Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: My Favorite Empowering Reads

Happy Tuesday!! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic asks us to share ten favorite books from our favorite genre. Usually I would say that my favorite genre is classic literature, but lately I’ve been going through a bit of a tough patch with some personal things and have been trying to immerse myself in books that are empowering and inspiring to read. There’s nothing like a good book to get you amped and excited!

The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House by Audre Lorde

This collection of essays was gifted to me by one of my friends that I met at Oxford and I am so grateful that it was. I remember reading this book in a parking lot waiting for an appointment and actually tearing up because Lorde’s words are just so moving and powerful.

“We have the power those who came before us have given us, to move beyond the place where they were standing. We have the trees, and water, and sun, and our children. Malcolm X does not live in the dry texts of his words as we read them; he lives in the energy we generate and use to move along the visions we share with him. We are making the future as well as bonding to survive the enormous pressures of the present, and that is what it means to be a part of history.”

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

This little book is like a breath of fresh air. There are so many little nuggets of truth here, ones that deeply resonate with me as things that should come as a given in life but are often hidden and distorted by society. Such as: “Your feminist premise should be: I matter. I matter equally. Not “if only.” Not “as long as.” I matter equally. Full stop.”

What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton

As someone soon entering law school, I found this book to be a really interesting insight into the challenges women face in male dominated spheres like law, government, and politics. This memoir is also just inspiring in and of itself: Hillary has gone through so much in her life, much of it under the harsh, unforgiving, scrutinizing gaze of the American public. While she has certainly made mistakes along the way, she has also experienced a lot of turmoil in her life that was out of her control. Some may say that this book is sad because she ultimately did not achieve her goal of becoming president of the United States, and that is true; however, I think it’s also really empowering because she is still here fighting for what she believes in and telling her story in this memoir, despite the public failure that she recently endured.

“For a candidate, a leader, or anyone, really, the question is not “Are you flawed?” It’s “What do you do about your flaws?” Do you learn from your mistakes so you can do and be better in the future? Or do you reject the hard work of self-improvement and instead tear others down so you can assert they’re as bad or worse than you are?”

Girl Up by Laura Bates

Although this book may have been written with a younger audience in mind (around high school age, it seems) I still think it’s so worth a read at any age! Like Adichie’s book, Girl Up emphasizes some ideas that should be common sense but that are often obscured by gender inequality in politics and society today. Plus, this book has such fun and colorful graphics!

The Truth About Style by Stacy London

Stacy London has been an icon in my life since I was a kid and would watch What Not to Wear every day at lunchtime when I was home for the summer. This memoir is both personal and universal in a way, with London offering wisdom that can be taken and applied to so many different situations. Not only is it empowering from a fashion standpoint, but it is also empowering from a lifestyle standpoint. London discusses everything from relationships to body image to aging, so there really is something for everyone here.

“A whole life can go by being too busy and waiting for “when.” Living in the future means barely existing in the present. If you can’t enjoy things now, when will you magically develop the tools to enjoy things in the future?”

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

As someone who adores hiking, I was really excited to read about someone’s adventures on a trail that I know very little about. But this memoir is so much more than simply an account of one woman’s trek along the Pacific Crest Trail; rather, it’s an emotional story of Strayed’s journey through loss, grief, and a sense of purposelessness.

“I made it the mantra of those days; when I paused before yet another series of switchbacks or skidded down knee-jarring slopes, when patches of flesh peeled off my feet along with my socks, when I lay alone and lonely in my tent at night I asked, often out loud: Who is tougher than me?

The answer was always the same, and even when I knew absolutely there was no way on this earth that it was true, I said it anyway: No one.”

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

Sometimes it’s empowering to remember that even those people we admire don’t have it all figured out one hundred percent of the time. Kaling is open and honest in this essay collection, discussing her childhood and the tumultuous road she took to get where she is today. Besides, it’s downright hilarious!

Not Just Jane: Rediscovering Seven Amazing Women Writers Who Transformed British Literature by Shelley DeWees

What’s better than a book about books? I love this book because it makes you look at British literature and writers in a different light. Sometimes when learning about the Western canon in classes it can be easy to forget that literary fame has a lot to do with circumstances and privilege. In some ways, it’s arbitrary chance that we read the books we read today. However, there is a sense of empowerment that comes from reading about these remarkable women who wrote despite their unfortunate circumstances and the traumatic hardships that they endured. It’s also a great source of reading inspiration: so many new texts to explore!

A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf

Although some people criticize this book for not being as feminist as people make it out to be, I think it’s nevertheless an important starting point and a lovely little source of empowerment. Women can do anything we put our minds to, and we deserve the opportunity to have a room of our own to do it in!

Matilda by Roald Dahl

Ahh, such a classic! I adore Matilda, even though I just read it for the first time a few years ago and don’t have the childhood nostalgia towards it that many bookworms have. Even just thinking about Matilda’s strength, perseverance, optimism, and kindness makes me feel empowered to go seize the day!

What books empower you? What do you think of the books I’ve mentioned? What’s your favorite genre? Let me know in the comments section below!

 

 

Yours,

HOLLY

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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