What I’ve Been Reading Online

The word “Feminism,” and the rich history of its proponents, needs to be reclaimed by today’s teens, via The Guardian.

Hillary Clinton is neither a saint nor a demoness, via The Establishment. She is not our future, but she is an important figure that deserves to be heard. “There cannot and must not be any doubt that so much of the animus to Clinton is motivated by the audacity of her seeking power while female; it magnifies her real failings into demonic proportions, fit only to be screamed at…. The double standard is real and undeniable; it must be the starting point in any debate about Clinton, and seen as a bias to constantly acknowledge and correct for in one’s criticism.”

Understanding the early days of the HIV/AIDS through fiction, via Electric Literature.

Female author who are worth binge-reading, according to Modern Mrs. Darcy,

Contemporary YA books that feature interracial couples, via Book Riot.

“I’m also conscious of the continuing double standard: I have to be better than everyone; I have to work harder. There’s no margin for me when others have so much leeway. It’s a pressure cooker all the time. I try to pull the curtain back so that young, dynamic women like America (Ferrera) can see themselves in historic context and know they can overcome the obstacles in their way.” Hillary Clinton and America Fererra chat with the New York Times.

100 Must Read Books by Queer Authors, via Book Riot.

Women’s Media Summit’s White Paper calls for the public to boycott media that doesn’t include women. I mean, I already do this personally, and think it’s really important. Tell Hollywood what you want by the way you use your dollars! And the WMS, and I, want gender equity yo.

The best female-led horror movies, according to Vulture. Halloween marathon, anyone?

Shit I Read This Summer

Hey friends!

You may have noticed I haven’t been super active here this summer. I was on a sort of hiatus, getting out and about and enjoying life. You know what helps one enjoy the summer? Reading! I didn’t do as much reading as I thought I would, but I did have a great summer and did read some excellent books.

Without further ado, here’s what I got up to for summer reading:

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Hardcover, 380 pages
Published May 30th 2017 by Simon Pulse
Goodreads | Amazon | Indigo

One of the best YA contemporaries I’ve read, When Dimple Met Rishi is hilarious and adorable.  A cute, funny, quirky romance, it balances love and independence with the weight of family expectations. ​This was my pick for Book Riot’s Best Books of 2017 (So Far)!

Mockingbird Vol. 1: I Can Explain by Chelsea Cain (author) and Kate Niemczyk (artist)

Paperback, 136 pages
Published October 18th 2016 by Marvel
Goodreads | Amazon | Indigo

This is a great series with a hilarious, kick-ass main character, Bobbi Morse (AKA Mockingbird). Think you’re tired of Marvel? Give this one a shot. Especially if you love Ms. Marvel and Captain Marvel! This should definitely have gotten a longer run, but I’m still excited to see where it goes in volume 2. Read more…

What I’ve Been Reading Online

Electric Lit gives its two cents about the gender-swapped Lord of the Flies and gets it all wrong.

Read It Forward gives some great recommendations of books for woke kids. Definitely going to be gifting a few of these this year!

We’re getting an adaptation of Stoner by John Williams and I won’t be able to see it because it will be starring a sexual predator. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

A new memoir involving the life of Bette Davis is going to be released. Quartz says it shows it’s time to stop letting men construct women’s stories. They are, of course, super right. If only that could go without saying.

They announced the long list for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature and The Hate U Give is on it!

An interesting piece from Teen Vogue about how our culture’s obsession with white male serial killers is glamorizing and deifying them.

Bitch Media’s 15 Bitch-Approved September reads!

Dope Linkz–Rad Stuff I’ve Been Reading on the Internet

A friendly reminder that people are idiots. Dudes Flipped out about this women only Wonder Woman screening. Via Flavorwire.

But also, a reminder that Teen Vogue is awesome.

Another reminder that people are idiots, in case you needed one. Dudes react to Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman. Via Jezebel.

Women’s Representation in Film Actually Getting Worse Not Better, Via Quartz.

