Top Ten Tuesday: Best Books I Read in 2018

Happy New Year!! I know this was technically last week’s topic, but shhh! I’m going to do it anyways because I didn’t get a chance to do it yet. I ended up reading way more books than I expected to in 2018, so picking just ten was actually pretty difficult. In the order that I read them, they are:

1. Girl Up by Laura Bates

This is one of the first books I read in 2018 and I can’t think of a better way to start a reading year off right. Although I think this book is technically geared toward young women in their teens, I think it is an important and valuable read for women at any age. In addition to the witty, intelligent writing in this book, the graphics are also fantastic in and of themselves.

2. What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton

I distinctly remember listening to Hillary narrate the audio book version of What Happened and I’ve found myself thinking about it frequently since then, even all these months later. Politics aside, Hillary offers some fascinating food for thought regarding being a woman in  the professional work sphere as well as what it’s like to suddenly have your private life become a public spectacle.

3. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

Another great audio book listen of 2018! Although it took a while to get through, I really enjoyed reading story that sparked the amazing musical that I was lucky enough to see performed on the West End while in London. It’s always interesting to note the differences between page and performance; however, I think experiencing both in this case gave me a greater appreciation for each!

4. A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf

After taking an entire term solely on Virginia Woolf while at Oxford, I think A Room of One’s Own is the one that has made me think the most. So many aspects of this book are still applicable today–or at least the sentiment behind her words is still relevant today–and I found solace in the fact that even one of the most brilliant minds I have ever read something by struggled with these sorts of issues.

5. Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman

This novel was everywhere in 2018, and for good reason: it is beautiful, lyrical, and captivatingly emotional. I remember visiting several bookshops in Amsterdam over my spring break and being overjoyed to see displays of this novel in many of them. Something about its story is so universally human.

6. Butterfly Burning by Yvonne Vera

Ahh, the novel that sparked my honors thesis! I feel such gratitude towards this novel for making me think about literature, feminism, and individual independence in ways that I never had before. If you want a challenging, eye-opening, heart-wrenching, thought-provoking read then I highly, highly recommend picking this one up!

7. Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga

Nervous Conditions is another vital novel in terms of my honors thesis and such a formative reading experience regarding thinking about the importance of multiplicity in stories and experiences. Learning that this novel is actually the first in a trilogy written over the course of decades was just icing on the cake!

8. The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Jurassic Park has been one of my favorite movies and books for a long time, so you can imagine how surprised and ecstatic I was when I stumbled upon this novel in the Blackwell’s Bookshop in Oxford. I had had no idea that the modern story was inspired by this early novel–and what a novel it is!

9. Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I read this essay at a time when its message was exactly what I needed to hear. I love how bold, direct, assertive, and confident Adichie is in this text. I think I’d even go so far as to say that it’s one of the most empowering things I have ever read.

10. The Human Stain by Philip Roth

Surprising to see a Roth book on this list after how much I complained about my Philip Roth senior seminar this semester? Honestly, so am I. I came to appreciate Roth as a writer, and the way he writes about identity in this novel really made me think.

What are the top ten books you read in 2019? What do you think of the books on my list? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

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Bookish Goals of 2019

As always, I’d like to set some bookish goals for the new year. Usually I try to set ten, but this time I’ve decided that less is going to be more.

1. Read 52 books.

For the past few years I’ve set myself a goal do reading 24 books; however, this goal hasn’t been very challenging to meet, especially since I have to read so much for classes. This year I’ve decided to set myself a goal of 52 books, the equivalent of one book a week. Hopefully this will be enough of a challenge to keep my actively reading but not too much of a challenge that it becomes unrealistic to achieve.

2. Read more nonfiction.

I know this is a rather general, vague goal, but I still think it’s worth keeping in mind this year. I have to read so much fiction for my English literature classes that I tend to miss picking up a good biography or memoir. If I could make a third or even half of what I read this year nonfiction, I would be very pleased. This goal will also hopefully help me catch up with my ever-growing nonfiction TBR pile.

3. Listen to more audio books.

Again, another general goal that I nevertheless feel is good to keep in mind in 2019. I loved listening to audio books while I was abroad whenever I had to walk to classes, go to the store, cook, do laundry, etc. I would really like to find a way to work it into my schedule this year and hopefully listen to around an audio book each month.

