Book Review

People Change by Vivek Shraya

Genre | Nonfiction
Page #s | 112
Publishing Date | January 2022

Vivek Shraya knows this to be true: people change. We change our haircuts and our outfits and our minds. We change names, titles, labels. We attempt to blend in or to stand out. We outgrow relationships, we abandon dreams for new ones, we start fresh. We seize control of our stories. We make resolutions.

In fact, nobody knows this better than Vivek, who’s made a career of embracing many roles: artist, performer, musician, writer, model, teacher. In People Change, she reflects on the origins of this impulse, tracing it to childhood influences from Hinduism to Madonna. What emerges is a meditation on change itself: why we fear it, why we’re drawn to it, what motivates us to change, and what traps us in place.

At a time when we’re especially contemplating who we want to be, this slim and stylish handbook is an essential companion–a guide to celebrating our many selves and the inspiration to discover who we’ll become next.

Goodreads

You know when you read a book that summarizes your disparate thoughts and feelings into a new life philosophy? People Change was that for me, and I think it’s incredibly useful in this age where we are realizing that identity, personality, and sexual orientation are more fluid than previously recognized.

“I don’t believe in a single, stable, true self,” Shraya says, and in the distance, you can hear me cheering. This little novella is an emphatic assertion that it is okay to change – creatively, queerly, personally. As someone who has gone through profound shifts in identity in the last five years, I resonated with this so deeply. I see this very often in queer communities specifically; someone comes out, then retroactively finds evidence for being queer all along. This might be true, but often it feels like shoehorning new discoveries where they don’t belong. What if we just allowed ourselves to be capable of growth and change?

Shraya allows for the confusion that comes with change, but makes a compelling case for embracing it all the same. In fact, she reframes “confusion” and “curiosity” and encourages readers to pursue a life open to change rather than living so “authentically” that we are stuck with outdated labels. Instead of trying to be a single cohesive self, Shraya suggests that we “be yourselves” – across time, across communities, and across experiences. We are complex creatures, and that’s not only okay. It is good.

Who Do I Recommend This Book To?

Give People Change to the thoughtful reader who likes for their books to challenge their thinking and promote deep compassion for self.

Check out our Queer Lil Library for more book recommendations and reviews!

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