Friday, November 17, 2017

Sex Object: I know I'm meant to be the bigger person

Sex Object is a memoir of resignation. Valenti writes about her life and mostly her experience being treated as a sex object before being treated as a person. It's an experience many women face and she focuses on how this sort of behavior can wear a person down. Some women who write online face an onslaught of constant abuse and are often expected to respond with sarcasm and humor.
Pretending these offenses roll off of our backs is strategic--don't give them the fucking satisfaction--but it isn't the truth. You lose something along the way.
This is not the most uplifting story. There's no silver lining and no real redemption. She starts with cat-calling and guys pressing up against her on the subway, going through her own sexual experiences, and eventually having a daughter and worried about her navigating this world. How your identity gets caught up in this treatment as a sex object.
A high school teacher once told me that identity is half what we tell ourselves and half what we tell other people about ourselves. Bu the missing piece he didn't mention--the piece that holds so much weight, especially in the minds of young women and girls--is the stories that other people tell us about ourselves. Those narratives become the ones we shape ourselves into.
The book doesn't offer solutions how to handle or respond to this kind of treatment. It's why it's a memoir instead of a self-help book. It's instead and opportunity to just acknowledge what happened, how it is tiring and how a funny quip isn't always the answer.
I know I'm meant to be the bigger person; I know you're not supposed to hate people because hate is bad for your soul. But so is getting called a cunt every day for ten years. 
It's hard to get excited over this book. It's good, and I'm glad I read it, but it's not a happy read.

Gif rating:
Title quote from page 141

Valenti, Jessica. Sex Object: A Memoir. Harper Collins, 2016.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Reading Slump-date

Get it? It's like update but because it's a slump, it's a slump-date.

Anyway, I'm apparently in a bit of a blogging slump to go along with the reading slump. OK, that's not entirely true. It's mostly because the next book I need to review is Sex Object by Jessica Valenti and while it was good and I enjoyed it, it is a bit of a downer and I am not in the mood for downer stuff right now. Because everything in the world is a super downer right now? Yeah, probably.

I am getting some reading done. I decided the answer here was to go with a favorite so I'm re-reading Lamb and super loving it. Hopefully this will snap the slump and I can get to all those other books I want to read. Or I just reread another favorite. Life is hard.

Or whatever, I'll keep watching a bunch of Stranger Things and Futurama. 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Reeeeeaaaading Sluuuuump

I want to read. Something. But I don't know what.

I have books. I have lots of books. (Too many? Yeah probably, but that's a different post.)

I started Aurora Leigh for a super awesome fun-time readalong but that is a whole long piece in verse and I tried but I can't.

I was going to read Where The Line Bleeds by Jesmyn Ward and while Sing, Unburied, Sing was excellent, it is also somewhat of an emotional commitment and I'm not there right now.

I'm about 100 pages into Tales of Burning Love by Louise Erdrich and I have nothing bad to say about what I've read so far, but I am also not super into it at the moment.

So right now I don't know what I do want to read. I just know what I don't want to read. Which is not super helpful.

And that's where I am. I suppose I shall listen to the Hamilton soundtrack on repeat until I figure out what to read. A real sacrifice, I know. (Like I'm not listening to the soundtrack on repeat anyway...)

Monday, November 6, 2017

Why I'm No Longer Talking To White People About Race: There is no justice. Just us.

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

A few factors go into determining if I'll read a book. Am I already familiar with the author? Have I heard good things around the interwebs (but really, mostly from fellow bloggers where I get roughly 80% of my book recos)? And, while not all the time but often enough that's def a major reason, is the title and/or cover eye catching? That was certainly the case here. 

I would like to first address the title. No, this is not racist against white people, that's not a thing.* No, it's not reverse racism.
Besides all that, Eddo-Lodge talks about the irony that as soon as she published her blog post of the same title, all she did was talk to white people about race. Basically, if the title is bothering you, maybe you should just calm down a bit and try to figure out why.
Song book
ANYWAY, so I wanted to read this book based on the title and the fact that there are obviously a lot of problems around race and I need to better educate myself so let's see what this is about. What I didn't realize is that this is a book about race in the UK, which is something that I know even less about than race here in the US. 

Eddo-Lodge starts talking about how the history of POC people in the UK is not something you come across unless you're in a college class specifically on the topic. But if you're in grade school (or whatever the UK equivalent is, I didn't learn that part, shhhh) good luck getting a history about black people in your own country. Whatever is learned seems to be focused on shit going down in America. And that's sort of messed up. Not because learning about history elsewhere is bad. But as she says,
While the black British story is starved of oxygen, the US struggle against racism is globalised into the story of the struggle against racism that we should look to for inspiration - eclipsing the black British story so much that we convince ourselves that Britain has never had a problem with race.
And that, of course, is a problem. If you don't knowledge an issue, how will you fix it? 