4. Read all of the books I already own.

Although I’ve gotten better at this over the years and my physical TBR pile has dwindled down considerably, I still own a significant number of books that I haven’t read. I’d love to get to a point where I only have five books or less at a time that I haven’t read, and I think that’s a pretty manageable goal for this year. If I read at least one book that I already own each month then I’ll be on the right track. This goal is partly motivated by my desire to not own any books that I know for a fact I’m not never going to read. Why have extra clutter on hand when I don’t need to?

5. Get back into blogging/bookstagram.

Throughout this past semester I basically stopped posting to both my blog and my bookstagram altogether. I was just so busy with classes, writing an honors thesis, applying to law schools, and life in general that my favorite bookish activities got pushed to the wayside a bit. I’m going to really try to make an effort to fit it into my schedule this semester, even if it’s not as frequently as I would ideally like. Something is better than nothing!

6. Read for fun!

It goes without saying that I read with a lot of different goals in mind: to better educate myself, to open my eyes to different ideas and ways of life, to be more empathetic and understanding of other people. However, each year I make sure to add this goal to my New Year’s list because it’s something I tend to forget in the hustle and bustle of busy schedules and busy reading time. While reading with all of those things in mind is incredibly important, it’s also really important to me that reading remains something I wholeheartedly enjoy and not something that feels like work all the time. Reading has always been something I’ve done because I genuinely love it, and I don’t want that to change!

Those are my six bookish goals for 2019, ones that I hope are challenging yet still manageable and fun to work towards. Wish me luck!

Have you set yourself any bookish goals for the New Year? What do you think of mine? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Looking Back at 2018

Every year for the past few years (2015, 2016, 2017) I’ve made one of these posts, and each year I’m even more surprised by how much can be packed into just twelve months.

2018 was a whirlwind year. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that the first half of it was spent in magical Oxford, England, traveling and studying and making memories that I will always, always fondly look back on with immense gratitude. While the transition back home was far from easy–I missed everyone and everything from my time at Oxford so dearly–it was made a thousand times better thanks to endless support from friends and family. Senior year at Wheaton has turned out to be more exciting, eye-opening, and formative than I ever expected. I found a true sense of belonging in 2018, something I feel as though I had been lacking for a long time.

2018 was also a year of countless firsts. I traveled to so many new places for the first time, from Edinburgh, Amsterdam, Berlin, Vienna, and Mondsee abroad to new mountains and cities back home in the States. I began traveling by myself more for the first time here, more comfortable with venturing off on my own. I had my first (and thankfully only) abroad allergic reaction and my first allergic reaction to occur at Wheaton, but survived them both and bounced back with the help and kind words of those around me. I finished my first semester as a college senior and have begun to confront the terrifying, exciting fact that this is it. I took the LSAT, applied to law schools, and got accepted to law schools for the first time. Never before have I felt so validated academically, like all of my hard work over the years has finally, finally paid off. It’s an amazing, incredible feeling.

2018 taught me many things, but above all I learned balance. I feel as though I’ve finally found a sort of equilibrium between friends, family, work, school, looking towards the future, reflecting on the past, and finding time to do the things that make me happy. It’s not a perfect balance, but something tells me that’s not truly possible to achieve. For now, I’m content with the balance I’ve struck.

2018 was far from flawless; there were many rough patches and turbulent waters, but somehow it all skyrocketed to an amazing end of the year. I know 2019 will be a year of huge transition for me–graduating college, entering law school, figuring out what my path forward looks like–but I’m happy knowing that 2018 set me up as best it could with unforgettable memories, challenging new experiences, and a better support network of friends and family than I could have ever asked for.

Thanks to everyone who made 2018 so wonderful; I hope I can return the favor in 2019. Happy New Year!!

How was your 2018? Highlights? Things you overcame? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Hope to Find Under the Christmas Tree

Happy Tuesday and MERRY CHRISTMAS!! I’m back to blogging now that I’m on break in between semesters, which means it’s time for my first Top Ten Tuesday in a while. This week we’re asked to share the top ten books we hope to find under the Christmas tree. I actually didn’t ask for any books this year, but there are always some that I wouldn’t mind receiving…

 

Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom by David W. Blight

It’s no secret that I love learning and reading about Frederick Douglass, a former slave who became an incredibly influential and important abolitionist orator in the nineteenth century. This new biography of Douglass just came out in October, so I’m eager to see how it compares to the other Douglass biography I’ve read.

