To this day, I do not know what the man’s head looks like beneath his wealthy collection of Kangols, but LL Cool J was my very first, celebrity, teenage crush. The rapper–who serenaded me, and me alone, to the 1987 crooner I Need Love–impressed me further a decade later, when he shouted out a bootstrap apparel company from Queens on an ad campaign paid for by Gap.
This clothing company was FUBU, or “For Us, By Us”. It became a sartorial sensation and a rallying cry for hip hop heads who wanted to see themselves front, center, and behind the brands that reflected their casual, yet drippy, culture.
I employ the FUBU philosophy in almost all I do, but especially with the books I choose. I get into stories I know are written by or about multipotentialites. This may come across as a tad identity struck, but I do want to see myself on the page.
While browsing selections from your local bookstore, if you discover that you too are a wee bit FUBU, I got you!
This winter reading list was curated specifically with multipotentialites in mind to keep your curiosity cozy throughout these long, chilly months.
Lopsided: How Having Breast Cancer Can Be Really Distracting || Meredith Norton
“Her disarming frankness renders the book less a cancer survival guide and more a lovable unfiltered e-mail from a hilarious friend.” —People Magazine
My more serious friends find it unsettling that I search for humor in dark places. For me, quick-wit is fire, or at the very least, an artificial light source. Either way, it illuminates. So, like a dusty, lumen-seeking moth, I’m drawn to the words of Meredith Norton. Norton takes on breast cancer with charming irreverence. She’s a born satirist whose life before The Big C included work as a rug repairer, game show worker, middle school teacher, and Pygmy goat farmer. Her Puttylicious memoir is what I grab whenever I need a good, cleansing, laugh at life’s absurdities.
The Book of Help: A Memoir In Remedies || Megan Griswold
“In a world full of spiritual seekers, Megan Griswold is an undisputed All-Star” —Elizabeth Gilbert
Megan Griswold has studied practically every self-help modality known to west coast spiritualists, beginning sometime shortly after taking her first steps. From Margaret Laird’s lectures on Christian Science to wilderness training and plant spirit medicine, a dash of doula certification, years of acupuncture studies, and the requisite yoga training. By age seven, all she wanted for Christmas was a tiny mantra. By age thirty, she found that even the most compassionate teachings couldn’t steady the shock of one, unexpected phone call. And I won’t spoil it for you!
Bright Lines || Tanaïs (née Tanwi Nadini Islam)
“A Brooklyn-by-way-of-Bangladesh Royal Tenenbaums.” —The Denver Post
Where else would a bodega, Holy-roller bookstore, Guyanese incense stoop, and Bangladeshi apothecary cross paths, except in Brooklyn? Tanaïs, an intersectional activist, novelist, and perfumer takes their readers to an eclectic place of many gods and many more brownstones. The author studied fragrances professionally while crafting the characters of Anwar, Hashi, Ella, and Charu from their debut novel Bright Lines. In this family tale, sex, lies, scents, and memories of a mother country, waft over one of New York City’s balmy boroughs.
Reads recommended by book lovers from the Puttyverse:
The Surrender Experiment || Michael A. Singer
“Only the rarest of books has the power to clearly explain the difference between a human being and a human doing.” —Dean Radin
Puttyverse member Selva believes this book is a must-read for anyone “in search of their next step in life.” Multipotentialite lingo like “scanner” or “polymath” aren’t mentioned in Singer’s memoir, but the spirit of a renaissance approach to life is evident across its pages. Embarking on a human experiment to permit life itself to dictate his journey, the author retreats to a Floridian forest and builds himself a house—which leads to a business of building houses. Love at first sight of a personal computer (way back when the concept was novel) steers him toward programming and on to developing software that altered the medical records industry. The FBI even makes a cameo and raids the solace-seeking author’s premises on unproven accusations.
The Last Man Who Knew Everything: Thomas Young, the Anonymous Polymath Who Proved Newton Wrong, Explained How We See, Cured the Sick and Deciphered the Rosetta Stone || Andrew Robinson
“Invited to contribute to a new edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, Young offered the following subjects: Alphabet, Annuities, Attraction, Capillary Action, Cohesion, Colour, Dew, Egypt, Eye, Focus, Friction, Halo, Hieroglyphic, Motion, Resistance, Ship, Sound, Strength, Tides, Waves, and anything of medical nature.” —Amazon
Michael, over in the Puttyverse, had a lot of fun reading this book—which says a lot since Michael has hopped into an active volcano, excavated a 17th-century ship, and driven across the United States on his motorcycle . If you believe, as I had believed, that multipods were celebrated in eras past, Thomas Young’s life proves otherwise. His polymathy disturbed the academy. It seemed he knew too damn much. Before the age of thirty, Young delivered a lecture at the Royal Institution, on pretty much everything understood (at the time) about modern science. His contemporaries fought hard to discredit some of his early theoretical efforts.
Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life || Bill Burnett & Dave Evans
“[W]alks readers through the process of building a satisfying, meaningful life by approaching the challenge the way a designer would, Experimentation. Wayfinding. Prototyping. Constant iteration.” —Daniel Pink
I adore reads that offer companion workbooks and Roann, from the Puttyverse, recommends Designing Your Life. I’m personally taking her suggestion and plan to pore over this book along with my daughter, who is currently seeking new direction in her young, adult life. Roan shares that in one of the book’s chapters, the authors proclaim we have “many lives in us.” I love this bit of affirmation for multipotentialites everywhere.
How to Be Everything: A Guide for Those Who (Still) Don’t Know What They Want to Be When They Grow Up || Emilie Wapnick
“If you’ve struggled finding your place in a world that rewards conformity, you know that choosing a single profession isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. You’re no longer alone.” —Chris Guillebeau
Duh, of course! Puttylike founder Emilie Wapnick crafted a parachute for multipotentialites like us. We can safely leap into our heart’s innermost curiosities and land without fear — ok, those mid-air butterflies in our bellies are a healthy sign. Nerves are natural! Emilie’s book is a helpful guide that breaks down multipotentiality into its various models so you can understand you a little better. Emilie also addresses the stumbling blocks that could trip you up on your way to becoming the best everything you wanna be. Most importantly, she demonstrates why there is absolutely nothing wrong with a mind hell-bent on exploring life’s many paths.
Do you have titles written for or by multipotentialites that you’d recommend to other Puttylike readers? Are there books that have brought clarity to your life’s multifaceted journey? Share your favorite reads in the comment section below!