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Read & Riot: A Pussy Riot Guide to Activism

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  589 ratings  ·  94 reviews
From artist, activist, and Pussy Riot founder Nadya Tolokonnikova, a guerilla guide to radical protest and joyful political resistance.

The face of modern protest is wearing a brightly colored ski mask.

Nadya Tolokonnikova, founding member of the Russian activist group Pussy Riot, is a creative activist, professional protestor, brazen feminist, shocking visual artist, and fo
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published October 9th 2018 by HarperOne
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Average rating 4.18  · 
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Q. Fuck you, dear government.

Q. You cannot buy the revolution, you can only be the revolution.

Tolokonnikova provides a good insiders' view to protest from the guerrilla artist perspective. There's pep talks, real speak, and no sugar coating--there are consequences to confronting power and the state. As an anarchist, I think she has more faith and love for humanity than I do.

Q. The future has never promised to be bright, or progressive, or whatever. Things may get worse.

Q. The DIY ethos is the
Oct 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a great book! Tolokonnikova lays out 10 types of actions one can take to protest against an authority (yes, mainly the government) and gives personal examples of each. Some actions & the thinking behind them are more radical than others - radical as in revolutionary radical, but that may be what we need in the US.
Jul 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Everyone needs to read this for the #Resistance.
Amy DePoy
Jul 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Hilarious and thoughtful, Tolokonnikova is obviously a revolutionary in this guide to activism. Can't wait for more people to learn about this incredible woman. ...more
Jeremy Amar
Dec 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Clean, dis-orienting oxygen shot straight into my lungs. Dizzy, but smiling.
Oct 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Nadya's personal story is enough to get you to read this, and she has a pugilistic narrative style befitting her role in Pussy Riot. There's also a great deal of pathos and honesty and detail in this you won't find anywhere else. On top of all that, this is a manifesto and a guidebook that will be useful for younger resisters moving forward, especially since, like a good lefty, she cites and quotes and provides a reading list. Enjoyable and motivating and not a little bit sad. But there's tools ...more
Received this book through a Goodreads Giveaway-----------------------------------------

Part punk-inspired guide to political resistance, part memoir, part inspirational asides, this book had a lot going on. I found the 'rules', or suggestions for guerrilla protest a little too abstract. 'Be A Pirate' sounds pretty vague, and while I can see how Tolokonnikova is going for broadly inspiring rules, letting the reader build off them, this didn't quite work for me. Overall the structure of the book
Written as a stream of consciousness, Nadya shares her experiences and thoughts on the state of things and how we as individuals can still have our say and try to make a difference in the world.

It's a fast read and easy to digest, with each chapter (aka Rules) broken into three segments: Words, Deeds & Heroes. Words covers various topics like Questioning the Status Quo, the Prison Industrial Complex and What Putin Has to Do with Trump.

Deeds encompasses things we can all do- Dadaism, If the Kids
Nov 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read and Riot: a Pussy Riot guide to activism is a guide on how to keep a society democratic and the responsibilities we have to take as citizens, vowen together with Nadya Tolokonnikovas' personal life experiences, as well as short stories about her heroes, people as vastly different as ancient philosophers, authors from the 19th century, and modern musicians. It's so very good and I highly recommend it! (Except maybe the chapter about not trusting doctors... Which I get, but it can also be a b ...more
Simon Robinson
Jul 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had seen the show trial of these courageous kids on TV years ago. I had even preached about their modern, contextual cover version of The Magnificat one advent, when they had a chop at Putin and the Orthodox hierarchy at Christ the Saviour Cathedral. So when i saw a copy of Read and Riot at Readings, i had to know what this riot grrrl had to say! Earthy. Salty. Blunt. Honest. This is part autobiography, part manifesto, part philosophy/theology, part how-to, all-awesome. Behind the pink balacla ...more
Feb 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
"Feminism is a liberating tool that can be used by male, female, transgender, transsexual, queer, agender, anybody. Feminism allows me to say: I behave how I like and how I feel, I deconstruct gender roles and play with them, I mix them up voluntarily. Gender roles are my palette, not my chains."

