Sunday, January 15, 2006

Some good books for you.

Top 10 books of January (not in any particular order):

1. Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy. This book describes my perfect society. I love it so much and end up rereading it more often then any other books.

2. Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D. This book is so amazing. I don't know how exactly to describe it. It is so rejuvenating and refreshing to read. My psychology of women prof told us that the book was her gift to us, and it is one of the best gifts I have ever recieved. That still doesn't do it justice. Here's one readers review (you can read more at amazon and other sites) "To begin the wondrous journey of discovery to my wild and intutive self is a gift and a new journey to uncovering the jewel within. New depths of power are accessed with every reading and I am bathed in feminine myth and mystery. This book has inspired me to design, write, accomplish and accept fulfillment at so many levels. Please read this book. Women Who Run with the Wolves is a MUST tool for every female. It's a treasure." Elaine Maginn Sonne, PhD, Author Legends of the Stones.

3. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass. I adore all of Frederick Douglass's works. He was an amazing activist who championed not only abolition, but women's rights as well. Brief bio I have all his books and many of his papers (anything I can get my hands on really) If you haven't read him do so NOW.

4. Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi. So this was a bestseller and I'm assuming that many of you have heard of it or even read it. As a fiction junkie I really appreciated how the novels that she chose to talk about in the book had many parallels to what was going on in her life in Iran. (I led a discussion on it. The first part went like this (and is an example of what I'm talking about:
So what did everyone think about Nafisi choosing to start the book with Nabokov, and this book? I think that it was a great way to reflect what these women were going through and introduce outsiders to the reality of being female in Tehran. In his most famous book, Lolita, the main character, Humbert, is erasing and inventing Lolita's past, much like in Iran. She talks about (on page 33) how Lolita is about "the confiscation of one's individual life by another." What are the parallels you see btw modern day life in Iran and Nabokov's writings?

Here's a peek at what I mean: (pg23)
What Nabokov creates for us in Invitation to a Beheading
is not the actual physical pain and torture of a totalitarian regime but the nightmarish quality of living in an atmosphere of perpetual dread.

5. The Awakening by Kate Chopin. I read A Pair of Silk Stockings in junior high and wanted more. I love this book so much and I think I can almost 99.9% say for sure that it was the first feminist literature that I ever read. I love Kate Chopin and find that she is less read then people like Austen or Gilman and I feel that she deserves to be ranked up there with them. She's amazing and her short stories are just as good. (A favourite of mine is Desiree's Baby)

6. (tie)
Blood Sisters: The French Revolution in Women's Memory by Marilyn Yalom and City of Darkness, City of Light by Marge Piercy. I am obsessed with the French Revolution and happening upon these books made it and even bigger obsession. The first one is a history book which tells all the commonly untold stories of women in the French Revolution, from the women of the royalty, to the die hard republican women of Paris, to the women who dressed up as men and fought for the Royal/Catholic army. If you love history this book is for you. City of Darkness is an historical ficiton that follows several different women (a store owner, an actress, a burecrats wife) along with several men (Robespierre the devil himself, Danton (also a revolutionary), and an academic aristocrat.) It beautifully brings to life these characters and the revolution. She stays true to what is known about all of the characters. I think it is good historical fiction (b/c there's so much bad historical fiction out there.)

7. Regarding the Fountain: A tale in letters of liars and leaks. by Kate Klise and M. Sarah Klise. Yes this is a kids book, and I love it more then any other kids book. The story is told all through writing of one sort or another (letters, memos, newspaper articles, phone messages, etc.) and it is brilliant. Purely brilliant. They have 2 sequels. I've only read Letters from Camp but I'm sure the other one is good too. This one is my favourite out of the three. I love it so much and look forward to more books from the pair. (Also I found out about it because a friend who was hitchhiking found it on the side of the road. Best discovery ever!)

8. Can't Buy My Love: How advertising changes the way we think and feel by Jean Kilbourne. I love this stuff. Deconstructing the media is one of my biggest past times and this is a good book for newbies and old hands at media literacy like myself. Y'all should all ready know Jean Kilbourne's work, but if not go here.

9. Forbidden Workers by Peter Kwong. As a Wobbly I am accutely aware of the failings of unions these days. We fail so many workers and among them, the most exploited: undocumented workers. There is so much in this book that is about the Fuzhou in NYC, but also about the broader problem with how the US and unions treat undocumented workers. Really well done and a great look into the plight of undocumented Chinese immigrants.

and the last book of the day:

10. Women Pirates and the Politics of the Jolly Roger by Klausmann, Meinzerin, and Kuhn. I haven't read this in awhile, but there is a hug obsession with pirates right now and it's so nice to counter with stories of women pirates who kick ass. I thought it was really intersting to also learn about the different types of pirate culture. Like the difference between the Chinese pirates and the pirates of the Mediterranean, Atlantic, and Carribean. I learned a lot about different cultures.

SO that's it for now. I'm sure I will post more books that people should read at a later date, because this is no where near a close enough to all the good books that I've read, but it's a start.