Library Assistant Life

For the last two, almost three, years I’ve worked in a public library.

I started at the bottom, as what we call a clerk—i.e. someone who shelves books—and have been working my way up.

I’ve been very lucky so far in my library career. I started off at quite a small branch in a kind, tight-knit community. The staff emulated this. They have always been so friendly, welcoming, and eager to teach. Through their guidance and support, I’ve been able to learn so much. Read more…

Reflecting on 2016

This is a tad overdue. However, 2016 was a landmark year for me in many ways. Reflecting on this, here are the main things that stand out about my year.

I kept my New Year’s Resolution

In 2016, in a very non-Beth fashion, I stuck to my guns and lost 40 pounds. I started off with weight watchers, then took things into my own hands. I completely changed my diet and my physical routine. Temporary diets don’t work. You have to make a lifestyle change. One that works for you! For me, “Everything in moderation” did not work… It definitely helped me to get started, but after that, until I got a handle on things, I needed to cut certain things out entirely. Eventually, I didn’t even miss them! Now I have treats every now and then but know that if I let myself, I could easily end up right back where I started.

I went on some amazing trips

In February/March, I went to Mexico with my family! We stayed at a resort on the Mayan Riviera and had an amazing time. I did a lot of relaxing and eating, but we went on a couple of day trips, too. Not only that, but the food was great!

For Thanksgiving, I traveled with my family to Alberta to visit extended family. It was so nice. For ten days we stayed with my grandmother hanging out and exploring Edmonton.

On the first weekend in November I went on a road trip to Boston with three friends! We all piled into my car and made the eleven hour trek to see needtobreathe and Mat Kearney in concert. It was amazing.

I made (and reconnected with) some great friends

Over the last few years, I had become somewhat of a hermit. I rarely left my house when I wasn’t working, always holed up with a book or on the internet. I would text my few friends sometimes, but I would never really make an effort to see them. The person I spoke to the most was my then-boyfriend. He lived in another province and we didn’t get to see each other a lot.

It’s one thing if you’re a hermit and you’re happy. But I was a hermit, and I was not happy. I thought it was just me being an introvert, but really, it was me giving in to my social anxiety.

The fall of 2015 was rough. My boyfriend and I split up and my beloved fur baby died. When all that happened, I realized how important friends really were–because I needed them but had let them all slip away. I became determined to never be in that place again.

Throughout 2016, I constantly made myself go out of my comfort zone. Not only did I make myself make and stick to social plans, I also made myself go places I didn’t know anyone, or only knew one or two people. It was hella scary, y’all.

I started hanging out with my friends, and started making new ones. I reconnected with someone I knew from years ago, and from there started going to her church on Saturdays. Turns out that a bunch of people I used to know went there! It was so great seeing them. I made it a regular thing and started building friendships.

The most meaningful friendship I made was with a red-headed gem named Maggie. We just clicked. One day after church I asked her if she was free and wanted to hang out. After that, we were almost inseparable for the summer. But there was a catch. She was engaged. To an American. And was moving to Oregon at the end of the summer. That was a huge bummer, but I had the best summer of my life. Maggie is in Oregon now, but we still talk basically everyday! I’m so glad that I met her. Even with her a million miles away, we’re still close.

It was really hard for me to not give into my anxiety, and it’s still hard. But I’m not going to let it control me. I have friends, dammit! Anxiety, you can go to hell.

I moved out

I’m a strong, independent woman, y’all! I’m out in the medium-sized city making my own way! This was a huge thing for me on many levels. First, it’s obviously a big thing for anyone when you leave home, and so it was for me, too. It was also clearly the right time. I was finally making (barely) enough money to afford living on my own. Not only that, but a girl I knew happened to be looking for a place, too. Together we found the perfect spot for us and have lived there (mostly) happily since. It’s given me independence, pride, and a lifestyle I love. I absolutely adore the neighbourhood I live in. It’s the cutest. I love living in the city. Everything is so close. There’s always something to do and someone to do it with.

I landed a job that I love

It’s been quite the journey since university. I’ve been working in the library system in my city for almost three years, and I’ve finally landed a job that I’m not super over-qualified for. Not only do I love the job, but I love the place I work, too. I work in a small community library. It’s such an important hub for the people who live here, and it’s a privilege to serve them! The staff is such a treat, too. Each and every staff member is a joy to work with. There’s not even one person that I don’t get along with. It’s such a great place to work. I could go on and on. It’s a dream. I count my lucky stars everyday.

