Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay Review

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In June, I read Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay. I’ve been wanting to read Gay’s work for a long time, but I never had the chance before. I have seen her books at bookstores for a while, but there was always other books that caught my attention more. However, the last time I stepped into a bookstore, I bought a little Olive Edition of Bad Feminist, and I didn’t even wait to read it. I own a number of books I haven’t read yet, but this book I couldn’t wait for.

Bad Feminist centres around Gay’s personal and political views and experiences within feminism. It explores many topics from gender roles, reproductive freedom, occupation; the list goes on. Within the array of topics, there are many instances of humour and sarcasm. Gay doesn’t shy away from sarcasm, and it creates hilarious moments, even when the topic can be quite grim. I think these moments are essential in writing about the problems that women, and people who identify as women, face daily. Yes, I want to laugh 50 Shades of Grey because the story of a controlling egomaniac is uncomfortable. I want to laugh at the silliness of some of the problems in our society because being angry and sad all the time can be overwhelming. I think her humour is sprinkled throughout her essays as forms of punctuation. Every humorous bit is presented at the right moment, never feeling out of place, or unwanted. It provides a breathing, or relaxation. point that is well needed in the many issues mentioned.

Although I am knowledgeable of feminism, and many of the problems that plague feminists, there were still many things that I learned in this collection of essays. There were despicable things that have occurred that I never knew even happened. Some things that I needed a moment to close the book, and reevaluate the world that I live in. How can an 11-year-old suffer such atrocities when the men who did it to her are being pitied? It made me sick to my stomach, but it opened my eyes to the many evil acts that occur everyday. Even little facts and tidbits were shocking to me. I don’t live in America, so many American politicians I have never heard of. So, after reading these essays, I know exactly a lot of the things they have said, or think were okay to say to the public. Bad Feminist provided me insight to a topic that I already know a lot about. It’s always great to learn something new, and help better shape your perspective.

Gay’s perspective on feminism was very personal, but it never lacked substance. All of her essays provide evidence with her personal views. If she mentioned her hatred from The Help, she gave really damning examples as to how awful that movie really is. All of her essays intertwine personal opinions and facts that I felt like I was learning so much from a friend. I haven’t read any of Gay’s other work, so I don’t know if this is how she typically writes. But, I love it. I love this connection between the personal and factual because it provides a portrait of the human experience. We all have our biases, and our own personal opinions on varying topics. We all have this, and we have evidence, and examples as to why we think this way. Her essays read no different than talking to someone about why they hate a certain television show, and given you really good reasons why to avoid it.

I think what I loved most about Bad Feminist is the fact that Gay never claims to be the model of feminism. She shows how people can have contradictions, and how they can like things that can be grossly problematic. She likes the colour pink, and listens to rap music that degrades women. But that doesn’t make her less of a feminist. It felt like a weight lifting off my shoulders because I love listening to music, and watching movies, that are not 100% unproblematic. I understand the problems of the things I love, but I how can I cancel everything in my life? There’s hardly anything in this world thats completely perfect in any ideology.

If you have been interested in reading Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay, I would highly recommend it. No, I would ask you to run to your nearest bookstore and buy it. (Or, library too). I think it’s an important collection of essays for people who are new to feminism, or someone who wants to further their learning in the subject. It’s a funny, informative, and challenging read. It’s worth every minute of reading, and I hope many people do.

I gave Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay a 5/5 on Goodreads.

What are your thoughts on the book? Let me know in the comments!

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This is Happy by Camilla Gibb Review

Processed with VSCO with hb2 presetMy first read of 2018 was This is Happy by Camilla Gibb. I had this book on my first day as an intern at Penguin Random House Canada a year ago, and only got around to reading it now. Prior to working at PRHC, I never heard of Camilla Gibb, but her memoir set on my work desk asking to be read. After thinking about what books I wanted to read in 2018, I decided I wanted to read Gibb’s book first.
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Review: The Princess Diarist

IMG_4590May 2017 was a very Star Wars month for me. Not only was it May the 4th, but also the 40th anniversary of the franchise. I guess I picked the perfect month to read The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher. Carrie Fisher has recently become someone I look up to, and I really wanted to read her books.

In her memoir, she recounts her time filming Star Wars, and addresses a rumour that followed her throughout her career. Throughout the memoir, Fisher’s sense of humour is palpable, and infectious. I found myself laughing out loud multiple times reading her memoir.

