5.31.2015

THE SUNDAY REVIEW | WE SHOULD ALL BE FEMINISTS - CHIMAMANDA NGOZI ADICHIE


In this personal, eloquently-argued essay — adapted from her much-admired TEDx talk of the same name — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, award-winning author of Americanah, offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century, one rooted in inclusion and awareness. Drawing extensively on her own experiences and her deep understanding of the often masked realities of sexual politics, here is one remarkable author's exploration of what it means to be a woman now — and an of-the-moment rallying cry for why we should all be feminists. - Goodreads
 
------

If you only ever read one book about feminism, make it this book. If you're having a hard time making anyone in your life understand why feminism is important, this book makes a perfect argument on your behalf.

Succinct, no-nonsense and above all a really sensible explanation of what feminism is and why we (still) need it. Required reading for.... everyone.

I think it took me less than an hour to read this book, but  I felt like I got more out of it than out of several other books I've read on the subject that were more than four times longer.

I feel that a short review is fitting for this deceptively thin volume, but if you don't want to spend the time reading it, you can watch the video instead:



In short? Read it. Keep it by your side to dip into whenever you're feeling dismal about the inequality around you. This book is a vision of what I hope the future will bring.

------

Book Title: We Should All Be Feminists
Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Series: No
Edition: Paperback
Published By: Knopf Canada
Released: February 3, 2015 (First published July 29, 2014)
Genre: Essay, Feminism, Human Rights
Pages: 48
Date Read: April 4, 2015
Rating: 10/10

Buy the book:

ARMCHAIR BEA 2015 | INTRO, SOCIAL MEDIA, FAVE CHARACTERS AND ADAPTATIONS


I'm a bit behind on my questions for Armchair BEA this year, but better late than never, right? Here's the first few posts in one. Enjoy!

Introductions
I get to answer any five of the introduction questions included in the first Armchair BEA post of 2015 (which you can find here, if you haven't done your own yet!). These are the ones I picked:
  1. Why do you loving reading and blogging? I love seeing the world from a different viewpoint than my own. I love losing myself in someone else's imagination or story. But what makes it even better is sharing that reading experience with someone else - hearing what they connected with, which parts they enjoyed the most, what they learned from it. Reading is so rich with the opportunity to share with both the author and other readers, and that makes it an excellent way to connect with others.
  2. What is your theme song? Well that depends on the day. Some days it's "Happy" by Pharrell, other days "Pretender" by The Foo Fighters, still others "Drive" by Incubus or even something mellow and relaxing. I like all kinds of music.
  3. What does diversity mean to you? Diversity is about making an effort to stretch your comfort zone, and giving new things a chance before dismissing them. When it comes to literature, it's not just about reading books by and about people from different geographical and ethnic backgrounds (though the cultural diversity there is rich and worth pursuing), but reading about people with all kinds of different life experiences. Not only that, but reading books from different genres - even those you feel like you're not going to like. It's all worth trying.
  4. What is your favorite genre and why? Hmmm. I guess literary fiction, if that's not too broad? Though I do enjoy young adult books, as well as the occasional mystery, sci-fi, light fantasy, experimental, memoir, travel memoir or non-fiction book about current or historical events I find interesting. So you could say I don't really have one. I do tend towards fiction because there's so much variety there, and I prefer realistic settings to fantastical realms (with some notable exceptions) because I find learning about other people's lives, fictional or no, fascinating. I like seeing the world from different viewpoints and learning about the inner workings of others' minds - whether they be fictional or real.
  5. What book are you reading right now? I'm reading a whole bunch, but today I'm focusing on The Shore by Sara Taylor and A God In Ruins by Kate Atkinson. I'm having a bit of a hard time with both, so I've been reading a lot more slowly than usual. They're good, but just not really what I feel like reading at the moment. I think I'm a bit burned out on family sagas, which unfortunately both of these happen to be. But I'm determined to finish them before moving on!
Social Media
How do you use social media to expand your blogging/writing horizons?  Social Media is all about networking and connections, and utilizing today's technology to the fullest.  Make sure you mention your own social media pages. Do you have another blog, maybe a Tumblr? Have a Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook? Or maybe there's an underrated social media program that you like. (Find the original post here.)

