What I’m Reading and Thinking About this Week

These are the things I’ve been reading and thinking about this week.

Why I Quit Goodreads (or, Why the Bookernet is not Safe for Women) (Book Riot)

A thoughtful and worthy read, this is about the decision to quit using Goodreads to post book reviews because of how unsafe it can feel to be a woman with a voice on the internet.  Although I haven’t quit using Goodreads, I have quit posting my reviews there, and I’ve even started hesitating or declining to rate books lower than 3 stars for fear of harassment on the site.

Events of the last few weeks, many of which you’ve read about one these pages, got me thinking again about my experience on Goodreads. And it also got me thinking about all the times I’ve been talking about books and what I value about them on Twitter only to have men who are complete strangers enter my feed to assail my feminism, my appearance, my body, my voice, my place in the world.

It’s gendered, it’s targeted, and it’s gross stuff.  While not limited to the world of books, it is a place to start having some hard conversations about women on the internet.

Every Argument About Buffy on the Internet from 1998 through Today (The Toast)

Also about the internet but decidedly much lighter, this excellent humor piece over at the Toast is genuinely delightful:

Joss Whedon: Inventer Of Feminism Or Literal Hitler?

  • Joss Whedon invented feminism. Before Joss Whedon, every female character on television was crushed to death under the weight of her male co-stars’ heavier paychecks in the second-season finale.

  • Every female character Joss Whedon ever wrote was forcibly impregnated by a demon and brutally murdered, because Joss Whedon hates lesbians.

  • But Warren And The Trio Were –

  • EVERYONE GETS THAT WARREN AND THE TRIO REPRESENTED THE THREAT OF NON-SUPERNATURAL MISOGYNY, YOU DON’T GET CREDIT FOR PICKING UP ON THAT

It’s very funny and very true, not just of Whedon-fan spaces on the internet but all fan spaces.  And if you’re a Buffy fan, it’s a nice walk down nostalgia lane.

What got you reading and thinking this week?

Waiting on Wednesday: Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.  Its purpose is to spotlight eagerly-anticipated upcoming releases.

This week I’m eagerly awaiting:

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

Expected Release Date: May 5, 2015

Peyton, Sydney’s charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion’s share of their parents’ attention and—lately—concern. When Peyton’s increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident?

Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time.

The uber-popular Sarah Dessen explores her signature themes of family, self-discovery, and change in her twelfth novel, sure to delight her legions of fans.

(summary via Goodreads)

There’s a reason Sarah Dessen is the undisputed queen of YA.  While there certainly is a formula to her books, it’s a formula that works, and she crafts interesting, realistic female protagonists.  I’m excited to read this latest offering.  I can’t wait!

What are you waiting on this week?

What I’m Reading and Thinking About this Week

I’m all over the place this week in a scramble to get ready for a girls’ trip to Chicago, but here’s a short (VERY SHORT) roundup of the links I was thinking about this week.

The Jinx is Better Than Any of You Whiners (The Toast)

I basically mainlined The Jinx this week and am still thinking about it.  Nicole’s hilarious recap of the show’s pretty shocking conclusion is perfect:

But Nicole, what if Robert Durst had killed someone else during the two years or whatever after the filmmakers found the envelope?

(He didn’t, though!)

What if Robert Durst killed someone during the thirty years after the cops failed to catch him? Oh, wait! HE KILLED TWO MORE PEOPLE.

Do you know whose literal job it is to catch murderers? It is the job of the police!

If you have access to HBO or HBOGo I strongly suggest you check it out.  It’s only 6 episodes and it is GREAT.

Overcoming Books by Judging Their Characters (Book Riot)

Just a really interesting and thoughtful look at how we think about books based on the characters within them.  There’s a good bit about how much harder female characters have it (it’s just like real life!), but also this great bit:

So when I jump into a new world in a book, and the main characters aren’t people I could see myself hanging out with in real life, this unconscious string of judgements begins to take hold, until it gets to the point where I might even brush off any future works by an author simply because of the characters they write. In many cases, it isn’t even about how the character was portrayed, or whether the author was fair – it’s about how I felt about the character on a personal level.

What got you reading and thinkingthis week?

Book Review: This Charming Man by Marian Keyes

Paddy de Courcy is an up and coming politician in Ireland.  Hailed as the JFK of Dublin, his charm and good looks have made him a household name and political crush of many women (and men).  Some of these women include the novel’s four narrators: Lola, Grace, Marnie and Alicia.  But their recollections of Paddy show a very different man than the one the public sees.

Marian Keyes lends her trademark humor and incisive wit to a story about four women who have more in common than they originally think.  Told in alternating perspectives, this story about the healing process, moving on, and dealing with the aftermath of a sociopath offers a little something for everyone.  The problem is that it’s overwritten and suffers from an indecisive tone.

By far the most interesting narrative voice is that of Lola, a woman who finds out that Paddy is done with her when he publicly announces his engagement to another woman.  Forgoing all articles in her speech, Lola’s parts of the story are an obvious (and hilarious) sendup of the Bridget Jones style of diary-writing.  Her story about fleeing to a coastal town to hide out and get over Paddy is by far the book’s most interesting and fresh of the four stories, and the exploration of transvestism is an added bonus.

The problem is that Lola’s bits are frequently very funny, which clashes awkwardly with the book’s more serious moments.  Paddy is a total monster, and as his abusive behaviors towards these women are slowly revealed throughout the novel, it makes it all the more jarring to read the humorous parts in conjunction.  This is compounded by the fact that too much of the novel is spent dealing with Marnie’s struggle with alcoholism.  All of this confuses the reader on what is supposed to be emphasized throughout, causing the book to lose much of its focus and point.

