Book Style: How To Be A Woman

How To Be A Woman

I don't know why it took me so long to actually read How To Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran. I kept looking at it and going "Me. This book was written for me," but it never quite made it to the top of my reading pile. Honestly, this is the funniest, most honest, and personally resonating book I've read in ages. It's quite literally laugh-out-loud funny. I had to stop reading it in public because my poker face is nonexistent and when I'm amused my face apparently looks like an oasis of happiness to complete strangers who never let me get back to my reading once they inquire about it... sorry, personal rant. Not that I'm opposed to discussing the glory that is Ms. Moran's book. In fact, we can discuss it for ages. We can discuss all the books written by kickass women all the time. And if by some modern miracle Caitlin - it's cool if I call you "Caitlin" right? -  is reading this right now, please know I will gladly and proudly call myself a strident feminist anytime, anywhere, anywhen.

I really just wanted to recreate Caitlin's cover look: Red and white polka dot dress, black cardigan, black tights, brown boots, and a black belt. Of course, I did add some of my own touches, mostly inspired by the book and the subject material. I had to include some wicked eyeliner since that is a staple of Caitlin's makeup repertoire and mine as well. The hat is a whimsical touch, one I deemed necessary because I love hats, and, let's face it, we don't all have hair as fab as Caitlin's. A simple yet sweet "Feminist" pin that I really want to adorn all my bags (yes plural, I might have a tote bag addiction, so what? back off!) "Rock n' Roll" guitar pick earrings, "Rock n' Roll Nugget" bracelet, and a microphone necklace are a nod to Caitlin's career as a music journalist and television presenter.  I think the phone case should be pretty self-explanatory. "Bad Romance" nail lacquer (look at the sparkle!) is a bit of an homage to one of Caitlin's and my feminist idols - Lady Gaga. Finally, although they should go on first, is this bra and panty set. It's from Lonely Lingerie which advocates women wearing pretty knickers for themselves and they are high-waisted, architectural wonders that even Ms. Moran would approve of for their bum-coverage and practicality.

Have you read it? What did you think?


Book Style: Sexy Feminism

Sexy Feminism

Sexy Feminism by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong and Heather Wood RudĂșlph has been my go-to recommendation for women (and men) trying to dip their toes into women's studies and feminist reading since I first skimmed it a little over a year ago. This time I sat myself down and read it cover to cover, taking time to reflect on the end of chapter questions and action points, and digging my teeth into some of the referred web sites and literature. This time reading Sexy Feminism was a breath of fresh air for my psyche and a warm hug for my soul. I tend to be quiet about my values and beliefs because I grew up surrounded by voices that differed from mine. It's taken me most of my adult life so far to even really come to understand what my own beliefs are on several points. But I do know I believe in the radical idea that women are people who deserve the exact same rights as men. And if you believe women aren't property and shouldn't be denied basic rights because of their gender, then you too are a feminist. Saying it loud and proud is a freeing experience that I recommend to everyone. If even Taylor Swift can learn that feminism does not equal being a misandrist or being unfeminine (although it's totally cool if you want to dress, act, look more masculine) then everyone can get over the media-imposed implication of the word and start embracing it for what it actually is. Read this book. If you still have questions, send them my way. Talking openly about feminism is something I'm embracing.

This Book Style is a bit different, it's not really an outfit just a bunch of awesome lady-power oriented swag. From pro-feminism messages to clothing and jewelry from lady-run and women-friendly companies to products inspired by some of my own personal feminist icons - Lady Gaga, Wonder Woman, Frida Kahlo, the trio behind the Blogcademy (Shauna Haider, Kat Williams, and Gala Darling). Check out my own choices. Find your own. Research companies manufacturing and advertising practices to ensure they are kind to women. Throw your money at small businesses run by women. Read feminist literature. Read books by women. Buy the children in your life books by women and about women. Dress how you want because you want to. Pick a feminist hero; and yeah, they'll probably all have a flaw or two, we're all human after all. 


Reading Resolutions: Diversity Matters

[Image found here]
New Year's Resolutions.

They're kind of a self-dooming prophecy for most people. And while I'm hoping my 31st year on this planet will bring with it more resolve and positive growth, I know a few of my personal resolutions will likely fall by the wayside early. But one I'm planning to work hard on, and that means the most to you fellow readers, is my resolution to read more diversely.

Book Riot has coincidentally challenged all of its contributors to read more diversely as well, so I've got a built in support system! The challenge was to read a third of the yearly total diversely. My goal is to read books exclusively written by women and people of color. Ideally women of color.

And before a single one of you pipes up with "But a lot of really great books are written by white men!" I know. I've read a lot of them. I have a preference for British science fiction and fantasy. I read a lot of (very talented) white men. One of my favorite books last year was written by a white man. They don't need my help. And those books will still be there for me to read any time I'd like. But in 2015, they don't get my attention.

My growing vocalization of my long-held feminist belief system and my efforts to become more active in the community have helped spurn this project. I am thrilled about the soon-to-be-released series The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency which features fictionalized versions of Ada Lovelace and Mary Shelley as kids. It's for beginner readers and I'm so stoked about it. But I was surprised at myself for being disappointed when I found out the author, Jordan Stratford, was a white dude. It's not that he's doing anything wrong, and I wish more people -  men, women, androids - were working as hard to get kick-ass female historical figures onto the next generations radar. I think it was mostly an "a ha" moment that made me finally become aware of who is writing the stories I devour.

I also want to be a more active ally to people of color. My white-privilege spawned blindness is strong. Even married to a black man, I'm blissfully unaware of many racial related slights that he notices on a daily basis. Taking my blinders off in 2015 is crucial. While I'll never personally understand what people of color go through, I can help purchase, read and promote their works. 