I love social media when it comes to the bookish community. Blogging is great - it's somewhere to share my thoughts at length, and exchange comments. But it takes time to write a blog post, and sometimes I need to share my thoughts or ask questions right now. For this, Twitter is excellent. I rarely share my posts via Twitter, but I do meet fabulous new bloggers and get to hear about all the wonderful books you guys are raving about right away. It's a wonderful way to let authors know how much you love their work, too!

Instagram is also great. I particularly love it when I'm on vacation, because a vacation always includes visiting some great bookstores and picking up some new volumes to add to my collection, and I love sharing so you guys can accompany me and add some bookstores to your list for the next time you're wherever I've been.

As for dedicated book sites, I couldn't live without Goodreads because I know so many people who use it. But I also absolutely adore Riffle, which is constantly evolving and improving. I don't think I'll ever completely switch over, but I do hope that more of my people create accounts so I can use both platforms.

If you want to come hang out with me, all of my social media buttons are at the top of the page, so click on over and say hi to me wherever you prefer to hang out online!

Character Chatter
It's time to give your favorite characters some love! Characters are essential to a story, and they can make or break a book for some readers. Now's your chance to shine the spotlight on your favorite characters, or maybe your least favorite. Who's your favorite couple? What are the components of a well written character? What are you favorite or least favorite cliches associated with characters? (Find the original post here.)

Good characters are real to me. I feel like some of them have become old friends through re-reading over the years. But of course, among the greats, there are a few who stand out - Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables), Hermione Granger and the Weasley twins (the Harry Potter series), Matilda Wormwood (Matilda), Cassandra Mortmain (I Capture the Castle), Augustus Waters (The Fault In Our Stars). They don't have that much in common on the surface, but with a bit of thought, I can see some common threads.

They all inspired me to look at the world with a bit more optimism. Despite adverse circumstances, all of them managed to keep a positive outlook - even, in most cases, a pretty killer sense of humour. But none of them are perfect. They have quirks or foibles or really unfortunate luck. Which makes each relatable and charismatic. I want a character with depth and layers, it makes it much more interesting to get to know them.

Book to Movie Adaptions
What books do you want to be made into a movie or television show? What are some of your favorites? We'll explore more about this topic, especially what works and what doesn't.  Are there any upcoming shows or movies that you're excited for? What are your recommendations? (Find the original post here.)

Obviously my favourite book to movie adaptation is the Harry Potter series. It's magical, and not just because it's about, you know, magic. It sticks to the books pretty closely, is very well cast, and the production value and direction are excellent.

I also love the Bridget Jones movies, as well as Fight Club and, of course, The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. More recently This Is Where I Leave You, The Fault In Our Stars, The Imitation Game and Gone Girl impressed me. But overall I think the various iterations of Sherlock Holmes win the battle of the box for me. I love both Sherlock, the infuriatingly short-seasoned British show featuring none other than Benedict Cumberbatch and its US counterpart, Elementary. Both are excellent and put a few spins on the classic sleuth.

Okay, so that about catches me up on Armchair BEA 2015 so far! Are you participating? If so, link me in the comments so I can come by and check out your posts!

5.30.2015

STACKING THE SHELVES | #74


Time to look at the books I added to my shelves this week with Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews! Not necessarily books I bought - also includes books I borrowed, was given or otherwise ended up with. Weeks I don't buy any books I'll scramble around my shelves and find some I haven't shared in an StS post yet!