Nehanda by Yvonne Vera

I’ve been trying to check out this book through the ILL system at my college library for weeks and for some reason it never seems to work. Vera is a large part of the honors thesis I’m currently working on, so I would love to read Nehanda, which was the first novel she ever wrote (not counting her collection of short stories published in 1992).

 

Operation Shylock: A Confession by Philip Roth

This past semester I took a senior seminar solely about Philip Roth. After reading so many Roth novels (and complaining about reading so many Roth novels), it’s a wonder that one has ended up on this list! But now that I’ve read so much Roth I feel like I should just keep going at this point.

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

I’ve been a fan of the Vlogbrothers for nearly a decade now, so it seems only fitting that I pick up Hank’s first novel one of these days. I’m so intrigued by the synopsis on Goodreads–who knows what kind of crazy stuff Hank has in store for us?

Secrets for the Mad by Dodie Clark

I’ve been a fan of Dodie’s music for a little while now (especially since seeing her perform live in London earlier this year!) so I’d love to read her book. If it’s anything like her song lyrics, then it’s bound to be beautifully written!

Those are all of the books I could come up with off the top of my head that I’d really love to own a copy of. What books are on your wish list? What do you think of the books on mine? Let me know in the comments section below!

Once again, MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

Yours,

HOLLY

The Bookish Naughty List Tag

Long time, no see! It’s been a while since I last posted something (since Halloween?!), but I’m here today with a festive tag to jump back into things. Norees @ No Reads Too Great tagged me in the Bookish Naughty List Tag, which I had never seen before. Let’s get right to it!

Read an ARC and not reviewed it.

Unfortunately, yes. There are a few that I read over the summer that I meant to write reviews of this past semester, but obviously that didn’t happen… hopefully I’ll get around to writing them eventually!

Have less than 60% feedback rating on Netgalley.

Although I signed up for a Netgalley account years ago, I don’t think I’ve ever actually used it.

Rated a book on Goodreads and promised a full review was to come on your blog–and it never did.

Oh, ALL THE TIME. I’m so guilty of saying this; however, I always do genuinely intend on writing a review at some point, so at least it comes from a place of good intentions!

Folded down the page of a book.

Yup yup. I’m not averse to doing this at all if it’s a book that I own, but I would never fold down the page of a book that wasn’t mine.

Accidentally spilled something on a book.

I’m the worst and spill tea on the corners of pages on a regular basis. At least it doesn’t really stain, though!

DNF’d a book this year.

Probably, although none come to mind at the moment. I have a bad habit of checking out audiobooks, listening to an hour or so of them, and then running out of time in my schedule to fit it in before the due date arrives much too soon.

Bought a book purely because it was pretty with no intention of reading it.

Nope! If I buy a book, it’s because I’m at least decently interested in reading it. I don’t want to waste money (or space on my bookshelf!).

Read whilst you were meant to be doing something else (like homework).

Oh, absolutely! I tend to read whenever I’m stressed or sad or want to distract myself from something, so it often makes its way into my morning/evening routine when I could be spending that time being productive in other ways. I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing, though–it’s always good to take a much-needed break sometimes!

Skim read a book.

Guilty as charged! I’ve done this with quite a few books for courses when I only need to read a certain section but I want more context from the rest of the book. Some skimming also usually happens when I’m particularly tired…

Completely missed your Goodreads goal.

I for sure thought I had at some point, but I just checked my Goodreads page and apparently I’ve never missed my goal?!?! How has this happened?!?! In recent years I’ve taken to setting some pretty manageable goals so I don’t put added pressure on myself to read more than I feasibly can, but early on I had some WILD reading years.

Borrowed a book and not returned it.

Nope! I’m pretty diligent about returning books to people. I’ve been on the opposite end of not getting a book back a few times and it’s not fun!

Broke a book buying ban.

I’ve never set myself a book buying ban, so there hasn’t been one to break! I’m fairly good at only buying books here and there, mostly because I already have so many books on my shelf that I haven’t read yet.

