Embodied Reading List: 8 Book Recommendations

April 5, 2021

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There’s a stack of books on my bedside table. I’m reading them all simultaneously right now (I explain why that is on the podcast). 

Their topics are diverse yet they all intersect with embodiment in their own way. Today’s podcast spotlights these books & why I’m am loving them. 

We also explore four embodiment books that have been influential or inspiring to me (this is not an exhaustive list). 


THE LIST

For details about what I’m loving & how I’m metabolizing the following books check out the podcast or transcript below 👇 

My Embodied Reading List:

  1. The Body Is Not An Apology, Sonya Renee Taylor
  2. Sister Outsider, Audre Lorde (especially her essay Uses Of The Erotic which you can hear her read here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWmq9gw4Rq0)
  3. The Wild Woman’s Way, Mikaela Boehm
  4. The Radiance Sutras, Lorin Roche > also consider this perspective on the cultural appropriation of this work

My Bedside Reading List: 

5. Pleasure Activism, Adrianne Maree Brown

6. My Grandmothers Hands, Resmaa Menakem

7. Caliban & The Witch, Silvia Federici 

8. Dark Emu, Bruce Pascoe


RESOURCES

Other resources & links mentioned during this podcast: 


TRANSCRIPT

There is a giant stack of books by my bedside and I’m reading all of them in tandem. So depending on my mood, I might pick up this one, that one, the other one, or this one over here. And it inspired me. I thought, oh, I love a good book recommendation. Why don’t I do a podcast, speaking about my reading list? Bar is my current reading list. What’s on my bedside right now, as well as my recommended reading or the key books that I feel are really useful for those who are interested in reading and learning more about embodiment. So, welcome to my reading list, and thanks for joining me, Jenna Ward, for this podcast conversation today.

Welcome to The School of Embodied Arts Podcast. I’m your hostess, Jenna Ward. Feminine embodiment coach, here for our weekly explorations of living, leading and coaching as emotionally empowered, sensually alive and magnetic women.

So thanks for joining me for this reading list podcast. There are two reading lists that I will be sharing with you today. The first is embodiment. The embodiment reading list. And I’ve got four books, which are great books, that I would recommend. There are more books. There are so many books that I could put on this list. And the women who joined us in our coaching certification get a much more detailed coach and theory centered view of these books, but I’m going to share with you my top four for general embodiment and coming home to the body. The second reading list that I wanted to share is, what’s by my bedside right now, because there’s quite a few books stacked up there, and many of them, I am loving. So I’ll share with that in the podcast as well. The links to all of these books, or at least the details with the authors will be included in the podcast link, which you can find at jennaward.co, under our blog, our podcast, but as always, I would encourage you to buy local when and you can. Amazon doesn’t need more money.

So if you do have a local bookstore or somebody who delivers who’s even at least from your local country, that isn’t some big mega glomeration, then order local. I know in Australia, when I was living there, there’s a company called Booktopia, who have over 75% of the book resale market, and I’m totally guilty of ordering from them in the past, but there’s this other woman called Annie, who has a bookstore down in the local place that I like to get my chai, and she’s just a one woman band with a great little bookstore. And when I went in to do pricing, she was super competitive on all of the pricing. So find a local bookstore, if you can, if you’re interested in any of these reads. So my reading list, my embodied reading list.

The first book I wanted to share is, The Body Is Not An Apology. This is by Sonya Renee Taylor, who is a wonderful, amazing speaker activist. She calls herself a radical CER. And her book is a really wonderful look at radical self-love, body reclamation, in every shape and form and size and color, and it is a beautiful journey back home to the body. I feel like in the realm of embodiment, we talk a lot about becoming more sensitive to what our body is feeling and becoming more sensitive to our feminine flows and emotions and sensuality, but in order to become and have that sensitivity to what’s alive inside the body, we have to be willing to occupy the body. And for many of us, for many women, there are parts of our bodies that we don’t like, or that we don’t approve of. They might not meet conventional or modern beauty standards, and so there are a lot of ways that we can compartmentalize or dissociate from different parts of our body.

