four books that are the opposite of 2018

Emily Nagoski
2 min readAug 16, 2018

Do you, like me, need a way to spend your time that isn’t merely avoidance of the horrorshow that is 2018, but actively counteracts its ill effects? A kind of 2018 antivenin?

May I recommend a little reading?

Here are four books that have helped me:

It’s Not Always Depression, by Hilary Jacobs Hendel. It’s a highly accessible summary of a therapy modality called AEDP (accelerated experiential dynamic psychotherapy). It’s all feels, all the time, healing just to read, whether or not you ever use the techniques it teaches. But I have used them, and they have helped me. If you get trapped in anxiety, guilt, or shame sometimes (WHO DOESN’T??), this book is for you.

Like a Mother, by Angela Garbes. A unique and nourishing blend of science, stories, and a warm, inclusive acknowledgement of the wide diversity of people who get pregnant and give birth, Garbes’s book was a delight. Her birth story chapter made me cry. The chapter on lactation literally made my jaw drop. (BREAST MILK SENSES WHEN A BABY HAS AN INFECTION AND GENERATES THE APPROPRIATE ANTIBODIES!!!!! ***AND GARBES EXPLAINS HOW!!!***) Read this book if you are a mother, know a mother, or have a mother.

How to Love, by Thich Nhaht Hahn. This is the only book on the list not published in 2018, but what’s an emotional survival reading list with something by Thich Nhat Hahn? This tiny book offers tiny, beautiful ideas about loving in a world where love is difficult. Here is the very first page, which has saved my emotional bacon more than once:

And Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Presents a Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo, by Jill Twiss and (obvs) Marlon Bundo. I have the audiobook of this one (gave the paper copy to my young nieces). It’s seven minutes of pure delight. When the vice president’s wife published a book about the second family’s rabbit, Marlon Bundo, John Oliver’s team responded with a different book in which Marlon Bundo is gay. It’s wonderful. It’s seven minutes that will make your day better.

If there’s a book you’ve read this year that felt like an antivenin for 2018, tell the world in the comments! Together, we’ll get to the mid-terms and, fingers crossed, the tide will turn.

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Emily Nagoski

sex educator, author, researcher, and activist. also: nerd. http://go.ted.com/emilynagoski and @emilynagoski