women writers

The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon - A Classics Club Review

The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon – A Classics Club Review

You may have read a previous post in which I described joining The Classics Club and introducing my reading list of 100 Classic Reads for the Rest of Us. Well, I meant to read two classics each month but in this, my first month, I am already behind! I have had a busy month but I managed to get through my first Classics Club book, The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon, which is a fascinating look at Japanese court culture during the 11th century Heian period (794 to 1186).

While others may be more familiar with Murasaki Shikibu’s The Tale of Genji as an example of classic Japanese literature of the time, I chose The Pillow Book instead – I always lean towards bucking the trend and I was intrigued by what I had read of Sei Shonagon’s attention to detail, unflinching honesty, and acerbic wit in her quest for the perfect comeback.

It’s been said that Murasaki Shikibu and Sei Shonagon were rivals in the same literary circle and that the former found Sei Shonagon conceited. And while The Tale of Genji is a long and layered tale of politics, love, and loss, The Pillow Book is less serious – and to me, more telling – and full of Sei Shonagon’s observations, delights, and criticisms. Despite (or perhaps because of) her often sentimental observations, Sei Shonagon would’ve been brought into court for her knowledge of literature and poetry and for her writing skills; according to Ohio State University professor Ryan Schultz, she brought a level of “sophistication and elegance” to the court, which were cornerstones of court culture during this period.

According to Dr. Meredith McKinney, an expert in Japanese literature and translator of this edition, Sei Shonagon might have been born around 966 and the last known reference to her was in 1017. She was a member of the court of Empress Consort Teishi (Sadako), where she served as a gentlewoman or lady-in-waiting beginning around 993 until Teishi’s death in 1000.

The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon - A Classics Club Review

Sei Shōnagon, drawing by Kikuchi Yosai (1788–1878). (Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=626326)

While specific details about Sei Shonagon and her book are difficult to confirm, it is believed she completed the book around 1002. It is the oldest book on my classics list. There are several editions of the book; it has been copied and recopied multiple times. I read the Penguin Classics edition which includes an informative introduction written by Meredith McKinney and is full of notes throughout. Well-researched and thorough, it also includes appendices such as a glossary as well as explanations of colors and clothes, social statuses, and more.

The Pillow Book is akin to a diary; Sei Shonagon mostly tells us stories of her daily life, gossips about her peers, comments on fashion and the seasons. It provides a perspective on imperial culture in all its luxury, privilege, and poetry and is considered a masterpiece of Japanese literature. According to Sei Shonagon, the book was supposed to have been kept private but started to circulate among the court members when it was discovered after she accidentally left it out on a mat one day around 996.

I have never read a book quite like this before. While I enjoyed it for its unique content and perspective, it lacks the cohesion I was used to as it jumps around throughout time periods, thoughts, and miscellany. At times, Sei Shonagon uses the pages to list examples of seemingly arbitrary topics of her choice, sometimes as ordinary as naming peaks, plants, or bodies of water but at other times are more thoughtful. Here are some of my favorites:

Though it’s the same it sounds different ~ The language of priests. Men’s language. Women’s language.

Rare things ~ A pair of silver tweezers that can actually pull out hairs properly. A person who is without a single quirk. Two women, let alone a man and a woman, who vow themselves to each other forever, and actually manage to remain on good terms to the end.

Times when someone’s presence produces foolish excitement ~ A mother who’s pampering and praising her spoilt child, who is actually nothing out of the ordinary. The little introductory cough you give when you’re about to address someone who overawes you.

Things now useless that recall a glorious past ~ A fine embroidery-edged mat that’s become threadbare. A painter with poor eyesight. A switch of false hair seven or eight feet long, that’s now fading and taking on a reddish tinge. A man who was a great lover in his day but is now old and decrepit.

While I took these as fascinating insights into the life of an elite Japanese court woman at that time, I can see how some readers may become tired of the gossipy tone or her whiny judgments. I feel as though many readers would be satisfied with a summary of the book and a sampling of representative passages. But I would encourage others to read it precisely because it often doesn’t conform to modern (Western) writing conventions – and this is a good thing. The Pillow Book provides accessible entry into a slice of Japanese culture, history, and literature in a form that is swift, smart, and sharp.

The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon - A Classics Club Review

Sei Shonagon, by Unknown (Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3616093)

One aspect that kept me reading was noticing the way women were talked about in the book. Now while the type of life represented in the book was not that of most women of the time, it was interesting to examine how court women were thought of and treated. It seems that mainly women were hidden away, in several palace rooms, behind curtains or screens, or in carriages. That being said, it didn’t seem that these court women minded this. The court was the center of their worlds and according to Sei Shonagon, they seemed fairly satisfied with it. Beauty and comfort were central themes of the book and Sei Shonagon spends time describing clothing, fabrics, festivals, the weather, sounds, and colors; all in a signature poetic style that makes for lovely backdrops to the stories she tells.

In this polygamous, polyamorous time, Japanese court women of the Heian period enjoyed taking multiple lovers, seemingly without shame or judgement. Sei Shonagon even discusses how a man should be sure to not overstay his welcome in his lover’s chambers after a night of pleasure as well as the importance of a well-written (and prompt) “morning after” note.

The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon - A Classics Club Review

Sei Shōnagon, illustration from an issue of Hyakunin Isshu (Edo period) (By user:Ultratomio, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=164427)

Those who are interested in learning about this era of Japanese history or life would find this book compelling. I would also recommend this book to poetry lovers, as poetry was an integral part of court society during this period. One’s knowledge of poetry indicated their intellect, wit, and social standing; not only was one expected to know the greats but also to come up with original poetry on the spot. Communication between friends, colleagues, and lovers often took place via notes sent by messenger and these notes were often written in poetry, so one needed to be able to read, interpret, and create poems full of flirtation and puns for attention and glory. This was one of Sei Shonagon’s talents; she aimed to delight and surprise with her poetry and humor.

Overall, I am glad I started my Classics Club journey with The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon. It was unlike anything else I have read and I learned more about a culture about which I know very little. I would recommend it to readers of poetry and women writers, those interested in Japanese or women’s history, or anyone who is looking for a unique classic read!

Summary:

The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon - A Classics Club Review

 

Title: The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon
Author: Sei Shonagon
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Pages: 404 pages
Publication Date: 2006 (this translation edition)
Tags: Japan, women writers, memoir, history, poetry, classics
My Rating: Recommended

 

 

 

For further reading:

“‘The Pillow Book’ By Sei Shonagon Was Written In The 11th Century, But It’s Basically A Modern Day Blog” (2018) by Charlotte Ahlin for Bustle

The Pillow Book on Ancient History Encyclopedia

Pillow Book on Encyclopedia Britannica

The Pillow Book: Translating a Classic (2011) by Meredith McKinney for Kyoto Journal

The Pillow Book of Sei Shônagon (with excerpts and study questions) on Asia for Educators

Heian Literature and Japanese Court Women video by Ryan Schultz of The Ohio State University

 

This post contains affiliate links; I write what I like.

October 2018 New Reads for the Rest of Us

Welcome to the October 2018 New Reads for the Rest of Us!

With these monthly lists, I aim to amplify the books written by those who are historically underrepresented including, but not limited to: womxn, women of color, women from the Global South, women who are Black, Indigenous, dis/abled, queer, fat, immigrants, Muslim, sex-positive, and more. My lists meant to be intersectional, feminist, and trans-inclusive. I also want to highlight books by gender non-conforming people (who may or may not be described by the term “womxn”).

If you’d like to learn more about which books I focus on, see my Review Policy. These are just guidelines and I reserve the right to include (or not!) any books I see fit. I usually add to this list as I learn of others; if you have a suggestion, please share it in the comments below!

So here’s the October 2018 New Reads for the Rest of Us list. These lists are getting long; I may have to start dividing them up! There are so many great titles here, which will you read??

 

Bitterroot: A Salish Memoir of Transracial Adoption by Susan Devan Harness 

October 1

Tags: Memoir, Native American (Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribes), women writers, family, adoption, #OwnVoices

University of Nebraska Press, 352 pages

“One Salish-Kootenai woman’s journey, this memoir is a heart-wrenching story of finding family and herself, and of a particularly horrific time in Native history. It is a strong and well-told narrative of adoption, survival, resilience, and is truthfully revealed.”–Luana Ross (Bitterroot Salish), codirector of Native Voices Documentary Film at the University of Washington and author of Inventing the Savage

 

In Defense of Loose Translations: An Indian Life in an Academic World by Elizabeth Cook-Lynn

October 1

Tags: Women writers, memoir, Native American (Crow Creek Sioux), education, Indian studies

University of Nebraska Press, 232 pages

“As a Native intellectual and a Dakota intellectual, Elizabeth Cook-Lynn constructs indigeneity as well as her own life while deconstructing U.S. settler-colonialism. She is one of the world’s experts on the subject area, which gives the subjective text a solid foundation. The book is beautifully written, poetic, lyrical, a signature style. It is truly a brilliant work.”–Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author of An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, winner of the American Book Award

 

Painted Cities: Illustrated Street Art Around the World by Lorna Brown

October 1

Tags: Art, women writers

Head of Zeus, 128 pages

“Lorna has travelled around the world to produce this collection of illustrations of street art in urban landscapes. Visiting London, Bristol, Helsinki, Berlin, Cairo, Bethlehem, New York, Los Angeles, Detroit, Christchurch, Melbourne, Painted Cities demonstrates how the architecture shapes the unique street art in each city and tells the story of the painters and people who live there.”–Description

 

The Taiga Syndrome by Cristina Rivera Garza (@criveragarza)

October 1

Tags: Women writers, folklore, Latinx

Dorothy, a publishing project; 128 pages

“Fiction. Latinx Studies. Women’s Studies. Translated from the Spanish by Suzanne Jill Levine and Aviva Kana. A fairy tale run amok, The Taiga Syndrome follows an unnamed female Ex-Detective as she searches for a couple who has fled to the far reaches of the earth.”–Description

 

Terrorism, Betrayal, and Resilience: My Story of the 1998 U.S. Embassy Bombings by Prudence Bushnell

October 1

Tags: Memoir, women writers, politics, Kenya, history

Potomac Books, 288 pages

“Prudence Bushnell’s name is not household familiar—but it should be. She was at the center of one of the most infamous terrorist attacks on American people and property in history. And she was a woman in the highest ranks of the State Department when such a thing was rare. She tells her story with integrity and intelligence—and gives lessons on leadership based on life experience.”–Barbara Kellerman, James MacGregor Burns Lecturer in Leadership, Harvard Kennedy School

 

When a Bulbul Sings by Hawaa Ayoub (@HawaaAyoub)

October 1

Tags: Child marriage, #OwnVoices, women writers, Yemen

Hawaa Ayoub, 416 pages

“Hawaa Ayoub, author of When a Bulbul Sings, has experienced the traumas of forced child-marriage first hand. She hopes to raise awareness through writing about child-marriage.”–Author biography

My review of this title will be coming soon!

 

All You Can Ever Know: A Memoir by Nicole Chung (@nicole_soojung)

October 2

Tags: Adoption, Korea, family, women writers, memoir, #OwnVoices

Catapult, 240 pages

  • An Indies Introduce Pick
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“In her memoir, All You Can Ever Know, Nicole Chung takes the qualities that make her writing sing―warmth, inquisitiveness, and deep personal investment in the words she types―and turns them inward. Her debut is an investigation into her past in which she aims to leave no stone―or emotion―unturned.”–Shondaland

 

The Best American Short Stories 2018 edited by Roxane Gay (@rgay)

October 2

Tags: Short stories, women writers

“The artful, profound, and sometimes funny stories Gay chose for the collection transport readers from a fraught family reunion to an immigration detention center, from a psychiatric hospital to a coed class sleepover in a natural history museum. We meet a rebellious summer camper, a Twitter addict, and an Appalachian preacher—all characters and circumstances that show us what we ‘need to know about the lives of others.'”–Description

 

(Don’t) Call Me Crazy: 33 Voices Start the Conversation about Mental Health by Kelly Jensen (@veronikellymars)

October 2

Tags: Health, women writers, YA, depression

Algonquin Young Readers, 240 pages

“Lively, compelling . . . the raw, informal approach to the subject matter will highly appeal to young people who crave understanding and validation . . . This highly readable and vital collection demonstrates the multiplicity of ways that mental health impacts individuals.”–Kirkus Reviews

 

A Dream Called Home: A Memoir by Reyna Grande (@reynagrande)

October 2

Tags: Memoir, women writers, immigration, Latinx, #OwnVoices

Atria, 336 pages

“Candid and emotionally complex, Grande’s book celebrates one woman’s tenacity in the face of hardship and heartbreak while offering hope to other immigrants as they ‘fight to remain’ and make their voices heard in a changing America. A heartfelt, inspiring, and relevant memoir.”–Kirkus Reviews

“Reyna Grande’s A Dream Called Home is a moving memoir about building a family, becoming a writer, and redefining America. Writers in need of inspiration should read this book.”–Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize winner and New York Times bestselling author of The Sympathizer

 

Feminists Don’t Wear Pink and Other Lies: Amazing Women on What the F-Word Means to Them by Scarlett Curtis (@scarcurtis)

October 2

Tags: Feminism, #OwnVoices, essays

Ballantine Books, 384 pages

“Brilliant, hysterical, truthful, and real, these essays illuminate the path for our future female leaders.”–Reese Witherspoon

“As a feminist who loves pink, I give this brilliant book of essays an enthusiastic ‘YES.’”–Mindy Kaling

 

The Feud of the Fan Dancers: Sex, Scandal, and the Showgirl by Leslie Zemeckis (@LeslieZemeckis)

October 2

Tags: Dance, history, feminism, women writers, biographies

Counterpoint, 336 pages

“Zemeckis has once again given us a fascinating history of entertainment, a bold story of two brave women and the origins of the fan dance. A page-turning time machine to another era. Don’t miss it.”–Sara Gruen, New York Times bestselling author of Water for Elephants

 

Footprints in the Dust: Nursing, Survival, Compassion, and Hope with Refugees Around the World by Roberta Gately

October 2

Tags: Women writers, globalization, politics, activism

Pegasus Books, 304 pages

“Roberta Gately calls herself nurse, a humanitarian aid worker, and a writer. To that list I would add hero. Her willingness to step outside herself, to see and feel the pain of others is as inspiring as it is admirable. Gately nimbly uses tools of a novelist to tell this story, and as a result, the people she writes about spring fully to life in our imaginations. Here is a book filled with compassion, wisdom and yes, grace. Read it and weep.”–Yona Zeldis McDonough, author of The House on Primrose Pond

 

For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Politics by Donna L. Brazile, Yolanda Caraway, Leah Daughtry, and Minyon Moore

October 2

Tags: Nonfiction, politics, Black women, women writers, #OwnVoices

288 pages

For Colored Girls is basically part history book and part biography but wholly significant. I’m so glad this book exists because the stories of these 4 women, who were instrumental in so many moments of history needed to be told. I’m honored that we can take a sip of their life tea in this way, because what they’ve done and been a part of are the watershed moments of this nation’s contemporary politics. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s super juicy. The transparency of The Colored Girls as they tell their stories, is admirable. Thank you for showing Black girls and women, that we too belong in the rooms we’re in.”–Luvvie Ajayi, New York Times-bestselling author of I’M JUDGING YOU: The Do-Better Manual

 

Freedom Is an Inside Job: Owning Our Darkness and Our Light to Heal Ourselves and the World by Zainab Salbi

October 2

Tags: Women writers, self help

Sounds True, 184 pages

“A true spiritual seeker must eventually search inside her own self. This Zainab Salbi does with great consistency and courage in Freedom Is an Inside Job. Sharing her discoveries with determination and resolve, she demonstrates what is possible for anyone who sincerely desires to be part of a new imagination for changing the world.”–Alice Walker,author of The Color Purple and The World Will Follow Joy

 

Girl Squads: 20 Female Friendships That Changed History by Sam Maggs (Author), Jenn Woodall (Illustrator)

October 2

Tags: History, women writers, feminism, friendship

Quirk Books, 273 pages

“An impressively researched and fascinating compendium of history’s greatest gal pals.”—Booklist 

 

Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger by Rebecca Traister (@rtraister)

October 2

Tags: Feminism, politics, anger

Simon & Schuster, 320 pages

Good and Mad is Rebecca Traister’s ode to women’s rage—an extensively researched history and analysis of its political power. It is a thoughtful, granular examination: Traister considers how perception (and tolerance) of women’s anger shifts based on which women hold it (*cough* white women *cough*) and who they direct it toward; she points to the ways in which women are shamed for or gaslit out of their righteous emotion. And she proves, vigorously, why it’s so important for women to own and harness their rage—how any successful revolution depends on it.”–BUZZFEED

 

History vs Women: The Defiant Lives that They Don’t Want You to Know by Anita Sarkeesian and Ebony Adams

October 2

Tags: Women writers, YA, biography

Feiwel & Friends, 144 pages

“Readers of all ages, across the globe and socioeconomic spectrum, can find an icon to look up to within these pages. Filled with strength, this collection is incredibly inspiring and will instill in teens a take-charge attitude and powerful mind-set.”–School Library Journal, Starred Review

 

In Deep: How I Survived Gangs, Heroin, and Prison to Become a Chicago Violence Interrupter by Angalia Bianca (@AngaliaBiancawith Linda Beckstrom

October 2

Tags: Violence, Illinois, addiction, #OwnVoices, women writers

“A riveting, raw, and brutally honest portrayal of a roller-coaster street life fueled by gang violence and drug addiction; a real page-turner that sucks you in from the get-go and takes you on an adventure you can only imagine in your wildest dreams. Awe-inspiring and nothing short of a miracle, Bianca is a force to be reckoned with and an unlikely heroine and role model. She has proved that nothing is impossible and it’s never too late.”–Vera Ramone King, author of Poisoned Heart

 

Microaggression Theory: Influence and Implications by Gina C. Torino et al.

