Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

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I was supposed to see a live Q&A with Roxane Gay at the International Festival of Authors next week, but Roxane had to cancel because of an injury.

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THE BOOK
Some of the essays in Bad Feminist were originally published in different magazines, such as Salon, Jezebel and The Rumpus. Bad Feminist is a collection of essays that contain a few personal stories (some of them fun like Roxane’s worship of the Sweet Valley High series, some of them raw and intimate), but mostly delves into issues concerning diversity, privilege, politics, racial and gender discrimination and violence. As a lover of pop culture, she references frequently books, movies, TV shows, music, celebrities, sports and politics, as examples of what is still lacking in our society, and why we need to have a conversation about these subjects. I listened to the audio book of Bad Feminist which was not read by Roxane Gay.

THE GOOD
Roxane Gay’s essays are thought-provoking and make many valid points about what is missing in society and/or popular culture. She tries to balance out her criticism with humour and by sharing what she does love in pop culture or thinks are steps in the right direction. Probably my favourite discussion in the collection is when she talks about “likeable” characters in books and “likeable” women, à la the Cool Girl from Gone Girl.

THE BAD
Roxane Gay does a very good job laying out the issues and sharing stories that were sometimes so sad I sank into a depression dwelling on all the cruelties and injustices in the world. But she doesn’t offer the reader any solutions or suggestions of where to go from here. She has a lot to say about what she thinks is bad and offensive, but no balm of encouragement or inspiration.

CONCLUSION
From the start of the book, Roxane Gay emphasizes that she is a “bad feminist”, flawed and frequently conflicted. She admits to being, at times, a hypocrite and not walking her talk. I suspect she is still working it all out like the rest of us. Overall, I liked the calm, honest manner in which she presents her thoughts in Bad Feminist and tries to get the reader thinking about these issues. She may not have all the answers, but she wants to get us talking and I think that’s a good starting point.

4/5 Stars

How To Build A Girl by Caitlin Moran

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Some of you may remember I met Caitlin Moran at a book signing a few weeks ago. Caitlin shared with me that How To Build A Girl is the first book in a series about the adventures of Johanna Morrigan/Dolly Wilde.

THE STORY
Fourteen year old Johanna Morrigan looks at her unemployed, alcoholic father, inattentive mother and grubby, hungry siblings, and realizes to make her dreams of becoming a writer true, she needs to escape the impoverished life of her family. Also, she’s tired of being a geek and boring and not being taken seriously by others. In a moment of inspiration, Johanna decides to completely reinvent herself. Two years later at sixteen, Johanna is now Dolly Wilde, a confident, chain-smoking party animal. She lands a job at a music magazine which becomes her gateway to all of the rock n’ roll and sexual adventures she thinks she needs to truly become Dolly Wilde. The results are mixed. Along the way she befriends, John Kite, an alcoholic music star that is Dolly’s father figure, mentor and crush all rolled up in one. Dolly makes plenty of shameful mistakes, but is determined to be a self-made woman and in charge of her own destiny. To grow up on her own terms.

THE GOOD
Reading How To Build A Girl was like reliving my own youth with all its excruciating faux pas and missteps, but also the hopes and dreams I had for the future. I could relate to Dolly’s dissatisfaction with herself and attempt to find a tribe or something or somewhere to belong. As the story is set in the nineties, I also enjoyed the nostalgia trip, as Dolly constantly referenced songs, bands, movies, TV shows, books and celebrities that I knew and loved so much.

THE BAD
The language in How To Build A Girl can be quite crude and explicit, with liberal use of the “C” word and descriptions of genitalia, so this story may not be for everyone. Such language reminded me of how much swearing I did as a teenager and one particular friend whom some of the grown-ups in our lives had nicknamed “Foulmouth” because she was the worst of us.

CONCLUSION
Since I read How To Build A Woman mere weeks before picking up this book, I couldn’t help noticing how Catilin Moran’s memoir and How To Build A Girl mirrored one another, as Dolly Wilde very much resembled Caitlin’s younger self. However, the funny and touching coming-of-age story in How To Build A Girl stands head and shoulders above the memoir. I couldn’t help falling in love with Dolly Wilde because of her sweet naiveté, energy and enthusiasm for life.

3.5/5 Stars

Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon Fall 2014 – Final Post

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Thanks for sticking with me during my first ever readathon! Here’s how I did:

  • The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving – Completed
  • Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me by Mindy Khaling – Completed
  • The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson – Completed up to page 92 of 292

TOTAL = 199 pages + 165 audio minutes + tons of kids books

The results are not stellar, but I think I did great despite everything going on that day. I was writing posts and tweets on the fly which is probably not ideal, but I wanted to participate in the fun. I loved the readathon and will definitely sign-up again in April. I think reading short stories and novellas is a good strategy, and only having one long sticky post instead of multiple posts. I also tried to stay away from social media as much as possible. I loved reading tweets, but it was very distracting. Thanks agan and I’ll see you in April!

How did you do in the readathon? Are you going to sign-up in April?

Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon Fall 2014 – Hours ???

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Thanks for stopping by! Check back to see my readathon progress. You can also learn more about the books I’m reading in my preview post or how I did for the first 6 hours, 12 hours and beyond (I can’t actually figure the hours in my head).

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3:05 am EST – Just finished the audio book Is Everyone Hanging Out With Me by Mindy Khaling which was pretty funny. I’m tired, but will try to read some more of The Lottery before getting more sleep. Guaranteed little people will be waking up around 6:30-7:00 am, so I have to get some sleep or I will DIE. I will try to read a little bit in the morning before the readathon ends at 8:00 am EST.

Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon October 2014 – Hours 6-12

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Thanks for stopping by! Check back to see my progress below. You can also learn more about the books I’m reading in my preview post or how I did for the first 6 hours.

1:18 am – On page 65 of 292 of The Lottery and Other Stories. After putting the kids to bed, I slept for three hours and now I’m ready to read for the next few hours. If you were wondering about my cold, I’m still sick and hacking and coughing in the most slobberish fashion.

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8:31 pm – On page 26 of 292 of The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson. The Lottery was the last short story, so I decided to read it first. :)

We’re putting the kids to bed soon and I will probably take a nap for a few hours. Then I’ll be back and ready for some POWER READING. Stay tuned!

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5:27 pm - Book #1 is finished! My reading was interrupted by a spontaneous trip to the pumpkin farm with the kids. After running through the fields and jumping in the hay, of course we had to have hot chocolate and pumpkin muffins when we got home. Then finally I got to finish The Legend of Sleepy Hollow which was the perfect book for this time of year, as it is abundant with description of the sights, sounds and pleasure of autumn.

Up next: The Lottery by Shirley Jackson and other stories.