Started a review, left it for ages, and then forgot what the book was about.

ALL. THE. TIME. I can’t even count the number of times this has happened to me, especially during the summer months when I tend to read books faster than I write reviews of them. All those poor deleted drafts!

Wrote in a book you were reading.

Oh, I LOVE writing in books! I do this all the time and have absolutely no shame.

Finished a book and not added it to your Goodreads.

I’m sure there have been a few that I’ve forgotten to add, but I do try to stay on top of updating my list–even if that means doing so a few weeks late!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this tag! I’m not going to tag anyone else because I’ve been out of the loop for so long that I have no idea who has done this yet and who hasn’t. If you’d like to have a go at it, please do!

Looks like I’ve been more bookishly naughty than nice lately! What are your answers to these questions? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Halloween Creatures Book Tag

BOOO! Happy Halloween, everyone! I hope you’re having a lovely day of spooky celebrations and plenty of candy corn to go around. Today I’d like to celebrate with this Halloween Creatures Book Tag. Thanks so much to Theresa @ The Calico Books for tagging me!

Witch: A magical character or book.

How could I not mention one of my favorite books? The Hobbit is magical in so many senses of the word, from setting and characters to the warm, fuzzy feeling it gives me whenever I return to its faded pages.

Werewolf: The perfect book to read at night.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte has always struck me as the ideal book to read under the covers on a dark, stormy night. Is it the eerie setting? Cruel Heathcliff? Bronte’s lyrical writing? Or a combination of them all?

Frankenstein: A book that truly shocked you.

The existence of this book shocked me. I had no idea that my favorite movie and Michael Crichton’s brilliant book Jurassic Park was inspired by The Lost World, a 1912 novel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, until I found it in a bookstore one day in Oxford.

The Devil: A dark, evil character.

The Rook by Daniel O’Malley is filled with complicated, ambiguous, surprising characters who may be considered a hero one minute and evil the next. I love a great character twist!

Grim Reaper: A character that should never have died.

I think Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling goes without explanation for this prompt. So sad!

Zombie: A book that made you hungry for more.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte was the book that made me eager to read more classic literature. What would I be reading nowadays if not for my favorite genre?

Gargoyle: A character that you would protect at all costs.

I’m going to say Jim Burden from My Ántonia by Willa Cather, one of my favorite novels. Ántonia could definitely hold her own, but I’m not so sure about poor Jim…

Vampire: A book that sucked the life out of you.

I really enjoyed reading War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, but it took a long, long time. A few summers ago I read about a section a week for two months or so–splitting it up over the course of a summer definitely helped!

Ghost: A book that still haunts you.

Beloved by Toni Morrison is one of the most striking, unsettling, powerful, haunting books I have ever read. It’s a novel that stays with you long after you’ve turned the last page.

Demon: A book that really scared you.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley is hilarious and witty while simultaneously terrifying. What if society goes in this direction? What does our future look like? Huxley offers a frightening example.

Skeleton: A character you have a bone to pick with.

Emma by Jane Austen was such a tedious book to read because I found so many of the characters annoying. I think it might be worth rereading someday, but for now I’m fine just watching Clueless. 

Mummy: A book you would preserve through time.

I have a strange attachment to Founding Brothers by Joseph J. Ellis. I read it for an essay in my AP United States History class during my junior year of high school and I adored it.

Creepy Doll: A cover too scary to look at.

Even the spine of The Shining by Stephen King is creepy. I remember finishing this book while staying overnight in a lodge on a mountain in January… definitely fit the mood of the book!

YOU! Since Halloween is today, I’m not quite sure if anyone will want to do this tag. But if you’d like to, definitely go for it! Happy Halloween!!

What are your answers to these prompts? What do you think of mine? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

WIDE SARGASSO SEA by Jean Rhys | Review

“Wide Sargasso Sea, a masterpiece of modern fiction, was Jean Rhys’s return to the literary center stage. She had a startling early career and was known for her extraordinary prose and haunting women characters. With Wide Sargasso Sea, her last and best-selling novel, she ingeniously brings into light one of fiction’s most fascinating characters: the madwoman in the attic from Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. This mesmerizing work introduces us to Antoinette Cosway, a sensual and protected young woman who is sold into marriage to the prideful Mr. Rochester. Rhys portrays Cosway amidst a society so driven by hatred, so skewed in its sexual relations, that it can literally drive a woman out of her mind.”   {Goodreads}

As discussed in a past Classic Couple post, I have finally read Jean Rhys’s famous prequel to Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. First published in 1966, Wide Sargasso Sea is the story of what happened to Antoinette–otherwise known as Bertha Mason–who we only ever meet as the “madwoman in the attic” in the classic Victorian novel. Here Rhys turns what we think we know about this story on its head, providing an alternative look at what may have really happened to the first wife of Mr. Rochester.

What I love about this novel is that it unabashedly exposes the layers of racism, colonialism, and sexism present in Jane Eyre. Rhys does this largely by playing around with perspective. The novel begins by focusing on the experience of Antoinette, showing the reader that she is an intelligent, rational, emotional human being with family, desires, and fears just like anyone else. Rhys then switches the focus to that of Rochester, revealing the inner workings of his prejudiced mind. Rochester openly admits to the reader that he hoped Antoinette would become “more English” through marriage to him and that he is disappointed when she doesn’t change in this way. By switching perspectives, we see that Antoinette is not the one who is “crazy”; rather, the real “madwoman in the attic” is the “Bertha” figure that Rochester portrays her as in order to get what he desires.

Another major strength of the novel is the way Rhys seamlessly ties it into Jane Eyre without being glaringly obvious or over-the-top about it. The final few pages of the novel place Antoinette in the attic of Thornfield Hall, yet she is not portrayed as Rochester would have her represented. Instead, she longs for the past that she used to have and the future that Rochester ripped away from her with this twist in their distorted marriage. Jane is presented as more of a ghost than Antoinette, the two-dimensional figure that we only hear about but don’t really know. Instead, the reader can’t help but empathize with this woman who was torn from everything she knew simply because Rochester didn’t like her non-English background and customs. In this way, Rhys connects her novel with that of Charlotte by suggesting an alternate reading of one of its characters rather than entirely changing the classic’s story. 

With that being said, it feels as though Wide Sargasso Sea does invite us to go back and read Jane Eyre with this new perspective in mind. In fact, I think it would be a great idea to teach these novels alongside each other in classroom settings rather than simply encouraging students to read Brontë’s novel on the basis that it is yet another classic. I believe that more can be learned from reading these two together rather than apart.

Overall, the only regret I have about reading Wide Sargasso Sea is not having read it sooner. This is a brilliant novel that everyone who reads Jane Eyre should absolutely pick up.

What are your thoughts on Wide Sargasso Sea? Have you read any of Jean Rhys’s other writing? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Bookshop Qualities

Happy Tuesday!! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is supposed to highlight bookstores we’ve always wanted to visit; however, I thought it would be to share ten qualities that make for the best bookshops. In no particular order:

 

What are your favorite bookshop qualities? Do you have a favorite bookshop? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Avoiding Book Burnout as an English Major

Recently someone asked me in a comment how I avoid burning out as an English major–in other words, how do I keep from getting sick of reading? It might sound implausible that a bookworm could get tired of reading, but it definitely happens. When the line between work and play is blurred, it can suddenly feel like what was once a hobby is now homework–because it is. 

For each term at Oxford I had to read about sixteen novels, plus secondary reading during term itself. For my senior seminar at Wheaton right now I have to read about a dozen novels by Philip Roth–and that’s in addition to all the reading for my other English class, history class, and Honors Thesis. Needless to say, studying English literature involves a lot of reading. When you consider the sheer amount of pages being turned, it’s easy to imagine how someone could want to do something else in their sparse free time besides open even more books. 

So how do I avoid burning out? Here’s my advice:

Switch things up.

One of the problems I’ve encountered studying English literature is that the genre I would usually read for fun (classics) is precisely when I have to read for class. Instead, I try reading different genres, particularly children’s or young adult books. Because they’re different enough from what I read for class, my mind isn’t so quick to associate it with doing work.

Listen to audio books.

Listening to audio books is my favorite way to get extra reading in during the semester without feeling like I’m doing more work. I love not having to feel like I’m spending even more time with my eyes glued to a page, as well as the fact that I can get other things done (like laundry, cleaning, etc.) at the same time).