October 2

Tags: Race, women writers, psychology, education

Wiley, 400 pages

“Microaggressions are brief, everyday exchanges that send denigrating messages to certain individuals because of their group membership (e.g., race, gender, culture, religion, social class, sexual orientation, etc.). These daily, common manifestations of aggression leave many people feeling vulnerable, targeted, angry, and afraid. How has this become such a pervasive part of our social and political rhetoric, and what is the psychology behind it?”–Description

 

On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden (@TillieWalden)

October 2

Tags: Graphic novels, women writers, queer, science fiction

First Second, 544 pages

“Phenomenal . . . Utterly mesmerizing . . . A remarkable, stunning comic.”–Booklist (starred review)

“Both gently romantic and heartbreaking, the story ultimately celebrates love and the importance of chosen family. An affirming love story.”–Kirkus

 

Taking the Arrow Out of the Heart by Alice Walker

October 2

Tags: Black women, poetry, women writers, #OwnVoices

Atria, 256 pages

“Presented in both English and Spanish, Alice Walker shares a timely collection of nearly seventy works of passionate and powerful poetry that bears witness to our troubled times, while also chronicling a life well-lived.”–Description

 

Things to Make and Break by May-Lan Tan (@amanlyant)

October 2

Tags: Thriller, short stories, contemporary women, women writers

Coffee House Press, 224 pages

“There’s plenty of darkness and a sprinkling of magic, and these strange, flinty, cigarette-stained narratives speed by, offering lots of surface tension and compelling deeper passions.”–The Guardian

 

Unladylike: A Field Guide to Smashing the Patriarchy and Claiming Your Space by Cristen Conger (@CristenCongerand Caroline Ervin (@TheCarolineErv)

October 2

Tags: Trans, feminism, women writers, gender

Ten Speed Press, 288 pages

“This book is truly special. Not only do the authors present the problems, but they also offer potential solutions and inspirational tools that are so crucial in driving the conversation forward. Their charming tone combined with the incisively detailed breakdown of all the ways in which the patriarchy affects women make Unladylike a must-read.”–Morgan Jerkins, author of This Will Be My Undoing

 

We Say #NeverAgain: Reporting by the Parkland Student Journalists edited by Melissa Falkowski and Eric Garner

October 2

Tags: Violence, education, women writers, #OwnVoices, Florida, journalism

Crown Books for Young Readers, 272 pages

“A journalistic look at the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland and the fight for gun control–as told by the student reporters for the school’s newspaper and TV station.”–Description

 

The Wolf Queen: The Hope of Aferi (Book I) by Cerece Rennie Murphy (@CereceRMurphy)

October 4

Tags: Fantasy, folklore, romance, women writers

LionSky Publishing, 198 pages

“To fight for her future, she must first discover the magic of her past
Once great and powerful sorcerers, the Amasiti were hunted to the brink of extinction by the Hir and his followers. For four hundred years, their legacy faded from memory waiting for the hope of Aferi to be renewed…
In the Land of Yet
At the edge of the Forbidden Forest
A young woman lives alone.”–Description

 

The Broadcast 41: Women and the Anti-Communist Blacklist by Carol A. Stabile

October 9

Tags: Women writers, history, media

Goldsmiths Press, 320 pages

The Broadcast 41 is a must-read book for media scholars who want to understand the historical origins of entertainment media as a powerful reinforcer of sexism, racism and classism in American culture.–Caroline Heldman, Associate Professor of Politics, Occidental College

 

The Future Is Female! 25 Classic Science Fiction Stories by Women, from Pulp Pioneers to Ursula K. Le Guin edited by Lisa Yaszek

October 9

Tags: Science fiction, women writers, short stories

Library of America, 475 pages

“Make no mistake: The quality of the stories here is unassailable.”–Kirkus Reviews

 

Hearts Unbroken by Cynthia Leitich Smith (@CynLeitichSmith)

October 9

Tags: Native American, YA, romance, race, #OwnVoices, women writers

Candlewick Press, 304 pages

New York Times best-selling author Cynthia Leitich Smith turns to realistic fiction with the thoughtful story of a Native teen navigating the complicated, confusing waters of high school — and first love.”–Description

 

The Long Term: Resisting Life Sentences Working Toward Freedom edited by Alice Kim, Erica Meiners, Jill Petty, Audrey Petty, Beth E. Richie, and Sarah Ross

October 9

Tags: Essays, human rights, crime, incarceration

Haymarket, 250 pages

The Long Term is a powerful collection of voices, curated and edited by a powerful line-up of veteran organizers and radical thinkers. The writers in this collection make a compelling and eloquent case against ‘the prison nation’ and give us a glimpse of the resistance and the alternatives that are already in the works.”–Barbara Ransby, historian, writer, activist and Distinguished Professor of African American Studies, Gender and Women’s Studies, and History at the University of Illinois at Chicago

 

Read & Riot: A Pussy Riot Guide to Activism by Nadya Tolokonnikova (@tolokno)

October 9

Tags: #OwnVoices, women writers, activism

HarperOne, 256 pages

“With its stellar mix of personal experience and hard-won advice, Tolokonnikova’s guide is sure to fuel social movements for years to come.”–Publishers Weekly (starred review)

 

Training School for Negro Girls by Camille Acker (@cam_acker)

October 9

Tags: Black women, contemporary women, women writers, short stories, Washington DC

The Feminist Press at CUNY, 248 pages

“Camille Acker navigates the lives of young African American girls and women in Washington, DC with humor, heart, and grace. I loved these stories.”–Lisa Ko, author of The Leavers

“A devastating and subtle portrayal of what it is to be black and female in America: the ache, the rage, the sorrow, the unending will to rise.”–Shobha Rao, author of Girls Burn Brighter

 

White Dancing Elephants by Chaya Bhuvaneswar (@chayab77)

October 9

Tags: Debut, women writers, queer, short stories, women of color

White Dancing Elephants is a searing and complex collection, wholly realized, each piece curled around its own beating heart. Tender and incisive, Chaya Bhuvaneswar is a surgeon on the page; unflinching in her aim, unwavering in her gaze, and absolutely devastating in her prose. This is an astonishing debut.”–Amelia Gray, author of Isadora

 

Nasty Women and Bad Hombres: Gender and Race in the 2016 Us Presidential Election edited by Christine A. Kray, Tamar W. Carroll, and Hinda Mandell

October 10

Tags: Politics, US history, feminism

University of Rochester Press, 336 pages

“Gender and racial politics were at the center of the 2016 US presidential contest between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Contributors to the volume examine the ways that gender and racial hierarchies intersected and reinforced one another throughout the campaign season.”–Description

 

On My Way To Liberation by H. Melt (@HMeltChicago)

October 18 (ebook, paperback out now!)

Tags: Trans, poetry, queer, #OwnVoices

Haymarket Books, 28 pages

“How do you imagine trans liberation while living in a cis world? On My Way To Liberation follows a gender nonconforming body moving through the streets of Chicago. From the sex shop to the farmers market, the family dinner table to the bookstore, trans people are everywhere, though often erased. Writing towards a trans future, H. Melt envisions a world where trans people are respected, loved and celebrated every day.”–Description

 

The Lesbian South: Southern Feminists, the Women in Print Movement, and the Queer Literary Canon by Jaime Harker (@jaimeharker)

October 15

Tags: Lesbian, queer, US history, literary criticism, women writers, feminism

University of North Carolina Press, 241 pages

“In this essential study of southern literature, Jaime Harker uncovers the complex networks of affiliation, sometimes antagonistic and sometimes loving, that shaped southern lesbian feminism, and the rich literary archive that women in these networks produced. A must-have for any reader.”–Michael Bibler, Louisiana State University

 

Why Does Patriarchy Persist? by Carol Gilligan (@CarolGilligan1and Naomi Snider

October 15

Tags: Gender, anthropology, women writers, nonfiction

Polity, 120 pages

“Taking on the long brewing battle between true democracy and the pervasive ‘ghost’ of patriarchy, this compact book exists in a category of its own. The voices of its authors are accessible, incisive and engaging – the perfect book to launch almost any conversation about our current socio-political times.”–Jill Gentile, author, Feminine Law: Freud, Free Speech, and the Voice of Desire

 

Everything’s Trash, But It’s Okay by Phoebe Robinson (@dopequeenpheebs)

October 16

Tags: Humor, essays, Black women, women writers, #OwnVoices

Plume, 336 pages

“Phoebe Robinson brings her infectious charm and utterly delightful sense of humor to her second essay collection, Everything’s Trash, But It’s Okay. From body image to contemporary feminism to our culture of overwork, Robinson offers deft cultural criticism and hilarious personal anecdotes that will make readers laugh, cringe, and cry. Everything may indeed be trash but writing like this reminds us that we’re gonna make it through all the terrible things with honesty, laughter, and faith.”–Roxane Gay, New York Times bestselling author

 

Gender: Your Guide: A Gender-Friendly Primer on What to Know, What to Say, and What to Do in the New Gender Culture by Lee Airton (@LeeAirton)

October 16

Tags: Gender, queer, trans, family

Adams Media, 240 pages

“An authentic and accessible guide to understanding—and engaging in—today’s gender conversation.”–Description

 

In Your Hands by Inês Pedrosa and Andrea Rosenberg (Translator)

October 16

Tags: Translation, women writers, Portugal, historical fiction, literary fiction, queer

AmazonCrossing, 205 pages

In Your Hands is another work in the fine tradition of European literature. Told from a definite feminist perspective it focuses on the inner feelings of its principal characters, each a finely drawn and vital woman as they navigate the turbulent times of twentieth-century Portugal.”–Writers & Readers Magazine

 

Memoirs of a Born Free: Reflections on the New South Africa by a Member of the Post-apartheid Generation by Malaika Wa Azania 

October 16

Tags: South Africa, memoir, race, women writers

Seven Stories Press, 240 pages

“By forcefully interrogating the problematic notion of the Rainbow Nation, and by daring to address the broken promise of an ANC in dire need of strong leadership, Memoirs of a Born Free is a must read—a book that reveals just how inadequate political freedom without socio-economic freedom truly is.”–Independent Online (South Africa)

 

My Love Story by Tina Turner

October 16

Tags: Music, Black women, women writers, #OwnVoices, memoirs

Atria Books, 272 pages

“Tina Turner—the long-reigning queen of rock & roll and living legend—sets the record straight about her illustrious career and complicated personal life in this eye-opening and compelling memoir.”–Description

 

Period Power by Nadya Okamoto

October 16

Tags: Health, YA, women writers

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 368 pages

“[T]ruly intersectional and…a useful guide for activists inspired by this work…A smart, honest, and comprehensive education on movement building and menstrual rights.”–Kirkus, starred review

“If you’re looking for a way to turn your anger about gender inequality into action, this book is a must read. You’ll learn a great deal about menstrual inequities and the intersectional impacts created because of our failure to address them. This is a how-to handbook on what you can do to change that.”–Former state Senator Wendy Davis

 

Riddance: Or: The Sybil Joines Vocational School for Ghost Speakers & Hearing-Mouth Children by Shelley Jackson

October 16

Tags: YA, coming of age, horror, women writers

Black Balloon Publishing, 512 pages

“Not only an incredible yarn but a delightfully strange, wondrously original, and dazzlingly immersive gothic love letter to storytelling.”–Booklist

 

She Wants It: Desire, Power, and Toppling the Patriarchy by Jill Soloway

October 16

Tags: Memoir, women writers, queer, trans, gender, entertainment, #OwnVoices

Crown Archetype, 256 pages

Read my review!

