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review 2018-01-12 19:44
Memoir-ish
Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman - Lindy West

It seems like every woman I know has read this book, which automatically made me suspicious. (I still haven't forgiven my fellow females for The Bridges of Madison County.) I finally trundled forth on my own.

 

I'm glad I did. It just took me a while to get there. I wasn't sure what I was headed into. I figured "feminist, fat-positive, intersectionality" and that's all true. But are these essays? Not exactly. What was I reading? I finally settled on memoir-ish. It took me a while to finish this because I ended up with a ton of notes scribbled on my notebook, and I spent a lot of time reading about the surrounding circumstances. I honestly didn't have to. She explained these things well and even quotes huge chunks of some pieces. (One thing I learned: Leonard Nimoy is a photographer!)

 

The reason I'm going on about this is that the beginning of the book is witty. It's written like essays, even if it's about being a child, a fat child, a fantasist child... This doesn't feel like a true memoir until the very final few chapters, and those are beautiful chapters -- written with a vulnerability that I found very relatable and touching. There is true wisdom in the final handful of chapters that don't feel like I'm being Taught A Lesson because she shows us her experience and her vulnerability as she learns.

 

Earlier chapters are hilarious. The end of the book still has laugh aloud moments, but it's on a much deeper level. She's finally let the reader in. I wish she could've found a way to let me in earlier. Much of the fat-positive stuff felt very defensive. (Full disclosure: I, too, am overweight, and I can attest to the different way society at large treats fat people because I was pretty thin until I hit 40.) Despite my sympathetic ear, it still came off to me as defensive. The "lessons" she tries to impart early about the way we treat fat people finally get an "aha" moment in the latter chapters when she describes her marriage and the circumstances around her engagement. Here, she's open and honest. We get to see behind the activist into the real woman.

 

Interestingly, I found something at odds between her feminism and her fat positivity in these latter chapters. It's not glaring, and I certainly don't fault her for wanting to be desirable to her husband and show the world that he desires her, but the tension of being a woman shows up here. It brings up an even deeper set of issues for women that she doesn't touch. I don't fault her at all for that -- this is not an academic study.

 

It's hard being a woman. I know this. And I don't even have an army of trolls attacking me on a daily basis (see https://jezebel.com/if-comedy-has-no-lady-problem-why-am-i-getting-so-many-511214385 )

 

I'm slightly older than Lindy West. I grew up a decade or so before her. When I was growing up, it was assumed that because the world now said the "right" things, all was now fine, much like the "post-racial" nonsense that went around in 2008. It's bullshit, but I believed it as a girl, and that's brought me some real anger in adulthood. It's made me a pretty ardent feminist. This is where I've learned from women like Lindy West - how to be unapologetic about my feminism, including my anger.

 

This book didn't change my life, and I doubt it will change anyone else's. Nonetheless, West has a real point about chipping away at the old truisms and making the world a little better with our every interaction.

It's hard to be cold or cruel when you remember it's hard to be a person.

This is a pretty wise young woman, and it'll be great fun to watch her and read her in the future. Rumor has it that she has two more books in the works.

 

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text 2018-01-04 20:04
Tea's TBR Thursday - January 4, 2018
The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women - Kate Moore
Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars - Nathalia Holt
Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman - Lindy West
Hate to Want You: Forbidden Hearts - Alisha Rai

This book meme was created by Moonlight Reader. I really liked keeping track of what was added to, read, or deleted from my TBR. So I am starting off the new year by re-using the meme, although I will probably do every other week. Using this meme ensures I also update my master TBR list (spreadsheet).

 

So for every one book I read this week, I bought two new ones. This doesn't bode well for the TBR pile.

 

Read

Beyond Belief by Jenna Miscavige Hill

Full Body Burden by Kristen Iverson

                         

 

Borrowed

Nothing due to rules of COYER Winter Switch. This will change in the next phase of the challenge.

 

Bought

1. Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women by Kate Moore

    Women's history + military history (WWI) = happy reading for me. I am adding it to my WWI reading list.

 

2. Rise of the Rocket Girls by Nathalia Holt (currently on sale for $2.99 in the NOOK store)

    Because someone recommended this book after I reviewed Hidden Figures.

 

3. Shrill by Lindy West (also on sale in the NOOK store $2.99)

      Getting this recommended to me by GR after reviewing Bad Feminist.

 

4. Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai (on sale in the NOOK store for $1.99)

    I've wanted to try Alisha Rai's writing for a while. The first book in a new trilogy (last book comes out this month or is already out).

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-01-04 00:00
Facing West
Facing West - Lucy Lennox I've read Borrowing Blue - need to get back to the rest of the series - by Lucy Lennox and she has a 'guy meets prince' story just out that I wanted to read so I figured I should read the first book in the series. I was glad I did.

