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!!

How Do You TBR?

Readers are as different from one another as the books we read. We all have our own preferences and way of doing things. As I explore the book community more, I see more and more of these differences and have come to appreciate them!

When it comes to the TBR, it seems that everyone has a different way of doing things. Some readers are dedicated to making their TBR pile zero. Some readers don’t care. Some readers consider their TBR to be the books on their Goodreads shelf. Other readers have a literal TBR pile. Or shelf. Some have both! 

Personally, I have a TBR that there is no way I am ever going to get through. To me, it’s books that I would like to someday read. But, honestly, there are just far too many of them for that to even be possible. But that doesn’t stop me! I will keep adding books to my “to-read” shelf on goodreads, I will keep bringing home stacks of books from the library and the bookstore. I will keep having good intentions. That’s just how I roll. 

I am comforted being surrounded by so many books. I love knowing that whatever mood strikes, there should be something within reach that will satisfy me. YA fantasy? Loads! Something a little paranormal? Sure! Dip the toes into the literary? Definitely! A classic? You betcha! 

If we’re being honest, I’d say I currently own somewhere in the neighbourhood of two hundred books that I haven’t read. And I still come home with more. I’m trying to curb my book buying—but not for any need to lower my TBR. It’s because books can be expensive, yo! And I’m running out of space! 

Every now and then I’ll go through my books and weed out any that have overstayed their welcome and I’m probably not going to read. Those I donate to either my library or a used bookstore. But every book that I keep on my shelf, I fully plan on reading. Someday. Probably.

(Side note, does anyone have advice about  getting rid of ARCs? Is it okay to give them to charity shops? I don’t want to recycle them, don’t have anyone to pass them off to, and don’t have the money to ship them to anyone. I just sort of hold on to them…) 

I think that everyone has their own way of doing things—and that’s okay. More than okay—awesome!  If you have the funds and the space, I say go crazy! Have a physical TBR of THOUSANDS! That’s what I would do. If you want to read all the books you own before you buy any new ones, power to ya! If you’re somewhere in the middle, neato!

SO—how do YOU TBR? Do you have a special TBR shelf and/or pile? Do you have an Amazon wishlist and/or a (giant) to-read shelf on Goodreads? 



Thoughts on Banned Books Week

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This week is banned books week. Hooray! I think this is an excellent thing. It brings the ideas of censorship, privilege, power, and fear to the forefront of our thinking and can make for some excellent conversations. 

Some people seem to think that in 2015 this is now irrelevant. They think that either there isn’t censorship or they think you should ignore it and just work around it (check out Ruth Graham’s controversial piece in Slate). But what is that saying? 

North America is not the whole world. And even still, as the saying goes, those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it. This isn’t just about books that are truly and actively banned. This is about the freedom of information and how privileged we are to have it. Not everyone does, and we certainly didn’t always.

The point is not to rank inflammatory books like game highlights. It’s to remind readers that information hasn’t always been free, and that we have librarians to thank for its freedom. (Huffington Post)


This is something we need to keep celebrating and actively work toward maintaining. This isn’t something that just happens. This is something that people have to strive to keep up.

It’s thanks to the work of organizations such as the ALA, which equips librarians and teachers dealing with challenges with advice and legal services. They do the behind-the-scenes work that ensures challenges don’t turn into bans; that they’re successful in this is a very important thing worth celebrating, and, yes, publicizing. (Huffington Post)


And even still, even in 2015, this can still be an issue! It’s not quite as pressing as it once was, or as it still is in some places, but that doesn’t mean it is nonexistent. From the National Coalition Against Censorship, here are five stories of censorship in this day and age

As you can tell from most challenges and most instances we hear of, these are things going on in schools. These are parents and others concerned about what their children are being exposed to. Honestly, I think that to some extent, this is a valid concern. That being said, I think this only applies to your own children

Censorship, like charity, should begin at home; but unlike charity, it should end there. ― Clare Booth Luce


I think that parents have every right to a say in what their children read and are exposed to. They are the parents! But as far as schools go, you do not have a say in what other children read and are exposed to. If you object to some material, then I’m sure the school will offer an alternative. And while I’d hope that any challenge and objection was made with thoughtful, careful, and detailed consideration, I know that this is not always the case. But either way, parents have that right. 

Whether or not actual book banning is an immediate issue for you, it is something we should reflect on. Are you free to read? Be grateful. That is a privilege not every has or has always had. Celebrate it

What are your thoughts on Banned Books Week and censorship?

What Are Your Bookish Preferences and Pet Peeves?