“Most writers hide in memoirs, sharing little real stories. With generous openhearted honesty, courage, and compassion, Soloway invites us to hear true stories. They share the difficult painful revelations, triumphs, and failures. Listening to them, readers laugh, cry, love, and most important, learn.”–bell hooks

 

Thursdays and Every Other Sunday Off: A Domestic Rap by Vertamae Smart-Grosvenor

October 16

Tags: Nonfiction, work, women writers, Black women, US history

Univ Of Minnesota Press, 176 pages

Thursdays and Every Other Sunday Off is an exploration of the lives of African American domestic workers in cities throughout the United States during the mid-twentieth century. With dry wit and honesty, Vertamae Smart-Grosvenor relates the testimonies of maids, cooks, child care workers, and others as they discuss their relationships with their employers and their experiences on the job.”–Description

 

A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi (@TaherehMafi)

October 16

Tags: YA, Islam, racism, family, identity, women writers

HarperCollins, 320 pages

“Mafi tackles the life of an American Muslim teenager in the wake of 9/11 in this visceral, honest novel. Shirin’s captivating story opens a window onto a different narrative than the one typically dominating airwaves after 9/11. Rich characters, incisive writing, and a powerful story will thrill readers.”–Booklist (starred review)

 

What We Owe by Golnaz Hashemzadeh Bonde and Elizabeth Jane Clark Wessel (Translator)

October 16

Tags: Literary fiction, family, women writers, translation, Iran

Mariner Books , 208 pages

“I read this ferocious novel in one sitting, enthralled by the rage of its narrator. Nahid confronts her own suffering with dark humor and noisy honesty, while taking aim at a patriarchal tradition that expects her to be silent.”–Leni Zumas, author of Red Clocks

 

Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago’s South Side by Eve L. Ewing (@eveewing)

October 22

Tags: Education, women writers, Chicago, US history, #OwnVoices

“…Ewing gives direct voice to those served by those schools often dismissed as failing. What she finds is that these schools are often among the last working institutions in neighborhoods which have been systematically stripped of everything else. Mixing history, sociology, and even memoir, Ghosts in the Schoolyard is an important addition to any conversation about the future of public schools and those they were designed to serve.”–Ta-Nehisi Coates

 

A Political Education: Black Politics and Education Reform in Chicago Since the 1960s by Elizabeth Todd-Breland (@EToddBreland)

October 22

Tags: Politics, Chicago, US history, women writers, education

University of North Carolina Press, 344 pages

“This is a brilliant and necessary expose of a collision that we all know too little about. Using Chicago as a case study, Elizabeth Todd-Breland shares the devastating collision between Black community-based education reformers and corporate education reformers since the 1960s. Black education organizing comes alive–and fights on and on against all odds–in this expertly framed and vividly told book.”–Ibram X. Kendi, National Book Award winning author of Stamped from the Beginning

 

Kat’s Nine Lives by Laina Villeneuve

October 23

Tags: Lesbian, women writers, romance

Bella Books, 278 pages

“Wedding bells are ringing for Kat Morehart―just not her own. When the church she works for refuses to let a gay couple marry in the sanctuary, she aims to make it up to them by offering her home as the perfect venue. Caterer Wendy Archer enjoys the business Kat directs her way and their friendship even more. As they work together to create the perfect setting for the wedding, Kat and Wendy struggle to fight what simmers between them.”–Description

 

Lex Files by Celeste Castro

October 23

Tags: Lesbian, women writers, science fiction, romance

Bella Books, 304 pages

“What is terrorizing a nature preserve near a small town in rural Idaho? Half the town believes it’s the Lake Lowell Ghost and the rest are convinced it’s a diabolical beast. With no end in sight, they need help. Can two women work together when one faces east toward logic and the other faces west toward the realm of impossibility? In an age where science and facts rule, blind trust can be a lot to ask of anyone.”–Description

 

The Mental Load: A Feminist Comic by Emma

October 23

Tags: Graphic novel, feminism, women writers

The Mental Load, a feminist comic by Emma, takes readers on a journey of awakening that is at once delightfully whimsical and frustratingly serious. The graphic stories take aim at the way women’s unpaid caregiving and labor is invisible, undervalued and expected at home, and how it shapes and limits their experiences and career trajectories at work. An eye-opening gem.”–Brigid Schulte, award-winning journalist, author of the New York Times bestselling Overwhelmed: Work, Love & Play when No One has the Time

 

Paper Gods: A Novel of Money, Race, and Politics by Goldie Taylor

October 23

Tags: Black women, women writers, politics, mystery

All Points Books, 336 pages

“A moving and unflinching portrait of a city and its many layers of power…Taylor has created a hero we see all too rarely: black, female, powerful.” —Tim Teeman, Senior Editor of The Daily Beast

 

Useful Phrases for Immigrants: Stories by May-Lee Chai (@mayleechai)

October 23

Tags: China, women writers, short stories, #OwnVoices

“With insight, compassion, and clarity, May-lee Chai vividly illustrates the reverberations of migration―both physical and psychological; between countries, cities, and generations; and within families and individuals. You won’t forget these characters.”–Lisa Ko, author of The Leavers, finalist for the National Book Award in Fiction

 

Family Trust: A Novel by Kathy Wang (@bykathywang)

October 30

Tags: Family, literary, women writers

William Morrow, 400 pages

“A wicked and witty send up of Asian-American Silicon Valley elite, a delightful debut that Jane Austen would have approved of.”–Micah Perks, author of What Becomes Us

“Astute…[Wang] brings levity and candor to the tricky terrain of family dynamics, aging, and excess [and] expertly considers the values of high-tech high society.”–Publishers Weekly (starred review)

 

The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory (@thebestjasmine)

October 30

Tags: Romance, women writers

Berkley, 336 pages

“There is so much to relate to and throughout the novel, there is a sharp feminist edge. Loved this one, and you will too.”–Roxane Gay, New York Times bestselling author

 

This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story by Kheryn Callender (@kheryncasey)

October 30

Tags: YA, romance, queer, queer writers

Balzer + Bray, 304 pages

“As an unapologetic fan of a great rom-com, This is Kind of an Epic Love Story gave me all I was looking for, including the one thing that’s challenging to find—a beautiful LGBTQ love story. Kheryn’s novel is hopeful, romantic, and everything my gay heart needed!”–Angelo Surmelis, author of The Dangerous Art of Blending In

 

Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves edited by Glory Edim (@guidetoglo and @wellreadblkgirl)

October 30

Tags: Literary, essays, Black women, women writers

Ballantine Books, 224 pages

“A brilliant collection of essential American reading . . . smart, powerful, and complete.”–Min Jin Lee, author of the National Book Award finalist Pachinko

 

Hope you find something of interest on the October 2018 New Reads for the Rest of Us – What will you be reading this month?

 

This post includes affiliate links but I write what I like. 

New Reads for September

New Reads for the Rest of Us for September 2018

Welcome to New Reads for the Rest of Us for September 2018!

With these monthly lists, I aim to amplify the books written by those who are historically underrepresented including, but not limited to: womxn, women of color, women from the Global South, women who are Black, Indigenous, dis/abled, queer, fat, immigrants, Muslim, sex-positive, and more. My lists meant to be intersectional, feminist, and trans-inclusive. I also want to highlight books by gender non-conforming people (who may or may not be described by the term “womxn”).

If you’d like to learn more about which books I focus on, see my Review Policy. These are just guidelines and I reserve the right to include (or not!) any books I see fit. I usually add to this list as I learn of others; if you have a suggestion, please share it in the comments below!

So here’s New Reads for the Rest of Us for September 2018. There are so many great titles here, which will you read??

 

All Roads Lead to Blood by Bonnie Chau (@bonniecchau)

September 1

Tags: Short stories, women writers, debut, Chinese

Santa Fe Writer’s Project, 166 pages

Winner of the 2040 Books Prize

“The intensity and desire of youth, with the wisdom of wild imagination, fill these wonderful stories by Chau. This unforgettable, stellar debut kept surprising me with fantastical turns, and sharp, unsettling insights.”–Rivka Galchen, author of Atmospheric Disturbances

 

Black Women in Politics: Demanding Citizenship, Challenging Power, and Seeking Justice by Julia S. Jordan-Zachery, Nikol G. Alexander-Floyd (editors)

September 1

Tags: Black women, politics, women writers, #OwnVoices, essays

SUNY Press, 314 pages

Black Women in Politics offers a new perspective on Black women as political actors. Jordan-Zachery and Alexander-Floyd have assembled a stellar group of essays that speak to the broad experiences and concerns of Black women as political actors. Together, the essays present a compelling story of what we learn when we center Black women’s voices in policy debates, democratic theory, and notions of political leadership.”–Wendy Smooth, The Ohio State University

 

A Certain Loneliness: A Memoir by Sandra Gail Lambert (@sandralambert)

September 1

Tags: Dis/abilities, women writers, #OwnVoices, memoir, queer

“Having pushed her wheelchair past two hundred alligators, Lambert has written a brilliant and necessary account of a wise and triumphant life as a writer, activist, kayaker, lesbian lover, birder, and survivor of polio. I’m in awe of her gifts.”–Carolyn Forché, author of The Country Between Us

 

 

Claiming the B in LGBT: Illuminating the Bisexual Narrative by Kate Harrad (editor) (@katyha)

September 1

Tags: Bisexual, essays

Thorntree Press, 344 pages

Claiming the B in LGBT strives to give bisexuals a seat at the table. This guidebook to the history and future of the bisexual movement fuses a chronology of bisexual organizing with essays, poems, and articles detailing the lived experiences of bisexual activities struggling against a dominant culture driven by norms of monosexual attraction, compulsory monogamy, and inflexible notions of gender expression and identity.”–Description

 

The Lost Pages by Marija Pericic

September 1

Tags: Debut, women writers, friendship

“… cleverly structured and an intriguing concept.”–Jenny Barry, BooksPlus

“From the very beginning, the strain between Kafka and Brod is hugely entertaining. Brod is anti-social and prefers his own company, just like the best of Kafka’s characters.”–Rohan Wilson, award winning author of The Roving Party and To Name Those Lost

 

Mother of Invention edited by Rivqa Rafael (@enoughsnarkand Tansy Rayner Roberts (@tansyrr)

September 1

Tags: Queer, women writers, speculative fiction, gender, short stories

Twelfth Planet Press, 396 pages

“All of the familiar tropes of mad science and the creation of artificial life get turned on their heads in the most gloriously feminist way in Mother of Invention. It turns out when the person who’s Playing God is female, the story suddenly gets a lot more interesting.”–Charlie Jane Anders

 

Okanagan Grouse Woman: Upper Nicola Narratives by Lottie Lindley and John Lyon

September 1

Tags: Native American, short stories, oral history

University of Nebraska Press; Reprint edition, 510 pages

“The collection is masterfully constructed, reflecting Lottie Lindley’s distinctive narrative voice in Okanagan and in English. At once a carefully annotated documentation of the Okanagan language as well as a record of history, culture, and land, the book is a testament to the power of narrative in Okanagan and a wonderful gift to future generations.”–Ewa Czaykowska-Higgins, associate professor of linguistics at the University of Victoria

 

Punching and Kicking: Leaving Canada’s Toughest Neighbourhood by Kathy Dobson (@Kathy_Dobson)

September 1

Tags: Canada, poverty, memoir, women writers, #OwnVoices, family

Véhicule Press, 240 pages

“People don’t leave the Point, even if they move far away. Or at least that’s how it seems to journalist Kathy Dobson. Growing up in the 1970s in Point St. Charles, an industrial slum in Montreal, she sees how people get trapped in the neighborhood. In this sequel to the highly praised With a Closed Fist, Dobson shares her journey of trying to escape from what was once described as the toughest neighborhood in Canada.”–Description

 

Shadowboxer by Jessica L. Webb (@JessicaLWebb1)

September 1 on Bold Strokes Books

September 11 on Amazon

Tags: Lesbian, romance, sports, #OwnVoices

Bold Strokes Books, 242 pages

“After a tough childhood and a brief and bruising career as a boxer, Jordan McAddie isn’t sure she has anything left to offer in a relationship. Desperately trying to make a difference, she focuses on becoming a social worker and helping street kids find their way. But someone is targeting her kids, luring them to an underground political group whose protests are becoming increasingly more provocative and dangerous.

When Ali Clarke – Jordan’s first love and first broken heart – walks back into her life and becomes intertwined with the youth boxing program, Jordan is torn between past and present. Dedicated to keeping her kids safe, Jordan fights old fears that she will never be good enough, while trying to believe she might have a future with Ali.”–Description

 

Sinjar: 14 Days that Saved the Yazidis from Islamic State by Susan Shand

September 1

Tags: Iraq, history, women writers, military

Lyons Press, 268 pages

“This is the extraordinary tale of how a few American-Yazidis in Washington, DC, mobilized a small, forgotten office in the American government to intervene militarily in Iraq to avert a devastating humanitarian crisis. While Islamic State massacred many thousands of Yazidi men and sold thousands more Yazidi women into slavery, the U.S. intervention saved the lives of 50,000 Yazidis.”–Description

 

Toppled World: A Political and Spiritual Trek through India, Tibet and Afghanistan by Susan Murphy

September 1

Tags: India, Tibet, Afghanistan, biography, women writers, history

Bedazzled Ink Publishing, 260 pages

“As a child, Sudha Johorey witnessed the horrific events that followed the partition of India into two bitter rival nations. Sudha was a feminist before her time, a pioneer in rural education, a seeker of the divine, a true Renaissance woman. Susan Murphy had the opportunity to accompany Sudha Johorey to Dharamsala in 2005, where they were afforded a private audience with the Dalai Lama, who encouraged Murphy to write Sudha’s amazing story.”–Description

 

Under Fire: Reporting from the Front Lines of the Trump White House by April Ryan (@AprilDRyan)

September 1

Tags: Journalism, politics, #OwnVoices, women writers

Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 192 pages

“April’s experience, knowledge, and judgment are on full display in this book. She understands the political process at the highest levels and has never been afraid to ask the tough questions off-record or with the eyes of the world on her or when her courage and mettle have been put to the test. All of these skills come together in a compelling volume that blends her insights with the very questions that we should all be confronting at this unique moment in history.”–Thurgood Marshall, Jr.

 

Vita & Virginia: The Lives and Love of Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West by Sarah Gristwood (@sarahgristwood)

September 1

Tags: Literature, women writers, biography, queer

“Virginia Woolf is one of the world’s most famous writers, and a leading light of literary modernism and feminism. During the 1920s she had a passionate affair with a fellow author, Vita Sackville-West, and they remained friends until Virginia’s death in 1941. This double biography of two extraordinary women examines their lives together and apart.”–Description

 

Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness by Renée Mussai (Author), Zanele Muholi (@MuholiZanele(Photographer)

September 1

Tags: Arts, photography, women writers, #OwnVoices, South Africa, Black women

Aperture, 212 pages

“Zanele Muholi (born in Umlazi, Durban, South Africa, 1972) is a visual activist and photographer, cofounder of the Forum for the Empowerment of Women, and founder of Inkanyiso, a forum for queer and visual media.”–Amazon

“This is the long-awaited monograph from one of the most powerful visual activists of our time. The book features over ninety of Muholi’s evocative self-portraits, each image drafted from material props in Muholi’s immediate environment.”–Description

 

After the Winter by Guadalupe Nettel (@nettelgand Rosalind Harvey (Translator)

September 4

Tags: Women writers, thriller, contemporary women, translation

Coffee House Press (reprint), 264 pages

“A compassionately written portrait of urban loneliness and the human impulse to belong.”–Kirkus

“Guadalupe Nettel’s After the Winter is a dazzling excavation of the glimmering particularities of consciousness, and how a collision of fates can transform our inner worlds. This taut, atmospheric novel is an ode to the complicated heartbreak of loving what will forever be just out of reach.”–Laura van den Berg

 

Always Another Country by Sisonke Msimang (@Sisonkemsimang)

September 4

Tags: Memoir, Africa, women writers, #OwnVoices

World Editions, 368 pages

“Brutally and uncompromisingly honest, Sisonke’s beautifully crafted storytelling enriches the already extraordinary pool of young African women writers of our time. Sisonke, a child of the Struggle, revisits the metamorphosis of the value system embraced by the liberation movements and emerges as a powerful free spirit, nurtured by its resilient core values.”–Graça Machel

 

Black Queer Hoe by Britteney Black Rose Kapri (@BlkRseKapri)

September 4

Tags: Black women, women writers, poetry, queer, debut, #OwnVoices

Haymarket Press, 120 pages

“Black Queer Hoe is a refreshing, unapologetic intervention into ongoing conversations about the line between sexual freedom and sexual exploitation. Women’s sexuality is often used as a weapon against them. In this powerful debut, Britteney Black Rose Kapri lends her unmistakable voice to fraught questions of identity, sexuality, reclamation, and power, in a world that refuses Black Queer women permission to define their own lives and boundaries.”–Description

UPDATE:  Just read this book and it is EVERYTHING.