Make it social.

Join a book club. Read the same book as a friend. Be more active in the book blogging community. Sometimes adding a more social aspect to reading helps it feel less like homework and more like something you’re doing in your precious free time.

Take a break.

Sometimes you just have to accept the fact that bookish burnout is unavoidable without taking a bit of a break from reading for fun. Whenever I feel this tiredness coming on, I usually switch to listening to podcasts, knitting, or some other activity instead. Taking a break from reading doesn’t make you a “bad” bookworm in any way–partially because such a category doesn’t exist. There’s no denying that the reading you do for class is still reading, even if it’s not what you would choose to read on your own.

I hope these quick pieces of advice are helpful! Studying English literature can be surprisingly tricky for self-proclaimed bookworms, and it’s nice to know that it’s not just you falling out of love with reading–sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. 

How do you avoid burning out as an English major or college student in general? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Feminist Fridays: Masturbation Madness?

As I mentioned in my review of Roth’s Goodbye, Columbus collection, I’m currently taking senior seminar that solely focuses on Philip Roth. A few weeks ago I was assigned to read his 1969 novel Portnoy’s Complaint, and I have some thoughts. 

Portnoy’s Complaint is essentially one man’s long tirade about sex to his therapist. He starts by recounting his early years of experimenting with different ways of masturbating, from his sister’s bras to the liver that his family then ate for dinner. Throughout the novel we learn all about the women he’s hooked up with over the years, from prostitutes to random women he meets in his travels. Everything is described in graphic, explicit detail, including both the physical events as well as Alex’s (the narrator) thoughts about his many sexual experiences.

I don’t have a problem reading explicitly sexual books in class. What I have a problem is the blatant sexism in Roth’s novels and how it is often brushed off as being a mere “product of the time period.” Nope. Not an excuse. Just because something was written in a specific time and place does not mean it get’s a free pass to be read without any sort of discussion about its problematic elements. 

It also doesn’t help that the only women represented in Portnoy’s Complaint are those objectified for their bodies and who are thought of strictly in sexual terms. Even Alex’s mother is portrayed in this way, as shown when he implies that he wants to have sex with her (this novel is the definition of Freudian). And don’t get me started about Roth’s portrayal of menstruation: not only does he compare menstrual blood to that of meat, but he also claims that it was “better she should have bled herself out on the bathroom floor, better that, than to have sent an eleven-year-old boy in hot pursuit of sanitary napkins” (Roth 44). Why is this okay? And why don’t we talk about how it’s not okay?

Upon leaving my senior seminar on the day we discussed Portnoy’s Complaint, I couldn’t help feeling disappointed by all the things we hadn’t talked about. What about the way Alex calls one of the women he hooks up with “The Monkey”? What about how he only values women for their bodies, and once they start to talk about committed relationships or (gasp!) marriage, he calls them crazy and leaves them? Or what about the scene toward the end of the novel where he nearly rapes a woman? In what setting is it okay for these things to be brushed off in order to talk about Roth’s portrayal of Jewish identity for the millionth time this semester instead? 

Reading so much about masturbation from a man’s point of view also made me ask another important question: Why aren’t we reading about this from a woman’s point of view? Is there even an equivalent of this book written by a woman? If so, why isn’t it being talked about? If not, why hasn’t it been written? In a class dedicated to talking about the experiences of a man, I would hope for a bit more discussion about those of women. Considering recent events (particularly those in the United States), I feel as though Roth’s voice may not be the one that most desperately needs to be heard right now.

I understand the literary significance of Portnoy’s Complaint: it was revolutionary for its time, exploring topics of sex and masculinity in ways that hadn’t been done in such an explicit, graphic nature before. With that being said, there is absolutely no reason why we can’t discuss its enduring literary merit while also criticizing its problematic, sexist aspects. To do otherwise is to imply that what I feel as a woman reading this text doesn’t matter, that I should be able to turn off those emotions simply because it’s a “product of its time.” I’m sorry–I guess I’m just a product of my time, too.

Click here to check out other Feminist Friday posts!

What are your thoughts on Portnoy’s Complaint or about reading problematic/sexist texts in class? Have any feminist texts you would recommend? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY