“Stay with me” by Garret Freymann-Weyr

Recommended to me by: Marissa Lingen

Narrated by oddly mature sixteen year old Leila (“Lee-la”) Abranel, this coming-of-age novel shows her both grappling with her much older sister’s suicide, and embarking on her second romantic relationship. The story is absorbing, but harrowing events and difficult emotions are described so quietly that the characters seem flat and distant.

My favorite theme is Leila’s mother encouraging her to trust her self and her instincts. In turn, Leila says, “My body is the one thing in life I completely trust.” I wish I had learned that as a teenager!

Available at Powell’s Books.

“Transparent – Love, Family and Living the T with Transgender Teenagers” by Cris Beam

Cris Beam moved to LA with her partner and, almost accidentally, started teaching at a “small, scrappy high school for gay and transgender teenagers.” Many of the kids live on the street, supporting themselves through prostitution. This first-person account portrays their individual quirks, triumphs, and tragedies in casual, engaging detail.

“Living the T” is street-talk for both living as a Transgendered person, and living the Truth. This book shares Truth generously, by the armload. What it’s like to know you’re transgendered from toddlerhood; to be thrown out of your parents’ house as a young teen; to learn from your “drag mother” the tips and tricks of looking like a woman; to pass flawlessly but both long for and fear intimate relationships. Cris Beam includes her own experiences and feelings as she mentors, protects, and finally adopts Christina, a troubled transgender teenager.

Available at Powell’s Books.

“It’s My Life Now: Starting Over After an Abusive Relationship or Domestic Violence” by Meg Kennedy Dugan & Roger R. Hock

A how-to manual on starting over after leaving an abusive relationship.

This is a well-organized, well-written book for the survivor of an abusive relationship. Common myths, such as, “Anyone who could love an abusive partner must have a serious psychological problem,” are addressed and corrected in each chapter

Topics covered in the book include:

  • Types of abuse, including sexual abuse within a relationship
  • Assessing and ensuring safety after leaving
  • Grief for the loss of the relationship
  • Practical aspects of making a living after leaving

While the authors follow the usual convention of assuming a female survivor and male perpetrator through most of the book, I was glad to see a chapter about gay, lesbian, and transgender relationships and male survivors.

The book is written to “you” the survivor, which led to a feeling of overwhelm and intrusion for me as I read. While the book is written with sensitivity and sympathy, the style also conveys an underlying assumption that the authors understand the experience of being abused better than the reader. This undermines what I see as the most important task of an abuse survivor – regaining trust in one’s internal experience.

This book is a useful resource for anyone working with or supporting survivors of domestic violence and abuse.

Available at Powell’s Books.

“Selling the Invisible – A Field Guide to Modern Marketing” by Harry Beckwith

Recommended to me by: Jessie Upp, Biznik comment

Harry Beckwith, head of a marketing firm for 23 years, explains how marketing a service differs from marketing a product, and why it matters.

This book was published in 1997, so some of its claims to modernity ring hollow in 2008, but it still has a lot to offer. The ideas are clearly laid out in short chapters beginning with catchy taglines and ending with boldface commands.

Some of the ideas were new to me, and others brought clarity to vague intuitions about marketing.

  • While product companies compete with other product companies, service companies compete with their own customers, who could do the job themselves or choose not to hire anyone at all. Competitive/negative marketing is counterproductive.
  • Improve the service, first, last, and always.
  • Integrity is key.
  • A service is intangible, and, often, so is the value received. A lot of service marketing is about customer reassurance.
  • Position is how the market sees you, positioning is how you want them to see you.
  • When setting pricing, take not only hours of labor, but also years of training and experience into account.
  • Talk about benefit to the client, not features of the service. I’ve seen this one a lot, but it made more sense in context.

Definitely worth reading in my ongoing quest to understand marketing and apply it in a way that works for me.

Available at Powell’s Books.

“Three little words” by Ashley Rhodes-Courter

22 year old Ashley Rhodes-Courter’s articulate, harrowing memoir of her childhood in the Florida foster care system.

I read it in one sitting, pausing to cry in a few places. The three little words aren’t what you think. She has a journalist’s eye for detail and a poet’s eye for intensity, conveying a child’s confusion without confusing the reader.

I learned about the Florida foster care system, about the power of caseworkers and and the mercy of Guardians ad litem, about both loving and abusive foster parents, and about one child’s path of survival through it all. Through Ashley Rhodes-Courter’s story, I connected with my own childhood longing for rescue and warmth, although I grew up in an “intact” family.

Available at Powell’s Books.