Because it was recently my birthday, I've been a bit spoiled! My brother- and sister-in-law got me these two lovely books:


In the Blood - Lisa Unger
War of the Encyclopaedists - Christopher Robinson & Gavin Kovite

I went book shopping with my cousin and spent some of my birthday money at Munro's (two of these were even in the clearance section!):


Rules of Civility - Amor Towles
The Humans - Matt Haig

And at Russell's on some used and discount volumes and picked up one book at Chapter's:


Wildwood - Colin Meloy & Carson Ellis

I also picked up this absolutely gorgeous volume from Russell's. It's a Folio hardbound edition with a slipcover, and it's got amazing illustrations. This is a book I absolutely adore, having had it read to me as a child. Yes, it was wildly inappropriate for a kid, but I loved it and it has a place in my all-time favourites.

 
Travels With My Aunt - Graham Greene

A very exciting week for me! What did you guys add to your shelves? Anything new or that you've been coveting for ages?

5.27.2015

MY WEEK ON WEDNESDAY | #13


My Week On Wednesday is a weekly link-up post in which I share with you what I've been reading, what I'm reading next, and any other bookish stuff I enjoyed in the past week! (Click on book images to view Goodreads page.)

Just shelved:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23398782-miss-emilyhttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23398782-miss-emily

This is two weeks in one, since I missed last week because I was too busy celebrating getting older! I also had lots of fun stuff going on - so I've been reading more slowly. Only these two books in the past two weeks! Oh well, hopefully I'll pick up again.

Currently reading:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23128320-the-shorehttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23995466-the-big-bad-book-of-bill-murrayhttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23128308-a-god-in-ruins

To be totally honest I'm struggling with all of these in different ways. Not because they're not good, but because they're challenging (in terms of content, layout or style). I'm about halfway through each, and hoping to get through them this week.

Up next:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20312875-anne-s-house-of-dreamshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17235026-the-girl-with-all-the-gifts

I started Anne's House of Dreams and I'm really looking forward to getting back to it! I'm also really excited for The Girl With All the Gifts, which I'm planning as a buddy read with Katie from Bookish Tendencies. Perhaps the level of anticipation I have for these two is making the rest of my reading go slower, I don't know. But I am very much looking forward to when I can finally crack TGWATG open!

In other news:


I spent the past couple of days visiting family and friends in Victoria, and while I was there I made the rounds of bookstores, including the famous Munro's Books, which is one of my favourite bookstores. Definitely worth checking out, and conveniently located next to Murchie's, where you can enjoy a tea break before diving back into the books!

So that's my last two weeks in books - what have you guys been up to?

5.25.2015

TOP TEN TUESDAY | BOOKS ON MY SUMMER TBR LIST


This week's Top Ten Tuesday on The Broke and the Bookish is: Ten Books I Plan To Have In My Beach Bag This Summer or Ten Books That Make Great Beach Reads. Since I'm not an authority on beach reads (I often end up reading something horribly depressing or re-reading Harry Potter when I'm on vacation), I'm going with the former. Subject to much change, here's my current summer reading list!


In the Unlikely Event - Judy Blume
Funny Girl - Nick Hornby
All the Bright Places - Jennifer Niven


Girl At War - Sara Nović
The Knockoff - Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza


Mr. Kiss and Tell - Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham
Mosquitoland - David Arnold
The Argonauts - Maggie Nelson

 And, of course:



I think there are a few legit summer reads in there, anyway! What about you guys? Which books are topping your summer reading lists, and which books would you recommend for summer? Share in the comments!

5.24.2015

THE SUNDAY REVIEW | LIFE AFTER LIFE - KATE ATKINSON

 

"Is there Life After Life, chance after chance to rewrite one's destiny? That is the question posed by Atkinson's tale and brought to life by the miracle of her talent." --Toronto Star

What if you had the chance to live your life again and again, until you finally got it right? 

During a snowstorm in England in 1910, a baby is born and dies before she can take her first breath. 

During a snowstorm in England in 1910, the same baby is born and lives to tell the tale.

What if there were second chances? And third chances? In fact an infinite number of chances to live your life? Would you eventually be able to save the world from its own inevitable destiny? And would you even want to?