 

Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani 

September 4

Tags: Nigeria, #OwnVoices, women writers, family

Katherine Tegen Books, 336 pages

“Unflinching in its direct view of an ongoing tragedy, this important novel will open discussions about human rights and violence against women and girls worldwide.”–Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Nigerian author Nwaubani [paints] beautiful portraits of the joy, hope, and traditions experienced by this girl, her friends, and family with the same masterful strokes as the ones depicting the dreadful agony, loss, and grief they endure. A worthy piece of work that superbly and empathetically tells a heartbreaking tale.”–Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

 

Call Them by Their True Names: American Crises by Rebecca Solnit

September 4

Tags: Violence, feminism, women writers, essays

Haymarket, 166 pages

“Rebecca Solnit is essential feminist reading.”–The New Republic

“Solnit’s exquisite essays move between the political and the personal, the intellectual and the earthy.”–ELLE

 

Flat: Reclaiming My Body from Breast Cancer by Catherine Guthrie (@cat_guthrie)

September 4

Tags: Health, feminism, women writers, memoir, queer

Skyhorse Publishing, 264 pages

“A feminist breast cancer memoir of medical trauma, love, and how she found the strength to listen to her body.”–Description

“Guthrie’s refreshing femininity doesn’t fit the familiar cancer narrative. Informed by both the nuances of queer identity and a women’s health journalist’s insider knowledge, this memoir is a welcome punk rock to breast cancer’s pink-washing. Unflinching, eloquent, and richly intimate, Flat has shaken me, inspired me, prepared me for what could happen.”–Angela Palm, author, Riverine: A Memoir from Anywhere but Here

 

Isako Isako by Mia Ayumi Malhotra

September 4

Tags: Japan, debut, family, poetry

Alice James Books, 100 pages

“The personal pronoun I has brinks on all sides, over which you can fall and become anyone and no one. Isako Isako deeply explores these soaring and dangerous precipices of identity through the magnetic voice of a Japanese-American internment camp survivor who is both an individual and collective, a citizen and a prisoner, broken and healing. Mia Ayumi Malhotra has written a brilliant and searing debut.”–Maria Hummel

 

I Should Have Honor: A Memoir of Hope and Pride in Pakistan by Khalida Brohi

September 4

Tags: Pakistan, women writers, #OwnVoices, violence, memoir, activism, feminism

Random House, 224 pages

“Khalida Brohi understands the true nature of honor. She is fearless in her pursuit of justice and equality.”–Malala Yousafzai, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize

“Khalida Brohi’s moving story is a testament to what is possible no matter the odds. In her courageous activism and now in I Should Have Honor, Khalida gives a voice to the women and girls who are denied their own by society. This book is a true act of honor.”–Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and founder of LeanIn.Org

 

Nevertheless, We Persisted: 48 Voices of Defiance, Strength, and Courage by Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar)

September 4

Tags: YA, essays, girls, trans, race, #OwnVoices

Knopf Books for Young Readers, 320 pages

“Each tale is a soulful testament to the endurance of the human spirit and reminds readers that they are not alone in their search for self. An unflinchingly honest book that should be required reading for every young person in America.”–Kirkus, starred review

“An invaluable collection of snapshots of American society.”–VOYA, starred review

 

Ponti by Sharlene Teo (@treebirds)

September 4

Tags: Friendship, coming of age, women writers, contemporary women

Simon & Schuster, 304 pages

“At once a subtle critique of the pressures of living in a modern Asian metropolis; a record of the swiftness and ruthlessness with which Southeast Asia has changed over the last three decades; a portrait of the old juxtaposed with the new (and an accompanying dialogue between nostalgia and cynicism); an exploration of the relationship between women against the backdrop of social change; and, occasionally, a love story—all wrapped up in the guise of a teenage coming-of-age novel. . . . Teo is brilliant.”–The Guardian

My review of this title is coming soon!

 

Terra Nullius: a novel by Claire G. Coleman

September 4

Tags: Dystopian, family, women writers, Indigenous Australian (South Coast Noongar), debut

Small Beer Press, 320 pages

“Claire G. Coleman’s Terra Nulllius is an arresting and original novel that addresses the legacy of Australia’s violent colonial history. . . . Coleman’s punchy prose is insistent throughout, its energy unflagging. Terra Nullius is a novel for our times, one whose tone is as impassioned as its message is necessary.”–Stella Prize Judges’ Report

 

Tigerbelle: The Wyomia Tyus Story by Wyomia Tyus with Elizabeth Terzakis

September 4

Tags: Sports, women writers, Black women, memoir, #OwnVoices

Edge of Sports [reprint ed.], 288 pages

“Wyomia Tyus may not be as well known as Wilma Rudolph or Billie Jean King, but her athletic accomplishments and life story are equally captivating, as related in this remarkable and inspiring memoir…This deeply moving book by one of our greatest athletes makes indelible statements about integrity, growing up black in the South, social activism, gender equality, and inclusion.”–Booklist (starred review)

 

The Grind: Black Women and Survival in the Inner City by Alexis S. McCurn

September 10

Tags: Women writers, urban, Black women

Rutgers University Press, 200 pages

“Few scholars have explored the collective experiences of women living in the inner city and the innovative strategies they develop to navigate daily life in this setting. The Grind illustrates the lived experiences of poor African American women and the creative strategies they develop to manage these events and survive in a community commonly exposed to violence.”–Description

 

#FashionVictim: A Novel by Amina Akhtar (@Drrramina)

September 11

Tags: Debut, women writers, thriller, humor

Crooked Lane Books

“Hilariously funny as well as profoundly unsettling . . . will keep readers hooked and laughing, if a bit uncomfortably, from Page 1 until the shocking ending.”–Kirkus

“Full of suspense, social satire, and deliciously dark humor, #FashionVictim gives ‘killer wardrobe’ a whole new meaning. I couldn’t put it down.”–Alison Gaylin, USA Today Bestselling Author of If I Die Tonight

 

How Does It Feel to Be Unwanted?: Stories of Resistance and Resilience from Mexicans Living in the United States by Eileen Truax (@EileenTruax)

September 11

Tags: Mexico, women writers, immigration, Latinx

Beacon Press, 216 pages

“An urgent book for our times. When immigrant voices are being silenced, when immigrant families are being torn apart, when immigrant youth are being denied their right to dream of a better future, this book inspires us to see, to listen, and to understand. Above all, it celebrates the tenacity and resilience of a community whose stories are, without any doubt, part of the American experience.”–Reyna Grande, author of The Distance Between Us

 

Maggie Terry by Sarah Schulman (@sarahschulman3)

September 11

Tags: Queer, mystery, women writers

The Feminist Press at CUNY, 272 pages

“A sprawling exploration of New York nostalgia, police brutality, addiction memoir, and queer love, with a mystery as the cherry on top.”–Kirkus Reviews

“Sarah Schulman’s startling brilliance and wry humor is everything.”–Jacqueline Woodson, author of Another Brooklyn

 

One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression Is Destroying Our Democracy by Carol Anderson (@ProfCAnderson)

September 11

Tags: Politics, women writers, history

Bloomsbury Publishing, 288 pages

“This whiplash-inducing chronicle of how a nation that just a few short years ago elected its first black president now finds itself in the throes of a deceitful and craven effort to rip this most essential of American rights from millions of its citizens.”–Booklist

“A ripped-from-the-headlines book . . . Anderson is a highly praised academic who has mastered the art of gathering information and writing for a general readership, and her latest book could not be more timely.”–Kirkus

 

Ordinary People: A Novel by Diana Evans (@DianaEvansOP)

September 11

Tags: Urban, family, literary, women writers

Liveright, 320 pages

“If Ordinary People is about compromise, it is also about how we live today and, refreshingly, Evans shows this through the prism of black and mixed-race identities, conjuring an urban milieu that is middle-class and non-white…. [This novel] has universal appeal in its reflections on love and yet carries a glorious local specificity…. It could easily be reimagined for the screen, though the film would not capture the sheer energy and effervescence of Evans’s funny, sad, magnificent prose.”–Arifa Akbar, The Guardian

 

Perfectly Clear: Escaping Scientology and Fighting for the Woman I Love by Michelle LeClair and Robin Gaby Fisher

September 11

Tags: Religion, lesbian, memoir, #OwnVoices

Berkley, 304 pages

“The revelatory memoir by former ‘poster girl for Scientology’ Michelle LeClair about her defection from the Church, her newly accepted sexual identity, and the lengths to which Scientology went to silence it.”–Description

 

Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger by Soraya Chemaly (@schemaly )

September 11

Tags: Women writers, sexuality, feminism

Atria, 416 pages

“How many women cry when angry because we’ve held it in for so long? How many discover that anger turned inward is depression? Soraya Chemaly’s Rage Becomes Her will be good for women, and for the future of this country. After all, women have a lot to be angry about.”–Gloria Steinem

 

The Real Lolita: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel That Scandalized the World by Sarah Weinman (@sarahw)

September 11

Tags: Biography, true crime, women writers, history

Ecco, 320 pages

“A tantalizing, entertaining true-life detective and literary story.”–Kirkus Reviews

“Spine-straightening. . . . Weinman’s sensitive insights into Horner’s struggle play in stunning counterpoint to her illuminations of Nabokov’s dark obsession and literary daring, and Lolita’s explosive impact.”–Booklist

 

She Would Be King: A Novel by Wayétu Moore (@Wayetu) 

September 11

Tags: Liberia, magical realism, women writers, historical fiction, debut

Graywolf, 312 page

“In this vibrant story of the African diaspora, Moore, a talented storyteller and a daring writer, illuminates with radiant and exacting prose the tumultuous roots of a country inextricably bound to the United States. She Would Be King is a novel of profound depth set against a vast canvas and a transcendent debut from a major new author.”–Description

My review of this title is coming soon!

 

Standing Our Ground: The Triumph of Faith Over Gun Violence: A Mother’s Story by Lucia Kay McBath (@LucyWins2018with Rosemarie Robotham

September 11

Tags: Memoir, violence, race, politics, women writers, #OwnVoices

Atria / 37 INK, 256 pages

“Lucy, in the face of tragedy, turned her sorrow into a strategy, and her mourning into a movement.”–Hillary Clinton

“What awes me about Lucia is not simply the fact of having endured the loss of a child in the manner she did, but her sheer strength of character, which has allowed her to turn that loss into our gain. Lucia has taken it as her mission to live beyond the pain of her loss and to prevent more of our children from meeting at those crossroads.”–Ta-Nehisi Coates, New York Times bestselling author of Between the World and Me

 

She Called Me Woman: Nigeria’s Queer Women Speak by Azeenarh Mohammed (@xeenarh), Chitra Nagarajan (@chitranagarajan ‏), and Rafeeat Aliyu (@rafeeeeta ‏)

September 12

Tags: Queer, Nigeria, Black women, women writers, trans

Cassava Republic Press, 340 pages

“We put together this collection of twenty-five narratives to correct the invisibility, the confusion, the caricaturising and the writing out of queer women from history.”–Description

 

Pan–African American Literature: Signifyin(g) Immigrants in the Twenty-First Century by Stephanie Li 

September 14

Rutgers University Press, 190 pages

“Timely and promising, Pan-African American Literature will make a major and distinctive contribution to African American studies, cultural studies, and American literary studies.”–Michele Elam author of The Souls of Mixed Folk: Race, Politics, and Aesthetics in the New Millennium

 

Vexy Thing: On Gender and Liberation by Imani Perry (@imaniperry)

September 14

Tags: Feminism, gender, Black women, women writers

Duke University Press Books, 304 pages

“Imani Perry’s Vexy Thing is a strong and confidently argued statement for a kind of feminism that attends in new ways to how logics of gender domination are part of wider logics of domination—how regimes of gender must be considered under a lens that also makes visible austerity and neoliberalism, hypermedia and the security state. Vexy Thing expands our notions of what a feminist critic can do while giving the reader a real sense of an important intellectual at work.”–Sara Ahmed, author of Living a Feminist Life

 

African American Girls and the Construction of Identity: Class, Race, and Gender by Sheila Walker

September 15 (Kindle; hardcover out in October)

Tags: Black women, girls, race, women writers

Lexington Books, 204 pages

If anyone is curious about the depth and scope of the sociocultural and psychological experiences and profiles of young African American women then this book should be kept close by for use as a reference and a resource. With a wealth of interesting material and a clear and accommodating, yet sufficiently rigourous, framework, anyone who studies these pages will come out a richer person.–Joseph Trimble, Western Washington University

 

All the Stars Denied by Guadalupe García McCall (@ggmccall)

September 15

Tags: YA, historical fiction, women writers

Tu Books, 324 pages

“When Estrella organizes a protest against the treatment of tejanos in their town of Monteseco, Texas, her whole family becomes a target of ‘repatriation’ efforts to send Mexicans ‘back to Mexico’–whether they were ever Mexican citizens or not. Dumped across the border and separated from half her family, Estrella must figure out a way to survive and care for her mother and baby brother. How can she reunite with her father and grandparents and convince her country of birth that she deserves to return home? There are no easy answers in the first YA book to tackle this hidden history.”–Description

 

Drive Here and Devastate Me by Megan Falley (@megan_falley)

September 15

Tags: Poetry, queer, romance, women writers

Write Bloody Publishing, 100 pages

“Megan Falley’s much-anticipated fourth collection of poetry shocks you with its honesty: whether through exacting wit or lush lyrical imagery. It is clear that the author is madly in love, not only with her partner for whom she writes both idiosyncratic and sultry poems for, but in love with language, in love with queerness, in love with the therapeutic process of bankrupting the politics of shame. These poems tackle gun violence, toxic masculinity, LGBTQ* struggles, suicidality, and the oppression of women’s bodies, while maintaining a vivid wildness that the tongue aches to speak aloud.”–Description

 

Flocks by L. Nichols

September 15

Tags: Trans, #OwnVoices, memoir, graphic novels, religion

Secret Acres, 332 pages

“L. Nichols, a trans man, artist, engineer and father of two, was born in rural Louisiana, assigned female and raised by conservative Christians. Flocks is his memoir of that childhood, and of his family, friends and community, the flocks of Flocks, that shaped and re-shaped him. L.’s irresistibly charming drawings demonstrate what makes Flocks so special: L.’s boundless empathy.”–Description

 

Howard Zinn’s Southern Diary: Sit-ins, Civil Rights, and Black Women’s Student Activism by Robert Cohen

September 15

Tags: US history, Black women

University of Georgia Press, 312 pages

“This is a gem of a book! Organized around Howard Zinn’s fascinating diary of events during 1963, Robert Cohen’s account provides fresh information about how Zinn’s time at Spelman College (1956–63) converged with the contentious process of change in Atlanta, across the South, and on the Spelman campus. In recovering this formative chapter in Zinn’s biography, Cohen tells the story of a generation of black college women on the front lines of the freedom struggle.”–Patricia Sullivan author of Lift Every Voice: The NAACP and the Making of the Civil Rights Movement

 

The Bead Collector: A novel by Sefi Atta

September 17

Tags: Literary fiction, Nigeria, friendship, family, women writers

Interlink Pub Group, 376 pages

“The Bead Collector is centered around a dialogue between two women, but radiates out through family and society and the political realm in Nigeria to form a vast, rich dialogue, one, ultimately, between tradition and progress. Sefi Atta has crafted yet another stunning novel, a deeply compelling, illuminating story of personal and national identity in a time of great transition.”–Gayle Brandeis, author of The Book of Dead Birds

 

The Deeper the Water the Uglier the Fish by Katya Apekina (@katyaapekina)

September 18

Tags: Family, coming of age, women writers, debut

The Deeper the Water the Uglier the Fish begins with a reunion between two sisters and their estranged, artist father. An unlikely intimacy grows out of this unusual situation, and we’re shuttled into a strange, beautiful history of this complex, passionate family, a history which involves young love, the Civil Rights movement, and an enduring obsession. I was completely mesmerized by Katya Apekina’s thrilling, heartfelt debut. Funny, suspenseful, touching, and totally unexpected, I dare you not to love it as much as I did. Apekina has talent and heart to spare.”–Anton DiSclafani, National Bestselling author of The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls

 

Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth by Sarah Smarsh (@Sarah_Smarsh)

September 18

Tags: Class, women writers, rural, poverty

Scribner, 304 pages

“Candid and courageous … Smarsh’s raw and intimate narrative exposes a country of economic inequality that has ‘failed its children.'”–Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“[A] powerful message of class bias … A potent social and economic message [is] embedded within an affecting memoir.”–Kirkus (starred review)

 

How to be Less Stupid About Race: On Racism, White Supremacy, and the Racial Divide by Crystal Marie Fleming (@alwaystheself)

September 18

Tags: Race, women writers, sociology

“Dr. Fleming offers a straight-no-chaser critique of our collective complicit ignorance regarding the state of race in the United States . . . . This book will leave you thinking, offended, and transformed.”–Nina Turner, former Ohio state senator

 

In Pieces by Sally Field (@sally_field)

September 18

Tags: Memoir, entertainment, women writers, family

Grand Central Publishing, 416 pages

“In this intimate, haunting literary memoir, an American icon tells her story for the first time, and in her own gorgeous words–about a challenging and lonely childhood, the craft that helped her find her voice, and a powerful emotional legacy that shaped her journey as a daughter and a mother.”–Description

I know she’s a white lady. But I adore her.

