Doren Damico

No. This is not a post about books on ADHD. I could make that list. I’ve spent over 20 years as an education specialist. Seen a lot of people who fit the criteria. Heard plenty of teachers diagnose without really understanding behavior. Debated on the value of the label, understanding the 6 Types of ADHD, and the use of treatments, from food and ambient music, to medications and exercise.   

I’ve even wailed quite a bit about how IT’S JUST NOT NATURAL TO PUT KIDS IN CHAIRS ALL SCHOOL DAY! But NO, this is not about that.

My ADHD Reading List

This post is about how I read, as a person with characteristics that could be described as ADHD, multiple books at a time. Yes. It’s often unfocused. Yes. I have to really push through certain kinds of reading material with a will force that defies gravity, books I truly want to read, but have difficulty maintaining my attention on. It’s not that I can’t focus. I just have too many interests. I have an insatiable curiosity, and next to asking too many questions, books are one of my favorite ways to satisfy that itch. Yes, I have an eclectic reading list.

And yes, I believe that heaven is a library.

I currently have 32 books in my at home reading piles, and one audio book in the car. On my last visit to the library I lucked out finding an audio version of A Scanner Darkly, by Philip K. Dick, in my quest to read all of his material. And that’s where I discovered his reference to the “Coca Cola Thief.” I commute a lot, so reading books in the car is a powerful way to progress through my ADHD reading list. I’ll arrive home, and sit in the car on idle, waiting to finish a chapter before I go inside…to my computer, my various writing projects, and my piles of other reading materials.

Saturated in Philip K. Dick

In addition to A Scanner Darkly, I’m rereading The Man in the High Castle, and rewatching the TV series, in preparation for writing my next review of a PKD book. I have to reread and rewatch because it’s been over a year since I decided to write about this book. Also, Season 3 is coming out soon, and I want to get this one done. (Check out the trailer!) It took several months to track down and read The Shifting Realities of Philip K. Dick: Selected Literary and Philosophical Writings by Lawrence Sutin. I got it to read the only two chapters PKD ever wrote for a sequel to The Man in the High Castle. But then I got distracted for 3 months putting together my analysis of the movie, “The Post” according to his 1972 speech, “The Android and the Human.” (That I discovered in that collection.) I also just picked up Electric Dreams, which I’ll be writing about once I’ve read it and viewed the TV series. And I’ve got plans to write about Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, and the amazing Blade Runner movies. Basically, my ADHD reading list is always saturated with PKD.

A Distracted Cat Moment

(See that little plastic cube on my purple notebook? That’s the amazing Fidget Cube by antsy labs. This handheld gem for fiddlers with ADHD and all kinds of minds, was crowd sourced for development and production. It’s one of the best fiddlers I’ve ever seen in action, gifted to me by my good friend, Sky Quaternian, a brilliant writer and mathematician–who happens to have autism–and a generous mind that helps me work out physics and mathematics material for my Unraveler series.)

Some Lighter Treasures

Reading PKD can be heavy stuff, especially when it’s so full of misogynist stylings, explorations of consciousness, and the inspiration for amazing cinema! So I like to break up this kind of intense reading with some lighter treasures, selections of children’s books. Yes! Children’s books! I learned early in my teaching career that some of the best learning can be found in children’s literature. It’s creative, fun, and full of quick units for discovery. I’m also writing and illustrating a couple of children’s books of my own, so I have to stay up to date.

On a recent trip to the library I picked up…

Star Finder — a DK Smithsonian book, so that I could get to know the night sky better for a little summer science discovery and to help with my current project, The Unraveler’s Proof.

Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets, — This treasure by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Ekua Holmes, is to prepare for an event at a summer poetry workshop for teenagers, where I’ll be presenting some of my own poetry and leading students in poetry writing.

Breathe and Be: A Book of Mindfulness Poems — by Kate Combs, illustrated by Anna Emilia Laitinen, will be another book I share with the students, to describe how poetry is a pathway for healing.

Bloom: A Story of Fashion Designer Elsa Schiaparelli — by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Julie Morstad, is inspiration for illustrating and design. I hated history as a child, and discovered that I could engage history best through biographies. Children’s biographies are quick reads full of information.

Plume– by Isabelle Simler, a gorgeous book of digital illustrations of birds and their feathers. I’m currently pursuing information about artists and designers to enrich my graphic design studies. Children’s book writers invented the creative nonfiction genre, as far as I’m concerned.

And finally, in my children’s literature pile, I’ve got two books about book making…

Imagine That! How Dr. Seuss Wrote The Cat in the Hat– by Judy Sierra, and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes.

How This Book Was Made– by Mac Barnett, and illustrated by Adam Rex. What can I say? I love making books! I’ve handcrafted several one of a kind little treasures, and I’m on my way to bookmaking as a project career. This creative story describes the writing process to include dealing with agents, publishers, and distributors in the long trail to discovering readers. If you know any little bibliophiles who love to write, this is a great read!

My Speculative Fiction Pile

I’m almost finished with Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower, having read its sequel first, a week ago, Parable of the TalentsMy next book review will be on these two books, and include information about this incredible African American science fiction writer. The Parable books are an intense alternate future, filled with poetry and scarily good predictions about the growing dangers in our own times, although they were written 1993-1998. In addition, I plan on reading Kindred, one of her earliest books, where an African American woman is transported from 1976 Los Angeles to early nineteenth century Maryland. I realized in my last series of book reviews, 3 Important “Feminist” Novels, A Speculative Fiction Triptych, that I’m not reading enough books by women of color. Butler is a highly engaging and quick read, so I’ll have that review coming soon!

