Can Books Change Your Mind?

May 5, 2020

WORD staffer Jacqueline Campbell got more than she bargained for when she raided the office bookshelves for lockdown reading material. Read on…


I never thought lockdown would turn me into a teetotaller, especially when quarantined 24/7 with my husband and children, but that’s the power of a good book.

I raided the office bookcase before I left for an indeterminate period of working from home, and borrowed Quit Like a Woman by Holly Whitaker. The subtitle piqued my interest, ‘How the patriarchy drove me to drink and how I got over it’. I’ve never been a big drinker but lately I had been noticing a pattern of interrupted sleep, more havoc on my blood sugars (I’ve had type 1 diabetes for 26 years) and generally feeling like a bit of a lightweight.  I just wasn’t enjoying a glass or three like I used to. I didn’t intend to give up alcohol altogether, but I was interested in reading about the culture of drinking from a feminist perspective.

Although I don’t agree with all the author’s points of view, I found her account of her own struggle with sobriety and comparisons between alcohol, tobacco and drug use fascinating. Her examination of the way women in particular have been conditioned, often through clever marketing, to see having a drink as empowering, a sure fire path to feminine bonding, or a coping mechanism when your children are driving you nuts (wine o’clock anyone?) hit a chord with me.  These arguments, along with her valid health related reasoning, have made me reconsider my relationship with alcohol. It will be interesting to see if this sticks in a social environment unrestricted by COVID-19, but I have every intention of ordering my cocktails virgin.

Fashionopolis: The price of fast fashion and the future of clothes by Dana Thomas has also had an impact.  I have recommended this book to a few friends who are interested in the explosion of fast fashion and the affect this has on not only the environment but our psyche. I was aware of the environmental degradation and exploitation of workers as a result of the apparel trade, but this book was a real eye opener. I’ve been an avid second hand clothes shopper for a while now (check out the Designer Wardrobe app for some high quality bargains) but until now I’m ashamed to say I haven’t given too much thought as to why I can buy new clothes so cheaply. I feel a lot more educated now and will be checking labels before I buy and I’m going to try to buy more locally sourced and organic materials, when my budget allows.

I’ve also committed to not talking about being a mindful shopper and non-drinker except when I’m asked.

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