 

Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry by Imani Perry (@imaniperry)

September 18

Tags: Queer, women writers, Black women, biography

Beacon Press, 256 pages

“I have always admired the brilliant Lorraine Hansberry. Now I treasure her even more. Imani Perry’s magnificently written and extremely well researched Looking for Lorraine reclaims for all of us the Lorraine Hansberry we should have had all along, the multifaceted genius for whom A Raisin in the Sun was just the tip of the iceberg. Though Hansberry’s life was brief, her powerful work remains vital and urgently necessary. One can say the same of this phenomenal book, which hopefully will lead more readers to both Hansberry’s published and unpublished works.”–Edwidge Danticat, author of Brother, I’m Dying

 

Someone Like Me: How One Undocumented Girl Fought for Her American Dream by Julissa Arce (@julissaarce)

September 18

Tags: Immigration, women writers, #OwnVoices, YA, memoir, Mexico, drugs

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 240 pages

“A remarkable true story from social justice advocate and national bestselling author Julissa Arce about her journey to belong in America while growing up undocumented in Texas… Julissa’s story provides a deep look into the little-understood world of a new generation of undocumented immigrants in the United States today–kids who live next door, sit next to you in class, or may even be one of your best friends.”–Description

 

These Truths: A History of the United States by Jill Lepore

September 18

Tags: US history, women writers

W. W. Norton & Company, 960 pages

“With this epic work of grand chronological sweep, brilliantly illuminating the idea of truth in the history of our republic, Lepore reaffirms her place as one of one of the truly great historians of our time.”–Henry Louis Gates Jr., Harvard University

 

Washington Black: A novel by Esi Edugyan

September 18

Tags: Historical fiction, adventure, literary, women writers

Knopf, 352 pages

Read my review here!

“Washington Black is nothing short of a masterpiece. Esi Edugyan has a rare talent for turning over little known stones of history and giving her reader a new lens on the world, a new way of understanding subject matter we arrogantly think we know everything about. This book is an epic adventure and a heartfelt tale about love and morality and their many contradictions. I loved it.”–Attica Locke, author of Bluebird, Bluebird

 

Forgotten Women: The Writers by Zing Tsjeng (@misszing)

September 20 (Kindle ed., hardcover coming in October)

Tags: Women writers, history

Cassell, 224 pages

“To say this series is ’empowering’ doesn’t do it justice. Buy a copy for your daughters, sisters, mums, aunts and nieces – just make sure you buy a copy for your sons, brothers, dads, uncles and nephews, too.”–Independent

 

 

Othered by Randi M Romo (@RomoTake2)

September 20

Tags: Queer, women writers, #OwnVoices, poetry

Sibling Rivalry Press, 96 pages

“There is no better landing place for our grief, our love, and our hopes for a better tomorrow than poems. They vibrate with an urgency that defies the dead and enlivens the future. But Othered is more than a collection of poetry; it is proof positive that becoming one’s true self is still the most revolutionary act that any human being can undertake. Randi M. Romo shows us how it’s done–with courage, great care, and community.” – James Lecesne, Co-Founder of the Trevor Project

 

Blindsided by Chelsea Catherine

September 21

Tags: Queer, literary fiction

Texas Review Press, 144 pages

Blindsided follows Eli as she leads Carla, a local real estate agent, through an election for Key West city mayor. At first, the campaign process appears easy. Despite their differences, the two women work well together. But as time progresses, they face countless obstacles: the Bubba system in the Keys, discrimination from both supporting and opposing forces, and their rapidly intensifying relationship. While Carla starts to doubt her decisions, Eli struggles to find her place in the Keys and in Carla’s budding campaign.”–Description

 

Trans Teen Survival Guide by Fox Fisher (@theFoxFisherand Owl Fisher (@UglaStefania)

September 21

Tags: Trans, queer, YA, #OwnVoices

Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 208 pages

“With a focus on self-care, expression and being proud of your unique identity, the guide is packed full of invaluable advice from people who understand the realities and complexities of growing up trans. Having been there, done that, Fox and Owl are able to honestly chart the course of life as a trans teen, from potentially life-saving advice on dealing with dysphoria or depression, to hilarious real-life awkward trans stories.”–Description

 

Off Limits by Vanessa North (@byVanessaNorth)

September 24

Tags: Lesbian, romance, women writers, #OwnVoices

Vanessa North, 207 pages

“By day, Natalie Marshall is the Thorns Ladies’ Social Club’s perfect concierge: resourceful, observant, immaculate. But she turns her phone off when the night concierge arrives, and then she’s Nat: the raunchy lead singer of Vertical Smile—notorious for lewd lyrics and sexually-charged performances.”–Description

 

American Like Me: Reflections on Life Between Cultures by America Ferrera (@AmericaFerrera)

September 25

Tags: Immigration, essays, women writers, #OwnVoices, Latinx

Gallery Books, 336 pages

“From award-winning actress and political activist America Ferrera comes a vibrant and varied collection of first person accounts from prominent figures about the experience of growing up between cultures.”–Description

 

A Blade So Black by LL McKinney (@ElleOnWords)

September 25

Tags: Women writers, fantasy, urban, debut

Imprint, 384 pages

A Blade So Black delivers an irresistible urban fantasy retelling of Alice in Wonderland . . . but it’s not the Wonderland you remember. Debut author L.L. McKinney delivers an action-packed twist on an old classic, full of romance and otherworldly intrigue.”–Description

 

Can We All Be Feminists?: New Writing from Brit Bennett, Nicole Dennis-Benn, and 15 Others on Intersectionality, Identity, and the Way Forward for Feminism edited by June Eric-Udorie (@juneericudorie)

September 25

Tags: Feminism, queer, anthology

Penguin Books, 288 pages

“June Eric-Udorie is a powerhouse. . . . who has assembled a stellar lineup of writers, putting a bold challenge to the idea of a unified feminism.”–Book Riot, “New Feminist Books That Offer Us Ways Forward”

 

Lava Falls by Lucy Jane Bledsoe (@LucyBledsoe)

September 25

Tags: Lesbian, women writers, short stories

University of Wisconsin Press, 240 pages

“In these twelve remarkable stories, the reader journeys from the remotest inner reaches of Alaska to deceptively calm suburban neighborhoods to a research station at the bottom of the world. Yet Lucy Jane Bledsoe’s true territory is the wild, uncharted expanse of the heart. A wise and wonderful collection.”–Kirstin Valdez Quade, author of Night at the Fiesta
“From Antarctica to suburbia to the ancient past and a post-apocalyptic future, these tales of kick-ass women adventurers and survivor girls are big-hearted, breathtaking, and profound. Reading Lava Falls is like meeting an animal in the wild: I was rapt, unable to turn away, with no idea what would happen next.”–Micah Perks, author of What Becomes Us

 

Old Futures: Speculative Fiction and Queer Possibility by Alexis Lothian (@alothian)

September 25

Tags: Queer, speculative, history, literary criticism

NYU Press, 352 pages

Old Futures explores the social, political, and cultural forces feminists, queer people, and people of color invoke when they dream up alternative futures as a way to imagine transforming the present. Lothian shows how queer possibilities emerge when we practice the art of speculation: of imagining things otherwise than they are and creating stories from that impulse. Queer theory offers creative ways to think about time, breaking with straight and narrow paths toward the future laid out for the reproductive family, the law-abiding citizen, and the believer in markets. Yet so far it has rarely considered the possibility that, instead of a queer present reshaping the ways we relate to past and future, the futures imagined in the past can lead us to queer the present.”–Description

 

Open Earth by Sarah Mirk (@sarahmirk(Author) with Eva Cabrera (@evacabrera(Illustrator) and Claudia Aguirre (Illustrator)

September 25

Tags: Graphic novel, erotica, science fiction, women writers, romance

Limerence Press, 120 pages

“For comics fans who dream optimistically about the future, the diverse cast and sex-positive, cooperative storyline combine into a utopian vision.”–Publishers Weekly

“Humans may be living in space now, but our same old problems with love, sex, and communication are timeless. Full of family, friendship, and love, Cabrera, Aguirre, and Mirk’s vision of the post-apocalypse looks pretty damn appealing to me.”–Erika Moen

 

What titles are you excited about this month?

 

This post contains affiliate links.

Review of YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REMAIN FAT

F*ck Your Fatphobia. A Review of Virgie Tovar’s YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REMAIN FAT.

I was very excited to read Virgie Tovar’s You Have the Right to Remain Fat, so when it came up on Edelweiss, I was all over it.

Virgie Tovar is one of the leading authors, lecturers, and activists on fat discrimination and body image in the United States. In addition to founding BabeCamp, a month-long online camp for women “ready to break up with diet culture,” Tovar also contributes to serials such as Ravishly, BuzzFeed, and more. Her latest book, You Have the Right to Remain Fat, is the first of hers I have read.

 

Review of YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REMAIN FAT

The author, Virgie Tovar.

Overall, I really enjoyed this slim volume and read it in one afternoon. One of the strengths of this book is its accessibility. Tovar is very good at explaining some basic concepts for those who may be new to them, such as bootstrapping and gaslighting, and then builds information on these concepts as the book goes on.

And indeed, the book gets stronger and more impassioned as it goes on. Tovar intersperses information about fat discrimination and body image with her own personal experiences which really helps to illustrate the concepts.

Throughout the book, Tovar discusses topics such as body shame, fatphobia, and diet culture, which are the main culprits behind the lies we tell ourselves that as women, and especially as fat women, our bodies are somehow wrong.

But Tovar goes a step further and explains how these issues are actually,

merely symptoms of a larger cultural problem, not least our country’s history of unresolved racism, white supremacy, classism, and misogyny.

In no uncertain terms, Tovar argues that unrealistic existing beauty standards are built on this foundation and have been undermining women’s self-trust and control over their own lives.

Well, Tovar isn’t gonna take it anymore and neither should you. What really resonated with me was Tovar’s frustration with putting her life on hold because of her fatness, always feeling like she will really live only once she loses weight. She will wear a bikini when she loses weight or she will travel when she loses weight or will have more sex when she loses weight. This internalized inferiority is something most women experience so much, we don’t even realize it.

Rather than recognizing the multiplicity of feminine expression and feminine power (regardless of sex assignment at birth, ability, size, the presence or absence of modesty or money), women in pursuit of thinness become complicit in their own dehumanization and therefore become agents of misogyny.

At a certain point, Virgie Tovar decided to stop dieting and abiding by society’s arbitrarily constructed standards and just start living. Not later. NOW.

Something else I appreciated about this book was Tovar’s attention to the difference between the fat activist and body positivity movements. For instance, Tovar argues that fat activism has proud queer and political roots and is fighting to tear down the oppressive system of dangerous body ideals, while body positivity adherents wish to assimilate into this system, despite its racist, patriarchal, fatphobic undertones. While only an introduction, this section is just enough to inspire readers to examine these movements further.

Fatphobia affects us all and Virgie Tovar’s You Have the Right to Remain Fat is an accessible place for anyone to start learning how to fight against it. A determined call to action, this is a quick read that packs a punch. Pick it up if you are a womxn or love a womxn. Full stop.

You can find Virgie Tovar online at https://www.virgietovar.com/, on Instagram @virgietovar, and on Twitter @virgietovar.

Summary:

Review of YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REMAIN FAT

 

Title: You Have the Right to Remain Fat
Author: Virgie Tovar
Publisher: The Feminist Press at CUNY
Pages: 128 pages
Publication Date: August 14, 2018
Tags: Fat activism, feminism, Latinx, women writers
My Rating: Recommended

 

 

You Have the Right to Remain Fat



For further information:

Body Love: Fat Activist Virgie Tovar on How to Feel Better About Your Body TODAY by Katie Morell for Rebellious

Kirkus review

Overcoming Bikini Trauma: How one fat girl fell in love with the feeling of freedom on her skin (2018) by Virgie Tovar for Shondaland

These Instagrams by fat activists are changing how we think about dieting (2016) by Leanna Garfield for Business Insider

This Woman Wrote a Short but Sweet Love Note to Her Stomach (2017) by Jami Ganz

Why this Instagram influencer calls fat a feminist issue (2018) by Beth Greenfield for Yahoo!

Watch Virgie Tovar’s TEDx talk:

This post contains affiliate links. All reviews are honest and my own. Thanks to Virgie Tovar, Delphinium, and Edelweiss for a complimentary ARC! The quotes in this post refer to the uncorrected proof and may or may not reflect the final version of the book.

Classic Reads for the Rest of Us

Classic Reads for the Rest of Us

I enjoy classic books. There’s something about books that have stood the test of time that intrigues me.

But let’s face it, historically books by white men are the ones most often considered as “classics.” Some books by white women have been included and the canon is expanding to include writers of color and writers outside of Europe and the US but often, one has to do some research to uncover these titles even though there are a wealth of them.

And if you’ve visited my website before, you know that my focus is on reading “for the rest of us,” or books by womxn and others of historically marginalized populations.

So when I recently decided to join The Classics Club, I knew I wanted to focus on classics by womxn, including Black women, women of color, queer women, and women outside of the US and Europe.

The Classics Club was created in 2012 to inspire people to read and write about classic books. The idea is to pick a list of 50 or more classic books that you commit to reading and sharing on your site over the next five years. After reading the guidelines and how to join, I decided it would be something I would like to take on but with my own twist (of course).

One thing I appreciate about The Classics Club is that you can define “classic” how you like. I gave my list a lot (like, A LOT) of thought and narrowed down the most important factors in its creation:

  • Of course, my classics are all by womxn.
  • I focused on classics in feminism, gender, women’s, and queer studies (and not just White Feminism™ although there are some of these titles included).
  • I wanted the majority of writers to be BIWOC or/or international.
  • I was open to fiction, nonfiction, memoirs, histories, and more. I excluded poetry for the most part as I am just not a big fan.
  • I was open regarding publication date and wanted to include titles from throughout history until 2010, which I just chose because I wanted a Nnedi Okorafor book.
  • I focused on books that I have never read but there are some on the list that I haven’t read in many years and I wanted to re-read them.

You’ll note the exclusion of some books that you might think would be obvious choices given the criteria above (Zami, Jane Eyre, The Color Purple, Bluest Eye, etc.). Sometimes this is because I have read them before and am not looking to re-read them; other times, this is because I just don’t want to read them or just didn’t want to include them on this list. Bottom line: I included what I wanted!

My list is below. I’ve included the original publication/writing dates and plan to read them in chronological order. It’s possible the list may change or grow over time. I will be adding Amazon links and more tags, and I will regularly update the list as I make my way through and will link titles to the posts I write about them.