Having four narrators and thus four different stories also means that the novel is overly long.  It also starts to feel too long, and would have benefited greatly from heavy editing.  There’s some good stuff here, including a redemptive (if a little implausible) ending, but it gets bogged down in its own issues.  It’s likely to attract some fans of Keyes’s previous work, but it also isn’t the novel to start with if a reader is new to her work.

This Charming Man by Marian Keyes. William Morrow: 2008. Library copy.

 

Waiting on Wednesday: All the Rage by Courtney Summers

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.  Its purpose is to spotlight eagerly-anticipated upcoming releases.

This week I’m eagerly awaiting:

All the Rage by Courtney Summers

Expected Release Date: April 14, 2015

The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything—friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time—and they certainly won’t now — but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear. 

(summary via Goodreads)

Courtney Summers is amazing, and I cannot wait for this one.  Early buzz has been overwhelmingly fantastic and I have no doubts that this is going to be a knockout of a novel.  It’s one of my most-anticipated reads of the year.  I can’t wait.

Book Review: Your House is On Fire, Your Children all Gone by Stefan Kiesbye

The tiny village of Hermmersmoor has that timelessness that only the smallest ones do.  It’s full of secrets and superstitions, and the locals keep secrets both terrible and mysterious.  The grand manor sits on the edge of town, and the rest of the villagers share rumors about the family who lives there.  In this town, four friends come of age and discover some of life’s most horrific aspects.

There are plenty of reviews that compare Kiesbye’s novel to Stephen King (at his prime, I guess), and while there may be some elements here that are similar to King’s most chilling works, Kiesbye’s voice is far more literary than the comparison hints at.  In this chilling novel, Kiesbye crafts a story that sticks to readers’ ribs and chills them to their bones.  This is not a story that readers will be able to put down and forget about.  It demands to be paid attention to.

Loosely connected short stories told by different people in the village of Hemmersmoor make this a remarkable novel.  Each chapter has different narration and offers a different tale of reminiscence about the weird town the characters grew up in.  Each tale has an underlying tension throughout it, and there’s a feeling of malice on every page, though it’s hard to place at times.  The result is a suspenseful, gripping, wholly terrifying read.

What’s worth mentioning is Kiesbye’s ability to craft a story that is genuinely terrifying without resulting to gratuitous gore.  The stories are mostly bloodless but terrifying all the same, and sometimes even scarier because they’re so removed.  It’s a knockout of a novel, and should work for hardcore horror fans as well as new readers to the genre.  It’s very good.

Your House is On Fire, Your Children All Gone by Stefan Kiesbye. Penguin Books: 2012. Library copy.

What I’m Reading and Thinking About This Week

These are the things I’ve been reading and thinking about this week.

Her Facebook Disaster Show (Salon)

This bit from the article sort of sums it up:

As I watched her misery unfold, a strange thing started to happen to me. It wasn’t pretty, and it wasn’t nice, and it wasn’t something I could talk about without feeling the tight noose of judgment around my own neck. I began to feel good. I began, even if only for those few minutes spent checking her page, to stop doubting my own life. It was Facebook Schadenfreude. I had it bad.

I find pieces about how Facebook makes us feel interesting because I chose to disconnect my own Facebook for myriad reasons.  I don’t miss it and I think I’m emotionally much healthier without it, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t relate to posts like this, about concepts like Facebook Schadenfreude (or my personal favorite, fremdscham, which is embarrassment on the behalf of someone else).

The piece makes a great point about the difference between the posts from people you know and the ones you merely watch.  There’s a lot to think about here with regard to sharing on the internet and how we relate to one another in a social media drenched world.

How to Survive the Death of a Friendship (Bitches Gotta Eat)

I totally understand that the style of Bitches Gotta Eat isn’t for everyone.  There are times when the style even grates on me.  But this piece about ending friendships is both funny and very very true:

and i know what you’re thinking, “WHO WOULD EVER WANT TO STOP BEING YOUR FRIEND, SAM” and the answer is: three or four dummies i had to search through my gmail contacts to delete because i got hacked and the thought of spamming that one jerkface with phony weight loss URLs and uncashed nigerian royalty checkswas motherfucking excruciating. i couldn’t let her know that my password choice was weak, I AM TRYING TO BE THE WINNER OF THIS BREAKUP. because i’m petty.

Powell offers practical advice on how to move on, too, telling us to “juice that lemon” once the friendship is over:

the hardest thing about being a good friend, for me, is biting my tongue while my friends do and say the stupidest shit ever. have you ever had to keep a straight face while pretending the woman across the table from you is a smart, rational human being as she describes why the items she found while digging through her boyfriend’s trash have led her to believe he’s cheating on her with a co-worker? no!? WELL I FUCKING HAVE.

AT 18, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is Still Revolutionary (The Atlantic)

Happy birthday, Buffy:

Television has had lots of complex, admirable teenage heroines since Buffy, but it’s hard to think of one so consistently empowered to take control of the circumstances around her, whether in the middle of a graveyard, surrounded by vampires, or in her bedroom, grounded. Buffy’s super-strength is a physical attribute endowed by the forces of destiny, but it’s also a state of confidence and competence that carries her through the varying traumas of having the fate of the world always on her shoulders.

What got you reading and thinking this week?