s book with few words and spacious illustrations that perfectly convey emotion through body language. Young Taylor (gender unspecified) has a creative disaster, and all the animals have ideas about how to offer comfort. Finally, the rabbit sits nearby and listens, and Taylor begins to feel better.

Available at Powell’s Books.

“Visceral Manipulation” by Jean-Pierre Barral & Pierre Mercier

book cover

Recommended to me by: Required for the Visceral Manipulation class

A highly technical textbook for the Visceral Manipulation class. Some anatomical terms are defined, and some aren’t. Some are illustrated, and some aren’t. The book seems directed at medical doctors (“order radiographs when indicated”) and at the same time seems slightly defensive when describes experiments demonstrating results from these techniques.

For each internal organ, anatomy and relationships to other organs are precisely described, along with possible variations and disorders. The mobility (motion with breathing) and motility (intrinsic motion) of each organ is also described, along with manual techniques to improve these motions. I’m assuming the class will make all this clearer – these are not techniques to learn from a book, even with the included photographs.

Available at IAHE.

“Bicycle/Race” by Adonia E. Lugo, Phd

book cover

Subtitle: Transportation, Culture, & Resistance

Recommended to me by: Elly Blue

Adonia Lugo gives us both a warm memoir and a carefully researched overview of her anthropological study of racism in bicycling activism. She shares her background as a half-Mexican, half-white girl growing up in San Juan Capistrano in Southern California, her joyful involvement with bicycling as transportation while studying in Portland, and her direct experiences of racism and resistance as she pursued her PhD research. As part of it, she helped create the first cicLAvia in LA, where streets are closed to cars and opened to bicyclists and pedestrians.

Race and mobility are intertwined because we designed segregation into our built environments and how we police them, and racial equity in the distribution of public money isn’t a metaphor or a goal you opt into; it’s a legal obligation, thanks to the civil rights movement. I wasn’t pointing to the culture of white supremacy embedded in bike advocacy, policy, and planning because I wanted to cause trouble; it was about fulfilling the promise of our shared democracy.

She writes about the successive waves of colonization and conquest that shaped Southern California, the role of racism in people’s preference for private cars, selective police enforcement against people of color, and the reinforcement of white supremacy in the networks of people who set public policy. She writes about how her family’s loving support gave her the confidence to try to create change, and how she realized that entrenched systems were resisting her efforts.

Highly recommended! I read it a chapter or two at a time, with pauses to digest the information about the racist underpinnings of US culture and transportation.

Available at Microcosm Publishing.

“The Arrival” by Shaun Tan

book cover

Recommended to me by: Sarah Pinsker

This book has no words, only illustrations. Whimsical and menacing by turns, the images tell the story of an immigrant’s parting with his family and arrival in a new land where everything is unexpected and askew. It was unclear until the end whether the macabre or the whimsy would win.

This book is far more serious than “picture book” would imply. The sepia-toned art is magnificently expressive.

Available at Powell’s Books.

“A Headache in the Pelvis” by David Wise, Ph.D. and Rodney Anderson, M.D.

book cover

Subtitle: A new understanding and treatment for prostatitis and chronic pelvic pain syndromes

Recommended to me by: a client

As is clear from the subtitle, this book is written by and for men, or at least people with prostates and penises. The book is focused on physiology rather than gender, and a lot of the information applies to everyone. They do include a chapter on the physiology of people with vaginas as well.

When people go to the doctor with pelvic pain, they are most often given antibiotics. If the pain persists, they are sent to psychologists, or recommended for surgeries that usually don’t help either.

The Stanford Protocol addresses chronic pelvic pain through a combination of trigger point release and conscious relaxation. Their model is that most pelvic pain is caused by chronic tension, similar to a tension headache. Trigger points in the muscles are released through a combination of external and internal massage by physical therapists trained in pelvic work.

The book carefully covers other causes of pelvic pain before turning to the Stanford Protocol. Pelvic anatomy is illustrated in detail, with common locations of trigger points.

Paradoxical relaxation is taking time to be with tension, without avoiding or trying to change it, and also separating tension from pain, even when they are occurring in the same place. It is similar to Inner Relationship Focusing in its attitude of warmth and acceptance toward exactly what is so right now. In this space of acceptance, muscles can begin to relax and the nervous system can calm down overall.

They note that the same trigger point can cause more or less pain depending on the overall level of nervous system activation and anxiety in the body.

The authors also recommend briefly checking in with pelvic tension and inviting it to relax many times during the day.

Their method is “inconvenient” since it takes a long time and requires hours of physical therapy and relaxation practice. They teach people paradoxical relaxation and self-treatment for trigger points in 6-day intensives. They claim their method works for about 80% of people who try it, most of whom are desperate after running out of other options.

Recommended as a knowledgeable, practical, compassionate approach to pelvic pain.

I also skimmed through “Wild Feminine: Finding Power, Spirit & Joy in the Female Body” by Tami Lynn Kent, which is about pelvic healing for women from both a physical and spiritual perspective. Unfortunately it completely ignores the existence of trans, intersex, and nonbinary people who may have vaginas and not identify as feminine, or vice versa. It contains a lot of practical advice for getting to know the pelvic region and rituals to balance the energy there.

Available at Powell’s Books.

“Tear Soup” by Pat Schwiebert and Chuck DeKlyen, illustrated by Taylor Bills

book cover

Subtitle: A Recipe for Healing After Loss

Grandy, a “somewhat wise” grandmother with a long silver braid, has suffered a big loss. In gorgeous detailed illustrations we see her making tear soup with her tears, memories, and time. She grieves alone and with friends. She gives it all the time it needs, far longer than some people think it should take. Eventually she’s ready to put her soup in the freezer and only eat it occasionally.

A loving, compassionate look at grieving big losses in children’s book format, but appropriate for any age. Highly recommended.

Grief Watch website has more books, and a free download of the “cooking tips” and “recipe” from the back of this book.

Available at Powell’s Books.

“Bikequity” edited by Elly Blue

book coverSubtitle: Money, Class, and Bicycling

Recommended to me by: Elly Blue at Microcosm Publishing bookstore

A collection of close to twenty articles about the intersection of biking, class, race, and social inequity from a variety of viewpoints. Each article was clear and engaging. Since I bike for transportation and care about social justice, this zine/small book felt comforting and inclusive to read. Recommended!

Available at Microcosm Publishing.

book coverI commented to Elly that I was starting to notice judgment about biking around as I near age 50, and she also recommended a smaller zine, “Pedal by Pedal, a zine about women over 40 who ride bicycles,” edited by Julie Brooks.  Also inclusive and comforting to read.  There are more women like me out there!

Available at Microcosm Publishing.