Life After Life follows Ursula Todd as she lives through the turbulent events of the last century again and again. With wit and compassion, she finds warmth even in life's bleakest moments, and shows an extraordinary ability to evoke the past. Here is Kate Atkinson at her most profound and inventive, in a novel that celebrates the best and worst of ourselves. - Goodreads


------

This book has been on my radar for a very long time, but every time I've picked it up, I've had to put it back down to finish another book first, and that just seemed to keep happening. When A God In Ruins appeared on the horizon, I figured this was the perfect kick in the butt I needed to finally pull this one off the shelf and finally find out what all the fuss was about. Very glad I did.

Now, if you've been around my blog for a while, you'll know that I don't normally do a whole log of historical fiction. I don't normally do science fiction (even sci fi lite), either. So this book, in terms of its premise, was a complete departure for me. But. There are a few things that saved it and made it very much my kind of thing.

First of all, the historical period that forms the background to this memorable set of stories (that particular choice of words will be explained further into this review) is England from just prior to the first world war up until the 1960s. This is one of the few historical periods (and locations - the location is important) I have a genuine interest in.

Going into the book I was also very nervous about the time travel aspect of the book. The main character, Ursula, experiences a strange phenomenon whereby if she dies she goes back in time and gets a do-over. I'm usually pretty suspicious of books with any kind of time travel, because there's nearly always some glaring inconsistency created by the time travel that distracts me from the plot early on and by the end has me hating the whole experience. I just can't suspend disbelief to the level of ignoring plot holes so large you could drive a Mack truck through them. Fortunately, the time travel aspect in this book was dealt with perfectly. Atkinson uses it as a way to rewind the story and tell a similar but different one, so at any point in the book you're only reading one linear plot.

What I enjoyed most was that because of the do-overs built into the story, if you don't really like how her life is going, all you have to do is wait. In a few chapters, she'll be a different person in a different life - maybe even in a different place.Which was good, because I didn't get along with every incarnation of Ursula. Some I actively disliked, and others I just felt so terrible for that it was nearly impossible to keep reading. The story, in addition to rewinding and being written over, also jumps between time periods and characters, which helps us connect to and understand other members of Ursula's family and community.

The only problem I had with this book was that by the end it was getting a little bit difficult to keep track of the details that still applied to the current version from the past two or three. I wasn't too confused to be able to follow and enjoy the book, but I did feel like the size of Ursula's family and the addition of friends and community members meant that keeping track of what was the same and what had changed whenever her story rewound was difficult. That said, it's very likely this was more a result of my advanced age and failing faculties than of the book itself, and you probably won't have any trouble with it at all.

On a personal note, this book fascinated me because of my not-too-distant British roots. I feel a connection to England during the wars - particularly since some of my extended family lived through them. I've heard stories of how my paternal grandmother's love of reading was born during the blitz when she passed long hours in bunkers by reading books. Though reading about the horrors of the war isn't exactly fun, it does fill me with awe and respect for those who "kept calm and carried on."

I think that this book is a must-read for anyone who enjoys richly character-driven plots, historical fiction, and likes the idea of jumping between stories, time periods and perspectives. It's masterfully conceived and executed, and even the unlikable characters become interesting as you learn more about their inner workings in various permutations. It takes a little while to get into, but is well worth the effort.

------

Book Title: Life After Life
Author: Kate Atkinson
Series: Yes
Edition: Paperback
Published By: Anchor Canada
Released: January 1, 2013
Genre: Fiction, Paranormal, Historical Fiction
Pages: 480
Date Read: April 30-May 12, 2015
Rating: 7/10

Buy the book:

5.23.2015

STACKING THE SHELVES | #73


Time to look at the books I added to my shelves this week with Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews! Not necessarily books I bought - also includes books I borrowed, was given or otherwise ended up with. Weeks I don't buy any books I'll scramble around my shelves and find some I haven't shared in an StS post yet!


In the Cut - Susanna Moore
The Argonauts - Maggie Nelson

I'm looking forward to The Argonauts in particular. It's a shorter book than I expected, and I've been seeing it around a lot online.

