Strategic Living

Recommended Readings

These books can make positive and highly doable contributions to your safety choices. Many address issues specific to women's self-defense. None, however, are substitutes for skills training and practice.

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Self Defense: The Womanly Art of Self-Care, Intuition and Choice, by Debbie Leung. The BEST book on women's safety and defense. It's out of print, so if you see a copy GRAB IT! Or you can order it directly from the author: contact Debbie Leung at PO Box 1153, Olympia WA 98501, or by email.
Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking when Stakes are High, by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler. If you never experience conflict with anyone, this book isn't for you. Otherwise, Crucial Conversations is a crucial book. Most of you want to learn the physical stuff, which is also crucial. However, even more important aspects of safety training are when to defuse a tense situation, and how to de-escalate a conversation when emotional stakes are high. The authors of this book point out that about half of those incarcerated for violence are not stereotypical career criminals or gangsters but first offenders, average people, who got caught in the "silence or violence" dichotomy until they could no longer keep their emotional energy under control and lashed out. The skills in this book will benefit anyone who wishes they lived in a safer world. Click on the book's picture to read my review on

Ditch That Jerk: Dealing with Men Who Control and Hurt Women, by Pamela Jayne.

This book was recommended by a student. She had left her abusive husband about a year earlier, and since then has been reading everything she could get her hands on about domestic violence. Not only does she strongly recommend this book, she's bought multiple copies and given them to friends who she thinks need to read it.

Really, everybody should read this book. Consider this: over 25% of all women have been, are, or will be involved with an abusive partner sometime in their lives. Even if that person is not you, it was, is, or will be someone you know. I often ask students if they've know anyone who's experienced abuse. Most of the time most students raise their hands. Sometimes only half the class raises their hands. Sometimes everyone raises their hands. Even in classes for teen girls, most of them already have a friend who's experienced dating violence.

Read rest of review here.

Training Women in the Martial Arts: A Special Journey, by Jennifer Lawler and Laura Kamienski. Martial arts and women's self-defense are most often two separate animals, but this book includes a very compelling case that many women begin training in martial arts to learn self-defense. The authors are fearless in their assertions of what makes best practices for teaching women these critical skills (and why those particular skills are critical). Every martial arts instructor who believes they are teaching women's self-defense needs to read this book. Read my complete review here.
Girls Fight Back: The College Girl's Guide to Protecting Herself, by Erin Weed. Really good, for such a quick read. Borrows heavily from Gavin De Becker (The Gift of Fear), but he's a great source. You can also buy this at the Girls Fight Back website. Click here for Strategic Living's complete review.

Domestic Violence for Beginners, by Alisa del Tufo. Great overview on the #1 hazard facing women.
Stopping Rape: Successful Survival Strategies, by Pauline Bart and Patricia O'Brien. Pioneering research on rape and prevention. A classic!
You Don't Have to Take It! A Woman's Guide to Confronting Emotional Abuse at Work, by Gina NiCarthy, Naomi Gottlieb and Sandra Coffman.
Her Wits About Her: Self-Defense Success Stories by Women, edited by Denise Caignon and Gail Groves. An excellent compilation of stories on how we keep ourselves safe. Out of print.
Ditch That Jerk: Dealing with Men Who Control and Hurt Women, by Pamela Jayne.
Why Does he Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men, by Lundy Bancroft. Excellent study of abusers.
The Gift of Fear, by Gavin De Becker. Virtually a must-read. Best chapters are on intuition and fear.
Fist Stick Knife Gun, by Geoffrey Canada. One man's compelling experience on violence in America.
Protecting the Gift, by Gavin De Becker. Great information for parents on assessing real risks facing children today, and what to do about it.
Raising Safe Kids in an Unsafe World, by Jan Wagner. Another solid source, with practical tips, for children's safety.
Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking. by Malcolm Gladwell. Click here for Strategic Living's complete review.
Telling Lies: Clues to Deceit in the Marketplace, Politics and Marriage, by Paul Ekman. Dr. Ekman is THE authority on nonverbal communication. Click here for Strategic Living's complete review.
Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts, by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson. Click here for Strategic Living's review.
The Culture of Fear, by Barry Glassner. Good intro on economic interests that wish to fan fears. In some of his case studies, however, he over-extends his analysis. Click here for Strategic Living's complete review.
50 Ways to a Safer World: Everyday Actions You Can Take to Prevent Violence in Neighborhoods, Schools and Communities, by Patricia Giggans and Barrie Levy. Your safety is a societal issue. Answers what you can do beyond the self-defense class.
A Girl's Gotta Do What A Girl's Gotta Do: The Ultimate Guide to Living Safe & Smart, by Kathleen Baty ("The Safety Chick"). Perhaps not the "ultimate," but Baty's experiences and testimony did a lot to get anti-stalking legislation passed.
Aikido in Everyday Life: Giving In to Get Your Way, by Terry Dobson and Victor Miller. Another good book on verbal self defense strategies and skills.
Beauty Bites Beast: Awakening the Warrior Within Women and Girls, by Ellen Snortland. A most articulate statement on "why-to" of women's self-defense.
The Luck Factor: Changing Your Luck, Changing Your LIfe, the Four Essential Principles, by Dr. Richard Wiseman. Click here for Strategic Living's review.

You cannot really learn physical self-defense skills by only reading a book. You need to practice, to try them with a breathing, moving person, and to learn them under qualified instruction. Some of the skills described in the volumes below may be dangerous to practice without supervision. A book is no substitute for a structured class, but can be an excellent supplement for ideas.

Self-Defense: Steps to Success, by Joan Nelson. This "how-to" book is a class workbook by one of the founders of women's self defense. This well-written and comprehensive program gives detailed attention to all facets of your defense. Of special note is the section on verbal de-escalation skills.
The Self-Defense Deck: 50 Powerful Strategies for Staying Safe, by Jennifer Lawler. Well organized safety essentials. However, just as objects in your rear-view mirror may be closer than they appear, some of the techniques described may be more difficult than they appear.
Safe Without Sight: Crime Prevention and Self Defense Strategies for People who are Blind, by Wendy David, Kerry Kollmar and Scott McCall. Few books describing physical self defense skills include those for people who are dealing with aging or disability. This is a gem.
Self-Defense for Women: Techniques to Get You Home Safety, by Elizabeth Pennell.
Street Smarts: A Personal Safety Guide for Women, by Louise Rafkin.
The Feminine Warrior, by Al Marrewa. Despite the poor choice in title, this book has some very good parts.

Others you feel should be on this list? Email me.

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