Like for me, for example, I still have this soft squishy belly from birthing a babe, almost two-ish years ago now. And I was doing a movement practice the other day, and I didn’t have many clothes on, and I was looking down towards my belly and it was hanging, and it was a bit droopy, and there was this lovely soft spot around my belly button full of creases, and I kind of saw it and I thought, huh, I have a real… This for me, what a privilege to have a real mum belly, a real soft squishy belly. And I really paused and I reflected, do I really love this part of me? Because it doesn’t make the model of, get your body back parsed baby, that our culture celebrates. I don’t have my body back. I don’t plan to really get my body back.

I don’t know what I’m getting it back to. The standards that you think are beautiful? F your standards. I’ve got this body, it did a great job. It’s a healthy body. I’m inhabiting this body. This is the one I got. I got all kinds of pigmentation and stretches and extra bits here. And people have called it all kinds of things over the years, and I didn’t care what you think, because this is my body. This is the one that I get to inhabit. And by loving this body more fully, I inhabit more fully, and that’s a prerequisite for feeling and sensing the body more fully. So I digress. But what I’m sharing is very much in alignment and in vain with Sonya’s really great book, The Body Is Not An Apology. I think it’s a really, really wonderful read that I’d recommend.

The next book is, Sister Outsider, by Audrey Lord. This is a collection of short essays by black feminist poet, Audrey Lord. And so it’s not theory. It’s much more, evocative writing, poetic writing, writing that as you read the page, you melt and you cry, and you feel, and you find your experience described in words so poignant and moving that it’s like a small eruption of knowing, happens inside of you. It is a beautiful book, a book that centers women, power, the erotic, what it means to be… So Lord was a black woman, what it means to be a woman of color, what that means within our systems. Particularly her essay… Even if you don’t get the book, you can Google this essay or you can find her speaking it on YouTube. The number one essay from that book is, Uses of The Erotic. Do it. I highly recommend such a beautiful, beautiful collection of essays and work. Audrey Lord, Sister Outsider.

The third book I would like to recommend is, Wild Woman’s Way. And this is by Michaela Boehm. So Michaela is a wonderful teacher in the realm of embodiment, polarity, and also relationship, as well as women’s work. And Michaela has been one of my teachers. I studied non-linear movement method, one of her embodied movement practices, several years ago now, and I found her to be a wonderful, very clean and pardoned facilitator, and she’s really a master of her odds. Now, there’s not a lot of books that speak to, or teach, feminine embodiment in what I would consider a pure way. There’s a lot of applications of embodiment to certain spiritualities, possibilities, different frameworks, but just to really understand what kind of the core concept of embodiment is, there’s not a lot around that. And this book, in my opinion, gets closer to that pure representation of the foundation skills of embodiment. It’s a lovely, engaging, and personal read, and I’ve gifted it to many of our clients in the past. So I would recommend the Wild Woman’s Way, by Michaela Boehm.

The fourth book, and I found this book on recommendation from Michaela actually, is a book of… Now I need to be careful with this recommendation. So the book is, The Radiant Sutras, and it is by Lorin Roche. First, I want to tell you what it is. It is effectively a book of poetry. It is a book of poetry that speaks to meditating on and relishing in the sublime inner world. And you read these passages and they just give you goosebumps, and they just erupt a feeling in your body. So it’s not an instructive text. Although with that, what it actually is, is Lorin Roche, he’s a white guy and he’s a scholar. He doesn’t speak sanscript from my understanding, but he has taken a traditional tantric text.

So tantra being a Southeast Asian, very beautiful spiritual philosophy. And he has drawn inspiration from this tantric text to inspire the poetry that he offers in The Radiant Sutras. The reason I said, I need to be careful with this recommendation, is that there is… I haven’t done a full analysis around this, but I feel there is a little bit of a cloud of appropriation of what is a very rich, predominantly Indian Southeast Asian, spiritual context, which needs to be taken into consideration in rouches. It’s not a translation, it’s an interpretation, but at the same time, I don’t want to deny that I don’t speak sanscript and I don’t actually know anyone that does. And what he offers in this book, it is a very invoking opportunity to encounter some really beautiful words and invitations into practice.

So take that one with a grain of salt. But that’s my reading list. Top four, The Body Is Not An Apology, Sister Outsider, The Wild Woman’s Way, The Radiant Sutras. And it’s interesting, two of those are novels that you would read, and two of them are more poetry. I never really thought of myself as a poetry lover, but as I look at my reading list, turns out I am.

The second list that I wanted to share with you is, what’s by my bedside right now? So there’s four books that I’m reading and I’m reading them all at once. The reason I’m reading them all at once is that when I have some time to read, maybe I have an evening, I will sit down and I’ll just tune into what is it that I need? And what is it that I feel like I can actually metabolize and ingest? I don’t want to just skim through the words on the page, stuffing knowledge into my intellect. I want to really marinate in what the author is saying.

I want to consider how it makes me feel in my body, the memories or the thoughts or the experiences that it evokes, and I want to examine how does this concept interface into my life? That’s how I love to read these types of books. Don’t get me wrong. I love some trashy, witchy, vampirey, fictiony novel at times. And I’ve been known to go on a binge or two. I have a really lovely girlfriend who also loves a similar genre of fiction to me. So it often sharing witchy magical recommendations to each other, but I’m not reading any of those currently. I’m sorry. So these are going to be a little bit more serious recommendations from my bedside today.

So, the first one is Pleasure Activism. And this is by Adrian Marie Brown, who is a very interesting feminist writer. So, Pleasure Activism is a collation of interviews, stories, published articles, that center the idea of allowing yourself to feel really good, is actually a form of political activism. That’s the author’s position. And why I love it, is it’s something that I can easily pick up and put down. It’s not a story or a sequential build. Each chapter or interview or poetry is just like a little bite of possibility. So I love that I can just tap into considering pleasure. Looking at pleasure. What does this mean for my pleasure? Just as a little morsel. How it’s informing me is it’s making me actively consider my pleasure as a practice, more consciously.

So I feel that we live in this world whereby there’s almost this unconscious social narrative that you should just know how to access pleasure. It doesn’t have to be a skill that you’re trained in. You just have some basic sex ed in high school, and then you should just know how to go, and it’s not that hard. You put this here and then it’s done. That’s kind of our cultural approach to pleasure. It’s woefully lacking. There is… I believe pleasure is a skill that if we’re not taught it, then we have to kind of figure out how to do it. It’s like building an Ikea flat pack. If you don’t have an instruction manual, and if you don’t know how to actually put all of your pleasure… Which is not going to look like anyone else’s flat pack together, then how do you know how your pleasure is built? I find this book really interesting because it’s informing me understanding how my pleasure is built. And it’s obviously very different to the author’s, but it’s offering me different perspectives, point of views, questions and opinions that I can orientate around.

The next book on my bedside is My Grandmother’s Hands, by Resmaa Menakem. So what is it about? It is about racialized trauma. And it’s a… The author calls himself a sematic abolitionist. And so what this means is that he’s using westernized sematic practices. He’s using embodiment practices essentially, to look at the work of deconstructing healing, evolving past racialized trauma. The book is very American centered. The author is a black man who lives in America. But it is the first, in my experience… Which is a limited one human experience. But in my experience, it’s one of the first books of its kind that speaks about racialized trauma from a view of the embodied perspective, what it actually means and how it actually works inside the deep recesses of our body. It’s also a really wonderful book because as a white person, it gives really constructive ways that I can work with my body around this.

And it has some really great exercises and practices through it. I think it’s been at the New York Times’ bestseller list for a long time, particularly following the black lives matters events in the U.S. Which sparked a number of events, also in Australia, more locally around the black lives matters movement in 2020. I was reading it before then. Honestly, I’m going pretty slow because I’m really metabolizing it as I go through the book. So it’s not just something that I’m going to read in six hours and be done with. I don’t think that that is how unraveling oppression happens, that we just tick it off and it’s a box that’s done. It’s something that sequentially and slowly happens over our entire lifetime, but that’s My Grandmother’s Hands.