SPOILERS AHEAD.

The one thing I kept thinking about while reading her memoir was, how have the cast responded to her writing. To be more specific, what does Harrison Ford think of her spilling the beans on their affair? It is quite a story, but it is done tastefully and with respect for Ford. I don’t know how others feel about her revealing their affair, but I think Carrie Fisher has the right to be honest and share her truth if she felt like it. She was very respectful in her account of the events, and I think that’s the best anyone could ask for.

I am giving the memoir a 5/5. It was funny from start to finish, and it gave me insight to how one of the only female actors felt at the beginning of the Star Wars mania. I would 100% recommend this memoir if you enjoy Star Wars, Carrie Fisher, or celebrity memoirs.

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Review: All Our Wrong Todays

0F9CF33D-5C39-48A8-AB5B-18A8855DD335I just finished moving to my new home, and now I can finally sit down and focus on my blog and Instagram. It’s been a hectic few months, and it’s nice to finally be settled. I was looking through my drafts, and noticed I never posted my review on All Our Wrong Todays. So to kickstart my return to blogging, here is my review!

In February, I read Elan Mastai’s All Our Wrong Todays. The story follows Tom Baron in a futuristic Toronto in the year 2016. You might be wondering how is 2016 futuristic? Well, in this novel, the future everyone dreamed of actually happened. Flying cars, and teleportation rule this 2016. Pretty cool right?

The story centres around a time travelling expedition that goes wrong, and Tom Baron is then brought to our 2016 — a dystopia to him. The expedition is meant to bring time travellers, called “chrononauts,” to the point in the past where a great energy source was first turned on. However the chrononaut to lead the expedition, Penelope, is not biologically able to go to the past, and Tom decides to take her place. Though a series of mistakes, Tom Barren changes the future, into our future. The rest of the novel centres around Tom Barren’s new life, and how he can create the right future again.

What the novel does flawlessly is humour. I laughed hysterically while reading this novel, especially at the point where Tom meets Penelope in our 2016. Tom’s awkwardness is amusing to read, and can be quite relatable at times. The funniest part of the novel is when Tom explains to his parents that he’s from a different timeline. Trust me, you’ll get a good kick out of it.

The novel’s explanation of time travel and science were well thought out. There were no times in the novel where I thought anything sounded far-fetched or unbelievable. The novel kept me entranced with its story that my suspension of disbelief was never broken — a major plus when reading about science fiction. Although the novel doesn’t have aliens, or space wars, it has a lot of action happening because of the time travel. It also makes you question how time travel would work, and how it can be very different than what we have previously conceived.

Although I loved the book, there is one critique I have with it. I didn’t like the “other” Tom, or should I say John. I won’t spoil it, but this John is abusive and manipulative, especially to women. I hate how this was written to create a turning point in the novel, and I wish John could have been different. Maybe John could have just been clueless, or a jerk in other ways. John’s actions toward the end of the novel were quite cringey and I wish it was written differently in that one chapter. Alas, I can’t change what happens.

Overall, I would still give this novel a 5/5. I loved 95% of this novel, and would definitely reread it. The novel made me think of a lot of things, not just personal, but scientific as well. It made me think of the human condition as well, and how people think of themselves as “less-than” through comparing themselves to others. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes science fiction, or wants to step out of their comfort zone in terms of genre.

(I read an ARC of the novel, so there may be a few differences in the final edition).

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Reading Middlemarch in March

Processed with VSCO with hb2 presetIn March, I was inspired to read Middlemarch by George Eliot, all thanks to the wonderful people I follow on Instagram. During March, @hotcocoareads hosted a Middlemarch reading challenge that I, and other bookstagrammers, joined in on. I was a little hesitant to read a 900 page novel, but having other people reading it too encouraged me to try.

The best way for me to describe this novel, is that it is a novelized television series set in the 1800s. The book is incredibly long, and follows the lives of the many residents of Middlemarch. Each storyline is complex, and rich with detail about the many characters living in the town. The whole novel is well-written, and often makes subtle jabs at the way society works. My favourite character was Dorothea because she was relatable and often spoke her mind on issues. Since the novel is so long, it felt like I was reading a television series, and each chapter was a new episode of the show. There are 87 chapters, so it really could be turned into a miniseries one day. How cool would that be? I think it’s a great classic to read, even with the long page count. If you like classics, and want to read more classics written by women, I think this would be the perfect book to check out next.

