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  • Tara Sonin 5:00 pm on 2018/03/09 Permalink
    Tags: , anita hill, , , , , children of blood and bone, , diary of anne frank, dread nation, erika l. sanchez, , , , , i am not your perfect mexican daughter, inspiring stories, , jessica spotswood, justina ireland, kate moore, , , , love hate and other filters, march forward girl, margot lee shetterly, meet cute, melba patillo beals, my beloved world, , , nicola yoon, , option b, piecing me together, , , renee watson, , roxane gay, ruth bader ginsburg, samira ahmed, she persisted, sheryl sandberg, , sonia sotomayor, speaking truth to power, , , the radical element, the scarlett letter, tomi adeyemi,   

    25 Must-Reads for Women’s History Month 

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    It’s Women’s History Month, so to celebrate the women who have shaped our history, written characters we loved, lived lives we admired and learned from…here are twenty five books you should read this month!

    Bad Feminist, by Roxane Gay
    An essential collection of essays perfect for women’s history month reading about feminism in the modern world, all from the perspective of writer and activist Roxane Gay. The intersections of race, gender, body politics, and much more collide in a poignant, funny, and striking collection.

    Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson
    Told through poetry, the story of an African American girl’s journey through adolescence stings with the remains of Jim Crow and follows her through the Civil Rights Movement. But it’s also the story of a writer coming into her own, learning the power of words, and overcoming a childhood struggle with reading.

    March Forward, Girl, by Melba Patillo Beals
    Another memoir about a courageous, young black girl living in a racist, segregated society, this one will inspire you to action in your own life. You may know of Melba Patillo Beals as one of the legendary Little Rock Nine, but her story begins before that…and leads her to a lifetime of resilience.

    I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, by Erika L. Sanchez
    Olga was perfect. She did everything her parents wanted. But then she died, and Julia has no chance of being the perfect Mexican daughter her sister was. That is, until she learns her sister may not have been so perfect after all. A story of family, Mexican culture, the American Dream, and much more.

    Hard Choices, by Hillary Clinton
    Not the memoir you expected, but an important one: one of history’s most influential women and former Secretary of State details her life experience in politics and during her time in the Obama administration.

    She Persisted, by Chelsea Clinton
    Like mother, like daughter! Chelsea’s picture book about women throughout history who have persisted during difficult times is inspiring and informative. Learn the stories of women such as Ruby Bridges, who triumphed during the Civil Rights Movement; Helen Keller, who owned her identity as a disabled woman and refused to let others define her abilities; Oprah Winfrey, media mogul and the first black female billionaire, and more!

    Love Hate and Other Filters, by Samira Ahmed
    Another story about young women loving their families and yet, defying the cultures they come from. Maya wants to go to film school, live in New York, and be with a boy who isn’t Muslim. But her parents want the opposite. Can she reconcile the life they want for her with the life she wants for herself?

    My Beloved World, by Sonia Sotomayor
    Yes, you need to read the book by the first Latina Supreme Court Justice! Sonia grew up in the projects in the Bronx and wound up on the most senior court in the land. How did she get there? By overcoming adversity, relying on family, and learning to love herself.

    My Own Words, by Ruth Bader Ginsburg
    If there is a more incredible woman to learn from…well, we can’t finish that sentence, because there isn’t. RBG has seen it all, and in this collection of essays on everything from her early career, being a woman, the law, and much more, she shares her wisdom with us.

    Hidden Figures, by Margot Lee Shetterly
    The book that became a box office smash is a must-read. The story of the NASA mathematicians—and African-American women—who changed the face of the race to space was lost to time and whitewashed history. But now you can read about the brilliance and ambition of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, Christine Darden, and Gloria Champine.

    Radium Girls by, Kate Moore
    A new product hit the market that people all across the country used for beauty and medicinal purposes. We now know this dangerous product for what it really is: radium, and while people were using it to make themselves more beautiful and healthier, the truth was glistening beneath the surface. When the girls working in the radium factories got sick, it exposed an industry’s dark underbelly of corruption, abuse, and more.

