Top Ten Tuesday

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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Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Books to Tackle that Reading Slump

Happy Tuesday!! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic (hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl) asks us to share books that pull us out of reading slumps. We’ve all been there: for some reason the mood just won’t strike us, and any book we open up inevitably seems off-putting. Reading slumps are a bibliophile’s worst nightmare, especially when your looming TBR pile is staring you in the face. Today I’d like to share a list of ten books that have helped me break through reading slumps in the past.

What books have gotten you out of a reading slump? What do you think of the books on my list? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Best 10 of 2018 {So Far}

Happy Tuesday!! Can you believe that we’re already over half way through 2018 already?! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic (hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl) asks us to share the best 10 books we’ve read so far in 2018. I’ve already read far more than I expected to this year–mostly due to my sprawling required reading lists at Oxford–so I have plenty of books to choose from. Picking only ten won’t be easy!

Here’s to another six months of lovely reading days and great books! ❤

What are the best books you’ve read so far this year? What do you think of the ones I’ve mentioned? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Feminist Fridays

Feminist Fridays: WHAT HAPPENED by Hilary Clinton

This week’s Feminist Fridays feature edges into a topic that has the potential to be very controversial and divisive: politics. As I mentioned in my nonfiction TBR list for 2018, it was a goal of mine to read Hillary Clinton’s recent memoir What Happened, published on September 12, 2017. Well, consider this goal officially accomplished! Today I’d like to explore some of the ideas Hillary discusses in her book as well as the role of women in politics and leadership positions in general. However, before going further I’d like to say that this post does not revolve around where you fall on the political spectrum. I’m tackling these tough questions from the perspective of a woman rather than the view of a Democrat, Republic, etc. Personally, I feel as though gender inequality is an issue we should all be talking about regardless of our political views.

For the first time, Hillary Rodham Clinton reveals what she was thinking and feeling during one of the most controversial and unpredictable presidential elections in history. Now free from the constraints of running, Hillary takes you inside the intense personal experience of becoming the first woman nominated for president by a major party in an election marked by rage, sexism, exhilarating highs and infuriating lows, stranger-than-fiction twists, Russian interference, and an opponent who broke all the rules. This is her most personal memoir yet. {Goodreads}

For the purpose of this post, I’d like to focus on Hillary’s discussion of experiences she’s had as a woman in politics and leadership positions in general. She wasn’t taken series as a woman attorney in the courtroom. She’s treated differently from male politicians, interrogated with different questions and scrutinized much more harshly for her appearances and tone of voice. She’s been criticized for her age when male counterparts are viewed as wise, mature, and experienced at the same age or older. The list goes on and on and on.

The specific example that surprised me the most was how people blamed her for not taking her husband’s last name. Apparently when her husband and former president Bill Clinton failed to be reelected as governor of Arkansas, some people said that it was because Hillary went as “Hillary Rodham” instead of “Hillary Clinton,” suggesting that she was not dedicated to her husband nor his career. This fascinating Washington Post article titled “The complicated history behind Hillary Clinton’s evolving name” explains that even though there was likely no connection whatsoever between her name and the outcome of the election, it certainly impacted how people perceived her in relation to her husband.

This was a partial bow to tradition — but also, in this sense, it was a political play. It was an attempt to disrupt the idea that she was an excessively ambitious woman or disinterested in the traditional role of the state’s first lady. Bill Clinton became governor again.

There’s almost no way to say what role Hillary Rodham Clinton’s name change played in that outcome. She never left her law firm (note: The Rose Law firm wasn’t able to tell us by deadline if and when Rodham became Rodham Clinton in that office). But, at the very least, maybe a few more culturally conservative Arkansas voters viewed her as caring and emotionally connected to her husband.

Personally, I think this is absurd. Why does it matter what her last name is? What possible relation could her last name have to her love, loyalty, or devotion to her husband? (After what Bill Clinton put his wife through *cough* adultery *cough* I think he should have been the one to change his last name.) Women should have the freedom to keep their last name if they choose. This should not just be a legal freedom as it is now but a cultural freedom as well. We need to rid our society of the negative stigma attached to women who keep their last names, and this is a perfect example of why.

What do we do with all of this information about gender inequality in politics? I don’t have an exact answer, but it was comforting to learn that Hillary doesn’t know for sure, either:

“I’m not sure how to solve all this. My gender is my gender. My voice is my voice. To quote Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins, the first woman to serve in the U.S. Cabinet, under FDR, “The accusation that I’m a woman is incontrovertible.” Other women will run for President, and they will be women, and they will have women’s voices. Maybe that will be less unusual by then.”

I immensely enjoyed listening to the audio book of What Happened, which is narrated by Hillary herself. Not only does this book feel honest, authentic, genuine, and real, but it also humanizes Hillary in a way that the media has refused to do in recent years. What Happened is well written, carefully crafted, meticulously researched, and has clearly been created from a heartfelt place of insightfulness and reflection. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in current political events in the United States, women in politics, feminism in general, or who simply what’s another perspective on what in the world happened in the 2016 presidential election.

What are your thoughts on What Happened? How do you think feminist does or should fit into politics? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Feminist Fridays

Feminist Fridays: Nonfiction for 2018

A new year is right around the corner (eek!) which means it’s time to take a look at what 2018 will hold in terms of reading. I’ve tried not to go overboard with setting goals for next year, but I something I would really like to do is read more feminist nonfiction in 2018. Today I’m going to share five books about feminism, women, and our current culture of sexism that I’m hoping to read next year.

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

“Bad Feminist is a sharp, funny, and spot-on look at the ways in which the culture we consume becomes who we are, and an inspiring call-to-arms of all the ways we still need to do better. “{Goodreads}

I have yet to read anything by Roxane Gay, which is a shame considering all the fantastic things I’ve heard about her writing.

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“What does “feminism” mean today? That is the question at the heart of We Should All Be Feminists, a personal, eloquently-argued essay—adapted from her much-viewed TEDx talk of the same name—by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the award-winning author of Americanah and Half of a Yellow Sun.” {Goodreads} 

I definitely should have read this by now, especially considering how short it is!

Girl Up by Laura Bates

“Hilarious, jaunty and bold, GIRL UP exposes the truth about the pressures surrounding body image, the false representations in media, the complexities of a sex and relationships, the trials of social media and all the other lies they told us.” {Goodreads}

I want to read this book just from reading the synopsis alone– it sounds so interesting!

What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton

“For the first time, Hillary Rodham Clinton reveals what she was thinking and feeling during one of the most controversial and unpredictable presidential elections in history. Now free from the constraints of running, Clinton takes you inside the intense personal experience of becoming the first woman nominated for president by a major party in an election marked by rage, sexism, exhilarating highs and infuriating lows, stranger-than-fiction twists, Russian interference, and an opponent who broke all the rules. This is her most personal memoir yet.” {Goodreads} 

No matter where on the political spectrum you fall, it’s undeniable that Hillary offers a unique and fascinating perspective on being a woman in the politics today. I’m so intrigued by what she has to say!

Shrill by Lindy West

“Coming of age in a culture that demands women be as small, quiet, and compliant as possible–like a porcelain dove that will also have sex with you–writer and humorist Lindy West quickly discovered that she was anything but.” {Goodreads}

This sounds like it will be as interesting and worthwhile as it will be humorous– sign me up!

What are your thoughts on the books I’ve mentioned? Have any recommendations you would add to the list? What are your goals for 2018? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY