A Day Without A Woman: Why I Strike

Starting at midnight tonight I am going on a social media blackout and participating in a #DayWithoutAWoman. I will honor the movements that took place before ours on International Women’s Day, and I will honor the women in my life and those who aren’t. I will be wearing red, not doing any paid or unpaid work, and not buying anything.

I strike for FULL equality of women everywhere, in wages, the workplace, family, emotional labor, reproductive choice, and personal safety. I support women everywhere to be free from harassment or judgment.

riseofthewoman1I strike for ALL women. Women of every race, ethnicity, economic background, immigration status. Every Native and indigenous person. I strike for Black lives. Every trans*, non-binary, non-gender conforming, and femme person. Every lesbian, gay, bi, queer, intersex, asexual, and aromatic woman or person.

I strike for those oppressed by white supremacy and imperialism and for religious freedom everywhere. For freedom to speak your mind but also for freedom from violence. For those who have been judged for their family and life choices or non-choices, regardless of whether you have kids. I strike for those who have been affected by domestic, sexual, emotional, or psychological abuse or violence. I strike for those who like me, have a mental disability and for quality mental healthcare for all.

I strike to promote love and respect for women and all individuals but against oppression in all its forms. I strike for health rights, for the right to have an education, for the right to have clean water and shelter. I strike for Standing Rock and the water protectors who fought to save clean water and preserve treaty rights. I strike for Flint and other cities across the world affected by lack of or infected natural resources, infectious diseases, poor justiceor lack of health care facilities, for environmental protection.

I will spend the day doing self care because self care is power and resistance. I will spend the day contemplating those with less privilege and fortune than me and ways I can support them physically, emotionally, financially. I will contemplate those who do not have the ability to take the day off for lack of financial resources or workers rights, particularly how I can support women in female-dominated fields.

Please join me. Our liberation is bound up in each others’. ✊🏽✊🏼✊🏿✊🏾✊🏻

xx

Website Launch: Books That Shook Us 

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Join me in celebrating Women’s History Month with the launch of a new website! Several months ago I founded Litsy Feminist Book Club on the Litsy app, and this is our latest project. My co-hosts Rachel Mans McKennyStacie C., and I have been working really hard on this, and we’re so excited to finally share it with you!

From our website:

Books that Shook Us is a project started by the Litsy Feminist Book Club. Our goal is to review and share books that create positive social awareness and action—and to have fun. Essays on this site might be serious or silly, but hopefully they get at the kind of truth only found in fiction (and poetry and non-fiction essays and plays.)

To celebrate Women’s History Month and our launch, we’ll be doing three giveaways this month. Our first one is up right now, and you can find details on our Twitter or Litsy (@litsyfeministbookclub) pages. Eventually, we’ll have an Instagram and Goodreads page up, too.

Most importantly, we want to share our combined passions of social justice, positive activism, and reading with you. We’re currently taking submissions of personal essays about the books that shook you. You can check out the guidelines for submissions on our website via the link above.

Now that this project is public, I can get back to my regularly scheduled blogging. I hope you’ll follow us on our website and Litsy, where we post daily about social justice. The discussion of our February book—The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander—will be March 10-15!

xx

September 2016: Wrap Up

Things have been a bit hectic lately at The Book Feminist abode, but I’m really looking forward to a fresh start with some spooky reads in October—my favorite!

I’ve been playing around on the Litsy app lately, which is so much fun. They recently released the Android version of the app, so if you’re into books, you should sign up! It’s free, it’s a lot of fun, and book people are the best. If you’re familiar with Instagram, you’ll take to it like a fish takes to water.

September was a lighter than average reading month for me, but I’m surprised by how many books I still wound up reading. I’ll post my stats and what I’ve read this month below, along with some mini reviews.

SEPTEMBER STATS

Total books: 10
Women authors: 6
POC authors: 6
LGBT authors: 1
Translated books: 2
Young adult books: 1
Short story collections: 2

Genres read: Literary, fantasy, detective.

Year to date books read: 139/100—so proud to have far surprised my Goodreads challenge this year! It’s been a great year for reading!

BOOKS I’VE READ THIS MONTH

The Last Days of New Paris by China Miéville
This is a lovely & strange novella. Postwar Paris has been walled off after an S-blast, which caused the city to be taken over by manifs, which are creations from various surrealist paintings that have sprung to life & now wander the city. Germany still occupies Paris. It’s a fascinating steampunk WWII alternate history universe that looks at the meaning & importance of art, fear of the unknown, & creativity. 4 stars. Recommend.

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A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
Delightful story! Ove is a finicky curmudgeon. Everything must be by the rules, or else he calls you out. He just wants to be left alone. When new neighbors move next door, he is furious & annoyed, yet over time becomes attached to them, much to his chagrin. Ove is a well-drawn, charming character whose quirks are laugh out loud funny. His story is both heartbreaking & heartwarming as it explores tragedy, why we live, & human connection. 4 stars. Recommend.

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Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson
An entrancing, lyrical meditation on coming of age as a black girl in Brooklyn. August begins her life in Tennessee until her father leaves her sick mom & takes her & her brother to NYC. They begin a new life in poverty & uncertainty. We follow August as she navigates girlhood w/her posse of girlfriends, exploring friendship, faith, family, love & grief in Woodson’s unparalleled poetic voice that resonates fear for the gritty world of Brooklyn. 5 stars. Highly recommend.

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Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley
In 1948 LA, Easy Rawlins is a no-nonsense black war veteran who’s fired from his factory job right as his mortgage is coming due. To make ends meet, he takes a job from a white gangster to find the whereabouts of Daphne, a tricky femme fatale, for a friend of his. Mosley’s debut detective novel is an excellent mystery w/well-drawn characters but it also shows the gritty realism of 1940s LA, including race relations & the morality of violence. 4 stars. Recommend.

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Man Tiger by Eka Kurniawan
Superb. Margio has a supernatural white tiger inside him that comes out when he’s under duress. Margio inexplicably murders a man by biting him, leaving the town baffled by how this was possible & why peaceful Margio resorted to violence. Kurniawan spins an intricately woven tale with magical realism that unravels the mystery of two interlinked families & why Margio killed. He explores betrayal, familial love, impulse, & the monsters inside us. 4.5 stars. Highly recommend.

(Many thanks to Netgalley and Verso books for providing me with an e-galley of this title that took me way too long to review. Catching up after a very difficult year!)

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The Girl from the Garden by Parnaz Foroutan
Beautiful, character-driven novel about a Jewish family in early 1900s Iran. Rakhel, a young wife, is unable to conceive & undergoes shame in society & in her family. Asher, her husband, makes radical decisions that send his family into turmoil so he can have a son. Underneath the family turmoil is a deep discussion about the role of women in Persian family life & their lack of agency, as well as how shame, desire, & power play out in families. 3 stars. Recommend.

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How to Escape from a Leper Colony by Tiphanie Yanique
Brilliant collection of short stories set in the Caribbean. Each story is unique—focusing on everything from lepers to coffin sellers—& covers a wide range of themes. Yanique’s writing is haunting, dark, & lush while confronting the stereotypes outsiders & colonists have of the US Virgin Islands, incl. conflict between its habitants. Her writing slowly simmers & builds as she unpacks colonialism, racism, colorism, death, violence, & family. 4.5 stars. Highly Recommend.

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Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
Delightful book by one of my fave English ladies. Historically, this book is a bold statement on women’s abilities to live w/o men as the centerpiece & have friendships amongst themselves when they were believed to have “separate spheres.” But it’s also like looking into a quaint, lace-trimmed window on 19th cent English country life. The characters are charming & witty as they tell anecdotes about their lives. No definitive plot, but very fun. 4 stars. Recommend.

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The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
Nix & her dad are time-traveling pirates. They can travel anywhere real or imagined, in any time period, if they have a map. Nix’s dad obtains his dream map—Hawaii 1868—to go back to when Nix’s mom died in childbirth to save her. Will altering the past erase Nix’s future? It’s a beautiful tale weaving Hawaii’s colonial history w/fantasy & lore along w/culture, family, loyalty, & a dash of romance. Plus: LESBIAN PIRATES & POCKET DRAGONS. 4 stars. Recommend.

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Little Black Book of Stories by A.S. Byatt
My first A.S. Byatt was an experience I would love to repeat. These stories are dark fairy tales, some w/magical realism. The stories cover topics such as WWII orphans, creatures in the woods, a stone woman, & more. Her storytelling is mysterious, foreboding, & haunting while bestowing commentary about society, relationships, & people. Eloquent yet precise, she never hesitates to keep you entranced. For fans of Kelly Link & Helen Oyeyemi. 4.5 stars. Highly recommend.

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In addition to these I’m reading way too many books at one time, most of which I am putting aside until November so I can get my October spook on:

  1. The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh
  2. Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn
  3. I Will Find You: A Reporter Investigates the Life of the Man Who Raped Her by Joanna Connors
  4. The House That Race Built: Original Essays edited by Wahneema Lubiano
  5. Are You Here for What I’m Here For? by Brian Booker
  6. The Book of Harlan by Bernie McFadden
  7. In the Country We Love: My Family Divided by Diane Guerrero (audiobook)
  8. I’m Supposed to Protect You From All This: A Memoir by Nadia Spiegelman
  9. The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena (audiobook)
  10. Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories edited by Stephanie Perkins
  11. A Sudden Light by Garth Stein
  12. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (reread for bookclub)

How did your reading month shape up? What are you looking forward to reading in October? I’ll be devoting the month to reading horror and spooky reads.

xx

Rio Olympics 2016: Brazilian Books

If you’re like me, you’ll be tuning into the Olympics over the next two weeks. Watching the Olympics always puts me in the mood for some armchair travel, and where better to visit than this year’s host country, Brazil?

I’ve put together a list of books about Brazil, by Brazilian authors, or about Brazilian topics to help feed your brain while you tune in to watch the Games!

Dancing with the Devil in the City of God: Rio de Janiero on the Brink by Juliana Barbassa

Juliana Barbassa is originally from Brazil and is an expert in Brazilian current affairs. Her most recent book is a biography of Rio de Janiero, Brazil’s former capital, known for its famous beaches like Copacabana and Ipanema, Carnival, lively nightlife, and favelas (shanty towns or slums). Barbassa covers Rio’s bid for the Olympics but also goes into depth about her life in Rio and many of its tumultuous current events, like the recent mudslides, issues with its favelas, unstable politics, drugs, and crime. It’s an informative, important read to read while we watch the Olympics in a city whose underbelly is often covered up.

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The Complete Stories by Clarice Lispector

This will be one of the best short story collections you ever read. Clarice Lispector is one of Brazil’s most cherished treasures and for good reason. She is a PHENOMENAL writer. Her stories are haunting and full of human truths. Her writing is feminist while confronting issues of race and sexuality, and her writing most often features women. Last year, this translation came out of her complete short stories, and Katrina Dodson has done a terrific job with the translation. The stories are presented chronologically, with her first works and early life appearing at the beginning and going through life as she ages. This book is a doorstopper, but take your time with it. You won’t regret it.

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Brazil by Errol Lincoln Uys

Disclaimer: I have not read this novel, but it has received great reviews from folks I trust. It’s written by a South African author who primarily lives in the United States, so it’s also worth noting that it may not always accurately portray the perspectives of those who are native to Brazil, particularly its Indigenous peoples. Those things aside, this looks like an incredibly well-researched historical saga about Brazil and its history that spans five centuries, starting in the 17th century with the arrival of the Portuguese. Brazil has had a troubled history, from its destruction of Indigenous peoples and cultures by the Portuguese during its colonization, to its long and storied history of slavery, and to its struggle for independence. This book has been compared to James Michener’s books, and while they can be problematic at times, they can also be a fascinating look at a country’s history and social issues.

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Perfect Days by Raphael Montes

Raphael Montes is a well-known Brazilian crime, thriller, and horror writer from Rio de Janiero. His book Perfect Days was published in English this year, and WOW, this has to be the creepiest book I have read in a long time. Teo is a loner medical student who has some interesting thoughts about the cadavers he works with. When he meets a woman at a party, he decides he’s fallen in love with her and kidnaps her. This book isn’t for the faint of heart, but it’s incredibly well-crafted. Montes is an excellent storyteller and master at building suspense in a book. I threw it across the room when I was done with it and promptly gave it to other friends who’ve had the same reaction: “WHAT JUST HAPPENED I HATE THIS BOOK. JUST KIDDING I WANT MORE.” It takes a lot of talent to write like this; I just don’t want to go anywhere near him until I find out where he gets his inspiration.

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Daytripper by Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá

Daytripper is an incredible graphic novel by two Brazilian comic book artists from São Paulo. It beautifully chronicles the fictional life of Brás de Oliva Domingos, an obituary writer by day and an aspiring author by night. The art is wonderful, and the story takes a deep look at the big questions of humanity: What is life, and what is death? It’s also a story about stories as we follow Brás through each day of his life. It’s one of the most profound and moving comics I’ve ever read, and I hope you’ll pick it up, too.

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Nemesis: The Battle for Brazil by Misha Glenny

Misha Glenny is a British journalist that has written a great piece of investigative journalism on the current social, political, and economic climate in Brazil. He follows the story of Antonio, nicknamed Nem, a renowned drug lord of Rio de Janiero’s largest slum, Rocinha. It discusses the themes of corruption, violence, drugs, and poverty, particularly how it relates to those who are affected by crimes, gangs, the criminal justice system, and it goes in depth about what it is like to live in the favelas or slums of Rio. You’ll learn a lot about Brazil’s culture and current state of affairs, and you’ll get a broader perspective on Rio’s well-known party culture that often overshadows its impoverished underbelly.

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Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands by Jorge Amada

Jorge Amada is one of Brazil’s most well-known authors, and this is probably one of his most well-known works. After a notorious gambler dies during Carnival, his wife puts everything into her cooking school and friends, despite people urging her to remarry. She eventually does remarry a pharmacist who is very different from her deceased husband. Despite thinking she will be happy, this book is about her longing for her first husband. Amada weaves multiple love stories with the magical realism that South American writing is known for. He has a way of humanizing people and telling compelling stories, and you won’t regret picking this novel up.

