The number 1 reason for why I was VERY excited about this book was the fact that Jen Klein is a member of the Grey's Anatomy writers team. As you mighThe number 1 reason for why I was VERY excited about this book was the fact that Jen Klein is a member of the Grey's Anatomy writers team. As you might know, Grey's Anatomy is one of my favorite shows EVER, so anything that a member of a team responsible for that show writes, I AM SO IN! Shuffle, Repeat ended up being just the type of YA contemporary read I needed at that moment in time - funny, cute and extremely well written (can you expect anything less from a Grey's Anatomy writer?)
June is waiting for high school to end so she can start her "real life". When her mother decides to move them to a new house, June has to options - either to take the bus in the mornings and wake up WAY TOO EARLY or to drive with Oliver, the son of June's mother's best friend. Knowing that the bus-thing won't work in long term, June decides to accept Oliver's offer to drive her.
Oliver loves high school and is sure the memories he makes there will stay with him for the rest of his life. When June declares that nothing that happens in high school really matters, Oliver is determined to prove June wrong. As a very competitive person, also June is sure that she can prove Oliver wrong. To make their bet a bit more interesting, they decide that whenever one of the proves a point, that person gets to add a song to a playlist they listen to while driving to school (they have VERY different tastes in music, so losing a wager is never good!). As they spend more time together they start to see each other as friends... and maybe as something more?
June is SUPER opinionated and continually insists that she does not really fit into the world of high school, a world inhabited by the likes of Oliver, who is popular and liked by everyone. As she starts to get more integrated into Oliver's world, it is quick to notice that maybe the problem never was that she did not fit in. Maybe the problem was the she never ever tried to fit in. I'm pretty sure some readers will think June is annoying, but I was able to find traits of myself from her, especially when I thought back to myself in high school. I think she is an interesting, flawed character and one that I had a really good time reading about.
Oliver is SO FREAKING DREAMY! He is popular, but does not really fit into that whole "popular guy who seems like an asshole" stereotype often found teen movies. He is funny, protective, kind of romantic, and willing to challenge June. The dialogue between June and Oliver is done so well, which I think is only a testament of the fact that Jen Klein is a television writer. For some reading tastes, Shuffle, Repeat might seem to lack description, but I really enjoyed the fact that it is more reliant on dialogue and on interactions between the characters.
While reading this one, especially the conversations between Oliver and June, I kept thinking this would make an awesome teen television drama (hello ABC, want to do an awesome show about this one? I would totally watch it!). The supporting characters and the relationship June has with her parents adds to the novel, but never really takes the focus away from the main relationship this novel focuses on - the relationship between Oliver and June. In addition to a lot of other good things, this novel includes one of the best 1st kiss scenes I've come across - SO SO SO SO SO HOT (and it involves tequila, just like a lot of kisses in Grey's Anatomy).
If you are looking for a quick-to-read, entertaining and romantic summer read, I DEFINITELY would like to recommend Shuffle, Repeat for you. And if you are a fan of Grey's Anatomy, pick this one up - you won't regret it!...more
I knew nothing about this book as I picked it up from the library. To be honest, I can't even remember hearing about Jamaica Kincaid before this book.I knew nothing about this book as I picked it up from the library. To be honest, I can't even remember hearing about Jamaica Kincaid before this book. The fact that it was fairly short and had a synopsis that went well with my current interest in postcolonial and feminist literature was all that was really needed for me to pick this one up. Now that I've read it, I can say that I make awesome decisions in libraries, because I really ended up enjoying this one and found it to be an extremely interesting reading experience!
I believe this book is set in late 1960s/1970s and the novel begins when Lucy, a teenager (she's about 19, I believe) from West Indies arrives in North America to work as as a nanny for a white couple, Mariah and Lewis, and their four daughters. Mariah and Lewis are rich, gorgeous and seem like the happiest people in the world, and as Lucy tries to get used to her life abroad, she continually wonders how people like Mariah and Lewis can have the privilege to have for example a rainy day as "the worst problem in their life". The more and more Lucy follows the actions of the people in her new life, the more she compares them to the actions of people in her home country, especially to those of her mother. While it is clear that she misses home, there are clearly things she is trying to run away from, and especially her relationship with her mother is something this novel interestingly delves into.
I found Lucy to be an extremely interesting character. The fact that she is looking at and commenting on people who look and act very much like me (no, I am not really rich, but I do get my privilege) made this an extremely interesting read and definitely made me question and examine my own privilege. The development of the relationship between Lucy and Mariah was probably one of the most interesting aspects of the novel, and something I definitely would have liked to read more of. I also really enjoyed Lucy's growth, the discovery of her sexual side, and the way she comments on things she sees with very honestly and clearly.
I really enjoyed Kincaid's writing style and definitely want to read something else by her. Lucy is a fairly short read, so if you are at all interested, I recommend picking this one up - it didn't take long to read it, but there is so much there that one could grab onto for further discussion/analysis, such as the references to other literature, the way the book comments of black transnationalism, etc. ...more
This fairly short collection of poetry completely blew me away. Inspired by my postcolonial theory class and discussions of race in America, I startedThis fairly short collection of poetry completely blew me away. Inspired by my postcolonial theory class and discussions of race in America, I started to look for books that would give me a chance to put into use what I learned during that course, and came across Claudia Rankine's Citizen. My local library surprisingly had this in their collection, of which I am extremely happy, because I don't think an e-copy of this would have done justice to the way this book is not only written, but also put together through inclusion of images etc.
I am a white, middle class, educated young woman from Finland. I grew up in a place where like 99.9 % of people were white and middle class, and never really had to think about issues related to race while growing up. I was 11 when I first traveled abroad, but it was to one of those places where most of the people were tourists who looked exactly like me. It wasn't until my exchange student year to United States at the age of 16 that I really became conscious of the issues related to race and racism. I traveled from Finland to Washington D.C. and was picked up by a family of Mexican immigrants - a wonderful group of people who offered me their home for 10 months and very quickly became like a family to me. The cultural differences were embraced at the home setting, but when I went to school and started to spend time with the family outside the home-setting, questions started to arise. Very quickly, I came face to face with situations in which I was seen as the superior due to my skin color. I was shocked - I was a quest in that country, but still some people seemed to treat me like I had more of a right to be in there than the people who had taken me in. I am grateful for my year in US, because it opened my eyes up for so many things I probably would not have become aware of in Finland, at least not at that age. Now, questions of race are becoming more and more in-bedded into our national discussions, and the perspectives I learned in US have really helped me to form my opinions about the issues in Finland right now.
Rankine's collection focuses on different kind of racial encounters and aggressions in media as well as in daily life; the slips of the tongue, the questions of "is that racist", the representations of athletes, etc. It also pays quite extensively attention to race and issues of safety and for those who have been following the evolution of the Black Lives Matter movement, there's definitely a lot of food for thought here.
This book really made me think about my own privilege, and the privilege of people around me. The way Rankine delves into the matter of everyday racism, the little slips of tongue that some people do without realizing that what they are saying might be hurtful, is done very powerfully and in a way that makes you think about your own actions and own words. Though this book is very much tied to US context, I think the message of it is universal. And since what happens in US is often felt around the world in other countries, understanding of the US society is crucial. This book can help you with that, by offering a very interesting, vivid image of racism in our contemporary, "post-race" society.
If you get a chance to pick this one up, I highly recommend you do so! ...more
Ever since I enrolled for a postcolonial theory and media culture class at the beginning of this year, I have been more eagerly looking for reading ex Ever since I enrolled for a postcolonial theory and media culture class at the beginning of this year, I have been more eagerly looking for reading experiences that challenge my preconceptions and allow me to "listen" to a perspective of someone who finds herself from a situation different from mine. Though I was aware of it before, this class made me more conscious of the fact that as a white, educated, middle-class woman, it can take me time to count all of my privileges. Through more extensive understanding of intersectional feminism, I have learned more about the importance of feminism that is all-inclusive. While that course is now over, I want to continue with this journey, so of course, I took to Google and looked for lists of feminist literature and books recommended for those interested in intersectional feminism. Pretty much all of those lists included The Color Purple, which is one of those books I have been meaning to read FOR AGES, but never have gotten around the read. Also, quite surprisingly, I have never seen the film, so I went into this one with very little previous knowledge about it.