From here she has essays that tackle structural racism and white privilege and being bi-racial and "color-blindness" and intersectional feminism and the role of race and class in society. 
yes, yes we are
If this stuff IS your jam, then outside of the history stuff, there wasn't a lot of new ground here. That doesn't mean it isn't worth the read cos there are a lot of excellent points and she does a good job of putting these things into words and providing examples that illustrate the problem. Like talking about the "well-meaning but guilty-feeling white liberal" that is Hermione Granger when dealing with S.P.E.W. (Oh Witch, Please would be so proud).

If this is the type of stuff that you are already seeking out, read this. If this isn't the type of stuff you typically read, maybe that's even more of a reason you should pick this up. If you aren't already familiar with structural racism or intersectionality or why "I don't see color" is not helpful, perhaps this would be a good thing to read.

Gif rating:
*You can be prejudice against white people, but given basically all of the power structures are in white people's favor, not racist. Also this book is not prejudice against white people either so hush.

Title quote from location 2455 but she is quoting Terry Pratchett. But I like the line and the title is so long I wanted something shorter for the post title so I went with it. 

Eddo-Lodge, Reni. Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2017. NetGalley

Friday, November 3, 2017

October Reading Wrap-Up

This has not been a particularly fall like October. It hasn't been that cool out for the most part which one part of me wants to enjoy and other part of me is terrified because hahaha we're all going to die. But hey, other than that, fine month. Didn't do too much Halloween-y either, but whatchya gonna do? Just get to the stats? Yeah, good idea.

Number of books read
The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney
On Writing by Stephen King
It's All Relative: Adventures Up and Down the World's Family Tree by A.J. Jacobs
Everything's Eventual by Stephen King
Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

Number of pages


POC authors
US authors

Book formats
ebook - 40%
paperback - 60%

Where'd I get the book
Chain bookstore - 20%
Indie - 40%
NetGalley - 40%


Review book

Books by decade
1990s - 20%
2000s - 20%
2010s - 60%

Books by genre
Horror - 20%
Lit fic - 20%
Memoir - 40%
Sociology/history - 20%

Review books
Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge is by a POC, non-US author
On Writing by Stephen King was published in 1999 so riiiiight on the border but still counts as published before 2000

Alright so not bad. I mean, not GREAT but not bad. Let's see how February November (not sure why I decided to skip a bunch of months) goes

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Halloween Reads!

This year I didn't actually do that much in the way of Halloween/scary reads. Maybe cos it's still crazy warm in the north east and thus it was harder to get into the Halloween spirit. Regardless, I don't have too much in the way of new Halloween reads, so I thought I'd do an update of a few old "Top Halloween Reads" posts I've done in the past. It's not unoriginal. It's a remix.
Now, in no particular order, other than the order I thought of them, here are my current favorite Halloween reads.

1. World War Z by Max Brooks A feature on all of the lists, as it deserves to be. It's great. It's scary. I love it.

2. Coraline by Neil Gaiman I am on the fence about Gaiman's adult books, but the ones for children are amaaaaaaaaaaaaazing. Other Mother is terrifying. Coraline is wonderful. And speaking of Gaiman's stuff for kids
3. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman The Jungle Book, but in a graveyard. It's heartwarming and suspenseful and scary and weird.

4. Everything's Eventual by Stephen King Can't have a list like this without King on it. And this was basically my only scary read for the month because I love it so. Espeeeecially the story "1408". It's so creepy.

5. Misery by Stephen King He can be creepy even without the supernatural. Annie Wilkes is a force. A horrifying force.
6. N0S4A2 by Joe Hill Charles Manx is a GREAT villain, Vic McQueen is a great hero, this book is excellent.

7. Locke & Key by Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez  I looooove this audiobook. Incredibly scary and the SUSPENSE

8. Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix Did you know an Ikea could be so scary? Because it CAN. He lures you in, makes you think it will just be some silly story. How could an Ikea (or really, an Ikea knock-off) be scary? But it can. It can.

9. My Best-Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix While we're on the subject of Hendrix, we gotta mention this one. Again, he makes you think it won't be so scary but then it hits you. And so much of this is about female friendship, so that's swell.

10. Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin Ah look, a classic. Who doesn't love a story of gas-lighting and devil worship?
11. Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story by Christopher Moore There can be funny Halloween reads as well, like Moore's story of vampire love.

12. Revenge: Eleven Dark Stories by Yoko Ogawa Another collection of short stories, and they are so unsettling.

13. Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach Do you want to learn something from your Halloween read? Why not learn about what happens to dead bodies? Wouldn't that be fun?

So there you go. Lots to keep you up at night.