Alia's Summer Reading List

AY Reading List

Bessel Van Der Kolk, The Body Keeps Score (Penguin Books, 2015)

Amy Fung, Before I Was a Critic I Was a Human Being (Book*hug Press, 2019)

Alicia Elliott, A Mind Spread Out on the Ground (Anchor Canada, 2020)

Bernadine Evaristo, Girl, Woman, Other (Hamish Hamilton, 2019)

Glennon Doyle, Untamed (The Dial Press, 2020)

Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist (HarperOne, 2014)

Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth (Penguin Life, 2008)

Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic (Riverhead Books, 2016)

Mary Laura Philpott, I Miss You When I Blink (Atria Books, 2019)

Caroline Criado Perez, Invisible Women (Harry N. Abrams, 2019)

Bob Joseph, 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act (Indigenous Relations Press, 2018)

The Body Keeps Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk

I am currently reading this book (and am not very far in) but so far, I have been learning a lot with every page. When I am not working on anything too mentally demanding in my everyday life, I like to read books where I learn about how our bodies and minds work, as well as learning about the world around us. After this I am planning to read “The Hidden Life of Trees” so I can turn my focus from learning about my mind and body to turning my attention outwards, perfect for spending time outside this summer.

Before I Was a Critic I Was a Human Being by Amy Fung

I read this short book by Amy Fung recently while finishing my MFA support paper and it was powerful reading this while thinking about my own position creating art about Muslim identity, belonging, and representation in the settler-colonial state of Canada. Fung is an art critic and approached her book by sharing both her professional experiences as well as her personal experiences as a Canadian Woman of Colour searching to better understand her identity as a settler on this land. Fung calls her book an extended land acknowledgement, and it really inspired me to think about how I can acknowledge my privilege as a settler outside of traditional land acknowledgements as well as with my actions.

A Mind Spread Out on the Ground by Alicia Elliott

I love reading biographies, and this biography was the first (embarrassingly!) that I read by an Indigenous author. (I’ve now got many Indigenous authors on my reading list — Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer is next on my list.) This collection of essays by Alicia Elliott was an incredibly powerful and important read about the author’s experiences growing up, as well as her thoughts on a variety of issues from mental illness to race to representation. I highly recommend this book to everyone, it was a best seller for a reason!

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo

I don’t often read fiction novels but I felt drawn to Girl, Woman, Other from all the reviews I kept seeing of it. The novel follows the lives of 12 Black women from multiple generations, set in different time periods, whose lives somehow overlap with one another. I thoroughly enjoyed how Evaristo told the stories of these complex characters and it was incredible to get lost in their worlds and their perspectives. I was writing biographies for my MFA thesis around the time I was reading this and it really inspired my thoughts on writing multi-dimensional biographies.

Untamed by Glennon Doyle

This was the last book I read earlier this month when I wanted a lighter read. This definitely fits into the genre of inspirational memoire and it lives up to what it’s trying to be. Doyle critiques the societal pressures and expectations of women by taking a close-up look at moments or periods of time in her life where she was trying to fit the mould of ‘perfect woman/mother/wife.’ I would recommend this book to anyone who feels overwhelmed by outside expectations in their life and want to find a truer path for themselves.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist, like Girl, Woman, Other, fits outside what I usually pick up to read but this is now one of my favourite books. Some call this a fable or a fantasy fiction novel – it’s a tale of a quest packed with spiritual wisdom. I recommend this book to anyone – you’ll easily read this in one sitting and be mesmerized by it.

A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle

After reading the Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, I quickly began reading A New Earth. This book is a part of Oprah’s Book Club and she’s done numerous interviews and even a course with him, and calls his book life changing. I read this earlier in the year and came across at the exact right time, and it impacted me profoundly. I’ve since really taken up a process of being more mindful, present in the moment, and (attempting) to quiet my own ego. I tell anyone who wants to really shake up their life as it is, to read this book. I truly believe you can’t finish this and be the same afterwards.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

I’ve read quite a few books about creativity, including many that have been on best-seller lists, but this is by far my favourite. I hadn’t read any of Elizabeth Gilbert’s work before reading this so I opened it with a blank slate, and I just soaked up every word. She spoke about creativity in a way I hadn’t heard before and it all made so much sense to me. It really inspired me to get to work, yet gave me permission to allow for times where I don’t feel particularly creative. I really recommend this to anyone who is in a creative lull or is even burnt out.

I Miss You When I Blink by Mary Laura Philpott

As mentioned many times, I love memoires by female-identifying authors, but I especially love funny memoires. I thoroughly enjoyed this book of short essays about Philpott’s life. I would say this is 100% wholesome beach reading material.

Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez

This book deserves a lot more hype. This highly-researched, data driven, and well-articulated book goes in depth about how every aspect of the world is (basically) designed for men. I learnt so much at every page turn about the micro-injustice’s women face from car design, to snow removal, to medication. This book will make you angry but this book should be a must-read.

21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act by Bob Joseph

Since June is Indigenous History Month (though it should be every month) I wanted to highlight this book. I read an e-copy of the book so that’s why it’s not featured in this book stack. It’s a really important read for every Canadian to really understand what was/is still inflicted upon Indigenous Peoples with the Indian Act (which still hasn’t been dismantled) and how many aspects of this act still impact Indigenous peoples today. This is truly a required read for Canadians.

Alia Youssef

Alia Youssef is a portrait photographer interested in diversifying the media landscape and highlighting underrepresented stories and histories. Her personal projects have been exhibited in solo and group shows at prominent galleries and festivals across Canada such as The Ryerson Image Centre Student Gallery, The Parliament of Canada, Presentation House Gallery, and Nuit Blanche Toronto. Her commercial projects with global brands have been displayed internationally, including in New York’s Times Square and London’s Piccadilly Circus. Her work has been published in numerous online and print publications including Elle Magazine, VICE, The Globe and Mail, and Oprah Magazine. Alia has done many public artist talks, most notably for the Aga Khan Museum, We Day Toronto, and Instagram. She recently completed the Master of Fine Arts in Documentary Media program at Ryerson University.

View Alia's Website