I learned a lot about myself

2016 was a transition year for me. There was so much change. And that was a good thing. I needed that. I made a lot of mistakes but I learned from each and every one.

Onto 2017

A month into this year, and things are looking pretty good. I’ve been reading amazing books, getting to know amazing people, and enjoying amazing opportunities. One such opportunity is contributing to Book Riot! Writing and books are both my true loves. I’m really excited I’ve join the Book Riot community. If you’re interested, check out my contributor page and the posts I’ve written so far!

What to do if your sister is a psychopath | Review of My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier

 My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier

Young Adult (with Adult crossover appeal)
Hardcover, 312 pages
Published November 15th, 2016 by Soho Teen

My Sister Rosa–The story of a nomadic family, a reluctant son, and a psychopathic sister. What would you do if you saw danger in your ten year old sister that no one else did?

We follow seventeen year old Che as he navigates his new life in NYC. Never staying in one place longer than his first childhood home in Sydney, Australia, Che hates moving. All he wants to do is go back to Sydney, back to his friends.

Once Che starts to settle into his new city and his new boxing gym, he meets a girl that makes New York seem not so bad. The beautiful, powerful, lithe, muscular Sojourner—Sid to her friends. He also begins to make friends with the caustic Leilani, daughter of his parents’ friends and benefactors the McBrunights.

Che never truly feels settled though. No matter where he is, no matter how cool his friends, he can never escape his sister Rosa, and his desire to protect her—and protect others from her.

That’s another thing about moving so much—no one else can see what Rosa really is. When Che tries to tell people, they don’t believe him. All they see is the sweet little blonde-ringletted ten year old in front of them. Even his parents make excuse after excuse.

What can Che do when he is not there to watch Rosa? What can he do about the new “friendship” she has made? How can he stop her from manipulating those around her? How far will she go to get what she wants?

This book was a great blend of contemporary realistic YA and mystery. It had the best elements of both. This book gets kudos for diversity, great friendships, swoonworthy romance. It also has the serious creep factor in little Rosa.When I began the book, I thought I was getting into a thriller. Although this book definitely has thrilling elements, I wouldn’t call it that. It’s not straight-up one genre. I liked reading a contemporary from a guy’s perspective—I don’t read those a lot. I’m thinking I should give it a try. And maybe one actually written by a dude.

I did have a couple of qualms, though minor, with My Sister Rosa. There were no Oxford commas and that bugs the shit out of me. I get that some of the words were with the Australian spelling, but I feel like “Woah” is always wrong and that was in there more than once. I also found Sojourner’s brand of Christianity a little unsettling. It’s definitely good to be loving and accepting of all people. But to me, the description of her faith came across as a bit of a cop out of the have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too variety.

Overall I really enjoyed this book. If you want an exciting, interesting read with a little bit of creepy, I’d recommend My Sister Rosa.

Note: This book does have some mature content.

Dope Links | Cool Stuff I Read on the Internet

“I Never Ask For It.” Awesome project seeking to end victim blaming via Quartz.

Some discussion about the ending to the OA, which I’m assuming everyone has now watched. I watched it immediately upon its release. Be warned though, this post has spoilers. Via Vulture.

“Women don’t need men to be powerful—and the Women’s March doesn’t need men to make a statement” via Quartz.

“Henry David Thoreau was the original hipster minimalist” via Quartz.

Literary Obituaries via LitHub. Super interesting to see what was said about this authors upon their deaths.

Love this woman. Edith Wharton and her love of dogs via LitHub.

I have this same request. “Jill Soloway Has a Request for Male Directors: Stop Making Movies About Rape” via Vulture.

Interesting Articles I Read This Week | Link Roundup

The thing you didn’t even know you needed, but, in fact, you did: Gilmore Girls Mashups from The Rumpus.

A piece from NewStatemen about millennials. Equal parts interesting and irritating.

Trevor Noah’s critique of Meryl Streep’s Golden Globes speech from Vulture. He makes a good point, honestly.

The politicizing of Teen Vogue and it’s feminist revolution, from Quartz. It’s not just a magazine about clothes and hair. It’s got substance, too.

Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards defends women’s right to healthcare, from Jezebel. Richards says that all public funding goes towards women’s health and preventative care, not abortions. That funding and that care is now at risk. It’s sad on so many levels, but especially because that very preventative care is a large contributing factor to the 30 year low of unplanned/unwanted pregnancies. Which has, in turn, decreased the need for abortions. So, what the heck, people? Isn’t abortion (which is completely legal in the US) the reason why Planned Parenthood is so controversial? Isn’t abortion the “reason” behind the proposed defunding?

In the same vein as the previous link–fellow Canadians, check out the Canadian Women’s March website and find a march near you! Come out in solidarity with women of all kinds and our neighbours to the south.

Amazing interview with the ever lovely Jessica Valenti on The Rumpus. I loved this part:
Rumpus: Are there other writers you’d recommend who you feel open up this conversation?
Valenti: Read anything that arouses curiosity and desire in you and makes you ask questions about what it is to be a woman in the world. For me, it’s books by Joan Didion and Raymond Carver. So not necessarily only feminist books but any books that open up important issues and make you question the status quo, culture, identity, and your own desire.

Check out this article from Quartz about the power of poetry, and click through to the full poem!

According to Greenpeace, streaming services like Netflix are bad for the environment, from Quartz. This makes me very sad.

End of the year book survey: 2016

Each year, the lovely Jamie at The Perpetual Page-Turner puts together a bookish survey for the year! Here’s my end of the year book survey for 2016.

Reading Stats

Number Of Books You Read: 
69
Number of Re-Reads:
1 (Not a big re-reader)
Genre You Read The Most From:
Graphica and general fiction probably? I read a pretty wide range of stuff

Best in books

1. Best Book You Read In 2016?
The Tsar of Love and Techno: Stories by Anthony Marra
(READ IT READ IT READ IT)
2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
 Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. I thought that I would love this book, but I actively disliked it. The writing was engrossing but I didn’t like the plot or the conclusion.
3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  
Paper Girls Vol 1 by Brian K. Vaughan. I didn’t really know much about this series going into it. I just picked it up because, well, Brian K. Vaughan. It got super weird. And I loved it.
 
4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)
The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra. I push every book I love, so people don’t always take me seriously. But a couple of people did actually read this one, so, WIN!
5. Best series you started in 2016? Best Sequel of 2016? Best Series Ender of 2016?
I’m not a very good series person. HOWEVER, I did start and finish The Raven Cycle.  So, The Raven Cycle (The Raven Boys), The Dream Thieves, and The Raven King.
6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2016?
Emma Cline. Anthony Marra. Maggie Stiefvater. Jessica Valenti. Lindy West. SO MANY.
7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
Missoula by Jon Krakauer. When I read this book, I didn’t typically read non-fiction. Ever. But I enjoyed this so much it sparked an interest and love for feminist non-fiction and I am SO grateful.
8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
I read a lot of thrillers this year, but I found these books the most unputdownable:
 
9. Book You Read In 2016 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
I’m not much of a re-reader, but I’d consider re-reading The Tsar of Love and Techno and The Bell Jar.
10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2016?
The Tsar of Love and Techno.
11. Most memorable character of 2016?
Esther Greenwood from The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath.
12. Most beautifully written book read in 2016?
The Girls by Emma Cline. (The Tsar of Love and Techno a close second)
13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2016?
I read a lot of really great feminist non-fiction this year. Each title was super thought-provoking. For example, Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates and Asking For It by Kate Harding were insanely challenging and eye-opening.
14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2016 to finally read? 
The Bell Jar.
15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2016?
SO MANY. I LOVE QUOTES. But here are a few.
That was our mistake, I think. One of many mistakes. To believe that boys were acting with a logic that we could someday understand. To believe that their actions had any meaning beyond thoughtless impulse. We were like conspiracy theorists, seeing portent and intention in every detail, wishing desperately that we mattered enough to be the object of planning and speculation. But they were just boys. Silly and young and straightforward; they weren’t hiding anything. – Emma Cline, The Girls
I wanted all of life to feel that frantic and pressurized with portent, so even colors and weather and tastes would be more saturated. That’s what the songs promised, what they trawled out of me. – Emma Cline, The Girls
People who shout at women in the street don’t do it because they think there’s a chance the woman will drop her shopping and leap into their arms! It isn’t a compliment, and to call it that disparages the vast majority of lovely men who are perfectly able to pay a real compliment. It is an exertion of power, dominance, and control. And it’s utterly horrifying that we’ve become so used to it that it’s considered the norm. – Laura Bates, Everyday Sexism
The trouble was, I hated the idea of serving men in any way. I wanted to dictate my own thrilling letters. – Sylvia PLath, The Bell Jar
[M]ale and female bear the image of God together; together they bear the image of God. So when our cultural institutions only or primarily reflect the thinking and experiences of one gender, we move further from God’s intentions for his image bearers. And what women bring to the table is not simply a feminine touch but half of humanity’s gifts, passions, and experiences. – Katelyn Beaty, A Woman’s Place

 

 
16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2016?

 

Longest: In the Woods by Tana French (592 pages)
Shortest (not counting comics): Fifteen Dogs by Andre Alexis (171 pages)
17. Book That Shocked You The Most
Missoula: Rape and The Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer–because I was naive. HOW COULD THIS BE REAL?
18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)
I don’t think I have one. I’m not super OTP-ish. Though I do love Lily and Atlas from It Ends With Us. 
19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year
Blue and her Raven Boys.
20. Favorite Book You Read in 2016 From An Author You’ve Read Previously
Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King. If you weren’t aware, A.S. King is my favourite living author. I got around to reading this one this year and it was DOPE.
21. Best Book You Read In 2016 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:
Zero things.
22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2016?
Don’t have one.
23. Best 2016 debut you read?
Absolutely, without a doubt, The Girls by Emma Cline. This book is exquisite.
24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?
Henrietta and Cabeswater in The Raven Cycle books.
25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?
Adulthood Is a Myth: A Sarah Scribbles Collection. Because… HILARIOUS. RELATABLE.
Also Shrill: Notes From a Loud Woman by Lindy West. This book hit on some serious topics, but Lindy West is just so smart and hilarious. Not only that, but after I read it I got to meet her and hear her speak!
26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2016?
The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith.
27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?
I don’t know that any of the books I’ve read would really be considered hidden gems… But I definitely think that all A.S. King books deserve more love (ALL THE LOVE), more people should be reading the Cainsville series by Kelley Armstrong, and that there should be more talk about The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith.
28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?
Every book I read about rape culture. But I have hope. Let’s all be feminists together.
29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2016?
Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King. There is just no one like her.
30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?
Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates. HOW IS THIS REAL LIFE? How do so many people not see this happening right before their eyes? Why are girls and women taught to be silent and pleasant?

Blogging/Bookish Life

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2016?
I generally stick to my favourites like an old person, but here are some blogs I started following this year.
2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2016?
Sex Object: A Memoir by Jessica Valenti. Part review, part commentary, this post was very personal and got a lot of love <3
3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?
4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?
Lit Fest in Alberta! I was able to see and meet Andi Zeisler (author of We Were Feminists Once and Bitch Media cofounder), and Lindy West (comedian and writer, author of Shrill)!
5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2016?
No idea! There were a lot of ups and downs.
6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?
I’ve gone through long and hard blogging and reading slumps this year. They made life, both in general and my blogging/reading life, difficult and a little sad.
7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?
8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?
Considering the amount of blogging I actually did this year (i.e. not a lot), I’m pretty pleased with the amount of love my posts received.
9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?
I’m not sure. If I’ve made any new ones this year, I don’t remember!
10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
I think the only challenge I participated in this year was the Goodreads challenge. Which I did not complete. But I’m okay with that!

Looking Ahead

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2015 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2017?
Still Life With Tornado by A.S. King.
2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2017 (non-debut)?
I honestly have not been keeping track. Probably just whatever A.S. King comes out with next!
3. 2017 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?
Again… I haven’t been keeping track!
 4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2017?
Not really big into series. HOWEVER, I love the Cainsville series by Kelley Armstrong and can’t wait for the next book.
5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2017?
Have balance. I want to read and blog enough that I’m happy.
6. A 2017 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone
Haven’t read any! I’ve stopped requesting ARCs. Any ones that I did read in 2016 also came out in 2016.

Our Final Foray into the Tearling | The Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

The Fate of the Tearling (Queen of the Tearling #3) by Erika Johansen

Hardcover, 496 pages
Published November 29, 2016 by Harper
Please note: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher for review as part of the book tour. Please also note: This review may contain slight spoilers for the previous two books. However, this does not contain spoilers for The Fate of the Tearling. If you are looking for a review of either of the previous two books, check out some of the other stops on the tour.
This series holds a very… strange place in my heart. When I’m reading it, I’m completely engrossed and totally obsessed. When waiting between installments, I certainly am eagerly anticipating the next one, but I have no problem waiting. And by the time that next one comes out… I seem to have forgotten all the pertinent details. This doesn’t usually happen with books I love, but love these books I do.

 Sadly, this is the final book in the trilogy.
When I began reading The Fate of the Tearling, I sort of wished I had re-read the previous books to refresh my memory. Unfortunately, I didn’t really have the time to do that, so I took to the internet. Luckily, this time around there were plenty of reviews and synopsis floating about (this was not the case when I reviewed The Invasion of the Tearling).
As I read, the important things generally came back to me. And man, I was sucked in. When I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about reading it. It’s such an interesting world with complex and flawed characters. I was always longing to get back to them and their fate.
If I’m being honest, there are flaws in these books and things that, upon reflection, I don’t love. However, when I’m reading them, none of those matter. I get so caught up in the story and the characters that my emotional side takes the reins and my intellectual side takes a bit of a break (but only a bit).
Kelsea is a really interesting character. She is a young woman with so much riding on the success of her reign. There is so much she wants to do for her kingdom, but all of that comes at a price. In this book, payment comes due as the Red Queen takes Kelsea off to Mortmesne. She must face the reality of her decisions the decisions of those that came before her. Is there anything she can do to save the Tearling from its fate?
This book continues the trend of switching back and forth in time and back and forth between characters. We read chapters from Kelsea’s perspective, the Mace’s, the Fetch’s, and characters from the past such as Katie, and Row Finn. We learn more about the Tearling and how it came to be the way it is.
This time around, these changes in perspective sat much better with me. In The Invasion of the Tearling, I found that the changes were jarring and brough me out of the story. In The Fate of the Tearling, however, I thought it was executed much better. I never felt myself pulled from the world of the book.
One of my few qualms with this book is the same as in The Invasion of the Tearling: there wasn’t enough of the Fetch for me! He is such an interesting character and I don’t think he’s used nearly enough! In this book, he was in it much more than the previous one. But most of it was backstory. And honestly, I didn’t love his backstory.
Another qualm I have with this series as a whole is its treatment of religion. It makes sense to me that the Church would become corrupt, and this in itself is not what I have a problem with. I don’t particularly care for the way the characters talk about religion as a whole, as if only the ridiculous, gullible, and uneducated follow any religion. It was treated as a cult. And yes, in this story, the religions are more like cults. But this felt like a blanket judgement of all religions. That didn’t sit right with me.
Finally, this is only kind of a qualm: the ending. I think it’s a fine ending and it was really quite brave of Johansen to do it this way. It makes sense with the plot and it rather fitting of the series. However, when I finished the book, I didn’t feel satisfied. And I know that maybe that’s not the worst thing, especially since the ending was true to the integrity of the story. But still. I wasn’t satisfied.
 
Overall, I LOVED this book and completely devoured it. This series is definitely one of my favourites. If you haven’t read it, you need to!
 
Thank you to TLC Book Tours and Harper for the opportunity to read and review this book! For more reviews, tour stops, and author information, check out the rest of the book tour here

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.

Another Post-Election Commentary

 
The last two weeks have a been a struggle. Even if you’re not an American (and I’m not), the election of the next President of the United States has had a huge impact. Daily, people are becoming more bold in their hate, fuelled by its constant normalization by Trump and his goons.
 
Things are going to change, and it won’t be for the better.

My news feeds have been filled to the brim with post-election commentary. I’ve read many things from both sides, articles relaying fact and numbers, etc.
 
The general mood I see is one of disillusionment, sadness, and intolerance. The latter, sadly, stemming from both sides.
 
In this dark time, we must not only stand up for our beliefs and the vulnerable people around us. We must also try to engage in conversations with those who disagree with us. This is a very difficult thing, especially when very passionate in your stance. However, if we only view the other side as the enemy, there is no room for growth.
 