The Color Purple is a Pulitzer Prize winning epistolary novel narrated through letters written by Celie (and later on also her sister Nettie). Celie is a poor, black woman living in American South. The novel begins when Celie is 14 and sexually assaulted by her father. Celie ends up pregnant multiple times, and after it seems her father has lost interest in her, she starts to worry for the future of her intelligent younger sister Nettie. When 12-year-old Nettie is approached with a proposal of marriage by a man who is throughout the novel identified just as 'Mister', Celie handles the situation so that in the end, it is her that leaves with Mister and enters into a miserable marriage. For a while, Nettie is with Celie and Mister, but after she doesn't warm up to Mister's advances, he sends her away and for years to come, Celie is made to believe that her sister is death.
A ray of hope enters Nettie's life unexpectedly when she forms a bond with Shug, an independent black woman who tours around the country singing. Shug, an old lover of Mister, and a woman he still loves. Shug speaks her mind, is sexually assertive and holds a kind of independence and courage Nettie never thought Black woman could have. Through time spend with Shug, Nettie learns more about herself while also learning, that there is a possibility for her to "rise up" and to take control of her life.
There are also other interesting female characters in this novel, such as Sofia, who is strong and sassy and who repeatedly gets into trouble for speaking out about things that women are not meant to speak about. Grown-up Nettie, a character we get to learn about mostly through letters, is also extremely interesting, and through her, the novel breaks the bounds of the US South and takes the reader to Africa with Nettie and the group of missionaries she travels with.
Though I do not analyze literature very often, if I were to analyze this book, I would say that sisterhood is in a very important role within this novel. There is a biological sisterhood between Celie and Nettie - Celie stands up for Nettie and sacrifices herself for a future majority of Black women at the time were subjected to as a result of which Nettie eventually gets a change to escape the poor South to experience a new kind of life in Africa. Through the sisterhood formed between Celie and Shug, Celie learns new things about herself - she gets empowered, strong and starts to yearn for the kind of respect and independence Shug has. She also starts to love in a new kind of way, a way she never would have expected. As the novel develops, I grew more and more interested about Celie's journey and her process of finding a life in which she has the control, not her husband.
I always seem to hesitate picking up classics/modern classics because I think it will take me ages to read them through. The Color Purple was actually a pretty quick read for me, mostly because once I really got immersed into the story, I had a very difficult time to put it down. The letter format moves the story forward quite quickly, and it was extremely interesting to read about these different women and the ways they try to stand up for forms of behavior that have rule in the South and the ways they are able to take control of their own lives.
The Color Purple was a solid five star read for me, and a book I definitely want to go back to at some point - I read it now as an ebook, but I definitely want to get my own copy, so I can reread it and take notes and highlight stuff, etc. Now I also think I should start to think about watching the film adaptation!...more
So, once again I get to say "this is one of those books I have been meaning to read for ages but have hesitated picking up because I have been thinkinSo, once again I get to say "this is one of those books I have been meaning to read for ages but have hesitated picking up because I have been thinking that the modern classic status makes it difficult to read and thus means a long reading process". I feel like this spring, as I have started to delve outside YA and looked for especially feminist fiction, I have repeated that above statement over and over again. Finally, after a Twitter Chat from Ely from Tea & Titles, who named The Bell Jar as one of her favorite books, I finally decided it was time to pick this up, despite the feelings of hesitation, and oh my, I am so happy I did, because THIS BOOK WAS FREAKING AMAZING and definitely became of my all-time favorites too!
I read Sylvia Plath's poetry in high school, in addition to which I have read a part of her unabridged journals, which means that Plath was not a complete stranger to me when I started reading this book. I knew about her struggles with issues related to her mental health, and I was aware for the way her life ended. I loved her poetry, but feel like the very scrutinizing analysis of her work in high school kind of pushed me back from this novel for years - I do similar kind of detailed analysis with films, and I am very aware of the way analyzing the work of someone for a long time can push you away from it for a while. That certainly happened with my BA thesis and Darren Aronosfky - I love that man's films, but if someone where to now suggest that we should watch for example Black Swan, I would run away screaming. Well, it has been almost 5 years from high school graduation, so I definitely had had enough time to distance myself from Plath.
