March. March March March. You’re a funny one. March is always a bitter-sweet month, as it’s the month I left my home and my job and my friends and ran (or flew) as fast as I could to the other side of the planet. Even after three years (!!!) it does tend to leave me a little melancholy… though I definitely wouldn’t have it any other way!
So in celebration of 21 year old me going off on her own, and also to commemorate International Woman’s Day which was earlier in the month, I decided to dedicate March to reading feminist fiction. What could go wrong?!
Gosh, there is so much great feminist literature out there, and I’m super frustrated by my inability to read them all (I still need to read Roxane Gay’s An Untamed State so bad!!), but these are the ones I managed to inhale through the ol’ eye-balls:
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
Dang I love this book. And I especially love this book if you look at it in context. It’s the perfect companion to Charlotte and Emily Bronte’s novels. Mr Rochester and Heathcliff are such romantic, Byronic heros (anti-heros?). Anyway, we’re supposed to get swept away in their passionate, destroying, all encompassing love. But then Anne comes along with this book like, hold- up! Those guys are dicks. Don’t marry them. In fact, women should be allowed to run as far away from them as possible. If you’re reading Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights without reading The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, then you’re missing out on the full experience. Like reading the arguments without the counter points. READ IT. AND THEN READ IT AGAIN.
The Yellow Wallpaper
In the spirit of early feminist literature, I borrowed this collection from a friend. Oh boy, I love a claustrophobic story about a women spiraling into madness, but this one gave me the biggest spooks! The other stories were enjoyable, and explored different facets of being a woman in turn of the century society, but the title story completely blows them out of the water. Plus it’s nice and short… always a bonus!
The House of the Spirits
This one is one of the least known of March’s reads, though it’s been on my TBR for a while (remember that “travel the world through books” list I made a million years ago then never did anything about? Yea, it was on that). Part family drama, part magical realism, part history, this is the moving story of one family through several generations. So cleverly pieced together, the characters are linked and broken apart with seeming effortlessness. In this story fascinating women strive to carve a life for themselves in a myriad of ways. And all the while they’re presided over by the dark, violent presence of “The Patron”.
The Handmaid’s Tale
I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to read Margaret Atwood’s dystopian classic. This book is frustrating and intriguing and just down right infuriating. But in the best ways possible, of course. It also feels like a kind of timely read… yeesh.
Continuing on, one thing I really liked about this story was Atwood’s use of language and vocabulary. She uses words to link Offred to her past and her present in such a clever way.
And now I’m ready for the new TV show. Yay!
Gather the Daughters
A word of note before we begin: if incest is not a thing you want the books you read to allude to, maybe this one isn’t for you. At first I though it was a little too much for me, but the plot and characters grabbed me so much that I couldn’t put it down and actually ended up reading it all in one night! Kind of The Handmaid’s Tale meets Lord of the Flies, this book is set in a patriarchal cult and deals with psychological control and childhood trauma. And with Jannie Melamed being a specialist on childhood trauma, it feels authentic and sensitive. Plus this book is just crammed full with bad-ass girls.
When Dimple Met Rishi
After so many great but emotionally exhausting reads, I needed something light. Because, well, I didn’t want to end the month completely hating men did I? And if all men were as thoughtful and as passionate about their relationships as Rishi Patel, what a world that would be!
Cinder gave us a female mechanic protag, now we have a coder in the form of Dimple. It’s the fun, arranged marriage romcom set in a coding convention you never know you always wanted (or so the UK editor explains it). And I thought it was great! Yes, there were some flaws (like when Dimple says she’s “not most girls”. Gahh! Right in the gut!), but over all a lighthearted, diverse YA with not-annoying characters and a thoughtful feminist message. Double yay!
So I think I bit off a bit more than I could chew this month (I read for work on top of this, plus I have a book to read by Thursday for book club. Oops!) so I might reign in my enthusiasm when it comes to my April reads. Still, there are lots of exciting titles coming up as I dive into autobiographies… so maybe not much hope for a rest after all.
As always, suggestions welcome!