Note: All links in this post are regular old links, I don't make a dime off any of them; all opinions are my own; the gifted books are noted as we come to them.
I am a big nerd for 'the book that explains that,' as you all may have gathered if you've been reading my blog for any length of time. If there's a book length explanation of an idea or a phenomenon, I'd like it, please. (When I found out I was pregnant, I ordered a pile of books on pregnancy and infancy and consumed them all in about three weeks, WHILE doing L1 reading for law school. Pity and fear me.) So my relationships are not particularly an exception to this. I'm always happy when there are books I realize I haven't read, or new books, for me to read, analyze and enjoy. Over the last several weeks, I've read a few books that I enjoyed in different ways, and this post is going to be a little round-up and review of them all for you.
The Anxious Person's Guide to Non-Monogamy
by Lola Phoenix
Those who read Lola's excellent blog or listen to the podcast at Non-Monogamy Help know that they give straightforward, measured advice for the moments when it feels like life and our nonmonogamy is spinning out of our grasp - partly because they've been there before. The Anxious Person's Guide to Non-Monogamy is an expansion of this ethos in book form. The author is inclusive, straightforward, and repetitive when necessary to drive home a point. While the title calls out anxiety/mental health as the focus of its inclusivity or difference from previous books in this field, it contains awareness and consideration of the needs of neurodivergent folks, gender minorities, and folks with various disabilities in a way I have mostly not seen in polyamorous writing.
Like much good polyamory advice, the relationship advice contained in the book can for the most part be applied to healthy relationships of any structure, but the view through a polyam lens is handy for those of us who are tired of filtering out language about "the one" in our relationship texts. There are nonmonogamy-specific activities for determining which styles of relationships are more and less compatible with our wants and needs - which are also frankly compatible with deciding that nonmonogamy isn't the answer for us, if that's the intentional choice an individual comes to, which the book doesn't shame in any way. I really appreciated their straightforward approach to community and advice, and to taking apart common bits of advice that can lead folks to guilt or shame sometimes.
I'd recommend this book to anyone relatively new to non-monogamy, and also to folks who have been non-monogamous for a while and feel disheartened or unseen in current literature or advice culture. 5 stars on good reads, 9/10, for sure.
Relationship Anarchy Book
by Juan-Carlos Perez-Cortes
*Gifted book, opinions my own
Those of you who listen to the podcast have heard me get excited about this book at length as I talked to the author, and to Elisabeth Sheff who wrote the foreward, about it. However, I felt it deserved a brief text review as well, just so we have an easier time finding it on the blog later. This book is a wonderful explanation of the actual underpinnings and theory of Relationship Anarchy. If you've been confused by what RA is; if it sounds selfish or too good to be true; if you hear conflicting messages about it -- take the time to read this book and a lot of your questions will be cleared up and new conversations will be started for you.
The new conversations it started for me with my loved ones and in relationships have been about the ways we are effectively employing these principals when we're behaving in alignment with our values anyway, and the ways we can do so more deliberately. Maybe for you they'll be more about the ways RA isn't for you, or about the ways individualistic US culture had colored your view of RA. Let me know! 4.5 stars, 8/10 for being a little textbooky and dry for the average reader, but right up my nerdy alley.
Why it's Ok to Not be Monogamous
by Justin L. Clardy
This book is a brilliantly concise, direct philosophical argument for the moral permissiveness of non-monogamy. Clardy is clear; he lays out what non-monogamous identity is in ways that are at once inclusive and defined; and he addresses the principal objections to nonmonogamy over 147 pages. I found it engrossing. While I'm a big nerd, I think any non-monogamist seeking a good text to keep on the shelf that states things we know to be true more fully than we typically state them will appreciate having a copy of this book.
Sidebar: ...My dad liked this book, and had an actual conversation about non-monogamy with me following his reading it after I did and left it in the living room. Those of you who follow the blog and podcast may remember him as the "well, in 25 years we might feel bad about not accepting this" parent. So I'm going to give it a 10/10 for my personal life, but probably also an 9/10 for the less philosophical among you. If you have academic folks in your life who need a well-written treatise to convince them of the legitimacy of your choices, though, may I suggest handing them a copy of WIOTNBM? 5 stars, regardless.
Multiamory: Essential Tools for Modern Relationships
by Dedeker Winston, Jase Lindgren, and Emily Sotelo Matlack
*Gifted book, opinions my own
The Multiamory book is great for people who are less obsessive than I am, and don't have a notebook with relationship tools from podcasts written down in it, and good for those of us who do, in that it gives back the color that our scribbled notes take out. (The fact that the foreward opens by saying that no one has such a notebook did call me out just a little.)
If you process things better in written format - this book is for you. If you ever wanted to cut up the podcast to get rid of the parts around your favorite tools - this book is for you. It's a concise collection of their best tools created over the last several years, with a chapter at the end made up of tools that other people created that they frequently reference. If you process better in an audio format anyway - the book may not do anything for you that the podcast doesn't, frankly. It's not new material, although it's well-collected and well-structured. 4 stars, 7/10. Good writing, good tools, but nothing new.
That's been my non-research polyamory reading as of late. Maybe more in a month or so? Maybe not - most of my reading is research and highlighter-heavy right now.