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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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review 2018-03-12 00:26
To be a Woman in The World
Men Explain Things to Me - Rebecca Solnit

So very good. I suggest that you read this if you have time. It's fantastic and there are so many stats that will make your head swim. To be a woman in the world means you are intrinsically in danger. Most of that danger comes from men and even from well-meaning men who just can't help "explaining" things to women.


It's hard to be at work in the position that I'm in it having to report to men who don't know as much as me about a subject, but often feel the need to tell me that something that I told them was totally not working in the way that it should be. And all cases it has been shown I was still right, they were still wrong, they just took very shity directions. I swear 90% of my job is now just responding to complaints about things that would be resolved if people would slow down and actually listen to me the first time when I spoke to them.


Solnit does a great job of breaking this up and focusing on key things surrounding violence against women, rape, rape culture, sexual harassment, and even why conservatives seem to have it out for women issues. 


"Every woman knows what I’m talking about. It’s the presumption that makes it hard, at times, for any woman in any field; that keeps women from speaking up and from being heard when they dare; that crushes young women into silence by indicating, the way harassment on the street does, that this is not their world. It trains us in self-doubt and self-limitation just as it exercises men’s unsupported overconfidence."
"About three women a day are murdered by spouses or ex-spouses in this country. It’s one of the main causes of death for pregnant women in the United States. At the heart of the struggle of feminism to give rape, date rape, marital rape, domestic violence, and workplace sexual harassment legal standing as crimes has been the necessity of making women credible and audible."
"Most women fight wars on two fronts, one for whatever the putative topic is and one simply for the right to speak, to have ideas, to be acknowledged to be in possession of facts and truths, to have value, to be a human being."
Rape culture is now the topic of the day due to the me too movement, Women's March initiatives, and Hollywood's Time's Up cause. One hopes that these are not just flash in the pan social media blitzes and that there are going to be more thought and discussion on how to include all women as well as women in every industry. 


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url 2018-03-05 11:21
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review 2018-02-19 23:58
like a box of chocolates
The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction - Neil Gaiman

Well this was wonderful and boring and inspiring and tedious all at different times. I'd read many parts before, so it's a mixed bag. It was one of those Kindle deals that I can never pass up (until recently when I installed the library extension and forced myself to use the darn thing finally.) I'm going to get through them! So 1 down, who knows how many to go.

Neil Gaiman (whose name I always misspell) is always charming, smart, interesting and wise. I did get more added to my TBR shelf from him, and I enjoyed the beginning of the book and the end of the book much more than the middle - where he picks authors and discusses them. It's funny, since I just -- like a week or two ago -- adored his introduction to Fahrenheit 451 on a reread. It was critical to me being able to get around some issues I had with the book and actually brought me much more joy on that read. Yet, on reading the same words here, it felt dull and flat. It's a book introduction, and it works best with the book. This happens to many of the introductions - especially if I hadn't read the book or wasn't familiar with the work in question. (Actually, I have started reading introductions twice: once before and once I've finished, because they always mean more to me after the book.)

I loved his writing on music, but that's because we have extremely similar taste in music, so I had some idea of what he was typing, some investment already. (In fact, I first learned of Gaiman via music circles long before I ever delved into his books.) Much as I adore Stephen King's writing, I don't know him as a person, so warm talks about personal life don't do much for me. Though I now know Terry Pratchett loved chocolate, I would have appreciated more about his work that I could relate to (instead of, because there was obviously a lot about Pratchett.) This may also be an idiosyncratic personal tic. I've recently been aware that I care far less about a celebrity's personal life than many other people.

There are some really wonderful bits in this book, and like any book of introductions, essays, speeches and other stuff collected over a lifetime of work, some less wonderful bits. Nothing is bad, and it's practical to skip things unless you have a touch of OCD like me and would feel like you "cheated."

This one is worth a read, probably more like a box of chocolates than as a cover-to-cover endeavor. Pick one, savor it, then put the box away for another time. I've got a few more of these books on my Kindle from Gaiman, so I'll know better in future.

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review 2018-02-14 21:49
This Will Be My Undoing
This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America - Morgan Jerkins

Sigh. I don't know what to say. This collection of essays is very good. Jerkins goes into the highs and lows of being a black woman in America. She goes into what it means to be a black woman while on travel (Russia and Japan). She goes into being a black woman trying to be successful, but still treated like she's from another world since many black men out there don't know what to do with a black woman who is out there being a success and doesn't have time for their foolishness. 


Jerkins goes into the cycles of black women in America. When you are just a kid and realize that your hair is going to take a lot of your time/sanity to deal with since you get treated a certain way if your nice is "ethnic." How she felt being one of the smartest girls in her school and how that caused backlash among other black girls. 

From there she goes into going to Princeton college and finding herself un-dateable. I had the opposite problem when I went to the University of Pittsburgh. I just used to lie and tell people I was in a relationship to be left alone. I was focused on finishing undergraduate and that was it. When I did get into graduate school was when I went and found a dude who wasn't worth anything. I am still mad that I loaned this boy (seriously he was such a child) money and he had the nerve to act like I was not being a "good" black woman since I refused to cook for him after coming home from an internship and classes. A few years ago he sent me a Facebook friend request. I was never so happy to block someone in my life.


A lot of Jerkins essays though go in unexpected ways. Her essay about Michelle Obama actually made me sad and mad. I still cannot believe how much Michelle Obama was attacked by the media and conservatives out there.  I don't blame her for not running for office in 2020. I would be sitting on a beach and just drinking all the wine. 


Another essay I loved was the one Jerkins wrote about how powerful Beyonce is to black women out there and how her latest album, Lemonade, touched a lot of us in many ways. You start to think you are the only one out there struggling with things, because as black women we are taught to keep our pain inside. Keep on walking, stay strong, don't ask for help, etc. Constantly being on guard to make sure you speak "right" around mixed groups, to not be the "angry black woman" so people can dismiss your points is exhausting as hell. 


Though I gave this four stars, I still marked it as a favorite. The only reason why I gave this four stars is that in some of the essays, Jerkins jumps around a lot that can get a bit confusing if you don't have context for some of the things she is talking about. Though I liked her essay on "Black Girl Magic" she goes into what the movement was about, how some people attacked it, and then a personal subject about a medical procedure she decided to undergo. It was a bit crowded in there for me in that chapter. I would have liked it if it was broken up. 


I also just liked the "How to Survive: A Manifesto on Paranoia and Peace" was not for me. I liked "How to be Docile" much better since she uses similar writing styles in both essays. 


I have never heard of Jerkins before, but am going to go out and take a look at some of her writing as soon as possible. 

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