As someone with a history degree, one of the most irritating questions I get asked is along the lines of “why do you care about history, it happened so long ago, what’s the point?” I could write an entire book answering this, but instead, I’ll throw a copy of In Defense of Witches: The Legacy of the Witch Hunts and Why Women Are Still on Trial by Mona Chollet at you and tell you to read it instead.Continue reading
“The witches are coming, but not for your life. We’re coming for your lies. We’re coming for your legacy.”
Last year I read Lindy West’s memoir, Shrill, but didn’t review it because there were no words I could think of to describe how wonderful it was. I recently finished The Witches Are Coming and have similar feelings, but I’ll try my best to describe how wonderful this collection of essays is.
“No guilt. No moment of awakening. No tearful repentance. My eyes slid over the signs and my heart remained unaffected. I’d made my decision long before we arrived. Those signs were just words.”
Reading a book about a 17-year old on a road trip across state lines to get an abortion may not sound like the greatest story, but in Unpregnant, Jenni Hendricks and Ted Caplan take this topic and spin it into a fast-paced, funny-at-times novel that also deals with the topic at hand.
“Throughout history, angry women have been called harpies, bitches, witches, and whores. They’ve been labeled hysterical, crazy, dangerous, delusional, bitter, jealous, irrational, emotional, dramatic, vindictive, petty, hormonal; they’ve been shunned, ignored, drugged, locked up, and killed; kept in line with laws and threats and violence, and with insidious, far-reaching lies about the very nature of what it means to be a woman—that a woman should aspire to be a lady, and that ladies don’t get angry. Millennia of conditioning is hard to unlearn.”
If you’ve ever been called any of the above, or been told that you’re “not acting like a lady,” welcome to the club. It’s fun here, because we’re ANGRY!
I always stress out about hosting my book club. I worry that everyone will hate the book I pick, they won’t want to talk about it, and that the treats I put out will taste terrible. None of this has ever happened, but I still stress out about it.
In honour of International Women’s Day I’ve decided to tell you all about some of my favourite books by female authors!
Ru, by Kim Thúy
This book, written in vignettes, was originally published in French and then translated into English. It’s beautifully written, and can be finished in an afternoon; yes, it’s that captivating. Kim Thúy has eloquently penned her story on these pages, and brings you from Vietnam to a refugee camp in Malaysia, and ends off in Quebec, Canada. However, the story is told from the perspective of the main character, An Tinh; it is based on Thúy’s experiences (so, autobiographical fiction). Reading through this story, you learn about the struggles, hopes, dreams, aspirations and fears of this small girl, forced into making a new life for herself, as she searches for herself and her home.
The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros
I remember reading this book in university, and immediately loved it. It’s written by Mexican-American author Sandra Cisneros, and tells the story of a young girl, Esperanza Cordero, growing up in Chicago. Similarly to Ru, it is written in vignettes, and is beautiful. However, the vignettes are not in chronological order, so the reader is forced to piece the story together. The House on Mango Street weaves together Esperanza’s story as she goes through her teenage years, and becomes a young adult. She struggles to find herself, but finds solace in writing. This helps her discover herself and her culture, and allows her to make a better life for herself by eventually leaving Mango Street; however, Esperanza vows to always remember her roots.
The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath
If you’re a young twenty-something, fresh out of college and trying to figure out who you are and where you belong, this is the book for you. It’s comforting to know that others, albeit fictional characters, experience the same struggles and pains as you do. What’s not so comforting is learning that the author of one of your favourite books committed suicide because she was so depressed. The Bell Jar explores the life and mind of its main character, Esther Greenwood, and her battle with mental illness. The story is, inevitably, dark, but worth reading.
All three of these books have obvious links to International Women’s Day — they are written by females — but their larger themes are also extremely important and still topical in today’s world. So today, celebrate all the women you know, everywhere, and take the time to reflect on their journeys, struggles and successes. All of these stories are important, and make us who we are.