UPDATE: I’ve removed Vindication of the Rights of Woman and replaced it with Still Brave (#99).

So, here are the 100 titles I’ve chosen to read by August 23, 2023:

  1. Completed 10/2/18 – The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon by Sei Shōnagon (c10th century) – Read my review!
    Tags: Japanese, memoir, women in translation, history
  2. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë (1848)
    Tags: British, white, literary fiction
  3. Narrative of Sojourner Truth by Sojourner Truth (1850)
    Tags: Black American, history, memoir
  4. The Bondwoman’s Narrative by Hannah Crafts (c1855)
    Tags: Black American, literary fiction
  5. Our Nig: or, Sketches from the Life of a Free Black by Harriet E. Wilson (1859)
    Tags: Black American, fiction
  6. The Curse of Caste; or The Slave Bride: A Rediscovered African American Novel by Julia C. Collins (1865)
    Tags: Black American, fiction
  7. The Light of Truth: Writings of an Anti-Lynching Crusader by Ida B. Wells (1885-1927)
    Tags: Black American, history
  8. Iola Leroy by Frances EW Harper (1892)
    Tags: Black American, historical fiction
  9. The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Stories by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1892)
    Tags: White American, short stories, feminist, mental health
  10. The Awakening by Kate Chopin (1899)
    Tags: White American, American South, literary fiction
  11. Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery (1908)
    Tags: Canadian, white, children’s
  12. American Indian Stories, Legends, and Other Writings by Zitkala-Sa (1921)
    Tags: Native American (Sioux), poetry, folklore, biographical
  13. Plum Bun: A Novel Without A Moral by Jessie Redmon Fauset (1928)
    Tags: Black American, Harlem Renaissance
  14. Passing by Nella Larsen (1929)
    Tags: Black American, Harlem Renaissance
  15. A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf (1929)
    Tags: British, white, feminism, writing
  16. Nightwood by Djuna Barnes (1936)
    Tags: White American, lesbian, literary fiction
  17. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (1937)
    Tags: Black American, historical fiction, American South
  18. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (1943)
    Tags: White American, coming of age, family, American North
  19. Nada by Carmen Laforet (1945)
    Tags: Spanish, women in translation, fiction
  20. The Living is Easy by Dorothy West (1948)
    Tags: Black American, Harlem Renaissance
  21. The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir
    Tags: French, white, feminist theory
  22. Pinjar: The Skeleton and Other Stories by Amrita Pritam (1950)
    Tags: Indian, WIT, fiction
  23. Maud Martha by Gwendolyn Brooks (1953)
    Tags: Black American, family, coming of age, fiction
  24. Nisei Daughter by Monica Sone (1953)
    Tags: Japanese American, memoir, immigration
  25. Brown Girl, Brownstones by Paule Marshall (1959)
    Tags: Black American, immigration, American North
  26. Patience and Sarah by Isabel Miller (1959)
    Tags: White American, lesbian, historical fiction, romance
  27. A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry (1959)
    Tags: Black American, play, family
  28. Child of the Dark: The Diary of Carolina Maria de Jesus by Carolina Maria de Jesus (1960)
    Tags: Brazil, poverty, memoir
  29. The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing (1962)
    Tags: British, white, feminist
  30. The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan (1963)
    Tags: White American, feminist
  31. Efuru by Flora Nwapa (1966)
    Tags: African (Nigerian), literary fiction
  32. Jubilee by Margaret Walker (1966)
    Tags: Black American, historical fiction, American South
  33. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys (1966)
    Tags: Dominican, feminist, literary fiction
  34. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin (1969)
    Tags: White American, queer, science fiction, GNC
  35. Daddy Was a Number Runner by Louise Meriwether (1970)
    Tags: Black American, American North, family, coming of age
  36. Sexual Politics by Kate Millett (1970)
    Tags: White American, feminist theory, literary criticism
  37. Sisterhood is Powerful by Robin Morgan (1970)
    Tags: Essays, feminism
  38. Unbought and Unbossed by Shirley Chisholm (1970)
    Tags: Black American, memoir, politics
  39. Black Women in White America by Gerda Lerner (1970)
    Tags: Austrian American, Black American, history
  40. Sappho Was a Right-On Woman: A Liberated View of Lesbianism by Sidney Abbott and Barbara Love (1972)
    Tags: White American, lesbian, feminism
  41. Fear of Flying by Erica Jong (1973)
    Tags: White American, romance, humor
  42. Sula by Toni Morrison (1973)
    Tags: Black American, coming of age, friendship
  43. Between Two Worlds by Miriam Tlali (1975)
    Tags: African (South African), autobiographical
  44. Woman at Point Zero by Naawal el Saadawi (1975)
    Tags:  Middle Eastern, African (Egyptian), literary
  45. Beyond the Veil: Male-Female Dynamics in Modern Muslim Society by Fatemah Mernissi (1976)
    Tags: African (Moroccan), feminist, Islam, MENA
  46. For colored girls who have considered suicide/When the rainbow is enuf by Ntozake Shange (1976)
    Tags: Black American, feminist, play, mental health
  47. The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts by Maxine Hong Kingston (1976)
    Tags: Chinese, creative memoir, immigration
  48. Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko (1977)
    Tags: Native American (Laguna Pueblo), literary fiction
  49. The Hidden Face of Eve: Women in the Arab World by Naawal el Saadawi (1977)
    Tags: Middle Eastern, African, feminist theory
  50. Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman by Michele Wallace (1978)
    Tags: Black American, feminist, feminist theory
  51. Joys of Motherhood by Buchi Emecheta (1979)
    Tags: African (Nigerian), family, literary
  52. Kindred by Octavia Butler (1979)
    Tags: Black American, speculative fiction
  53. Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism by bell hooks (1981)
    Tags: Black American, feminist
  54. Obasan by Joy Kogawa (1981)
    Tags: Japanese Canadian, historical fiction, literary fiction
  55. This Bridge Called My Back by Cherrie Moraga (1981)
    Tags: Latinx, essays, feminism, creative nonfiction, poetry
  56. Women, Race, & Class by Angela Y. Davis (1981)
    Tags: Black American, feminist theory, history
  57. But Some Of Us Are Brave: All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men: Black Women’s Studies by Akasha (Gloria T.) Hull (1982)
    Tags: Black American, essays, bibliography
  58. The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende (1982)
    Tags: South American (Chilean), magical realism, historical fiction
  59. Women of Brewster Place by Gloria Naylor (1982)
    Tags: Black American, short stories
  60. Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology by Barbara Smith (1983)
    Tags: Black American, lesbian, literary, feminism
  61. In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens by Alice Walker (1983)
    Tags: Black American, essays, feminist theory
  62. Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center by bell hooks (1984)
    Tags: Black American, feminist theory
  63. House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros (1984)
    Tags: Mexican American, coming of age, historical fiction
  64. Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich (1984)
    Tags: Native American (Anishinaabe/Ojibwe), family
  65. Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde (1984)
    Tags: Black American, lesbian, feminist theory, essays
  66. Sisterhood is Global by Robin Morgan (1984)
    Tags: Essays, transnational feminism
  67. When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America by Paula Giddings (1984)
    Tags: Black American, history
  68. A Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (1985)
    Tags: Canadian, white, dystopian
  69. Oranges are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson (1985)
    Tags: British, white, lesbian, biographical
  70. Feminism and Nationalism in the Third World by Kumari Jayawardena (1986)
    Tags: Sri Lankan, transnational feminism, Asia, Middle East
  71. Borderlands / La Frontera: The New Mestiza by Gloria Anzaldua (1987)
    Tags: Latinx American, lesbian, feminist, poetry, memoir
  72. Creation of Patriarchy by Gerda Lerner (1987)
    Tags: Austrian American, feminist, history
  73. Assata: An Autobiography by Assata Shakur (1988)
    Tags: Black American, memoir
  74. The Middleman and Other Stories by Bharati Mukherjee (1988)
    Tags: Indian American, short stories, Asian, immigration
  75. Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga (1988)
    Tags: African (Zimbabwean), family, coming of age
  76. Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan (1989)
    Tags: Chinese American, immigration, family
  77. Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment by Patricia Hill Collins (1990)
    Tags: Black American, feminist theory
  78. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity by Judith Butler (1990)
    Tags: White American, feminist, queer
  79. To My Children’s Children by Sindiwe Magona (1990)
    Tags: African (South African), autobiographical
  80. How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez (1991)
    Tags: Dominican American, Latinx, coming of age, family, immigration
  81. Creation of Feminist Consciousness by Gerda Lerner (1993)
    Tags: Austrian American, feminist theory, history
  82. Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler (1993)
    Tags: Black American, coming of age, dystopian
  83. Words of Fire: An Anthology of African-American Feminist Thought by Beverly Guy Sheftall (1995)
    Tags: Black American, feminist theory, history
  84. Paradise by Toni Morrison (1997)
    Tags: Black American, literary fiction
  85. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant (1997)
    Tags: White American, historical fiction, Christianity
  86. African American Women in the Struggle for the Vote, 1850–1920 by Rosalyn Terborg-Penn (1998)
    Tags: Black American, history
  87. Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson (1998)
    Tags: Jamaican Canadian, speculative fiction
  88. Feminism is for Everybody by bell hooks (2000)
    Tags: Black American, feminism
  89. Sisters in the Struggle: African-American Women in the Civil Rights-Black Power Movement by Bettye Collier-Thomas (2001)
    Tags: Black American, history, feminism
  90. this bridge we call home: radical visions for transformation this bridge we call home: radical visions for transformation by Gloria Anzaldua (2002)
    Tags:  Essays, lesbian, feminism, creative nonfiction
  91. African Women and Feminism: Reflecting on the Politics of Sisterhood by Oyeronke Oyewumi (2003)
    Tags: African (Nigerian), feminism
  92. Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision by Barbara Ransby (2003)
    Tags: Black American, biography, history
  93. Feminism without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity by Chandra Talpade Mohanty (2003)
    Tags: Indian American, transnational feminism, essays
  94. Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi (2003)
    Tags: Iranian, memoir, Islam
  95. Sisterhood is Forever by Robin Morgan (2003)
    Tags: Essays, feminism
  96. African Gender Studies: A Reader by Oyeronke Oyewumi (2005)
    Tags: African (Nigerian), essays
  97. Unbowed: A Memoir by Wangari Maathai (2006)
    Tags: African (Kenyan), memoir, ecofeminism
  98. The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir by Kao Kalia Yang (2008)
    Tags: Hmong American, memoir, family
  99. Still Brave: The Evolution of Black Women’s Studies edited by Frances Smith Foster, Beverly Guy-Sheftall, and Stanlie M. James (2009)
    Tags: Black American, women’s studies, history
  100. Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor (2010)
    Tags: African (Nigeria, Sudan), dystopian, magical realism

 

classicsclub

 

Whew.

Thanks to The Classics Club for the inspiration to undertake this challenge! Care to join me? Let me know or create your own Classics Club list!

 

 

Let me know what you think of my list! What books did I not include that you think I should have? What titles don’t deserve a spot on the list? 

Review of Before She Sleeps

From Reluctance to Rebellion: A Review of Bina Shah’s BEFORE SHE SLEEPS

Green City in South West Asia is lush, modern, and hi-tech – a model of beauty and prosperity. The air is clean. Women are provided for and protected. There are good citizenship classes and robotic doormen.

Green City also has DNA security scanners. It has assigned marriages and women must take multiple husbands. As “the mothers of the new nation,” they are responsible for repopulating society and kept constantly pregnant. And if they break the rules as laid out in the “Handbook for Female Citizens,” there are harsh punishments – including “elimination.”

This is the world described in Bina Shah’s intriguing new dystopian novel, Before She Sleeps.

Bina Shah

The author, Bina Shah.

What first attracted me to this novel was its cover. It is alien-futuristic and I envisioned AI robots and flying cars everywhere. But it also gave me a sense of being someone down low to the ground, looking up at the new world from the depths.

Before she sleeps by Bina Shah

I wondered if the underground was somehow going to play a part in the story – and indeed it does.

Because also in this world, there lives a group of women who refuse to capitulate to the new rules of forced marriage and childbearing. These women live underground only venturing out at night to provide a secret service to men – and it’s not the one you think.

These women don’t provide men with sex, but with intimacy. These women touch men, listen to men, hold men as they fall asleep; they give men the individual closeness they are desperately craving in this world. And although this allows the women to avoid the life of a wife, there is still a steep price to pay.

Throughout the book I wondered: is that price worth it?

What does freedom mean to me? What would I be willing to give up for it?

And were any of the women in Green City or its underground truly free?

“I don’t like the idea of being the sandpaper to smooth a man’s rough edges, but it’s better than being an entire nation’s incubator.”

Before She Sleeps has been compared to The Handmaid’s Tale, and rightfully so. The premises regarding women are very similar, wherein men hold all the power, despite the necessity of the women in sustaining life.

“Girls and women in Green City were required to have public profiles that men could peruse before applying for a Wife.”

What sets this novel apart from others in this genre is its grounding in South Asian and Muslim cultures and its commentary on some of the patriarchal traditions of those cultures.

Shah refers to these identities in a variety of ways throughout the book and makes statements on customs that oppress many Pakistani and Muslim women today, such as veiling practices and gender selection. These markers add tremendous value and yet are subtle enough to not affect the universality of the story.

While its getting increasingly difficult to shine amongst the growing field of feminist dystopian novels, Shah offers a valuable example of what will keep this genre fresh: stories that offer readers a relevant themes of resistance to patriarchal futures based on varying cultures, religions, identities, and other perspectives.

While the feminist in me appreciated the anti-patriarchal messaging of the book, I have to admit that the lesbian in me was like: “Wait. Where are all my queers?!”

via GIPHY

Even though the “Gender Emergency” is mentioned repeatedly throughout the book, I felt it needed more development. There is no mention of people who are gender nonconforming, nonbinary, trans, queer, gay or otherwise. Where did they all go? Even the handbook only refers to “females.” The two or three times that the possibility of a man’s sexual relationship with another man is mentioned, it is framed by violence and shame – definitely not the portrayals we need reproduced.

I wanted to hear more about the Gender Emergency, the HPV that mutated and caused the decline of women, and the “Perpetuation scheme,” which was supposed to address the disparity. I also wondered what was happening in the rest of the world, outside of South West Asia. Some history was explained – there were references to the “Final War,” the three waves, nuclear winter – but if more developed, these details would’ve made a strong book even better.

Overall Shah’s writing is solid and she is adept at switching between voices of her characters. While this style may seem disjointed to some readers, I felt that it added to the overall feelings of volatility and imbalance of the world Shah built.

Despite some shortcomings, this is a satisfying and engaging novel that offers a nuanced take on the growing feminist dystopian genre. I look forward to reading more by Bina Shah.

This is a quick read that I would recommend to anyone who has an interest in speculative or dystopian writing, fans of The Handmaid’s Tale, and those with an interest in feminist literature, international writers, and/or women writers of color.

Find Bina Shah online at http://www.binashah.net/ and on Twitter @BinaShah.

Summary:

Title: Before She Sleeps
Author: Bina Shah
Publisher: Delphinium Books
Pages: 280 pages
Publication Date: August 7, 2018
Tags: Pakistan, feminism, dystopian, women writers
My Rating: Recommended

Content information: Talk of rape, suicide

 

To learn more:

BINA SHAH – The Rebel Who Writes by Rabia Mushtaq for Mag the Weekly

Kirkus review

Publisher’s Weekly review

Technology and Terror Fill Bina Shah’s Dystopian Society in “Before She Sleeps” by Rachel Fogle De Souza for BookTrib

 

This post contains affiliate links. All reviews are honest and my own. Thanks to Bina Shah, Delphinium, and NetGalley for a complimentary ARC!