Facing West had me a sniffling, sobbing mess but, damn, it hurt so good!

We start the story going back in time to a teenaged Weston Wilde's first experience as a gay teen and also catch the slightest glimpse of Nico Salerno. We also meet Curt, who is a pretty stereo-typical, deeply closeted, gay jock asshole - who is my least favorite character in this book and - a little too stereo-typical for my taste. But the rest of the cast of characters I loved.

Nico was a troubled youth who ran away and grew into a man on the streets, sacrificing himself for his mother and sister's happiness, but making something of himself in the process. He marches to his own drummer and is proud of what he's accomplished but his past still makes him doubt his self worth and a relationship gone wrong made him distrust all men and vow to never give his heart again.

West grew up the member of a huge family, out and proud and accepted. He had the respect of their hometown, became a doctor, took over his grandfather's practice and became best friends with Nico's older sister. And then she died in childbirth, leaving an innocent little baby behind as a legacy.

Nico is sucked back into the small town he'd abandoned, a place he had never felt like he fit into, as he is named custodian of his sister's newborn child. He has to process the grief the death of a sister he hadn't seen in almost two decades, a mother he didn't know had died, and take care of a helpless little baby all while trying to settle his sister's estate and make the decision to give his only living relative up for adoption.

Curt, the asshole, makes a reappearance. Except he's now Nico's stepbrother and has become a cop intent on giving Nico a hard time. West, has his own issues with Nico, blaming the young man for abandoning his sister without knowing the reason why, but he can't deny his attraction to the other man.

Over the course of the book Nico tells West his story, West learns that you really shouldn't judge a book by it's cover, and the two of them fall in love. A misunderstanding, a twist of fate, and Nico flees back to San Francisco, thinking he'd lost everything. But there's a happy ever after for Nico... and for West.
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review 2017-12-29 22:16
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
Exit West - Mohsin Hamid

This is a fantastic novella. It’s a parable of globalization, but its brilliance is in rendering real, three-dimensional characters even from a brief scene or description.

Exit West is set in the modern world, beginning in an unnamed Middle Eastern country on the brink of civil war, where two young people meet in a classroom and are propelled by circumstances into a premature intimacy. The difference between this book and the real world is that when Nadia and Saeed – and millions of others around the world – decide to flee or to immigrate, they do so by way of doors that randomly appear and allow teleportation from one part of the globe to another.

Some have criticized this decision for erasing the harrowing travel that is a hallmark of many real-world refugee experiences, which it does. But I don’t think telling the story of refugees is Hamid’s primary goal, though it is part of the book. The doorways allow him to speed up globalization, take the world’s growing interconnectedness to its breaking point in a brief span of time, and ask big questions about what how world will look in the decades to come, with ever quicker travel combined with massive disparities in wealth and security. How much sense do borders really make in today’s world and the world of the future? Can we afford to limit our focus to our own countries? What happens as people continue to flee from poor and war-torn parts of the world to Europe and the U.S. – how will richer countries respond and be changed?

There’s a lot packed into this short book, measuring over 200 pages only due to generous margins and spacing, as well as two blank pages between each chapter. But what holds it together is the vitality, complexity and humanity of the characters, our protagonists and the people they encounter as well as the characters we briefly meet in vignettes from all over the world. The book can sometimes be hard to read, especially for long stretches, because the characters’ circumstances are often tough, and when they are as real as people you know, it’s impossible not to care. Then too, the writing is excellent: not flowery, but assured, every word in the right place.

Overall, a fantastic book, with great characters, an involving story and a lot of food for thought. And while the subject matter can be difficult, it never becomes hopeless. I highly recommend it.

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text 2017-12-28 19:18
On Sale: 80% off (mostly under $1.50 Kindle Monthly Deals) Science Fiction
Across a Billion Years - Robert Silverberg
The Dispatcher - John Scalzi
The Furthest Station - Ben Aaronovitch
Cast in Chaos - Michelle Sagara,Michelle Sagara West
Blood Kissed (The Lizzie Grace Series Book 1) - Keri Arthur
Bannerless (The Bannerless Saga) - Carrie Vaughn
A Fall of Moondust (Arthur C. Clarke Collection) - Arthur C. Clarke
Fortress of Ice - C.J. Cherryh

36 SF genre books; highlighted above are just ones by authors I recognize.

 

Blood Kissed (The Lizzie Grace Series Book 1) - Keri Arthur  is likely to be more Paranormal Romance or Urban Fantasy than Science Fiction genre.

 

Fortress of Ice - C.J. Cherryh is a truly excellent series.

 

On sale in he SF section of kindle monthly deals (special offer that showed on my kindle device) .

 

 

 

 

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