Jessica Chastain furthers the point of the of the above Quartz artivle in her role on the jury of the Cannes film festival. Which Misogynistic Cannes Films Was Jessica Chastain Putting on Blast? Via Vulture.

Something that is more hopeful. Band Aid, a Cannes favourite, was made with an all-female crew: “all-female enough that Lister-Jones’s co-star Adam Pally was, for a week, the only man in sight.” Zoe Lister-Jones is dope as hell. Via Vulture.

A really rad lady, doing really rad things. Kakenya Ntaiya Is Fighting Female Genital Mutilation and Promoting Education Through the Kakenya Center for Excellence​. Via Teen Vogue.

We Need to Fix Racism in our Institutions, Not Black Hair. “While dress codes disproportionately target girls’ bodies, black girls often face the double whammy of sexism and racism when trying to attend school.” Via Feministing.

Big Ol’ Side Eye at this Snow White retelling?? Chloe Grace Moretz Apologizes for Her New Animated Movie’s Terrible, Body-Shaming Ad. Via i09.

Dope Linkz | What I’ve Been Reading on the Internet This Week

Emily Dickinson’s Herbarium: A Forgotten Treasure at the Intersection of Science and Poetry Via Brain Pickings.

Rihanna meme turning into an actual movie, Via Vulture. This is both hilarious and ridiculous, but also amazing.

Men Don’t Get to Say we Don’t Need Safe Spaces Via Marie Claire:  “To men like Stephens, an issue like rape can be an abstract notion, but women don’t have the privilege of sexual violence as a thought exercise. It’s easy to mock the idea of safety when it’s not something you have to think about on a daily basis.”

Young people are less racist, via Quartz. Stop telling people they are being “too sensitive.” We’re just becoming less of jerks.

Up to 82 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram have been reportedly released! Via the Independent.

The Manchester attack was specifically targeted at young women and girls and the LGBTQIA+ community, Via the Atlantic and Teen Vogue.

Is your sunscreen safe? Via Thoughtfully. Food for thought this summer when you’re getting ready to head out into the sun

Dick Grayson Vs. Toxic Masculinity via Book Riot. Why is the comics industry insisting on pretending that hyper-masculine cis hetero white men are the only people in the audience? 

A Little Tribute to The Outsiders On its 50th Anniversary

This may be a little late, but I thought it necessary to pay tribute to the seminal work The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton.

I think we all know the book I’m talking about. Ponyboy. Sodapop. The socs and the greasers. The now infamous refrain: Stay gold.

I remember when I was introduced to The Outsiders.

It was in grade seven or eight. I was always one of those kids that tended to enjoy assigned reading, and this was no exception. I struggled to not read ahead.

Read more…

How Reading Made Me a Feminist (Or Realize I Kinda Already Was One)

I’m a twenty-five-year-old woman, and I consider being a feminist a large part of my identity. Ten years ago, that wasn’t the case. Hell, five years that wasn’t the case.

Growing up, I fell victim to the narrative that many people do—feminism was an ugly word used to describe man-hating, overly sensitive, “politically-correct” (as if this were a bad thing), crazy people.

I believed that feminism sought to destroy the nuclear family, force women from the home, and spread anger and bitterness. I was ignorant to the real meaning of feminism and what it sought to do.

Privileged and sheltered, I grew up mostly ignorant to the fact that women are treated differently and that this is a problem. Was sexism was even a thing anymore? Surely that was over. It’s the twenty-first century after all. Oh, little me.

I have always been a huge book nerd. Since I was small, I have rarely been found without a book. I have always seen the value in women’s writing and narratives, and I was naïve and self-centered enough to think that other people saw things the way I did.

Later, while selecting the subject of my undergrad thesis, I realized something. When left to my own devices, I read almost exclusively female authors. I seemed mostly interested in women’s stories and struggles. Overtime, I also found myself vicariously experiencing the oppression of women through those stories.

As I chose my topic and began my research, these thoughts became more concrete. I decided to write about Edith Wharton and her novel The House of Mirth. The goal of my thesis was to highlight parts of the novel that coincided with the feminine literary tradition of American Sentimentalism. This tradition describes fiction written by women and for women, with female relationships and domestic life at the forefront.

During Wharton’s time, the Sentimental tradition was viewed as “trashy” by the great American writers (i.e. some white dudes). Instead, those writers were part of the school of Realism. Wharton, too, was part of this school. However, I argued that she also made use of feminine tradition, and that feminine did not mean lesser.

As I researched Wharton and her work, I became increasingly interested in the plight of women. For one, it was—and is—much harder to be taken seriously in your field when it is dominated by men.

Furthermore, as I dug deeper into the novel, I found many parts of the main character’s story standing out. One of the novel’s main themes is the woman as a beautiful ornament to be consumed. The importance this theme held for Wharton was made clear as I learned the book’s original title: A Moment’s Ornament.

The journey of reading Wharton and writing my thesis solidified many feminists beliefs in me—but I still didn’t know what to call them.

I, like many young people (I assume), learned that feminism was actually an okay thing when Emma Watson made her speech about gender equality at the UN. That same year Beyoncé performed at the VMAs in front of a large sign reading “FEMINIST.” Feminism was becoming “cool” and more accessible (and consumable, but that’s another story for another day).

As I had already been forming these beliefs and contemplating these issues, I was particularly receptive to Watson’s message. I eagerly and proudly began labeling myself a feminist. After a while, however, I was not content to leave it at that.

My feminism became especially real to me when I learned the term rape culture. I first read about it when prominent universities in my city were in local and national newspapers for the horrendous behaviour of some of their students. I was shocked and appalled. The more I looked into rape culture, the more I realized that while yes, I should most definitely be appalled, I shouldn’t be surprised. It’s a huge, widespread problem.

This is how author Emilie Buckwold defines rape culture (emphasis mine):

[Rape culture is] a complex set of beliefs that encourage male sexual aggression and supports violence against women. It is a society where violence is seen as sexy and sexuality as violent. In a rape culture, women perceive a continuum of threatened violence that ranges from sexual remarks to sexual touching to rape itself. A rape culture condones physical and emotional terrorism against women as the norm . . . In a rape culture both men and women assume that sexual violence is a fact of life, inevitable . . . However . . . much of what we accept as inevitable is in fact the expression of values and attitudes that can change.

The idea of rape culture enraged me, and rightly so. That anger became a driving force behind much my reading. I continue to educate myself on these issues daily. I write things like this and sometimes post them on my blog.

Reading has expanded my mind, grown my empathy and compassion, and given me a peek into experiences I may not have otherwise seen. With an open mind and a critical eye, I think reading has made me a better person.

And a feminist.

Reading Slumps, Blogger Burnout, and Quarter Life Crises

Life has been super weird lately. Things had been going pretty well, everything seeming to fall into place. Then I felt a familiar, unwelcome twinge. I could sense a shadow lurking around the corner, waiting to cover me in its darkness: a reading slump. It all started going downhill from there.

It came upon me slowly at first. Then all at once. While dipping my toes in a few good, interesting books, I found myself losing focus. I was gravitating to the television. To the mall. To friends. These things are not bad in themselves. They are pretty great, actually. But I was setting aside these great books, and pretty consistently.

In a vain effort to stave off the slump, I put those books down and cracked open some comics. I had hoped that a change of pace might revamp my momentum. And for a little while, it did. I caught up on the Amulet series, read a couple volumes of Sweet Tooth, and I powered through the first book of Y: The Last Man. But then… I got stuck halfway through the second book, even though it was awesome. I thought, maybe if I switch to a different series? But that didn’t help. I was officially in slump territory.

As a reader, I’m no stranger to the occasional reading slump—they happen to the best of us. But for me, this one has been different. This one has been lingering, and causing stagnation, not only in my reading life, but in other areas as well.

As of right now, I haven’t finished a book in two months—not since April. I read those comics in May, but since then, I’ve read basically nothing.