July 2018 Wrap Up

Here’s my July 2018 wrap up!

Here we are in August already! Hope you are having a fantastic summer.

Time is short, so let’s get right to it!

This month I read only two books! To be fair, I was super sick for about 3.5 weeks of this month sooo…

I read:

I listened to two audiobooks as well:

I wrote two book reviews:

 

 

I also posted:

And I participated in cover reveals for:

July’s Book Haul:

That’s the July 2018 wrap up – Here’s a look ahead to August!

Books in Progress:

Book Haul so far:

TBR:

 

 

TBW:

  • Resource Lists:
    • New Reads for the Rest of Us for September 2018
    • Another resource list – topic TBD

I have been writing a lot for work but also reviewing other people’s writing, so that has kept me busy as well. Right now I am editing biographies of Wisconsin Suffragists for a new online dictionary of suffrage being published by Alexander Street Press; I am editing and reviewing two articles (by others) for publication in academic journals; and I am trying to research and write my own chapter for inclusion in an upcoming ebook about women and leadership around the world – my piece focuses on the role libraries can play in women’s leadership development.

It is no wonder I am having trouble keeping up!

So that’s the July 2018 wrap up! What are you looking forward to in August? Do you have any ideas of topics for my next resource list?

 

July 2018 wrap Up Round Up

 

This post is part of the Monthly Wrap-Up Link-Up hosted by Feed Your Fiction Addiction!

This post contains affiliate links.

Camille Perri’s WHEN KATIE MET CASSIDY: A Brief Review

When Katie Met Cassidy is the engaging and romantic story of, well, Katie and Cassidy!

I must admit that this is not normally the type of book I pick up but I had heard so much about it and the author, Camille Perri, that I had to give it a try. I read it in a day and was pleasantly surprised!

Camille Perri

The author, Camille Perri.

Katie is a lawyer fresh out of a relationship with a man to whom she was engaged; he dumps her and she is struggling to start over. When she meets Cassidy, a powerful lawyer in a masculine suit, sparks fly!

Katie is as surprised as anyone as she attempts to figure out her feelings, her identity – and her next move.

Cassidy doesn’t know what to make of Katie either but the relationship that develops is sweet, funny, and super sexy.

It’s also complicated – as relationships usually are – and the story that unfolds reflects the challenges that one can go through when they are questioning their identity in any number of ways.

I am old enough to remember when it was not easy to find books depicting queer love, sex, and relationships. I am happy that there are more to choose from now! While this one lost a few points with me for the occasional slip into unrealistic L-Word-style depictions of lesbian life, it mostly wins. It is indeed refreshing to have my community represented in all its positive and funny yet fluid and complicated glory. Because representation matters.

With When Katie Met Cassidy, Camille Perri has created a quick and heartfelt read that will appeal to anyone who appreciates romantic comedies with slick dialogue and feverish, edge-of-your-seat flirtation (read: JUST KISS ALREADY!), especially when they are centered on queer characters.

You can find Camille Perri on Twitter @CamillePerri.

Summary:

Title: When Katie Met Cassidy
Author: Camille Perri
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Pages: 272 pages
Publication Date: June 19, 2018
My Rating: Recommended

 

 

When Katie Met Cassidy


To learn more:

Camille Perri at the PRH Librarian Event, December 2017

“‘When Katie Met Cassidy’ Is the Queer Romance We Deserve” by Molly Priddy on Autostraddle

Kirkus review of When Katie Met Cassidy

Publisher’s Weekly review of When Katie Met Cassidy

Q&A with Camille Perri, author of When Katie Met Cassidy

 

This post contains affiliate links. All reviews are honest and my own. Thanks to Camille Perri, Penguin/G.P. Putnam’s Sons, and First to Read for a complimentary ARC!

Review of Fruit of the Drunken Tree

Chula’s Colombia: A Review of Ingrid Rojas Contreras’ FRUIT OF THE DRUNKEN TREE

Ingrid Rojas Contreras was born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia, and this is where her remarkable debut novel, Fruit of the Drunken Tree, takes place.

In a time when Pablo Escobar, infamous drug lord and head of one of the most dangerous criminal families in the world, was at the height of his power, seven year old Chula and her family enjoy relatively safe lives. That is until Chula’s curiosities about their new maid, Petrona, get the better of her. Petrona and Chula develop an unlikely and heartfelt friendship despite their differences.

Ingrid Rojas Contreras

The author, Ingrid Rojas Contreras.

Chula lives with her sister and parents who enjoy carefree lives, aside from Chula’s father often traveling for work. But Petrona goes home to a very different world when she leaves the safety of working for Chula’s family. Petrona and her family live in a poor, guerrilla-held area of the city which is unprotected from the car bombs and kidnappings which occur more frequently as the story progresses.

“I knew that there was no gate surrounding the invasiones where Petrona lived, no iron locks on the doors, no iron bars on the windows. When I asked Petrona how she and her family stayed safe, she laughed. Then because I was embarrassed she shrugged her shoulders. She thought for a moment then said, ‘There’s nothing to lose.’ Five syllables.”

The differences between the lives of Petrona and Chula are stark; Petrona’s life is a mystery that Chula feels driven to uncover, despite the dangers. Their relationship is illustrative of the real challenges that inequalities in class and socioeconomic status can often pose.

When I began reading this book, it was these differences in the main characters and their situations that most interested me. I knew there was more lurking just underneath the surface. I appreciated that Fruit of the Drunken Tree had me questioning: What makes a family? What can friendships overcome? What would I sacrifice for others? For safety? For love?

As I read further, the layers of the book had me reflecting on the toll violence plays in societies in general, but especially on women and girls. Women are often forced to make impossible choices in times of war and violence; girls, in turn, carry incredible burdens of fear and responsibility much bigger than themselves.

“Cassandra was biting her nails. She said she could outsmart the guerrillas if they ever tried to kidnap her. She was, after all, first in her class… ‘My history teacher says most guerrilleros haven’t gone past the fourth grade, and I’m in fifth.’

My eyes widened as I turned to look out the window. I was in third.”

I didn’t know much about Colombia or Pablo Escobar before reading the book. It is not necessary for the reader to have this background but the book did pique my interest in learning more about Colombia’s history, language, and culture. [Of course I did some research and have included some links below.]

Essentially, during the time the story takes place, violent conflict in Colombia had already been raging for decades. Right-wing paramilitaries began fighting against the existing left-wing revolutionary rebels; the drug trade and cartels, like the one led by Pablo Escobar, added another layer to an already deadly situation. Despite the seemingly safe existence that many middle- and upper-class Colombians lived at the time, the fighting was never far from the minds or realities of many.

“My Barbie, Lola, had been the boss of guerrillas in Putumayo, but her men revolted against her and chopped her up and left her for dead in a jungle. She had a red bandana around her forehead and penciled-in bags under her eyes.”

It is so compelling to me that Escobar, like many other larger-than-life men throughout history, was hated by some but still loved by others, even considered a Robin Hood-style savior. He was a magnetic yet terrifying figure who evaded capture for many years.

Around this time, I also came across a new television show, Dark Tourist, in which the host traveled to Colombia to explore Escobar tourist attractions there, of which there are many. In one segment, with one of Escobar’s closest henchmen, the host goes on a tour of La Catedral, the prison at which Escobar was held for a year – that Escobar himself built (!).

Catedral19 by Tom Griggs

Photo of La Catedral by Tom Griggs

It may be shocking for some to think that anyone would want to tour this site but it illustrates people’s fascination with charismatic, narcissistic, and often, evil figures. Rojas Contreras is especially skilled in portraying this dynamic and other seemingly incongruous facets of life and relationships.

This becomes more impressive when you learn that this book is based on experiences of Rojas Contreras’ life and people she knew. How she is able to take her own experiences of being a girl growing up in Colombia and construct a powerful story with such universal meaning is a true testament to her skill as a writer.

So what is a Drunken Tree and how does it tie in to this story? Well the Drunken Tree, called Borrachero in Colombia, is a tree with beautiful flowers and fruit that hang down from its branches. It has a sweet smell but is deadly poisonous. For years, the fruit has been ground into a drug that causes extreme confusion, a dangerous lack of judgement, and according to Rojas Contreras, “…it takes your free will away.”

A Borrachero tree in Colombia (Shutterstock).

In the book, one of these trees stands in the backyard of Chula’s home and her mother warns her about spending too much time too close to it. The tree is a symbol of how sometimes the most beautiful things can be the most haunting and dangerous; it encourages the reader to reflect upon friendships, intentions, and trust.

Bottom line: Ingrid Rojas Contreras is just a fantastic storyteller. Her characters and the plot are fully and meticulously developed while the perspectives of the story switch seamlessly between Chula and Petrona. I felt invested in the characters, their lives, and their survival. This is one of Rojas Contreras’ true strengths.

The result is a full, rich tapestry of authentic interactions and emotions both among the characters and with their reader. Fruit of the Drunken Tree is an outstanding debut; if you appreciate raw yet flavorful storytelling, robust storylines, or Latinx literature, I highly recommend it.

Find Ingrid Rojas Contreras online at https://www.ingridrojascontreras.com/ and on Twitter @ingrid_rojas_c 

Summary:

Title: Fruit of the Drunken Tree
Author: Ingrid Rojas Contreras
Publisher: Doubleday
Pages: 320 pages
Publication Date: July 31, 2018
My Rating: Highly Recommended

Content info: Violence, violence against a child, violence against women

 

Fruit of the Drunken Tree



For further reading:

Ingrid Rojas Contreras:

On Pablo Escobar:

 

This post contains affiliate links; quotes are based on the advanced reader’s copy (ARC) and may or may not be reflected in the final copy of the book. Thanks to NetGalley, Doubleday, and Ingrid Rojas Contreras for the complimentary ARC! My reviews contain my own honest feedback. 

August Reads fir the Rest of Us

New Reads for the Rest of Us for August 2018

Welcome to New Reads for the Rest of Us for August 2018!

With these monthly lists, I aim to amplify the books written by those who are historically underrepresented including, but not limited to: women of color, women from the Global South, women who are black, indigenous, disabled, queer, fat, immigrants, Muslim, sex-positive, and more. My lists are intersectional, feminist, and trans-inclusive. I also want to highlight books by gender non-conforming people (who may or may not be described by the term “womxn”).

If you’d like to learn more about which books I focus on, see my Review Policy. These are just guidelines and I reserve the right to include (or not!) any books I see fit. I usually add to this list as I learn of others; if you have a suggestion, please share it in the comments below!

So here are the New Reads for the Rest of Us for August 2018! There are so many great titles here, which will you read??

 

Born To Kwaito: Reflections on the Kwaito Generation by Esinako Ndabeni and Sihle Mthembu

August

Tags: South Africa, music, #OwnVoices, debut

Jacana/Blackbird, 225 pages

Born to Kwaito revisits history as told through the vibrant lens of Kwaito, which is more than just music. Kwaito presented a new unbridled expression of Black South African youths. It carried the political significance of Black South Africans deciding to take a moment to enjoy themselves and the promise of their freedom.”–Description

 

True North by Ali Spooner

August

Tags: Lesbian, women writers, #OwnVoices, series, romance, adventure

Affinity Rainbow, 155 pages (ebook)

“Cam’s story continues as the Gator Girlz business continues to thrive under her leadership, but will self-doubt jeopardize her relationship when Bugsy reveals the family moonshine business to an unsuspecting Luce?

Will a devastating injury to Sandy end her career as a gator hunter or will it open a door to love?

Join the St. Angelo family for a third adventure to find out more about life, loving and family in Bayou Country.”–Description

 

Apple in the Middle by Dawn Quigley (@DawnEQuigley)

August 2

Tags: YA, family, coming of age, #OwnVoices, women writers

North Dakota State University Press, 264 pages

“I absolutely love how Quigley captures the distinct Turtle Mountain accent and, more importantly, the gentle lessons on tribal traditions the grandparents give, along with some truly humorous moments!”–Denise K. Lajimodiere, enrolled citizen, Turtle Mountain Ojibwe, author of Stringing Rosaries: Stories from Northern Plains American Indian Boarding School Survivors

 

Tied to Deceit by Neena H. Brar

August 4

Tags: Mystery, crime, women writers, India, debut

Penguide Books, 326 pages

“A remarkable whodunit that’s as sharp as it is concise. Brar enhances her taut murder mystery with an engaging setting that effectively incorporates the local culture. The smart, believable denouement will have readers looking forward to Brar’s next endeavor.”–Kirkus Reviews

“A literary mystery saga that includes far more depth and psychologicaland cultural insights than your typical murder mystery’s scenario.”–D. Donovan, Midwest Book Review

 

Before She Sleeps by Bina Shah (@BinaShah)

August 7

Tags: Dystopian, women writers, Pakistan, Muslim women

Delphinium, 256 pages

Read my review here!

“A haunting dystopian thriller…Fans of The Handmaid’s Tale won’t want to miss this one.”–Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“This dystopian novel from one of Pakistan’s most talented writers is a modern-day parable, The Handmaid’s Tale about women’s lives in repressive Muslim countries everywhere. “–Description

 

Contemporary Feminist Research From Theory to Practice by Patricia Leavy and Anne Harris

August 7

Tags: Feminism, women writers, research

Guilford Press, 302 pages

“A good introduction to feminist research methodology that grounds the reader in history and theory and then moves to actual research practice, thoroughly covering the types of research that feminists are doing today. I appreciate the inclusion of contemporary digital practices, which are very important currently.”–Stacie Craft DeFreitas, PhD, Department of Social Sciences, University of Houston–Downtown

 

The Court Dancer: A Novel by Kyung-Sook Shin and Anton Hur (Translator)

August 7

Tags: Korea, women writers, #OwnVoices, literary, historical fiction

Pegasus, 336 pages

“A gorgeous epic that seamlessly combines history and fiction to create a hybrid masterpiece. The court dancer’s latest journey west should command substantial, eager audiences.”–Booklist (starred)

 

If They Come for Us: Poems by Fatimah Asghar (@asgharthegrouch)

August 7

Tags: Poetry, Pakistan, Muslim, #OwnVoices, debut, women writers

One World, 128 pages

“Fatimah Asghar’s work isn’t simply some of the most innovative poetry I’ve read; page after page, the book weaves productive ambiguity, textured explorations of the body, and lyrical precision into a work that is somehow just as much a mammoth book of short stories, an experimental novel, and a soulful memoir. I’m not sure this nation is deserving of such a marvelous, sensual, and sensory book, but I know we needed this. We so needed this.”–Kiese Laymon, author of How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America and Long Division

 

If You Leave Me by Crystal Hana Kim (@crystalhanak)

August 7

Tags: Korea, family, literary, women writers, war, debut

William Morrow, 432 pages

“An unforgettable story of family, love, and war set against the violent emergence of modern Korea.”–Gary Shteyngart

“A gripping, heartrending tale of the birth of modern Korea filtered through the prism of an intimate love story. In fresh, often astonishing prose, Kim brings her characters to life: complicated, flawed, and hard not to fall in love with. A strikingly original work.”–Jessica Shattuck

 

Judas: How a Sister’s Testimony Brought Down a Criminal Mastermind by Astrid Holleeder

August 7

Tags: Memoir, women writers, crime, #OwnVoices, family, Netherlands

Mulholland Books, 416 pages

“Written while awaiting her brother’s trial, Holleeder’s engrossing story reads like the last will and testament of a dead woman walking.”–Publishers Weekly

“A harrowing, courageous account of murder and family…riveting, sensational, unforgettable.”–Kirkus (Starred Review)

 

Temper: A Novel by Nicky Drayden (@nickydrayden)

August 7

Tags: South Africa, speculative,women writers, magical realism

Harper Voyager, 400 pages

“[Drayden] excels at making every twist and turn of the plot meaningful to the story. Moreover, the world-building is deliciously lush and complex. “–Booklist (starred review)

“Drayden is an amazing writer and deft plotter. The twists are unexpected and never feel contrived, just as the novel explores real-world issues without sounding preachy.”–Library Journal

 

This Mournable Body by Tsitsi Dangarembga (@efie41209591)

August 7

Tags: Zimbabwe, women writers, literary, #OwnVoices, historical fiction

Graywolf Press, 304 pages

“A searing novel about the obstacles facing women in Zimbabwe, by one of the country’s most notable authors.