In the past year or so, I have become very passionate in my feminist beliefs and politics. I went from someone who never paid attention to the world to someone eager to engage with it. Over the last two weeks I have been drawn into the battle–online and off. When challenged, my hackles would rise and I would passionately shell out my thoughts and opinions.
 
This isn’t always the worst thing. But it’s definitely not the best thing if I want people to actually hear me. If I want people to listen to me, I have to also give them the courtesy of listening to them.

This is really hard when those people disagree on things that are so close to your core. But that doesn’t make those people stupid. It means they value different things. Sometimes this is because they are just that–different from you. Sometimes it’s because they have internalized prejudices that they may not even be aware of (and no one is immune to this). But either way, the only chance you have of them listening to you is to treat them with a modicum of respect.
 
Don’t get me wrong–some people are just filled with hatred. They may not listen to you no matter what. And that’s not on you. To me, the most important thing, however, is to always be respectful and strong in your beliefs. Be vocal–but speak the truth in love. Others are filled with hate, but I don’t want that to ever be me.
 
So, what am I going to do? I am not going to accept hate. I am going to use my privilege to stand up for the vulnerable. I am going to listen. I am going to engage in productive conversations, not debates or arguments. I am going to give my time and money where I can to support the causes, people, and institutions I believe in. I am going to use my voice. I am going to love.
 

What are you going to do?

Quotes to Get You Feeling Autumnal


It’s that time of year again. The time of year when fall has officially begun, and I can no longer deny the inevitable ending of summer. Don’t get me wrongfall is beautiful (both literally and figuratively). But there’s just something about summer that I never seem to want to let go. The long, lazy days, the heat of the sun, the warm breeze through the luscious greenery. There’s something so innocent and childlike about summer, something so pregnant with possibility. 

With fall comes the cold, the return of responsibility. Even now that I’ve been done with school for a few years, I still feel victim to the same clock. Whether or not I actually took vacation in the summer, it feels like vacation is over. 

While there are plenty of things I love about fall (tonnes, really), I hate to see summer go. I hate to think of my parents’ cottage cold and uninhabited. I hate to think that I have to wait a whole year to lay on the beach with the warm sea breeze. I hate that fall signals the inevitable decline into winter. I don’t know about where you’re from, but here, fall is short and winter is long. Not only that, but winter is pretty terrible. 

So really, I have no problem with fall. I might enjoy it, even. But it means winter is coming soon, and that I dread.

In an effort to keep my mind in the present and not look ahead to the dreary, blustery days of winter, I’ve compiled some of the best quotes about fall to put me in an autumnal mood.  


“But when fall comes, kicking summer out on its treacherous ass as it always does one day sometime after the midpoint of September, it stays awhile like an old friend that you have missed. It settles in the way an old friend will settle into your favorite chair and take out his pipe and light it and then fill the afternoon with stories of places he has been and things he has done since last he saw you.” ― Stephen King, Salem’s Lot


“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” ― LM Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables


“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” ― Albert Camus


“Her pleasure in the walk must arise from the exercise and the day, from the view of the last smiles of the year upon the tawny leaves and withered hedges, and from repeating to herself some few of the thousand poetical descriptions extant of autumn–that season of peculiar and inexhaustible influence on the mind of taste and tenderness–that season which has drawn from every poet worthy of being read some attempt at description, or some lines of feeling.” ― Jane Austen, Persuasion


“No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace as I have seen in one autumnal face.”― John Donne


“It was a beautiful bright autumn day, with air like cider and a sky so blue you could drown in it.” ― Diana Gabaldon, Outlander


“Days decrease, / And autumn grows, autumn in everything.” ― Robert Browning


“For as long as she could remember, she had thought that autumn air went well with books, that the two both somehow belonged with blankets, comfortable armchairs, and big cups of coffee or tea.” ― Katarina Bivald, The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend


“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird, I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.” ― George Eliot 


“Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting, and autumn a mosaic of them all.”― Stanley Horowitz


“I loved autumn, the one season of the year that God seemed to have put there just for the beauty of it.”― Lee Maynard


“Every leaf speaks bliss to me / Fluttering from the autumn tree.”― Emily Bront​​​ë