Book Reviews: Ace, Come As You Are, and I Love Jesus But I Want To Die

Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society and the Meaning of Sex by Angela Chen

This book was recommended to me by a friend and is well-worth the read! The author identifies as an asexual and does a good job of both summarizing the diversity in the asexual and aromantic communities, as well as pointing out the ubiquity of assumptions about the norm made by allosexuals, and perpetuated in media and messaging. The book is a good reminder that human diversity is endlessly surprising that we should be embracing our differences and learning from one another, not viewing difference as a threat. The book is helpful as well for those who don’t know anything about asexuality or for those who think they know more than they actually do. I highly recommend giving this a read and educating yourself on a community many of us don’t pay nearly enough attention to.

I Love Jesus, But I Want To Die: Finding Hope In The Darkness of Depression by Sarah J. Robinson

This book fills a distinct lack in the Christian circles about faith and mental health. While more conservative, fundamentalist, evangelical traditions of Christianity tend to be overtly uncomfortable with mental health, perpetuating the idea that if one is just faithful enough, suffering in their life will disappear, more “progressive” traditions have their own set of failings on the mental health front. Perhaps the most ubiqutious is what Barbara Brown Taylor has deemed “solar spirituality”–in these mainline Protestant and other “progressive” traditions, there is not a denial of suffering per se–and certainly not a straight works=rewards system like in the the prosperity gospel–but there IS a discomfort with anything too raw. There’s a stubborn focus on optimism, or hope for the future that minimizes the sufferings of the present to a worrisome extent.

I bought this book because I knew what it was like to want to die–not actively, but hoping that it would just happen; and it proved well-worth it. The author lays bare her struggles with depression and suicidal ideation–most importantly, she doesn’t wrap everything up in a bow: she acknowledges that while she now has more tools to live with depression, she still DOES live with depression and always will. There are no cure-alls in this book; what there IS is an assurance of the Spirit being with us in our suffering, of the fact that we ARE loved AND lovable, and of the fact that friends and family may be far more receptive than we fear.

This is an excellent book for any person of faith who has struggled with depression and anxiety, and feeling lonely and alone; the book will assure you you are not alone, and indeed, that you stand with many of the great Biblical figures and historical church figures.

Come As You Are, Revised and Updated: The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life by Emily Nagoski, Ph. D.

It is it to my great regret that I never did read the first edition of this book, as I heard great things about it; but I just completed this book and it is far more amazing than I was ever told. It is certainly far more tailored to folks with vulvas than those with penises but it is still quite fascinating. I also gained a much clearer understanding of the difference between responsive and spontaneous desire than I had in the podcasts and other books that have talked about it; the author is far more clear that context is crucially important, that there’s two parallel systems–sexual inhibitors and sexual excitors– that dictate sexual response; and that all desire is, in fact, responsive and that spontaneous desire is only seemingly spontaneous. The author describes things clearly and with authority, and provides plenty of exercises to practice and ideas to explore. This is an excellent book and I highly recommend it for anyone interested in exploring sexuality, or even just in seeing how our media gets things wrong.

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Published by Devin Hogg

My name is Devin Hogg. I was born and raised in Carnarvon, Ontario, Canada. I moved to Guelph, Ontario, Canada in 2009 for university and lived here ever since. In my free time, I enjoy reading, watching TV and movies, going on long walks, swimming, and practicing Chen style Tai Chi. I love to write poetry and blog regularly about topics such as mental health, sci-fi/fantasy series, faith, sexuality, and politics.

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