 
I don’t know about you, but I am very particular when it comes to reading. I’m not talking about what goes on in the book’s story—today I’m talking about the act of reading and physical bookish things. What are your preferences? Your pet peeves? (Why are they called pet peeves anyway?)

Reading Preferences

When it comes to where I’m reading, my favourite place is on a comfy couch by a large window. I love natural lighting! And, of course, comfy couches. 
 
My beverage of choice of late has been a steaming cup of coffee. It used to be tea, but I find coffee more forgiving. By that I mean there are less chances I will forget about it. You see, with coffee, you just pop everything into the machine and let it do its thing. If you forget about it, you just reheat it. It may be a little stale, but still drinkable. With tea, there are more steps, and therefore more chances for me to forget! Well, really there is one more step and that’s the kicker. You have to boil the water (which I ofter end up doing three times before I remember to get it and steep it). Then you put your lovely tea in and let it steep. If you forget about the tea during this step, it usually ruins it. So………. YEAH. Rant over. Coffee it is! 
 
I prefer to be sitting with my feet up when reading. Unless, of course, I am in bed. If I’m laying down reading during the day, I’m 100% going to fall asleep. 


I prefer to be reading a trade paperback. The size and the weight are usually on point! Mass markets can be pretty dumb (though the floppy ones are slightly less dumb). I don’t usually mind reading a hardcover, unless it’s giant. Then it’s lame and inconvenient. But, like I said in last week’s post, I’d rather own a hardcover.
 
If I’m reading a hardcover, I prefer to leave the dust jacket on. I don’t usually have a problem of it moving around or slipping. I’d rather have it on than end up getting something on the actual book. Plus, the flaps can serve as a bookmark in a pinch. 

It’s best to be reading when my cat is asleep. Otherwise… Enter felinus interruptus.


PET PEEVES!

I hate hate hate hate hate hate hate HATE books with velvety covers. It gives me a feeling akin to nails on a chalkboard. I will not read books with these types of covers because I simply cannot touch them without wanting to die. If it’s a hardcover, that’s one of the times I’m willing to take off the jacket.
 
Paperbacks with cover flaps! No, I don’t mean french flaps. I’m totally down with those. I mean books with those basically pointless flaps where the cover just sort of ends too soon. HATE IT. WHAT EVEN.


 
Cover changes. I think we can all heave a collective sigh over this one. This is especially annoying when there is a cover change mid-series. Because, WHY. WHY DO YOU WANT ME TO DIE? 

… But I’m also not a fan of cover changes at paperback release. The book cover is basically that book’s logo. When I think of the book, that’s the image I think of. So if I have a particular image in my mind associated with a particular book, I don’t like it when they change that at paperback release. I get that it kind of rejuvenates it from a marketing standpoint, but I still don’t like it (unless, of course, the original cover is super uggo). 
 
When books in a series AREN’T NUMBERED! This is most annoying when I’m in a bookstore, but it’s also annoying when I’m organizing a book series on my shelf and I can’t remember the order. I don’t want to have to GOOGLE IT. I WANT IT TO SAY ON THE BOOK! Like, how hard is it to put “Book one” on the cover somewhere? Or even list the books in order on one of the first pages? Are you trying to ruin everything? 
 
Broken spines and dog-eared pages. This classic just irks me somethin’ awful. I try really hard not to break the spines of my paperbacks. But if they do break… a piece of me dies a little. Samesies when I see someone dog-ear a book. ESPECIALLY IF THAT BOOK ISN’T THEIRS (i.e. if it’s MINE or a library book that I will read/look at). 

When books are all different heights. I wish hardcovers were all one uniform height, and paperbacks all one uniform height, etc. So that there would be symmetry and unity on my shelves. Publishing industry, get on that, k?


When people interrupt me when I’m readingfor no good reason! If you need to convey some sort of important information to me, then okay. That’s legit. But if I’m clearly really into my book and don’t do anything to indicate I want to chat, I DON’T WANT TO CHAT. PLEASE LEAVE ME ALONE.
 
When bookstores don’t have the first book in a series. I obviously can’t start with book two! Have more stock of the first book! Obviously more people are going to be looking for this one and the latest one than the random middle ones!
 
Stickers. When there are stickers on my books it’s the most annoying thing. Some stickers are nice ones and are easily removable. Most, however, don’t come off without a fight. And they leave stupid sticky residue! Just enough with the stickers already! Use signs! Use anything other than stickers unless you have the nice ones! But really, you don’t need to use any! Because unless it’s the price, we don’t really care! 
 
So these are some of my preferences and pet peeves! 
Do we share any? Do we disagree on any? What are yours?