"One of the biggest challenges in resisting abusive power is that you constantly have to look for more inspiration and motivation. They beat you, and you don't just bear it, but you find in yourself enou
Katrina Christiansen
I think the challenge with this review is that should not be written in comparison to norms. However, we don't exist in a world without norms. I think as a piece of art work the book is intriguing and memorable. As a book with autobiographical bits and opinions and history and sociology and music and it is also interesting and at times inspiring though the messages are sometimes buried in clunky commentary. The writing style is punk-trains of thought clash with another set or random and or bolde ...more
Joey Lee
Nadya’s story and political ideas are fascinating. I had some issues with the book however - first, it made bold, general statements that would have been much better delivered together with factual basis; second, its focus on US and Russian political figures was a bit odd, felt like it would have been better to include other examples which were begging to be mentioned; and third, some of the statements were only workable when put in a certain context. I felt like the book could have benefited fr ...more
Natalie Davis
Jun 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very motivational. I would consider it a “must-read”, especially in these times
Mel Luna
Oct 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: female-authors
Engaging and vulnerable, inspiring and empowering. Definitely glad I picked it up.
Raghad AlKanhal
May 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Revolution is a state of being,
I enjoyed reading this book, NADYA IS AN ACTIVIST, an icon to activism
Impressed with her resilience and determination
loved her revolutionary spirit, I can relate to this book......
we need this inspiration every now and then to keep ourselves motivated for a better world, where we could live without labeling everything that's different than what we have been told/taught, where we won't live under oppression and fear
where we could experience liberation at its core
Jan 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great for the start of a new year.
Mar 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
I have followed Amy Siskind’s “The Weekly List” blog since she began to warn us that all the chaos and change is not normal, should be recorded, and remembered. Tolokonnikova reminds us that when things happen every day we stop reacting to them.

If you think Pussy Riot is just a Russian girl band, think again. The band is purposed to use art to dissent and joins a long, long history of both protests by not only Russian artists, but humanity’s enduring quest to present t
Jason Brown (Toastx2)
Read & Riot- enthusiasm in the face of political-WTFness

Nadya Tolokonnikova (Nadya Tolokno) has been in the news for several years as the band femenist punk band Pussy Riot created memorable disruptions. Eventually arrested for Hooliganism while singing Anti-Putin songs, Tolokno was locked up in a long chain of rights crushing prisons. In her book, Tolokno tells a compelling story of how persistance and resistance are unarguably intertwined.

What happens to different things when they are p
Jan 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really appreciated this book and learned more about how awesome Nadya Tolokonnikova is. I also learned a ton about activism in a practical and approachable way. I highly recommend this book.

Here are some quotes/thoughts:

* When nightmares happen every day, people stop reacting to them. Apathy and indifference win.
* I know there is power in an intersectional, inclusive, international union of those who care about people more than money or status.
* We never developed the language to discuss the w
Michael Hutchison
Feb 10, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read the book out of simple curiosity. An artistic activist. I like to hear opinions from others outside my own country. I thought it would be focused on Russia, although she had plenty to say about Russia, it seemed she had just as much to say about America. Either way it all relates to being an activist. It had the feel of a massive rant. It felt as though she was all over the place yet with a method to her style. Her writing style is as if she is telling you the story on the street with all l ...more
James Klagge
Wow! An impressive book, by an impressive person.
The book is a sort of memoir and philosophy of life and manual for action all in one. Though the author grew up in Russia and is not yet in her 30's, apparently she wrote it in English and without a ghost writer (p. 221). It is very well-written, articulate and knowledgeable about life and US culture.
The book articulates an anarchistic, anti-facist, non-violent activist way of being in the world that is very engaging and persuasive. It draws on a
Ludovica Tirone
It gave me some amazing points to think about, however i did find it a bit all over the places: though i loved the topic (russian activism is strong af), i needed a little more structure to appreciate it more. Overall, it was an enjoyable experience (especially the parts about nadya's experience in jail and her feminist views), i recommend it and i will probably re-read bits here and there to give me motivation to make my revolutions. It was pretty easy to read but it wasn't the most beautiful w ...more
It so impressive that this book even exists, considering what Tolokonnikova has gone through, and also considering that she is writing in English. Her perspective is unique and extremely valuable. This doesn’t mean that I agree with everything she says, especially when she talks about the complementary roles of poetry and political action, and when she waxes eloquent on the transcendence of Bernie Sanders. It also doesn’t mean that it’s uniformly well written: some bits sound a bit like captions ...more
May 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“The future has never seemed so full of and rich in wonderful possibilities as when I was in a labor camp and had literally nothing but dreams. Not only prison but also despair, grief, or on the contrary, inexplicable joy and unconditional love—basically any transgressive situation—opens in your magic ability that is normally destroyed by adulthood: time when you can dare to dream and imagine.”-Nadya. “There is power in imperfection. Don’t try to be perfect all the time—it’s actually boring.” -N ...more
Aug 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a wild book to listen to.

While I'm familiar with Pussy Riot and Russian history, this book was a deep dive into the details of what it's like living under the Russian government and what the band went through in the work camp and what it takes to build a girl gang.

This book is amazing and inspiring and terrifying. There are anecdotes about Pussy Riot and how they organized certain statements and protests as well as general statements about feminism and movements and the future of polit
Lori R.
Jun 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Magic, witchcraft, and miracles are crucial in any fight for justice. Major people’s movements, like the universe itself, don’t work according to simple linear logic. Understanding this will allow you to retain enough openness and the naive ability to keep being amazed, keep wandering, and be thankful for everything you’ve experienced. That includes prison terms. The non-linear logic of these social movements requires activists to be attentive, sensitive, grateful, and open-minded creatures. Th ...more
Apr 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Her activism is an inspiration. Going to prison in Russia and continuing to protest because you cannot put your values aside in the face of certain pain is the ultimate act of protest. There are so many quotes in this book that I found inspirational but this one spoke in regards to a way to bring us together. She says, "It would serve us well to remember that a human being is a creature in always in error, never perfect. She strives for wisdom but cannot possess it." ...more
Melissa McGowan
I enjoyed reading about her personal history and following that narrative to understand Putin from the point of view of a Russian citizen. Her writing is funny and sprinkled with interesting philosophical and literary references. I wish there had been more of that and less of an attempt to create a guidebook.
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NADYA TOLOKONNIKOVA is an artist, political activist, and founding member of Pussy Riot. She is the recipient of The Lennon Ono Grant for Peace, and is a co-recipient of The Hannah Arendt Prize for Political Thought. Following her release in 2013, she opened the Mordovia office of Zona Prava, a prisoners' rights non-governmental organization. Later, she started MediaZona, an independent news servi ...more

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“Quando nos faltam forças para agir, é preciso encontrar palavras que nos inspirem. Por isso, lembre-se de um ponto fundamental: nada de deixar sua confiança arrefecer. O poder está nas suas mãos. Juntos, como comunidade ou como movimento, podemos fazer milagres. E faremos.” 1 likes
“What was in fact blown up on the 8th of November 2016 was the social contract, the paradigm that says you can live comfortably without getting your hands dirty with politics. The belief that it only takes your one vote every four years (or no vote at all: you’re above politics) to have your freedoms protected. This belief was torn to pieces. The belief that institutions are here to protect us and take care of us, and we don’t need to bother ourselves with protecting these institutions from being eroded by corruption, lobbyists, monopolies, corporate and government control over our personal data.” 1 likes
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