In This Mournable Body, Tsitsi Dangarembga returns to the protagonist of her acclaimed first novel, Nervous Conditions, to examine how the hope and potential of a young girl and a fledgling nation can sour over time and become a bitter and floundering struggle for survival.”–Amazon

 

Dreamers: How Young Indians Are Changing the World by Snigdha Poonam (@snigdhapoonam)

August 13

Tags: India, women writers, #OwnVoices

Harvard University Press, 288 pages

“A brilliant dive into the seething psyche of India’s small-town youth: a mayhem of sexuality, sentimentality, and insatiable hunger for success―at whatever price.”–Sunil Khilnani, author of The Idea of India

“Diligently reported and crisply written, Dreamers is an eye-opening guide to India’s troubling present―and future. No recent book has so astutely charted the treacherous Indian gap between extravagant illusion and grim reality.”–Pankaj Mishra, author of Age of Anger

 

This Time by S.W. Andersen (@SW_Andersen)

August 13

Tags: Lesbian, women writers, romance, paranormal, #OwnVoices

SW Anderson Books, 232 pages

“Some people believe love transcends time and space…
Neuropsychologist Dr. Contessa “Tess” Kenner isn’t one of them…

Free spirited artist Elena Jake, on the other hand, wants to fall in love with the woman of her dreams—quite literally… Will these two souls rediscover an epic love? Or are they destined to forever be star-crossed lovers? This paranormal romance is a must read for every true romantic who believes true love knows no bounds.”–Description

 

Assata Taught Me: State Violence, Mass Incarceration, and the Movement for Black Lives by Donna Murch

August 14

Tags: Black Lives Matter, Black women, women writers, feminism, politics, race, incarceration

Haymarket Books, 200 pages

“Black Panther and Cuban exile, Assata Shakur, has inspired multiple generations of radical protest, including our contemporary Black Lives Matter movement. Drawing its title from one of America’s foremost revolutionaries this collection of thought-provoking essays by award-winning Panther scholar Donna Murch explores how social protest is challenging our current system of state violence and mass incarceration.

Assata Taught Me offers a fresh and much-needed historical perspective on the fifty years since the founding of the Black Panther Party, in which the world’s largest police state has emerged.”–Description

 

Flights by Olga Tokarczuk with Jennifer Croft (Translator)

August 14

Tags: Translation, women writers, Poland, short stories, literary, magical realism

Riverhead, 416 pages

Winner of the Man Booker International Prize

“An indisputable masterpiece…Punctuated by maps and figures, the discursive novel is reminiscent of the work of Sebald. The threads ultimately converge in a remarkable way, making this an extraordinary accomplishment.”–Publisher’s Weekly (starred)

“A magnificent writer.”–Svetlana Alexievich, Nobel Prize-winning author of Secondhand Time

 

Pretty Things by Virginie Despentes and Emma Ramadan (Translator)

August 14

Tags: Sisters, contemporary women, women writers, gender, feminism

The Feminist Press at CUNY, 245 pages

“An intoxicating pop-trash plot of stolen identity that reveals the brutal and hilarious rules of gender—the high-octane philosophy beach read of the summer.”–Joanna Walsh, author of Worlds from the Word’s End

“Virginie Despentes had me in a headlock the whole time I was reading: she’s a feminist Zola for the twenty-first century.”–Lauren Elkin, author of Flâneuse: Women Walk the City

 

A River of Stars by Vanessa Hua (@vanessa_hua)

August 14

Tags: China, immigration, family, debut

Ballantine Books, 304 pages

“Splits ‘the Chinese immigrant story’ into a kaleidoscopic spectrum, putting faces to the many groups who come to America. Vanessa Hua’s debut is an utterly absorbing novel about the ruthless love of parenthood and the universal truth that sometimes family runs deeper than blood alone.”–Celeste Ng, New York Times bestselling author of Little Fires Everywhere and Everything I Never Told You

“Illuminates the lives of her characters with energy, verve, and heart. Hua tracks the minutest emotional terrain of these characters while simultaneously interrogating the cultural and economic forces that shape their worlds.”–Emma Cline, New York Times bestselling author of The Girls

 

Severance by Ling Ma

August 14

Tags: Humor, women writers, debut

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 304 pages

“A biting indictment of late-stage capitalism and a chilling vision of what comes after . . . [Ma] knows her craft, and it shows. [Her protagonist] is a wonderful mix of vulnerability, wry humor, and steely strength…. Ma also offers lovely meditations on memory and the immigrant experience. Smart, funny, humane, and superbly well-written.”–Kirkus, starred review

“Embracing the genre but somehow transcending it, Ma creates a truly engrossing and believable anti-utopian world. Ma’s extraordinary debut marks a notable creative jump by playing on the apocalyptic fears many people share today.”–Booklist, starred review

 

The Story of H: A Novel by Marina Perezagua

August 14

Tags: Literary, thrillers, historical fiction, women writers, debut

Ecco, 304 pages

“Marina Perezagua is an exciting new voice, one of the best of the new generation of Spanish writers.”–Salman Rushdie

“Rich with symbolism and recurring motifs, the story folds in on itself like origami. . . This thought-provoking novel charting the aching distance between the heart and tongue gives voice to the mutability and resilience of the human spirit.”–Booklist

 

You Have the Right to Remain Fat by Virgie Tovar (@virgietovar)

August 14

Tags: Women writers, feminism, health, fat positivity

The Feminist Press at CUNY, 136 pages

Read my review here!

“Long-time body positive writer, speaker and activist Virgie Tovar is gifting brown round girls the book we’ve been hungry for.”–Mitú

“In this bold new book, Tovar eviscerates diet culture, proclaims the joyous possibilities of fat, and shows us that liberation is possible.”–Sarai Walker, author of Dietland

“Tovar’s words provide crucial guidance, clarity, and support for all those who champion universal body liberation.”–Jessamyn Stanley, author of Every Body Yoga

 

Racial Ecologies by Leilani Nishime and Kim D. Hester Williams (eds.)

August 15

Tags: Race, women writers, women of color, Black women

University of Washington Press, 288 pages

“The authors in this wonderful volume make an utterly compelling case for why ecological discussions can no longer be taken seriously if they do not center race, indigeneity, and coloniality. This is a powerful and important book that should be read by everyone concerned with how to understand and address the ecological crisis that is upon us.”–Claire Jean Kim, professor of political science and Asian American studies, University of California, Irvine

 

Dance and the Arts in Mexico, 1920-1950: The Cosmic Generation by Ellie Guerrero

August 16

Tags: Mexico, women writers, art, dance, history, nonfiction

Palgrave Macmillan, 210 pages

“This is a solid contribution to the academic field of postrevolutionary culture and art in Mexico. […] This well-researched book rethinks the postrevolutionary canon by using new theoretical tools and incorporating little-known cultural processes.”–Jorge Quintana-Navarrete, Assistant Professor of Latin American Studies, Dartmouth College

 

Making All Black Lives Matter: Reimagining Freedom in the Twenty-First Century by Barbara Ransby (@BarbaraRansby)

August 17

Tags: Women writers, nonfiction, Black women, Black Lives Matter, #OwnVoices

University of California Press, 240 pages

“I can imagine no more perfect example of the dedicated scholar/activist than Barbara Ransby. She now offers us an analysis of the Movement for Black Lives, and its historical continuities and ruptures, that reflects both her considerable skills as a historian and her rich experience as an activist. This book passionately urges us to adapt the radical and feminist versions of democracy that will move us forward.”–Angela Y. Davis, Distinguished Professor Emerita, History of Consciousness and Feminist Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz

 

The Air You Breathe: A Novel by Frances de Pontes Peebles

August 21

Tags: Brazil, women writers, #OwnVoices, friendship, historical, literary, coming of age

Riverhead, 464 pages

“Although this novel is set during the 1930s in Brazil, the tale between two friends remains timeless…Each page is as intoxicating as the characters themselves; the perfect read for a long weekend or day off.”–Fashion Week Online

“Samba music and its allure beats beneath this winding and sinuous tale of ambition, memory, and identity…Peebles’ detailed and atmospheric story is cinematic in scope, panoramic in view, and lyrical in tone.”–Kirkus, STARRED review

 

Brazil: A Biography by Lilia M. Schwarcz and Heloisa M. Starling

August 21

Tags: Brazil, women writers, nonfiction, #OwnVoices, history

Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 800 pages

“A thoughtful and profound journey into the soul of Brazil . . . The Brazil that emerges from this book is, indeed, a fascinating, complex, multicolored, contradictory and challenging organism, more like a living being than a political, cultural and geographical entity.”–Laurentino Gomes, Folha de São Paulo

 

Poso Wells by Gabriela Alemán with Dick Cluster (Translator)

August 21

Tags: Ecuador, translation, women writers, feminism, humor, magical realism, #OwnVoices, debut

City Lights Publishers, 128 pages

Poso Wells explores the dichotomy between the new and old worlds of Ecuador through an exciting noir about missing women, corrupt politicians, and a journalist’s attempt to unravel the secrets of the infinitely labyrinthine cityscape of Poso Wells. This is an exciting debut translation of a celebrated Ecuadorian author, and one that should lead to more translations of her work.”–Ely Watson, A Room of One’s Own Bookstore (Madison, WI)

 

Spectrum Women: Walking to the Beat of Autism by Barb Cook and Dr. Michelle Garnett

August 21

Tags: Autism, women writers

Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 288 pages

“Barb Cook and 14 other autistic women describe life from a female autistic perspective, and present empowering, helpful and supportive insights from their personal experience for fellow autistic women.”–Description

 

The Third Eye by Jenna Rae

August 21

Tags: Lesbian, thriller, women writers

Bella Books

“For a long time, Captain Brenda Borelli has had it all―a devoted girlfriend, a dedicated partner, loyal friends and a fulfilling career. Her world seemed perfect. But somehow it all fell apart. While she was busy investigating crimes, the things she valued most just slipped away. […] As if solving the murder isn’t enough, trying to figure out whether she wants to start over with her old lover―or explore the possibilities with a potential new one―might prove to be the most difficult task of all.”–Description

 

Virginia Woolf, the War Without, the War Within: Her Final Diaries and the Diaries She Read by Barbara Lounsberry 

August 21

Tags: Virginia Woolf, biography, women writers, United Kingdom, European history

University Press of Florida, 408 pages

“In her third and final volume on Virginia Woolf’s diaries, Barbara Lounsberry reveals new insights about the courageous last years of the modernist writer’s life, from 1929 until Woolf’s suicide in 1941.”–Description

“Lounsberry establishes how central to Woolf’s personal and creative being was diary-writing.”–Panthea Reid, author of Art and Affection: A Life of Virginia Woolf

 

Everyday People: The Color of Life–A Short Story Anthology by Jennifer Baker (ed.) 

August 28

Tags: Short stories, women of color, women writers, literary

Atria Books, 334 pages

“An excellent sampling of some of the most exciting voices in literature from the past two decades and beyond that will leave readers with plenty of authors to revisit or discover.”–Publishers Weekly

“A vital, riveting anthology that emphasizes the complexity and diversity of minority experience.”–Kirkus

 

I’m Afraid of Men by Vivek Shraya (@vivekshraya)

August 28

Tags: Gender, queer, memoir, women writers, trans, #OwnVoices

Penguin Canada, 96 pages

“In I’m Afraid of Men, Vivek Shraya owns and exposes her own history with masculinity and offers a way out of this harmful and old-fashioned binary we call gender. My head nodded along quietly in agreement any time I wasn’t wiping away rising tides of tears. Vivek Shraya is a superior voice, and this book is essential reading for everyone.”–Tegan Quin of Tegan and Sara

My review coming soon!

 

Mirage: A Novel by Somaiya Daud (@somaiyadaud)

August 28

Tags: Morocco, race, women writers, #OwnVoices, YA, fantasy

Flatiron Books, 320 pages

“With its breathtaking worldbuilding and characters who grabbed me from the first page, Mirage is by turns thrilling and ruminative, sexy and heartbreaking. Somaiya Daud has written a moving and unforgettable debut.”–Sabaa Tahir, author of An Ember in the Ashes

“Readers will appreciate the rich world and prose built by a much-needed diverse voice.”–Kirkus Reviews

 

Not Quite Not White: Losing and Finding Race in America by Sharmila Sen

August 28

Tags: Race, women writers, immigration, India, memoir

Penguin, 224 pages

“In this intimate, passionate look at race in America, Sen considers the price paid by nonwhite immigrants who try to become white, while always wearing a smiling face. Her provocative solution is for people like us to defiantly embrace not being white. That feels just right to me.”–Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Sympathizer and The Refugees

 

Praise Song for the Butterflies by Bernice L. McFadden (@queenazsa)

August 28

Tags: West Africa, religion, girlhood, women writers

Akashic Books, 224 pages

“A tale set in [West Africa], where a girl is given up by her family, endures a very hard life, and, once set free, must find a way to heal and live forward.”–Philadelphia Inquirer, included in Must-Read Books for Summer 2018

“An engrossing novel that truly is a praise song for survivors everywhere.”–Kirkus Reviews

 

Unapologetic: A Black, Queer and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements by Charlene Carruthers (@CharleneCac)

August 28

Tags: Queer, Black women, women writers, politics, race

Beacon Press, 184 pages

“Charlene Carruthers is a powerful organizer, radical thinker, paradigm-shifter, and one of the most influential political voices of her generation. Anyone seriously interested in the struggle for Black liberation in this country needs to listen carefully to what she has to say.”–Barbara Ransby, author of Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement and Making All Black Lives Matter

“Leadership is the ability to not only make your own way but to return to give others a roadmap that they, too, can follow. This is what Charlene Carruthers does with Unapologetic. She offers us a guide to getting free with incisive prose, years of grassroots organizing experience, and a deeply intersectional lens. She doesn’t forget any of us, and reminds us that bringing all of ourselves and our people with us is the only way any of us will get free.”–Janet Mock, author of Redefining Realness and Surpassing Certainty

 

Fruit of KnowledgeFruit of Knowledge: The Vulva Vs. The Patriarchy by Liv Strömquist

August 28

Tags: Graphic novel, feminism, health

Fantagraphics, 144 pages

“From Adam and Eve to pussy hats, people have punished, praised, pathologized, and politicized vulvas, vaginas, clitorises, and menstruation. In this feminist graphic novel, Swedish cartoonist Liv Strömquist calls out how genitalia-obsessed men have stigmatized women’s bodies, denied their sexuality, created a dubious gender binary, and much more.”–Publisher

 

Kicking Center: Gender and the Selling of Women’s Professional Soccer by Rachel Allison

August 30

Tags: Sports, women writers

Rutgers University Press, 220 pages

“In Kicking Center, Rachel Allison investigates a women’s soccer league seeking to break into the male-dominated center of U.S. professional sport. Through an examination of the challenges and opportunities identified by those working for and with this league, she demonstrates how gender inequality is both constructed and contested in professional sport.”–Description

 

So there you have it! The New Reads for the Rest of Us for August 2018 list! What titles are you excited about?

 

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