'Three That Made Me' w/ Emily Drake

In this blog series, we ask interesting people for the interesting books that shaped them, inspired them, and challenged them.

In Three That Made Me they recommend 3 books that are a little off the beaten path that forged them into the people they are today. Check out previous posts with Smashing Pumpkins rockstar Jeff Schroeder , Chicago author Deborah Shapiro, and Read N'Run founder Allison Yates.  

Our fourth guest is Emily Drake.

What makes Emily interesting?  

Emily Drake is the owner and CEO of The Collective Academy, which uses clinical and business expertise to design and deliver programs that transform leaders and optimize organizations.

Emily is also the creator and host of the "Who's Missing?" podcast where she dives deep into juicy topics with a range of folks who tend to be missing from mainstream discourse.

Emily gravitates towards, what she calls, “fantasy lite/light,” books with fantastical elements that bring a little levity. She also loves to read in community.

And here are her books!

Nothing To See Here by Kevin Wilson

I read Nothing to See Here when I was on leave from work, going through treatment for depression. I had all this internal crisis and this book… it's the most recent time I've written to an author to tell them, “you helped me so much.”

My book club gave me a reason to read it. I'm turning the pages and it’s like nothing I've ever read before. It was a fantastical departure from reality, and it made me laugh a lot, when I was catatonic on the couch at the time. I was a 43 year old woman broken open and had to receive a lot of help.

In the story, two twins self combust when they get irritated or angry or furious. I thought about my own emotional state, how I could have helped myself along this journey if I had that ability to really express myself. There I was, in this severe depression, but the expression was the antithesis of being lit on fire: I couldn’t move.

My mom cared for me while I was struggling, but I also pulled myself up a little through reading this book. I thought it was just remarkable that the author’s own journey with depression and being a father informed it. He never wrote me back. And that's okay, but it felt so good to be like, “Dude, this is incredible.”

—> Buy it here to support Italic Type and local bookstores.

—>  Add it to your Queue

Difficult Women by Roxanne Gay

I read this more recently, but I believe it has already shaped who I am. It illuminates all the horrible things humans can do to each other and ourselves. The situations are beyond what I could have ever imagined. There is abuse, molestation, betrayal. It's a really hard book to read, and it's certainly not for everybody, but I appreciate how much she goes into extreme detail to prove the point she's trying to make, to show how complex we are and how we can actively work against our own interests.

But you won't suffer through trauma after trauma without reason, the author wraps it up at the end with these huge takeaways about relationships and how you live the rest of your life after such horrible experiences. This story helped me realize how much more empathetic we have to be towards one another.

—> Buy it here to support Italic Type and local bookstores.

—>  Add it to your Queue

Once, Said Darlene by William Sleater, illustrated by Steven Kellogg

It's a children's book. I picked it up when I was four and kept it–and I'm not sentimental about physical things, but I'm very sentimental about this particular book.

Darlene, who’s lonely, is notorious at school for telling tall tales as though they really happened. There are wizards and dragons, and the illustrations are so beautiful. But most of the kids are like, for all intents and purposes, “shut up Darlene, this didn't really happen.” There's a scene of her sitting on a little blanket telling this group of kids a tale and they get angry with her, but there's one kid–and this gets me choked up when thinking about it–there's this one kid that's like, “I believe you.”

I live with a nine-year-old. I'm so affected by the way they play and think. I’m so careful not to squash the fantasy. Just allowing for the space for “once upon a time…” Even if it didn't happen, it doesn't matter. It just doesn't matter.

—> Buy it here  (On Amazon, because that's where it's still available)

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