Top Ten Tuesday: Book-Related Facts About Me

toptentuesday

Image via The Broke and the Bookish

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, focuses on the book bloggers rather than the books themselves. But since talking about myself is not nearly as interesting as letting others do the honors for me, I’ve enlisted my friends to contribute!

Here are ten book-related facts about me, according to those who know me best! (All facts have been quoted via Facebook comments).

1. “You’re a bit of a grammar queen, who tends to correct people’s Facebook posts. Like mine, for example.”

2. “You love Greek mythology.”

3. “If there’s a sexist rich guy in a book, he automatically reminds you of Christian Grey.”

4. “You prefer the fresh smell of binding to the fluorescent glow from some lifeless e-book.”

5. “You hate when books end, and you’re left without any real closure.”

eatpraylovemindy

6. “You’re frenemies with Elizabeth Gilbert.”

7. “Ideal book: Dystopian feminist-centric romance novel based in an alternative universe where dogs and cats have equal rights as humans.”

8. “Ideal male leads to fight for the heroine’s heart and affection are played by none other than Tom Hiddleston and Jared Leto in the movie adaptation in three parts.”

9. “You love fantasy with supernatural types and fireworks at the end.”

10. “I know you may not kick stray puppies when you’re bored, but you sure do have some built-up tension towards Nicholas Sparks.”

All I can say is that my friends have certainly described me in a nutshell! Do any of their facts resonate with you as well?

Advertisements

Literary News: In Case You (Really) Missed It

coffee-flower-reading-magazine

The past 14 hours have been a whirlwind of fun: last night my book club met to drink a few bottles of wine while discussing the horrendous novel All the Birds in the Sky (review coming next week!). This morning was even invigorating, because I was finally able to login to Pokemon Go, the mobile game that’s taken over the globe. I’ve been gallivanting around San Francisco hoping to catch them all!

But now it’s time to get serious…I have a confession to make.

In full disclosure, I have a terrible habit of filing away articles for my blog, then forgetting that they exist. Every time my cursor hovers over the bookmarks folder on my browser, I cringe and try to ignore the growing list as best I can.

But 2016 is half over, and I just can’t take it anymore! Time for some summer cleaning!

Here are the first six months of literary news in review, in case you really, really missed the boat, or just want to relive the excitement!

Literary Feminism

  • “Damn, you’re not reading any books by white men this year? That’s so freakin brave and cool” (Jezebel)
  • “In literature and in life, men and women still want different things in a mate” (Jezebel)
  • “One weird trick that makes a novel addictive” (Jezebel)

Harry Potter News

  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child to be eighth book” (BBC)
  • “J.K. Rowling’s History of Magic in North America was a travesty from start to finish” (io9)

Hollywood Adaptations

  • “Ava DuVernay confirmed to direct A Wrinkle in Time” (IndieWire)
  • “Inside the peculiar new home of Tim Burton’s Miss Peregrine” (Entertainment Weekly)
  • “6 adaptations that fixed the book (according to the author)” (Cracked)
  • “First Look as Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf on A Series of Unfortunate Events set” (Spinoff Online)
  • Will drama about young William Shakespeare picked up to series by TNT” (Deadline)

Et Cetera

  • Placing Literature maps out real places you’ve read about in books” (Lifehacker)
  • “The mass-market edition of To Kill a Mockingbird is dead” (New Republic)

Can you tell I’m a fan of Gawker Media publications? After reading this list, what literary news made you most excited? And if I missed any headlines, please send them my way!

Non-Fiction Week: Full Frontal Feminism

Image via JessicaValenti.com

Rating: 5 out of 5

The Boston bombings. The Waco explosion. The MIT shooting. And that’s just the recent horrors in America. It’s been terribly heartbreaking this past week, so overwhelming you wonder whether the world is falling apart right in front of you. These tragedies make any book review simply a speck of triviality, but the blog must go on…

And to make things more light-hearted given the nature of the topics about to be discussed, I’ll be inserting music videos of what I consider my favorite feminist songs!


Starting with “Independent Women, Pt. 1” by Destiny’s Child!

What Jessica Valenti does in Full Frontal Feminism (2007) is drive home the fact that you shouldn’t be ashamed to call yourself a feminist, because everyone should fight for equal rights between the sexes.

She starts off the very first page contemplating why it is that the absolute worst names you could call women AND men are all derogatory toward women only. “The worst thing you can call a girl is a girl. The worst thing you can call a guy is a girl. Being a woman is the ultimate insult. Now tell me that’s not royally f***ed up.


“U + Ur Hand” by P!nk

Hopefully, you’ll immediately be engrossed in her argumentation, shaking your fist with agreement. The chapters of this book address essential aspects of women’s rights, including the demand for reproductive freedom and the battle against the materialistic beauty, fashion, and wedding industry complexes.

And importantly, she discusses how sexism impacts men as well. Upholding traditional gender stereotypes like “boys don’t cry” further strengthens patriarchy and keeps everyone from reaching their true potential.

Valenti got her start as the founder of Feministing.com, so she brings plenty of social science stats to the table. Here are some of the most powerful:

  • “One in six women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape. (Keep in mind, rape is one of the most underreported crimes, so that statistic is likely too low.)”
  • “A 2006 report showed that 87% of ‘pregnancy crisis’ centers–which have received more than $30 million in federal funding–provided false or misleading information about abortion.”
  • “The government stat reporting that women make only 76 cents to a man’s dollar comes from data that looks at women and men who work full-time. It doesn’t include women who took time off or who worked part-time. So there.”
  • “For every year a woman in her twenties waits to have children, her lifetime earnings increase by 10 percent.”


“I Don’t Need a Man” by The Pussycat Dolls

It’s hard not to become filled with rage reading about all the sexual inequality in this country, but what can you do? Here are some of the ways Valenti believes you can make a difference:

  • Support the pro-choice movement by voting down restrictive reproductive legislation and the sexist politicians who push it.
  • Speak out against abstinence-only education. Teens deserve access to accurate, comprehensive information in order to make knowledgeable decisions about their sex lives.
  • Don’t, under any circumstances, believe that a woman deserves to be raped. She can be a naked, drunk prostitute walking down an alley at 2:00 am and she should expect nothing but a hangover in the morning.
  • Don’t uphold marriage and motherhood as the only legitimate life paths for women, thereby looking down upon those who choose to be single and childfree.


“King of Anything” by Sara Bareilles

There are many other nuances about feminism that I could discuss, but that’s not the focus of my blog. Women’s rights is just an issue that I feel very strongly about, so please ask me any questions or share your own thoughts in the comment section.

I just wanted to highlight Valenti’s book as an example of fantastic non-fiction that urges you to rethink traditional gender roles and take notice of everyday sexism. She’s a strong, opinionated, passionate woman who refuses to censor herself to sound “ladylike.” Like all the authors this week, you can also follow her on Twitter. I recommend all of her other books as well!

And lastly, if you’re feeling really brave, check out my last favorite feminist song. It’s definitely R-rated so I won’t link to it, but just search for “The Loophole” by comedic female duo Garfunkel and Oates. You’ll either find it hilarious or horrifying–you’ve been warned!

Masterpiece Monday: The Handmaid’s Tale

Image via Goodreads

Rating: 5 out of 5

Happy Victoria Day to all my Canadian readers! We here in the States don’t learn too much about Queen Victoria, unfortunately, and while I don’t really know how Canadians celebrate the queen’s birthday, I hear it’s full of fireworks, parades, and drinking–not unlike our own Memorial Day next week! So cheers to our neighbors up north!

I would have to say that the most famous Canadian author living today would be Margaret Atwood. I read her well-known novel The Handmaid’s Tale while attending UC Santa Cruz, and I immediately fell in love.

It seems only natural, since I’m never met a woman who disliked this feminist dystopian tale. Set in the near future, the Republic of Gilead (the former USA) is run by a racist, sexist, theocracy which completely reversed the progress made during the Feminist Movement of the 1970s.

In this society, women have no rights, forbidden from reading to possessing their own money. The protagonist Offred (name meaning “Of Fred,” referring to her master) serves as a handmaid, whose only job is to combat the declining birth rate and reproduce. If she fails, she’ll be declared an “unwoman” and discarded.

What’s interesting is that Offred is part of the first generation of handmaids, meaning that she remembers life pre-Gilead with her own husband and daughter. Now separated from them, the novel is written in the form of her diary as she flashes back and forth from her past and present.

Very few novels are able to create a dystopian universe that is this intricate and disturbing. Since Atwood is a devout feminist, much of the terminology in The Handmaid’s Tale is biblical, pointing to all the patriarchal notions that Christian theology encourages.  Because of these allusions, Atwood has created much controversy.

I would argue that this book should shake you up. The graphic scenes of the “Ceremonies” and the overall sense that women are nothing but wombs should make you angry, frustrated, and afraid. Because you just have to read the news of the right-wing fundamentalists trying to destroy Planned Parenthood and eliminate women’s reproductive rights to understand that this story is not as far-fetched as you might think.

Clearly, The Handmaid’s Tale, and the rest of Atwood’s work, is not for everybody. Many might find her writing too radical. However, if you’re an advocate for female empowerment and you enjoy literature that is mentally stimulating, then you’ll love this novel. I know I did!

Favorite Quote: “Maybe none of this is about control. Maybe it isn’t really about who can own whom, who can do what to whom and get away with it, even as far as death. Maybe it isn’t about who can sit and who has to kneel or stand or lie down, legs spread open. Maybe it’s about who can do what to whom and be forgiven for it. Never tell me it amounts to the same thing.” (Ch. 23)

Masterpiece Monday: The Awakening

Kate Chopin in 1894

Kate Chopin (Image via Wikipedia)

Rating: 5 out of 5

BEWARE: SPOILER ALERT!

One of the books that I bought last week was Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, a novel published in 1899. Set in Louisiana at the end of the 19th century, the story follows Edna Pontellier, who lives a miserable life with her husband and two children. She has a couple affairs, and although they allow her to ‘awaken’ emotionally and sexually, they only end in heartbreak. Devastated by the thought of an oppressed existence as an unhappy wife and mother, she drowns herself in the Gulf of Mexico.

I read this novel in high school, and what amazed me is how polarizing this story is with women. Most of the other girls despised Edna for committing suicide, leaving her children without a mother. I, however, have more feminist tendencies and empathized with Edna, since I understood that death was the only true way she could experience freedom.

It’s hard enough for a woman today if she does anything considered socially unacceptable, whether it’s having an affair or deciding not to have children. So I can’t imagine how a woman could live with essentially no rights more than a century ago. Of course, Chopin herself suffered from writing such an unconventional novel; seen as immoral and smut-filled, it was heavily censored. Chopin never wrote another novel due to difficulties finding a publisher, spending the remainder of her life unaccepted and shunned by the literary world.

I highly recommend this novel, especially to the female population. Also, check out Chopin’s short stories, including “The Story of an Hour.” And if you’ve already read The Awakening, feel free to add your own reviews!