Personally, I love reading books with strong women protagonists. I feel proud in seeing women take hold of their lives and careers. Their accomplishments become mine and there’s a strong sense of camaraderie for the bridges they’ve unknowingly built. Women from all walks of life separated by race, religion and many other dividers but all striving for the same things. Women’s rights have undoubtedly become better (at least in the US) over the last century. But just because things are better doesn’t mean we still aren’t fighting for certain rights.
Reading through this month’s books created a lot of reflection on not only women’s rights but our society as a whole. There were a few good laughs but mainly deep thinking. I agreed with some opinions and then found myself shaking my head on many others. Ultimately though, I felt connected to a broader purpose. Like so many women who participated in the Women’s March, I wanted to stand up against prejudice and injustice as a whole. I didn’t realize that I would feel so political but each author made me come to terms with what it means to be a woman.
I thought about doing an individual post for each book review but to be honest, I could go on forever analyzing them all and who has time for that?! So as a compromise, I choose to do a quick summary highlighting my personal takeaways. Overall, I highly recommend every book on the list. They’ll make you think and see the world from a different perspective or if you’re lucky re-enforce what you already know.
Hidden Figures by Margo Lee Shetterly
If you’ve seen the movie then you’ll be in for a treat because the book is even better. More detailed information is given about the lives of four Black Human Computers Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson and Christine Darden (not seen in the movie). We follow each of their personal lives and careers as they face various levels of discrimination during the Jim Crow era. As you read along, this book will undoubtedly frustrate you but you’ll be inspired as well. It amazes me that we learned the story of the Astronaut wives but somehow our country failed to acknowledge more important contributors simply on the basis of race. There is so more that we don’t know about, blacks and other minorities contributions have been omitted from our history books but hopefully, this is the beginning all forgotten stories finding an audience.
Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham
This book was ok, 3/5… It’s compiled of autobiography essays detailing the life of author Lena Dunham. Some good, some bad and others over-exposed. To be honest, I didn’t feel connected to the author or the majority of her stories. Most of the essays seemed shallow and over-privileged. But I guess that’s the beauty of an autobiography, it tells the story of someone else’s life including those you couldn’t imagine living. Each essay provided a takeaway message and a few were inspiring but others a drag to get through. My favorite essay was Girls and Jerks. I liked it because many of us make the mistake of dating someone who treats you like crap. I do agree with the message of knowing your worth and demanding respect from significant others.
“When we embark on intimate relationships, we make a basic human promise to be decent, to hold a flattering mirror up to each other, to be respectful as we explore each other.” – Lena Dunham #NotThatKindOfGirl
Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay
Like the previous read, this book is composed of a collection of essays as well. Along with feminism, topics range from racism, competition, and even sexual/domestic violence. The majority of essays evoked deep thought and I appreciated how Gay provided her own opinions and furthermore explained her perspective and thought process. Trying to keep up with all the pop culture references was difficult but well worth the effort of google. There were moments where I had to stop reading because the storylines got heavy but unlike Not That Kind of Girl, I found myself connecting more with this author. I will say, that the essay about Scrabble competitions flew right over my head. But overall, great read and if she’s the grand example of a “bad feminist” then I’ll gladly embrace the title as well.
How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran
One word, hilarious. I laughed so hard at times because Moran has a witty response to just about everything. Nothing of what she says is new and I might not have agreed with every opinion, especially the ardent feminist historian theory but there was so much good in this book. She speaks openly about feminism, modern society and the roles of woman. While this is not an actual guide on how to be a woman, using her own life experiences and story-telling she shows us that being a woman is to by association be a feminist. Overall, this book makes a great starting point for the feminist conversation. For a book club, I could see a lot of the topics turning into an open discussion for women’s rights.
All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Wow, the best and favorite book on the list. Chimamanda Adichie is an amazing writer and definitely a leading voice in African literature. Until now, I had only seen her TedTalk which has since been a standout favorite. I agree with every single thing in this book. Although a Nigerian’s woman’s perspective is vastly different then Western society there are many relatable similarities. She talks about the automatic gender expectations placed upon birth and explores ways of eliminating the gender social difference. As well as, the negative stereotypes surrounding the word feminism. Absolutely an amazing read and in the end you’ll learn why we all should be feminists.
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