If you’re a reader, you may know the feelings that accompany a reading slump. The frustration, the listlessness, the discouragement, the lack of sense of accomplishment. And these feelings have been snowballing the longer my slump has been going on. Not only so, but, like I mentioned, they have been seeping into other aspects of my life as well.

Before my slump began, I had slowed down my reading to allow for more time to focus on other things. I found that to be a good thing, something that was enriching my life. But as my reading shrank to nothing, those feelings of enrichment ceased. When I am unable go out or be with friends, I long to fill my time with books—but I haven’t seemed to be able to do it. Nothing can keep my attention.

I haven’t been able to engage in conversations with colleagues about the latest books I’ve read because I haven’t been reading. I haven’t been able to join the discourse online because I haven’t been reading. I haven’t had anything to say on my blog because, again, I haven’t been reading.

Books are such an important part of my life, not only for personal enjoyment and growth, but as a means to connect to a broader community. These last few months without that sense of connection has led to a deep feeling of loss, disconnect, and disillusionment. It has led to questions of identity and belonging. And the timing of these things has led, essentially, to a full blown quarter life crisis.

I’m turning 25 in a month, and I am feeling incredibly disillusioned about life. Not only that, but I’m struggling to define my identity. I’ve always identified as a reader, but what am I outside of that? Who am I when I’m not reading or talking about books? What do I think? What do I believe? I’ve been questioning everything lately. There is nothing wrong with questioning—really it’s something we should all do more of. But I’ve been questioning things that have always been at my core. And it’s kind of scary.

I want this time of my life to be a fun and exciting adventure of self-discovery. But lately, none of it has been very fun at all. I think in general I’m a pretty positive person, but I’ve been having trouble feeling positive lately.

I’m moving out in a little under a month. I’m hoping that this new responsibility and independence will be the turning point for me and bring back the fun and excitement. And hopefully my reading will get back on track.

What’s the longest reading slump you’ve ever had? How did it make you feel? Did those feelings seep into other parts of your life? Have you experienced a quarter life/identity crisis? Do you have any advice?

When Deciding What to Read Next

How do you decide what to read next? For me this is often a time-consuming problem. I’m a mood reader–and I can be very moody.

Sometimes I know right away what I want to read next. But this is pretty rare. Often I might have a vague idea of what I want–like maybe a genre–but it takes me a while to narrow it down. I’ll go through the books in my personal library, pulling out anything that even remotely piques by interest.

I then often find myself sitting on my floor, staring at my shelf, surrounded by a pile of books. I’ll pick one up, flip through it, put it back down, pick up another, read a few pages, put it down, and the cycle goes on. There may even be some hair pulling.

I find this often happens at the most inconvenient of times. Maybe I’ll finish a book when I’m on my way out, or on my way to bed. I either don’t have the time or the inclination to pick something out. BUT, I can’t just NOT. I need something to bring with me! If I’m going out, I need a book in case the mood or the opportunity strikes! If I’m going to bed, I need something to read before I sleep, even if it’s only a few pages!

But, OF COURSE, I’ve finished my book and now need to pick something new out. This can be a very stressful time.

Examples from my insane brain:

This book is definitely one I’m going to want to read at SOME point, but now isn’t that point.

UGH, THIS BOOK IS TOO MUCH _____ RIGHT NOW!

Boo, contemporary. WHERE IS THE MAGIC. 

Boo, magic! I want something REALISTIC.

Gah, this is TOO realistic! It’s depressing!

This is too happy! It’s making me want to puke!

What is WITH these names?! They are ridiculous and totally made up.

I cannot HANDLE how boring these names are right now.

Where’s the ROMANCE?

TOO MUCH ROMANCE!

Eventually I’ll read the first few pages of a book and find myself not wanting to stop. That’s how I know I’ve found THE ONE. I usually sigh in relief and continue reading, content that I can finally relax and fall into my book. For now, anyway. And the mess I just made? I’ll clean it up later.

How do YOU decide what to read next? Are you strict in your TBR? Do you have your next read planned out? Are you a mood reader like me? Is your brain a total nuthouse like mine? Do you have any tips for me?! Let me know in the comments!!