So I'm challenging you, too. Whether you want a fully immersive experience like I'm aiming for, or prefer the more realistic and practical and less soap-boxy approach of the Book Riot encouraged one-third, I challenge you to read more diversely this year too. Be conscious of your authors and your protagonists. #readdiversely #diversitymatters

2014: A Year In Books

[Chart showing my (self-assigned) genre breakdown for 2014 reading]

I know, I know. It's January 3rd and I should have had this post up a couple of days ago. But, as an extreme introvert, I should probably not work in a retail centric job, that way I'm not drained of all energy and joy by the end of December, either. Also, I'm still recovering from a flu. So take your meaningless complaints about this bloggers punctuality and shove 'em...somewhere. (What? My mom reads this, she'll tsk at me if I get too descriptively vulgar.)

I did not read nearly as many books in 2014 as I intended to. I read 68 total. Which is a low number for me, possibly not for the average person. It's terrifyingly low compared to some of my book buddies, though. The thing is, reading is not a competition. Reading the fastest or the most only benefits you, so if rapidly accumulating knowledge is what you want, do it. If you'd rather savor a read or prefer not to treat it as homework, slow down. There are some books I have to read quickly because I'm reviewing them for a publication and those often bump my personal reading aside for a bit. I've also had a busy year with a promotion, a(nother) move, starting and running a teen book group, and my mom visiting. I gave myself permission in the late spring to take the pressure off myself. And I'm glad I did, it's helped me evaluate some of my habits, ruts, and preferences and compile some new goals for 2015. But more on that in another post. This is about the past. The list below is of the 68 books I read in their entirety this year. I have not included ANY partial reads, even if they were, say, 90% finished.

Quick Facts:
  • I read 19946 pages this past year. (As I read a ton of advanced copies, some of my numbers are based on the final published text counts).
  • As you may have noticed from the chart above I read most heavily in Fantasy (primarily Young Adult) and Mystery.
  • Nature was my least read category, and it was only nature essays, but I actually read something in it!
  • I started 14 new series.
  • I finished 3 series.
  • I reread 2 books.
  • Favorite read of 2014: It's a 3 way tie, all for their own reasons - The Weird Sisters, Jackaby and The Girl in the Road
  • Worst read of 2014: The Iron Trial.
Books Read* in 2014 
*In their entirety
  1. Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell
  2. St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised By Wolves by Karen Russell
  3. The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon
  4. Fade to Black by Francis Knight
  5. Fluff Dragon by Platte F. Clark
  6. The Shape Stealer by Lee Carroll
  7. Shovel Ready by Adam Sternbergh
  8. Timmy Failure: Now Look What You've Done by Stephan Pastis
  9. Phoebe and Her Unicorn: A Heavenly Nostrils Chronicle by Dana C. Simpson
  10. Misadventures of Salem Hyde: Spelling Trouble by Frank Cammuso
  11. Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige
  12. The Mockingbird Next Door by Marja Mills
  13. Princesses Behaving Badly by Linda Rodriguez McRobbie
  14. The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier
  15. The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco
  16. Fiendish by Brenna Yovanoff
  17. The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel
  18. The Thickety: A Path Begins by J. A. White
  19. The Given by Vicki Pettersson
  20. Unicorn Magic: Bella's Birthday Unicorn by Jessica Burkhart
  21. Lily the Unicorn by Dallas Clayton
  22. The Stone Wife by Peter Lovesey
  23. The Empty Glass by J. I. Barker
  24. The Last Policeman by Ben Winters
  25. Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett
  26. The Intern's Handbook by Shane Kuhn
  27. Wonderland by Stacey D'Erasmo
  28. The Language of Bees by Laurie R. King
  29. The God of the Hive by Laurie R. King
  30. Greek Street: Blood Calls for Blood by Peter Milligan
  31. Morning Glories: Volume One by Nick Spencer
  32. The One Safe Place by Tania Unsworth
  33. American Innovations by Rivka Galchen
  34. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
  35. After the Funeral by Agatha Christie
  36. The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown
  37. A Conspiracy of Alchemists by Liesel Schwarz
  38. Gris Grimly's Frankenstein by Gris Grimly
  39. The Unofficial Middle-Earth Monster's Guide by The Mordor Collective
  40. Starting From Happy by Patricia Marx
  41. One Kick by Chelsea Cain
  42. Zooburbia by Tai Moses
  43. Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult
  44. Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times by Emma Treyvane
  45. Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  46. The Here and Now by Ann Brashares
  47. Grim by Christine Johnson
  48. Pretty Deadly Vol. 1 by Kelly Sue DeConnick
  49. Courage: Daring Poems for Gutsy Girls by Karen Finneyfrock, Mindy Nettifee, and Rachel McKibbens
  50. Rooms by Lauren Oliver
  51. The Rumplestiltskin Problem by Vivian Vande Velde
  52. Maplecroft by Cherie Priest
  53. The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
  54. Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
  55. Displaced Persons by Derek McCulloch
  56. What We See When We Read by Peter Mendelsund
  57. The Tombs by Clive Cussler
  58. How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are by Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Caroline de Maigret, and Sophie Mas
  59. Jackaby by William Ritter
  60. The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil by Stephen Collins
  61. Between the Spark and the Burn by April Genevieve Tucholke 
  62. The Terrible Two by Mac Barnett and Jory John
  63. The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency: The Case of the Missing Moonstone by Jordan Stratford
  64. Dreaming Spies by Laurie R. King
  65. Rest in Pieces by Bess Lovejoy
  66. Cocaine Blues by Kerry Greenwood
  67. The Lost by Sarah Beth Durst
  68. The Girl in the Road by Monica Byrne
So how was 2014 for you?