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review 2018-05-26 12:42
Browse: The World in Bookshops
Browse: The World in Bookshops - Henry Hitchings

An excellent collection of essays from writers all over the world, all centering on the bookshops that have most impacted their lives, shaped them, or are just plain favorites.

 

Writers from nearly every corner of the globe (no Aussies or Antarticans) tell their stories and of the entire collection, only one - Iam Sinclair - failed for me.  While all the others wrote odes to bookshops, Sinclair seemed more content to use bookshops as a front for his diatribe against politics.  His essay, his right, but in the company of the other authors in this book, it felt brash and strung-out.  I found his writing florid and at times incomprehensible too.  Having never read his other works, I have no idea if this is congruent with his style, or a one-off; either way, it was the only speck on an otherwise perfect collection.

 

Because I enjoyed the rest so thoroughly (ok, Dirda's essay was just ok) it's impossible to pick a labourite.  If you feel your soul sing when you walk into a bookshop, I think this collection is well worth investigating.  

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text 2018-04-03 14:25
[Preview of] Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race
Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race - Reni Eddo-Lodge

[I received a preview of this book through Netgalley. For this reason, I’m not going to rate this book, considering only the preface and first chapter were contained in the preview, and my review is going to be just about that as well. I’ll have to pick up the complete book at some point later.]

This said, I must admit I wouldn’t have requested it if I had noticed sooner it was a preview: I much prefer reading & reviewing full books. Oh, well.

I get the voluntarily provoking title, which is loaded in itself, but I guess that’s a good way of testing oneself and see if we want to read further. Examples given in the first chapter didn’t surprise me either, much unfortunately.

Obviously, being ‘white’, I can’t relate directly, however, for some of the examples, well, just replace ‘white’ and ‘black’ by ‘men’ and ‘women’, and you get pretty much a similar effect. (Yes, I know, ‘not all men…’, just like ‘not all whites…’, but as usual with that kind argument: it’s not the point.) I’m thinking here of the preface more specifically: “You can see their eyes shut down and harden. It’s like treacle is poured into their ears, blocking up their ear canals. It’s like they can no longer hear us.” Or “They’ve never had to think about what it means, in power terms, to be white, so any time they’re vaguely reminded of this fact, they interpret it as an affront. Their eyes glaze over in boredom or widen in indignation. Their mouths start twitching as they get defensive. Their throats open up as they try to interrupt, itching to talk over you but not really listen, because they need to let you know that you’ve got it wrong.” In other words, I can’t fully relate, but pushing myself to imagine what it must be like isn’t a big stretch; I got into similar conversations with patronising people who thought they were right because they had a penis instead of a vagina (hint: they weren't).

Anyway.

Now, where I believe I can’t judge without having read it all, is because, for the moment, I can’t exactly tell in which direction the book is going. Is the title misleading, and the author does actually want dialogue? Or is it exactly what it says on the tin, and veering into ‘reverse racism’? (Note that as far as I’m concerned, racism is universal and goes every way and from any colour to anywards any colour, and it sucks, and I wish the human species as a whole would finally grow up, but then I suppose I’d also like to get a sports car and a penthouse in the City for my birthday, and it just won’t happen.)

So, yep… To be read fully later.

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review 2018-03-26 00:01
The Beyonce Effect: Essays on Sexuality, Race and Feminism - Adrienne Trier-Bieniek

For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

I received a copy of this book through LibraryThing in exchange for an honest review.

Overall, it was a good book. It look me a while to get through because some of the essays are a bit dense, but overall it was good.

The essays range in focus from celebrity motherhood and sexual pleasure to the politics of respectability and empowerment. I liked the various lenses that the contributors wrote through. Each had their own view and their own focus, which made for an interesting read. 

For me, there were two minor downsides to the book. One was the grammatical errors. There are quite a few scattered throughout the text. For the most part, the message is still received, but I had to read certain sentences over again to make sure I got what the person was saying beyond the typo. For the most part, they were small errors such as using the plural form of a word instead of the possessive. Small inconvenience, but nothing too major.

The other downside was that even though the essays all focus on different things, the examples they use are pretty much the same. Almost all of the essays referenced Beyonce performing in front of the Feminist sign and bell hooks calling her a "terrorist". Yes, these two things are huge in the discussion of Beyonce and feminism, but reading about them over and over again (along with many other examples) was very irritating. This is not the fault of any of the contributors as they would have no way of knowing what other people were writing, but it made the book pretty repetitive. 

Overall, this was a good read, especially for those interested in Beyonce and her brand of feminism. An interesting look into multiple perspectives of the same topic.

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review 2018-03-17 01:38
We're Going to Need More Wine - Uneven but Still Good
We're Going to Need More Wine: Stories That Are Funny, Complicated, and True - Gabrielle Union

I think I would like to be friends with Gabrielle Union, though I doubt she has the time.

 

I'll be honest, as not too much of a social media or celebrity person, I wasn't entirely sure who she even was, but then I realized I'd seen her speeches on YouTube, and I had always liked what she had to say. So clearly I was in, if only I could get my hands on the darn book!

 

Finally a copy came in from the library. I forced myself to wait rather than purchasing. I don't have room for more one-read books. This is a one-time read for me, but that doesn't mean it isn't interesting or good.

 

Gabrielle Union is a smart lady. She's clear on things like being a stepmom, rape, being black in the USA, being a woman, trying to get pregnant, not having children of her own...

 

When Union is passionate, she writes extremely well. When she is dwelling on gossip, it lost the luster for me. I honestly don't care much about how hard it is to be in the public spotlight or how Hollywood doesn't treat older women well. Know what? The whole world doesn't treat older women well. Somehow I can't feel sorry for these celebs.

 

But when she writes from the heart: about the difficulty in coming to terms with aging or the trauma of assault and rape or any number of other topics, she soars. 

 

As such, this is one of the most uneven books I can still recommend. Come for the laughs, stay for the depth.

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review 2018-03-14 01:00
This is a DENSE book, ya'll
The Portable Nineteenth-Century African American Women Writers (Penguin Classics) - Hollis Robbins,Hollis Robbins,Henry Louis Gates Jr.,Henry Louis Gates Jr.,Various

If you're looking for a book that you can dip in and out of over the course of several days (or weeks if you're me) then I recommend you check out The Portable Nineteenth-Century African American Women Writers. Organized by theme, this book features many writers of different genres. There are poets, essayists, lecturers, novelists, ministers, and teachers to name just a few. The common theme (besides their gender and race) is that they are advocates for equality of the races and sexes. I found that this book was an excellent conversation starter especially if you want to talk about tough topics like economic and social equality coupled with the history of the Americas. It's also an excellent way to discover writers that you may have never heard of as many of them are quite niche. As you might surmise, the topics covered in this collection are quite deep and therefore as a whole it's an emotionally and mentally exhausting enterprise. It's well worth the effort though. It's astonishing to me just how many of these women I had never heard of but when they were originally writing their voices were strong, no-holds-barred, and topical (most are relevant even today). The truths spoken are hard to accept because the topics are still so ingrained and fresh in the memory of our country. It's another reminder that we should continually be expanding our minds and looking beyond what we already 'know'. Embrace learning about new things! 9/10 and only lost that point because by 1/2 way through I was having to hype myself up to pick it back up again.

 

What's Up Next: Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything by Lydia Kang

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Fly on the Wall: How One Girl Saw Everything by E. Lockhart

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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