Sacred and Profane Winter Reading List: New Books to Love in 2023


Readers love to read especially when it’s cold and wet outside. There’s nothing better to warm the heart than a new book.  If you’re iced in, snowed in, or looking for something fresh, here’s my greatest hits list for Winter 2023


Shine Bright: A Very Personal History of Black Women in Pop by Danyel Smith.


“Dazzling” critics have declared, the gorgeous cover alone will raise your serotonin-- orange, the color of the second chakra, Svadhishthana, the seat of life---so let’s bring on the joy. Danyel Smith shines too, mixing up a deeply emotional Gen X memoir with the hidden history of Black women and their under-acknowledged foundational role in American popular music. Smith is a novelist, award-winning journo, host of Spotify’s Black Girl Songbook, former editor at Billboard, Time, editor in chief at Vibe and so much more. As of Spring Semester 2023, Shine Bright will grace my syllabus for “Protest Music in History.”


Rest is Resistance: A Manifesto by Tricia Hersey


My community is a stronghold of teachers, surfers, first responders and healers. During peak Covid, burned out moms were caught between home schooling, bizarro zoom-land education and a societal clampdown that sequestered us between fear of horrific death and rage from over-regulated living. Some people ended up drinking too much, marriages blew up, and one friend ended up in a psychiatric hospital. But one point of refuge was Hersey’s online Nap Ministry where moms found “radical restoration” through the subversive act of sleep. Founded on black liberation theology, grounded in history, poetry and nature, to simply rest means to take back the body, to live where the world can’t touch you. Doing less, not more emerges as  a song of liberation, a healing modality and a way back to our humanity. How dare we stop, rest, breathe, recoil, reclaim the body—once a commodity form for the enslaved--from the “grind culture” of everyday life? You may find Rest is Resistance life altering. It’s a gift of love to my stressed-out neighbors and my over-worked students in “Holistic Healing in Human Services,” light warriors, mostly adult women—including women of color--- who do too much, more than their share--- at home, at work, and in the community. Always caring for everyone but themselves. 


Bad Sex: Truth, Pleasure and an Unfinished Revolution by Nona Willis Aronowitz.


Nona is the only child of my Great Mentors, the late O.G. feminist music critic  and scholar Ellen Willis and Activist/Sociologist  Stanley Aronowitz. I met Nona when she was 18 months old, a feisty, fearless toddler. Now a young new mother herself, N.W.A. is already an established author and editor, a prolific journalist and the editor of two award-winning anthologies of her mother’s ground-breaking work. Bad Sex resituates pleasure and sexual liberation back into radical feminist discourse: “An intelligent and disarmingly honest book about sex, love marriage, radical feminism, …and the true meaning of sexual liberation” says author Amia Srinivasan.  After her marriage ends, in part due to unfulfilling sex, drawing from personal, historical and intellectual familial history and scholarship, Willis-Aronowitz picks up the torch her mother left behind, merging it with her own herstory, framing the discussion for herself and her own generation.



Wanderers: A History of Women Walking by Kerri Andrews


Sitting meditation has always been a challenge for me, I’m wired for combat, I can’t sit still. Even reading makes me nervous. But movement always gets me there. Whether it’s a brisk walk in the cold winter air, or body-surfing, dancing gardening, or painting, I’ve gotta get physical and I need to be outside. Kerri Andrews, an English professor in the UK celebrates the long tradition of women who walk—and wrote. Ten profiles of spiritual seekers and creative women doing something once considered subversive—in the bad old days when forced domesticity, bound feet, or corsets held us captive, walking alone was a radical action. Sometimes it’s hard to imagine the shit our ancestors had to endure, how far we have come, and still have to go. This book, originally published in a the UK, is distributed by University of Chicago Press. As of January, 2023, Wanderers is on the reading list for “Spirituality in the Helping Relationship.” After a long day of grading papers, writing, as a way to calm down, nothing beats walking, wandering, watching the world, downloading snippets of truth with the radio on, roadrunner, roadrunner.