The third book that I’m reading is Caliban and the Witch. This is by Italian author, Silvia Federici, who is a feminist writer. And this book is about the development of capitalism in the 14th and the 15th century through the lens of women’s witch hunts and the transition of women out of the labor force and into domestic roles, and kind of gender divides developing. It is heavy going because it’s quite an academic text, but why I love it is because I am so very interested, as you would have heard in…

This is a exploration that I’ve been undertaking for probably only around a year now. I’ve been really curious since coming back from having my child around. How do all of these internalized stories that we hold around, what it means to be a woman or what it means to embrace or reject our feminine, or what it means to be any of the identities that we hold. How did we come to have all of these programs and all of these structures around patriarchy and misogyny and capitalism and greed internalized in our individual bodies? Where did this come from? How did this come about? And looking back to how it… It’s like it’s such a complex story to unravel patriarchy, capitalism, racial hierarchies.

It’s really difficult for me to get my head around, and it is a highly intellectual understanding or kind of investigation. But I think as somebody who teaches in this space of reclamation of the feminine, I’m really curious about, well, where did things go so wrong? Why did they go so wrong? I’m of European descendant, so I’m particularly interested in my ancestors, what were their experiences that led to the world that we live in today? And Federici’s work is very poignantly focused on this. So I feel like it is a really important feminist history that should be told and is not. And so Caliban and the Witch is a really great book. And I have known about this book for quite a while. I’ve seen many women that I respect to recommend it, but it wasn’t until one of my teachers, my feminist teacher, Dr. Kimberly George, gave me a good push in the direction of this book that I really kind of sunk my teeth into it. And I can tell you it’s heavy going, but it is a wonderful book.

The fourth book and the final book that’s on my bedside right now is, Dark Emu. This is a book written by a Aboriginal Australian man, looking at the intelligent, agricultural and sophisticated history of the indigenous Australians people ability to work with, and own the land. This book was recommended by my cultural awareness and truth-telling teacher, Michaela Eagan, of the wellbeing connection, who I’m doing some training at the moment with her around cultural awareness of first Australians, such a wonderful training, highly recommended if you have, or are interested in Australian history.

And if you’re an Australian person that feels like you don’t really know as much about Aboriginal history as you should, then I can totally understand why that is, because my generation had woeful education on this topic. And so I took the responsibility to get myself educated so I can do better as an Australian woman, a non-indigenous Australian woman, and Michaela recommended this book. And I’m familiar with the author because I’ve seen him speak a number of times and he is such a eloquent, intelligent author. So I’m really enjoying his perspectives in this book. And I’m really interested in learning even more of the details. I’m only at the start of this book because I had to order it to the Netherlands, and it took a little while to get here, but this one is on my bedside, and I’m enjoying it so far.

So these are my books. Eight in total. I’m really interested to hear what book recommendations do you have for me? As you can see, my taste is eclectic. It is diverse, but it kind of has a central theme, which is, let’s come home to inhabit our body more fully, let’s have reverence for the indigenous cultures that have been always historically embodied and let’s come home to those cultures. Many of them have been colonized or forgotten, but their truth still remains. It’s still of the earth and with the earth. So if you have a recommendation for me, hit me up. I’m on the socials. I hang out on Instagram a bit. At jennaward.co. Or you can leave a comment on the blog over at jennaward.co.

I would love to hear what you’re reading, and if you have a book recommendation for me. Thank you so much for tuning into the podcast and joining me for this conversation today. And if you would like to learn more about The School of Embodied Arts, Feminine Embodiment, or my work, head over to jennaward.co. And finally, I’m going to put the call out. Hey, hey, would you be so kind to leave us a review on the podcast? We have some delightful reviews over there, which make my heart swell at the generosity of people leaving them. And if you’ve enjoyed this podcast today, then please do go and check us out, The School of Embodied Arts podcast at iTunes or wherever it is that you listen to your podcasts. Thank you so much for joining me.

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