Tuesday, June 9, 2015

This Week in Books

Hello! I've been pretty much absent since the readathons, as I've been slightly preoccupied with a little thing called finishing my degree. It's been a crazy couple of weeks getting essays finished and doing exams. But my final exam was on Thursday and I am officially done! Which is, weird? And terrifying? Mostly I'm still in a state of disbelief. It's so weird getting up in the morning and realising I have no uni work to do. In theory this should mean I'll be reading more!

So, to sort of ease my way back into the blog, I'm going to do a round up of the last week in books- what I finished, what I'm currently reading, and what I want to read next.


The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins: I've had this on the go, on and off, for a few weeks and I finally finished it. It's such a fun read. It's just packed with Victorian tropes and family secrets and zany characters, which probably make it slightly ridiculous? But only ever in a good way. I think the ending is maybe a little anti-climatic though, only because of all the drama in the earlier parts of the book. But apart from that it's wonderful. It's also really great to reread a book you previously loved and realise that it's still kickass.

Gender Outlaw by Kate Bornstein. So, I'm basically taking advantage of the last few months of having a university library card, and reading some classics of gender/LGBTQ theory. Kate Bornstein was assigned male at birth, transitioned to female in hir thirties, and then came to realise ze didn't really feel like either gender. Basically the whole book is a take down of the gender as a concept, which is something I've been really interested in these days- what is gender really, except flakey science and a bunch of stereotypes? And trying to figure out how that fits into LGBTQ stuff- like, if gender is just a construct, why bother physically transitioning? And how do you identify as both 'lesbian' and 'not female'? I might write a full review of this; it was a really interesting read.

Currently reading

Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown: This is a history of 19th Century USA from the Indian point of view. I'm interested in Native Americans/Indians and I know next to nothing about them, so this is my attempt to remedy that. Needless to say, it's not a cheerful read. Each chapter deals with a specific incident involving a tribe, and the end result for most of them seems to be Europeans try to take land - Indians resist - Indians are horribly killed. It's maybe not clicked with me quite as much as I'd hoped- I think I can possibly blame the writing style for that- but I'm finding it interesting, if completely emotionally exhausting.

Up next

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood: This is one of those books that I've been meaning to read forever. I'm kind of lacking in the Margaret Atwood department. I read and loved The Handmaid's Tale a while back and enjoyed Stone Mattress which I read recently, so it's about time I read this. I know it involves a dystopia and genetic engineering, two things that make my ears prick up, but that's about it. Looking forward to starting this!

The Trials of Radclyffe Hall by Diana Souhami: This is another university library find. Hall was a lesbian living in the early 20th century whose novel The Well of Loneliness caused serious scandal when it was published in the 1920s. It seems to be pretty much accepted today that The Well of Loneliness isn't actually very good, but I really enjoyed it when I read it a few years ago. From the little I know about her, Hall was an... interesting character, so I'm looking forward to learning a bit more about her. Also, this had a Jeanette Winterson blurb, and recommendations don't come higher than that.

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