I’m very interested in Time Travel, as my own Unraveler series features a time traveling female protagonist. I try to read time travel books and watch time travel movies often, to keep myself immersed in the genre. That’s why I also picked up Andre Norton’s Time Travelers and Crosstime books. I read a lot of Norton in my teens, but not these, so I’m literally looking forward, and heading back at the same time.

The Miscellaneous Pile

Then there is this mix, which includes The Best Time Travel Stories of the 20th Century. I’m working on a couple of short stories, so I’ve been trying to read more short stories. In this miscellaneous pile, that sits by my reading chair for easy reach and versatility of choice, I also have my latest spiritual study, On Becoming an Alchemist: A Guide for the Modern Magician, by Catherine MacCoun. I have to read this book in bits, because she gives such great exercises and insists that the reader do the practice in order to develop a better understanding for the concepts. MacCoun is a true alchemist and an awesome teacher!

I also have two books from my childhood friends…

Radical Bookselling: A Life of Moe Moskowitz– my friend, Doris’ ode to her father, famed cigar-smoking bibliophile and founder of Moe’s Books on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, California.

The Last Black Unicorn– by hilarious Tiffany Haddish, was a Christmas present from my other childhood bestie, Judy.

I found Fleeing From Absence: Four Cross-Disciplinary Essays on Time, its Nature and its Interpretations– by Olga Ast, in a New York Independent bookstore, when I didn’t want to carry the Haddish book on my trip.

And I picked up Executive Producer Chris Carter: Poems Slash Science Fiction, by Peter Milne Greiner, at the New Year Poetry Project Marathon in NYC. This book is part of the amazing collection put out by the operating system, This small press, founded by managing editor, Lynne DeSilva Johnson, is “an ongoing experiment in creative resilient practice,” one of the most amazing small presses I’ve ever encountered.

Anytime I want to procrastinate on something I should be doing, I sit in my big black chair, welcome a cat in my lap, and reach over to this pile. Okay, that’s not exactly the truth. My cats are not lap cats. Zorro is a wild colony save who will still scratch and bite for no reason at all, after 7 years of love and security. Misty Polkadot is a skittish old lady, who’ll usually sit by my head and every once in awhile, leave a pile of hair in my lap. And, Charlie Starburst, my latest rescue, is a potential cuddler, but also an overactive teen who’d trip you on your way to the bathroom like it’s his job.

Ad Infinitum

No, I’m not going to list all 33 of the books I’m reading. But here’s a couple more pictures of selections in my ADHD reading list:

 

On my dresser…

On the top of this pile is a new book by a friend of mine, reviewed here by Los Angeles Review of Books. A. G. Lombardo‘s Graffiti Palace,  is a Los Angeles version of The Odyssey, set during the Watts Riots of 1965. The book revels in language so colorful and intense, I have to read it in short bits. It’s a kaleidoscope, and he’s having a lot of success traveling the world promoting, so… I take a look inside every once in a while, absorb some of his poetic prose, and put it down to breathe, ADHD style.

At my bedside…

This collection of short stories, Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, by one of my favorite authors, Haruki Murakami, is a treat before bedtime.

 

In a corner…

A pile of poetry and short stories from contests I entered and didn’t win… Whenever I’m stuck on my own writing, I read these and remind myself that I can only become a better writer! The top book is Chanel Brenner’s Vanilla Milk, a meditation on the death of her young son, Riley. It inspired my own nostalgic chapbook collection, Anonymous Roller Coaster Graffiti, on living with loss.

Online Newsletters and Blogs

Lenny Letter is probably my favorite online newsletter. It’s inspiring and powerful content by women. “Feminism, style, health, politics, friendship, and everything else — unfiltered.”

The Bloggess by Furiously Happy author, Jenny Lawson is my go-to for a reality check and a laugh, with categories like: Random Crap, Shit You May or May Not Want to See, Depression Lies, and More Than Meets The Eye.

Skinny Artist   is a celebration of creatives. This website has articles, online courses, and opportunities to contribute. I love their mission: “We are a community of artists, writers, musicians, photographers, and other creative souls committed to creating, inspiring, and sharing our art!”

PKD Otaku is an online community for followers of Philip K. Dick. I hope to be published in one of their journals someday.

Eating Books

Books and their authors are the pathways to my growth as a writer. They are inspiration, escape, template, success, and fear of failure, big or scrawny wisdom gifts wrapped in book cover bows.

I may not finish all these books. I might get bored or redirected down new paths. Some books will go to the bottom of the pile or have to be returned to the library before their due dates. Others, will lead me to new books or writing frenzies. But regardless of the true impossibility that I’ll ever read all the books I want to in this lifetime, I’ll die zigzagging and blurry-eyed trying to read them all the way into the long night.

Whether you believe it or not, in spite of my ADHD reading list, I actually do finish books. I use a few strategies to accomplish this. Regardless of my busy work and school schedule, I try to read at least a chapter, short story, or three poems every morning and every night. I always carry a book with me, and read it at lunch, on breaks, or during unexpected delays on LA freeways. Just kidding!

I’ve been married twice and both of my husbands hated my book habit (probably why I divorced them both!) My first husband literally threw all my books away and forbid me reading. I may have gotten my ADHD reading habits from having to hide books about the house and sneak reads when he wasn’t looking. My second husband said it was just disrespectful to read during meals. But meals were sometimes the only time I had to read. And anyway, my mouth was full of food, so why have a conversation over dinner!

I raised my son to be a bookworm, just like me. And he’s my favorite dinner or coffee date. After all, what do bookworms eat? Books!

So cheers to wisdom gifts wrapped in book cover bows! Happy eating, oops, I mean, reading!

If you have books to add to my pile, your own, or suggestions to add to my ADHD reading list, please contact me. And don’t forget to subscribe to my blog!

 

 

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Doren Damico

Doren is a salsa dancing philosopher poet, slinky sculptor, and fan of science fiction.