What did you guys pick up this week? Have you read either of these? Share in the comments!

5.19.2015

TOP TEN TUESDAY | DELICIOUSLY TRAGIC BOOKS


This week's Top Ten Tuesday on The Broke and the Bookish is a freebie, so I get to pick my own topic. Having read a few emotional books this year, I started thinking about the fact that despite (because of?) how emotionally traumatizing they were, these are the books that I remember most vividly and recommend most fervently. So this week my top ten list is all books that were deliciously tragic, books that hurt me deeply, but that made me grateful for the pain because they were just so damn good.


A Little Life - Hanya Yanagihara

This is one I finished pretty recently, and my heart still hurts. And yet, my life is better for having spent time getting to know these characters, and this is a book I won't soon forget. Pain rating: 5/5, but completely worth it.


The Cider House Rules - John Irving

John Irving's books are never easy going. They're full of difficult and uncomfortable situations, and he will always get you emotionally invested. And yet, his writing is worth every bit of squirming. Pain rating: 4/5 but stick with it, his books get better as you read.




Of course. I know a few people who managed to read this without crying, but I'm not entirely sure they're human. Pain rating: 5/5 but the humour and the pleasure of getting to know these characters will leave you feeling grateful for every tear you shed.


Angela's Ashes - Frank McCourt

Being an Irish story, no big surprise this book isn't all sunshine and puppy dogs. Frank's childhood was one of sparse resources and plenty of family challenges. But, as Frank himself says: "It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while." Pain rating: about 3/5 but ideal if you're a fan of family-focused stories, particularly one laced with Irish wit.


One Hundred Years of Solitude -  Gabriel García Márquez

If you've read any of  Márquez's books, you'll know how vivid and intense his writing is. This one in particular I remember being full of conflicting emotions, not all bad, but all intense. It's time for a re-read because I have forgotten a lot of the details, but I do remember having plenty of emotions while reading it! Pain rating: probably around 3/5, but also full of colourful, vibrant characters and a setting that will come to life as you read.


The House of the Spirits - Isabel Allende

Allende is a mistress of human emotion. Every single one of her books will feel like riding an emotional rollercoaster, and yet you will also feel like her characters have become part of you in a way few others do. Pain rating 4/5 but also full of magic and personal growth and a magnetic writing style that will make you want to read every other book she has written. 


Before Night Falls - Reinaldo Arenas

This one is not for the faint of heart. After a childhood spent in poverty, Arenas became part of the rebel movement in pre-Castro Cuba. As a homosexual, Castro's regime brought futher suffering, as Arenas' writing was suppressed and he was imprisoned. One of the hardest books I've ever read, but important and educational. Pain rating: 5/5 but if you are curious about what it was like in Cuba during Castro's rise to power or are interested in human rights, this heartrending book is well worth the effort.



Unlike the others on this list, The Opposite of Loneliness is here not because of its content, but because of its context. Marina Keegan was a recent Yale graduate who died tragically in a car accident before she had a chance to embark on what promised to be a very successful career as a writer. This book comprises her collected works, and is so brilliant that you'll be beyond sad that there won't be more from her. Pain rating: 3/5 - reduced for how grateful you'll be that even this much of her writing was published.



If I Fall, If I Die - Michael Christie

This book was full of small moments that tugged at my heart strings. And while overall it left me feeling better about the world, there were plenty of moments along the way that gave me feels. Pain rating: 3/5 but balanced out by heartening and inspiring moments.



**WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS!!** 
Of course I could just say the whole series, from start to finish, but these three were extra painful: Sirius, Dobby, Dumbledore, Snape, Lupin, Tonks, Fred.... BRB I need a tissue. Pain rating: 100/5 but I've never regretted any of it.

I want to know which books you've read that fit this theme - which books tore your heart from your chest but also made you feel that the pain gave you more than it took? Share in the comments!

Share Buttons