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Ways to Disappear by Idra Novey

Novey is an American poet who has lived in Brazil and done a lot of translation work in Spanish and Portuguese, including Clarice Lispector. This is her debut novel, which tells the story of Brazilian writer Beatriz Yagoda. Yagoda abruptly disappears one day, and after hearing this news, her American translator flies down to Brazil to search for her with her children. The story chronicles their escapades and how they deal with Yagoda’s affairs, including some sketchy characters, while exploring what it means to disappear.

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Have you read any books about Brazil or by Brazilian authors? Which ones would you recommend for some Brazilian armchair travel while we watch the Olympics?

xx

24 in 48 Readathon: Wrap Up

I finished the wonderful 24 in 48 Readathon this past weekend! I had such a great time and can’t wait to participate again with my fellow bookish nerds in January.

Hours Read: 24:11:17.54 hours!

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Books Finished: 7

Books Partially Read: 4

Coffees Consumed: Roughly 12. Conservative estimate.

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Also shout out to Litsy for hosting such a fantastic readathon weekend in partnership with 24 in 48, as well as all the sponsors they rounded up! They organized a ton of challenges and giveaways throughout the weekend, two of which I won! I’m so excited to receive my prizes and share them here. If you’re interested in following my bookish shenanigans over there, you can find me at @BookishFeminist.

Congrats to everyone who finished! I thoroughly enjoyed watching everyone’s posts, progress updates, and bookish positivity.

xx

24 in 48 Readathon: Check In #4

It’s the home stretch!

Time Read: approximately 20 hours

Current Mood: Punchy.

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Pages Read: MATH.

Books Finished: 6, nearly 7.

What Books Have I Been Reading?

  • I finished Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins. It was as great as I expected it to be. I want her to keep writing things because I will keep reading them. This book gave me feelings that I don’t know how to process yet because I’m so tired.
  • I read some stories in Africa39, an anthology of 39 short stories written by a variety of African authors, edited by Ellah Wakatama Allfrey. They’re wonderful! It’s such a delight to discover new authors, and this collection is chock full of them. The stories have all been consistently great so far, and they’re written about a variety of topics. So fascinating! I’m looking forward to finishing this collection, but it probably won’t happen during this readathon.
  • I’m also still plugging away at Loitering: New & Collected Essays by Charles D’Ambrosio. Fairly certain I will be able to finish this and also cram in one more short book over the next four hours. The essays continue to break my heart.

Next Up: Wild card again! Probably a comic to go easier on my eyes.

xx

 

24 in 48 Readathon: Check In #3

Time Read: approximately 13 hours

Current Mood:

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Current snack: Trenta iced coffee from Starbucks. Yes, a trenta.

Pages Read: ~700 pages, but too lazy to actually count at this point

Books Finished: 5, nearly 6

What Books Have I Been Reading?

  • I’ve been focusing on Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins as my main book because damn is it good. It’s perfect for summer, set against a semi-dystopian California background where the drought has dried everything up. It’s environmental speculative fiction, but the main focus is on the emotional lives of the people within the story. Watkins is a stellar writer. I loved Battleborn, her collection of short stories, and I’m glad this is scratching the same itch.
  • I also picked up Loitering: New and Collected Essays by Charles D’Ambrosio. I started reading this collection of essays last year and stalled out on it because it was so emotionally intense. Holy shit is D’Ambrosio a good writer. The first essay I read in it again punched me in the gut.
  • For when my eyes need a break, I’ve been listening to Political Suicide: Missteps, Peccadilloes, Bad Calls, Backroom Hijinx, Sordid Pasts, Rotten Breaks, and Just Plain Dumb Mistakes in the Annals of American Politics by Erin McHugh. I started reading this the other night after watching the Republican National Convention. If you missed that, it was scary. This collection of anecdotes about past political fuck-ups oddly helped sooth me before I could get to sleep. The audio is great, too. The anecdotes are no longer than a few pages each, so it’s not weird to stop and start frequently. It’s like someone gossiping in your ear while you, let’s say, update your blog.

Things That Have Disrupted My Reading Today:

  • Children running up and down the hallway outside my apartment.
  • The Internet, I’ll be honest.
  • Litsy, always.
  • My pet ferrets following me around trying to play with me.
  • The crow outside that persists at perching on my balcony for hours off/on, complete with cawing loudly and its various interpretations of The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe.
  • My pets, again.

Next Up: Who knows? Wild card. I’m getting sleepy again, so it depends how I feel.

How have you been reading?

xx