I would give Middlemarch a 4/5. I really liked it, and I would read it again, but it’s not one of the best novels I ever read. Does that make sense? Overall, it was a good read for March. Since I read this brick of a book, I am incredibly behind in my reading challenge for 2017. I only read Middlemarch this month, so I really need to catch up in April and May.

On a side note, I am officially back to blogging! I’ve had a busy few months during my internship at Penguin Random House Canada, and I just didn’t have a lot of time to blog. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to post a few times a week now, and get to talk about many different books and topics with you all! My first read of April will be American War by Omar El Akkad.

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Two Mini Reviews: Bronte & Christie

In the past few weeks, I was able to finish Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, and The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie. Both books I really enjoyed reading, and they are quite easy reads. Although I enjoyed them very much, both I had a few issues with.

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Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte is a classic gothic novel, that for whatever reason I never read before. The novel follows the life of Jane Eyre from infancy to adulthood, and the troubles she goes through as the years go by. Her aunt is terribly abusive to her, she goes to a school that doesn’t appreciate her, and eventually starts to work as a governess for a man named Rochester, whom she falls in love with. The novel depicts amazing feminist ideals for the time it was written, and I found it quite inspiring for what it had to offer. Bronte writes so eloquently, and is so relatable, that you can’t help but to root for Jane Eyre. Although there were many themes in this novel that I loved, there was one thing I absolutely hated.If you haven’t read Jane Eyre, I would skip the next two paragraph to avoid spoilers.

Towards the middle of the novel, Jane Eyre falls in love with Rochester, and they both eventually tell how they feel. Rochester asks Jane to marry him, and it all seems like it’s going to be a perfect happily ever after for them. Except, it’s not. Jane is then visited in the night by Bertha. Bertha is the Creole woman Rochester has been confining in the attic for years. Not only was he locking her up, Bertha is his wife! What a shocker to poor Jane. (On a side note, I heard this spoiler in a class at university, so I knew it was coming). After Jane finds out about this, she cannot be with Rochester anymore, and decides to leave, and live a life without him. At this point I’m disgusted by Rochester’s actions toward Bertha, but happy Jane left him. But…it doesn’t end up like this. After leaving Rochester for a year, and finally meeting some family members, she decides to go back to Rochester. While finding his old home, she finds it completely burnt and in ruins. She later finds out that Bertha set fire to the house, and threw herself off the house committing suicide. Once she finds out about this, she then decides to marrying Rochester, and then they living happily ever after.

Reader, this is when I became disappointed with the book. For a novel that promotes some wonderful themes about love, family, surviving abuse, and feminism, I did not think it was going to end like this. I was hoping Jane would find another man, and tell her readers that Rochester was an evil man. However, she went back to him as soon as his wife died. It just sounds so gross. The treatment of Bertha is horrendous, and also mentioned in a rather casual tone by Bronte. I feel like Bronte didn’t know how to reconcile the issue of the maltreatment of Bertha, that she decided Bertha will kill herself to let Jane and Rochester be together. I hated this part. From an almost perfect book in my eyes, it was quite a let down. The only woman of colour in this novel is depicted to be “crazy” and is later killed off.

If you are a fan of gothic literature, the classics, and female writers, I would 100% recommend this novel. However, keep in mind that the representation of women of colour is minimal and sometimes horrendous. Since Bertha’s story line was horrible in my eyes, I couldn’t give this novel a 5/5 rating. Instead, I’m giving it a 3.5/5 because it was a good novel except for what I mentioned above.

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In regard to Agatha Christie’s A Murder at the Vicarage, I have less of a rant for this novel. The novel centres around the murder of Mr. Potheroe, which happens at the Vicarage in a small town. Everyone in town is a suspect, and one of the main people to help solve it is Miss Marple, an old woman. I particularly loved this book, and how all these men are trying to figure it out, while Miss Marple just rolls her eyes and tells them point blank who she think it is. The novel is funny, and a good mystery. I wasn’t expecting the ending, which is perfect for a mystery. The only thing I really didn’t enjoy about the novel was that it was very slow paced. I feel like it took a quite a few chapters for it to start going. Sure, it needed to develop its style and the characters, but I feel like the stakes could have been higher at the beginning.

For A Murder at the Vicarage, I am giving it a 4/5. I think Christie writes in quite a clever manner, and she can create an unexpected twist. If you like mystery or crime novels, this is a book you need to pick up!