Guest post written by Sarah H.
This summer is a great time for young college feminists and all feminists around to catch up on that reading list that they started way back at the beginning of the school year, but never got to start because of all the reading they had to do for classes. Well, summer is officially here, everyone!
As one of the fabulous FMF interns who needs to unwind after a long day at the office or needs some enjoyment during commutes on the Metro, here are some of my favorite picks for this summer.
Play It As It Lays by Joan Didion
This 1970’s novel that explores how society and the mind of a woman interact. Maria, an unfulfilled actress, recounts her life while recovering from a mental breakdown in an exclusive mental hospital. She was committed for having allegedly participating in the suicidal death her friend BZ. Through the eyes of this very self-destructive young woman and the debasing men she meets, the reader explores a woman, a time, and a society in crisis and how all three components have an affect on each other and cause people to change.
The Other Side of Paradise by Staceyann Chin
I just finished reading this very honest and real memoir by Staceyann Chin, who is Jamaican spoken-word performance artist. Through her inner strength, Chin finds warmth and humor in her nomadic and parentless childhood. The book catalogues her life from early childhood until early adulthood when Chin enters college. Chin’s writing style and honesty makes this book relatable to any woman’s life, from the pains of puberty to discovering self-identity.
Anyone who reads Feministing.com will know of Jessica Valenti’s new work. Valenti investigate the United States’ ever growing obsession with virginity, stemming from biblical times to present day in all sectors of life. She discusses on how and why this came to be and why this fixation of the “virgin” is so problematic for girls and women of today. In response to this fascination, Valenti sees alternatives to this which she describes for a future where women and girls are not valued based on the sexuality, but as people.
Bread Givers by Anzia Yezierska
Being the woman who has experienced the ways of the “old world” and lives in the “new,” I look forward to myself reading this book while in DC for the summer. Sara Smolinsky, a young woman living with her Orthodox Jewish family in the 1920s, must combat her strict religious upbringing and her fathers refusal to assimilate. Rejecting the ways of her father and the “old country,” she takes matters into her own and leaves home, gets a job, and puts herself through night school. Sara Smolinsky represents the feminist spirit in her refusal to stand for the way things are based on her social situation in search of something bigger and better for herself.
Trash by Dorothy Allison
Allison’s collection of fictional stories about women in the South, poor women, working class women, and lesbians give a voice to the emotional female experience of women at this time and place. Her frank writing style confront the reader with the hard hitting realities of the hard lives lived by these women in the stories. While the content and brashness of Trash are hard to swallow at times, the overarching theme of the book is the power in sharing stories and secrets in order to heal and grow as a community as women.
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
This book is not a religious book but rather the fictitious tale of powerful and influential biblical women that receive little to no coverage in the pages of the Old Testament in the shadows of their male counterparts. The women of this book share their plight as mothers, sisters, wives, daughters, and aunts all within the “red tent” where the menstruating women gathered during their monthly periods, birth, and illness. The pages of this book provide a look into the ancient lives of these women that birthed, raised and married the men that take up the entire spotlight in the pages of the bible. Within the Red Tent, the women offer their courageous tales and share what the pages of the Old Testament leaves out: women.
Happy reading everyone! And if you have any other summer reading ideas, feel free to place your suggestions in the comments section of this post. All ideas are welcomed!