Because…it’s getting cold out there!
BAD FEMINIST | ESSAYS | ROXANNE GAY
I haven’t read much in the feminist genre because feminism to me is very personal. However informing yourself of different points of view, is always important. What’s refreshing about Roxanne Gay’s collection of essays, is that she is clear on her place in the feminist dialogue, or rather her happy place out of it.
Roxanne Gay is ok with not always being what some would consider a ‘good feminist’. Because let’s face it, perfection is subjective. Our views are linked to our own biases and our experience of the world around us. Let’s not beat each other up for something we would consider a ‘mistake’! Surely we are stronger in support of each other – despite our imperfections. Homogeneity, in my mind, kills creativity, innovation and progress.
This to me is particularly important when we consider celebrity feminists. I read someone having a go at Jennifer Lawrence for promoting a $700 feminist t-shirt the other day. I mean give her a break. I’d rather my kid (if I had a kid) was obsessed with JLaw than some of the other female celebs out there. At least she has a voice.
Roxanne Gay is unapologetic and frank. The essays in her book paint a picture of modern feminism and commentary on the movement’s current zeitgeist. Yet her essays come from her own very distinct personal place within the dialogue. Her essays are at times moving, at times hilarious. And always insightful. For me, it was particularly insightful to read about feminism from the point of view of an African American woman. We can be locked in our own heritage when we consider feminism and ignore the diversity of the female community, to our detriment.
Read this if you like your opinion with a touch of sass.
SAPIENS | A BRIEF HISTORY OF HUMANKIND | YUVAL NOAH HARARI
I have a real love of evolutionary biology and genetics. I can’t get enough. But Harari, who has a PhD in History from Oxford, brings a very humanistic understanding to the species of homo sapiens and our place in history. How we evolved socially and how history has shaped who we are today.
It’s an interesting notion to grasp, but our society is shaped around so many imaginary concepts and entities. So many things only exist in our collective minds. For example, paper money has value. But only because we all believe it does. If we all stopped believing in the pink five dollar bill in our pocket, (yeah, I love to carry a fiver), it’d lose it’s imaginary value and become a piece of plastic. The imagined order of things, sets us apart from our animal cousins and has shaped history for millennia.
Particularly interesting to me was Harari’s writings on social order and how it has formed and changed through time. He speaks on hierarchies, justice and gender. The idea that biologically we usually fall into the category of male or female, but socially and culturally the concept of ‘man’ and ‘woman’, can be quite varied.
This book is so filled with insights, it’s hard to summarise in a few words. I can only tell you that I was filled with wonder, awe and fear in the power of humankind, whilst reading it. I’m now following up with his sequel, only recently published, Homo Deus.
Read this if you love to understand humankind.
THE HANDMAID’S TALE | MARGARET ATWOOD
I’m a big reader of classics, sci-fi and dystopian futures (nerd alert). But I didn’t know about Margaret Atwood or The Handmaid’s Tale until I read that protesters had dressed as the Handmaid characters (who wear distinctive red dresses), to protest anti-abortion measures in Texas. Needless to say, I was intrigued.
Published in 1985, the novel is a work of science fiction or speculative fiction, which won the first Arthur C. Clarke award in 1987. It offers a satirical view of some of the social, political and religious trends Atwood witnessed in the USA in the 1980s – a backlash to the feminism of the ’60s and ’70s. Only too pertinent now in the States’ current climate, it’s relevance has not gone unmissed. In a weeks time the book will air as a 10 part series in the US starring Elizabeth Moss (previously everyone’s favourite 1960s kickarse Peggy Olsen in Mad Men) as the lead character Offred. The book was previously made into a film in 1990 starring Natasha Richardson.
Essentially, the plot follows a potential near future where the US is overtaken by a totalitarian, Christian-fundamentalist government. Women lose all their rights to work, own property and are forbidden to read. Widespread infertility due to environmental meltdown, leads to the conscription of females to bear children for the elite in some weird twist of biblical precedent.
Read this if you love a horror story. Because despite my 13 year old self loving Stephen King, this is the scariest novel I have ever read.
Danielle is an avid reader of books, so she thought she’d share some great reads. We have a few long weekends ahead of us. So if you find a book a good escape – we hope these suggestions will keep you busy this autumn and into winter. Love the Gazella team. xx