    The Radical Element, by Jessica Spotswood (and others)
    The subtitle of this anthology tells you everything you need to know: daredevils, debutants, and other dauntless girls throughout history finally have their stories told. From some of the best YA authors come twelve short stories about everything from girls secretly learning Hebrew in the US South, to living as a second-generation immigrant, and much more.

    Meet Cute, by Nicola Yoon, Nina Lacour, and other authors.
    Another anthology written by women! Why this for Women’s History Month, you ask? Because the stories touch all intersections of love: interracial relationships, trans love, bisexual love, and so much more.

    Diary of Anne Frank, by Anne Frank
    The haunting story of a girl’s innocence touched by the violence and hatred of the Third Reich has a message that still persists to this day: love one another, before it is too late.

    Shrill, by Lindy West
    For centuries, society has demanded women be small, warm, sexually open (but not too open), good mothers, good wives, smart but not too smart….the list goes on and on, but the one thing women are not supposed to be, is shrill. This memoir is about all the things women are, and more importantly, what we could be if we were set free.

    The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas
    Starr is a girl living two lives: the one with her black family, in a neighborhood struggling with systemic racism, poverty, gang violence and police brutality…and as a student at a private school with white friends and a white boyfriend who are often insensitive when it comes to matters of race. But when her childhood best friend is maliciously gunned down by police, Starr bridges her two worlds with a message that all need to hear: black lives matter.

    We Should All Be Feminists, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
    Based on an essay by the same name, this book tackles the issue of feminism head on. Exploring everything from race and gender to sex and power dynamics, this incredible book is perfect for those just starting to break down the definition of feminism and how it applies to their lives.

    Option B, by Sheryl Sandberg
    When her husband died, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg was faced with a choice: lose herself to her grief, or turn to option B and try to find a way forward. She chose the second option, but she did not do so alone. This book examines grief, and the multitude of ways human beings process it, and how to find happiness again “when option A is not available.”

    The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot
    Don’t miss the unforgettable story of Henrietta Lacks, a woman whose cells were taken from her during cancer treatment…and without her knowledge, consent, or compensation, provided essential information to cancer research. Those cells are still alive today, and in them, her legacy lives on.

    Speaking Truth to Power, by Anita Hill
    The #MeToo movement has had many starts and stops, and one of them was no doubt spurred by the testimony of Anita Hill, who alleged that her former boss—and Supreme Court Justice nominee—Clarence Thomas, had sexually harassed her. The message in this book rings loud and clear: to be a woman in a man’s world, you must get comfortable standing up for yourself and what you believe to be true.

    Piecing Me Together, by Renee Watson
    To live the life she wants, Jade has to get out of her bad neighborhood…and its not enough that she already goes to a private school far away from home. But she’s not sure the way out is through the opportunities given to black girls from “at-risk” backgrounds, either. A moving portrait of living in systemic racism, about loving who you are, and wanting everything out of life.

    Children of Blood and Bone, by Tomi Adeyemi
    A fantasy inspired by the lore and culture of West Africa, this YA novel is one of the buzziest books of the year. Zéli’s mother was murdered, as were so many other maji, by a king who feared the magic they possessed. But now she has a chance to restore her kingdom to glory…if she can align herself with a princess, and outsmart a prince.

    Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott
    This story of a family of women bonded while the patriarch of the family is off at war has lasted generations for its timeless message of love, sisterhood, and fighting for what you want in life.

    The Scarlett Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne
    The book that explored the stigma of the fallen women has inspired many stories since. Hester has been branded with a Scarlet A to wear on her clothing a symbol of her sin: having a child out of wedlock, and refusing to name the father.

    Dread Nation, by Justina Ireland
    Jane McKeene was born during the Civil War…but when zombies start rising from the dead, the war becomes something else entirely. Indigenous and black kids are forced to learn how to eradicate the monsters. This one publishes in April, but you should pre-order it for Women’s History Month today.

    What books are you reading in honor of Women’s History Month?

    The post 25 Must-Reads for Women’s History Month appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Monique Alice 6:00 pm on 2015/12/01 Permalink
    Tags: , , , roxane gay, ,   

    Feminist Book Club: Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist 

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    Welcome to Feminist Book Club! FBC is a monthly column in which we explore written works through a feminist lens. Each post features one book and announces the pick for the following month’s post. We will cover everything from essay collections to novels, from memoirs to plays. This column is meant to be inclusive of all gender identities and will feature works from many different perspectives. FBC also aims to present an intersectional view of feminism, meaning that race, ability status, sexual orientation, and many other factors will be considered alongside gender issues. We hope you’ll read along and join in on the discussion in the comments!

    Selection #1: Bad Feminist, by Roxane Gay

    When novelist and scholar Roxane Gay released Bad Feminist in 2014, no one knew quite what to expect. Her previously published works, Ayiti and An Untamed State, were well received, and her work is a regular feature on internet culture hubs like McSweeney’s and Tin House. The title of this new book, though, seemed to herald something different. Something brazen and unapologetic, yet reverent and hyper-conscious of its cultural responsibility. That’s exactly what this book is: a contradiction in terms that is serious as a heart attack, yet hilarious as all get out. Without pomp or bravado, Gay manages to lay out what could, without exaggeration, be the most important feminist manifesto of the decade. She does this, in part, by immediately setting the reader at ease—as if to say, don’t worry, I’m a bad feminist, too.

    Gay’s point is that it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to be a “perfect feminist” (whatever that means) in our current social climate. Although the push for equality continues to gain momentum, we remain immersed in a culture that tells us we have more value if we’re white, hetero, and male, preferably with a body mass index under 25. On the first page of Bad Feminist, Gay talks about how she sometimes catches herself singing along to songs with lyrics that degrade women. This is a microcosm of the effects of a toxic culture—the ubiquitous toxin gets into your bloodstream and before you know it, you’re showing symptoms. So, with all this doom and gloom, what’s the cure? Well, of course, there’s no simple solution, and Gay does not purport to provide one. What she does seem to prescribe is more critical thinking, less acceptance of our pre-defined social value, and more looking inward to ask ourselves how we participate in harmful cultural systems.

    Perhaps unsurprisingly, the book is stellar in its treatment of toxic masculinity. Essays such as “How We All Lose,” “The Careless Language of Sexual Violence,” and “The Trouble With Prince Charming, or He Who Trespassed Against Us” provide keen-edged commentary on the ways in which our culture teaches men to disrespect women’s boundaries, and teaches women to accept that. Gay is unsparing in her critique of this cultural default setting, and equally honest about the ways in which toxic masculinity is as dangerous for men and boys as it is for women and girls. No less striking is Gay’s unflinching exploration of the Black experience in America today in “The Racism We All Carry,” “Surviving Django,” and “The Morality of Tyler Perry.” The pinnacle of this is perhaps the heartrending “The Last Day of a Young Black Man,” in which Gay delves full-throttle into the 2009 police shooting death of 22-year-old Oscar Grant and the subsequent movie about the tragedy, Fruitvale Station.

    Bad Feminist shines a bright light on many aspects of our present national experience, but some of the book’s most poignant essays are those told in the context of Gay’s personal reality. These chapters are often the funniest, too. (I guarantee this book will open your eyes to the merits of both competitive Scrabble and Sweet Valley High.) But on the deeper end, Gay shines in her willingness to be vulnerable while illustrating, say, the complex relationship between the lack of safety for women’s bodies and women’s relationships with food. Gay is beyond skilled in her writing prowess, and it’s clear she could have chosen to make her point without exposing what are clearly her most closely guarded wounds. But her compelling, brutally honest narrative gives the book a pulse and a voice. The reader does not simply grasp Gay’s ideas in a cognitive and abstract way but instead experiences them, viscerally. The result is often a galvanizing flood of empathy and solidarity that sparks a new fire in the belly—a hunger for change.

    Next month’s selection: The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood

  • Ester Bloom 3:30 pm on 2014/08/13 Permalink
    Tags: , , , judith butler, Pop Culture, roxane gay, , , sweet valley high, , ,   

    On Reading Bad Feminist at the Spa 

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    Bad FeministI took Roxane Gay’s collection of essays, Bad Feministto a nail salon and read it while getting a pedicure. Though she confesses in an epilogue that her favorite color is pink, I went with a sparkly, jewel-red shade called “Scarlett O’Hara,” because O’Hara is a character made for Gay: high-femme, ambitious, no-nonsense, and yet gloriously messed up about men, women, and love, like a contestant on “The Bachelor.”

    While my feet soaked and the massage chair pounded futilely like a toddler at my back, I lost myself in Gay’s wide-ranging examinations of race and pop culture in America, intersectionality and academia, rape and fat camp, Haiti and Nebraska, Trayvon Martin and Melissa Leo. When I took a break to play Words with Friends on my phone, I felt confident that Gay would approve. (Full disclosure: She almost certainly does not remember who I am, but we have faced off at online Scrabble and she once edited an essay of mine.)

    Gay—a Haitian-American novelist, short-story writer, professor, cultural critic, competitive game player, Twitter obsessive, devoted viewer of reality TV, and self-described Bad Feminist from flyover country—is one of the country’s foremost public intellectuals. Like an ideal teacher, she is intellectually formidable and yet still feels approachable, as though we could knock on her door during Office Hours and find her rereading, and laughing at, Twilight. Though she is conversant in Judith Butler, she remains, in her own writing, refreshingly jargon-free.

    She combines the most interesting aspects of so-called third wave feminism, like sex positivity and a promotion of LGBTQ issues, with the most important, enduring features from the second wave, like politics and reproductive rights. To that mix, she adds her own unashamed embrace of contemporary entertainment, which she revels in even as she points out its flaws. In Bad Feminist, she expresses a mix of admiration and impatience for everything from BET and Django Unchained to Fifty Shades of Grey and Girls, as well as Tyler Perry as a phenomenon.

    Although a sharp critic, Gay is also a fan, one that fully understands the near-religious joy that escapist fiction like Sweet Valley High can bring to younger readers and Fifty Shades of Grey can bring to older ones. She doesn’t mask her enthusiasms out of a need to be thought cool. In charming chapters like “How to Be Friends With Another Woman” and “To Scratch, Claw, or Grope Clumsily or Frantically,” she channels Mindy Kaling. In devastating ones, like “What We Hunger For, she uses the entry point of Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games to get at a harrowing story from her own life and a psychological explanation of the power of literature:

    Life introduces young people to situations they are in no way prepared for, even good girls, lucky girls who want for nothing. Sometimes, when you least expect it, you become the girl in the woods. You lose your name because another one is forced on you. You think you are alone until you find books about girls like you. … [stories] have allowed me to remember. They have allowed me to forget. They have allowed me to imagine different endings and better possible worlds.

    If Roxane Gay didn’t exist, the 21st-century would have to invent her.

    In some ways, the calendar year 2014, during which Gay has published two astonishing books—this collection and a novel, An Untamed State—did invent her, or at least it has pushed her into the mainstream the same way 2012 did for Cheryl Strayed, whose collection, Tiny Beautiful Thingsand memoir, Wildcolonized bookstores within months of each other. The whole Internet, which can sometimes seem like an outrage-and-resentment generating machine, took a break from snark to cheer for Strayed, who labored with only minor recognition for decades before finally breaking through. In the same way, Gay, who writes in her epilogue, “I realize that I’m undestroying myself after years of allowing myself to stay damaged,” has earned her time in the sun, and the serious consideration of every feminist, male, female, “bad” or otherwise.

    Are you planning to read Bad Feminist?

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