The Bell Jar was published in 1963 with a pseudonym "Victoria Lucas" due to the semi-autobiographic elements of the novel (the names of people and places were changed, but otherwise it includes experiences from Plath's actual life). It is the only novel written by Plath, who killed herself only about a month after the book was first published in the UK.
The Bell Jar focuses on Esther, who moves from the suburbs of Boston to New York City for a month to participate in a summer internship program for a prominent magazine editor. Unlike the other girls, who are taking everything out of the New York job and the somewhat glamorous lifestyle working for the magazine offers them, Esther fails to feel such a level of excitement. She spends time with Doreen, who is more interested about the New York the magazine cannot offer her, with its men and nightlife, but never really fits into the picture. Throughout the beginning of the novel, Esther describes several different instances from her life in New York and gives the reader a glimpse into her life, her state of mind and her plans for the future.
After Esther learns that she hasn't been accepted to summer writing program she has thought the would attend after her internship, she returns to Boston in low spirits. Her whole life, she has lived through her academic success - it has been something that she defines herself through - and now that she failed something (getting the internship), she feels like her life is without direction. She starts to question everything - her major in college, her capability to write a novel, what the future will hold for her, her decisions related to her love life, etc. At the same time, her spirits get more and more down and eventually she loses her capability to sleep and spends weeks without sleeping. She is directed to see a doctor, but after an experience of electroconvulsive therapy, she doesn't want to go back. But she just keeps falling deeper and deeper into depression, and eventually is made to deal with her situation and her thoughts.
While Plath writes extremely beautifully and at parts, the book reads like poetry, I did not have a hard time adapting to the language or understanding what was going on. Plath uses several flashbacks to narrate the story, and I think structure was extremely interesting, while at the beginning a bit confusing, though after I understood what she was doing with the form, I very quickly got back on track. Though I do not share Esther's feelings of depression, I was able to identity with her struggle of finding her own identity as a young woman. I have also always defined myself quite largely in connection to my academic pursuits, and the way Esther questions the decisions related to her academics is something I was able to connect with - will this path give me a future? Is there another academic path I could have taken that would have been more suitable for me? While I love what I am doing, these questions haunt me from time to time.
Like Esther, also Plath had a summer internship for a magazine in New York in her 20s (summer of 1953). Plath was also rejected from a writing course, attempted suicide in her 20s, and was hospitalized in a psychiatric hospital (McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts). The novel also includes parallels between characters and people from Plath's life, like her patron, her editor in New York and her psychiatrist. Due to these autobiographical elements, I feel like I want to read more about Plath and then go back to this book again with more detail. While I thoroughly was engaged with this book this time around, I feel like with more knowledge about Plath's life, I could get even more out of it.
I am so happy I finally picked this one up, and now that I have read it, I not only want to know more about Plath herself, but I also want to go back to her poetry and continue from where I left off in high school. ...more
I came across this fairly short collection of essays a while ago while looking for feminist content to read. Rebecca Solnit's name was familiar to meI came across this fairly short collection of essays a while ago while looking for feminist content to read. Rebecca Solnit's name was familiar to me before, but I had never read anything from her before picking up Men Explain Things to Me. If Rebecca Solnit is a new author to you like she was to me, I think Men Explain Things to Me is a good starting point -- it definitely made me want to read more by her in the future.
Solnit's essay titled Men Explain Things to Me, which you can read from here, was originally published in 2012 and it is the piece of writing this short essay collection has been built around to. This very essay has been connected to the popularization of the term "mansplaining", and overall, it made such rounds online that Solnit decided to produce a whole set of essays, which were released together in this collection in 2014.
Since most (if not all) of the essays featured in this collection were published beforehand, you don't necessarily have to buy this collection to get an access to them (you can find them online!). But I do think having a collection like this can be an interesting addition to personal libraries, and I definitely do not regret purchasing it.
I do want to point out though that maybe reading the essays back to back is not the best idea. I did that and noticed quite quickly that Solnit uses some of the same examples/arguments in a number of essays. This is not a problem if you consider the fact that the release of these pieces was originally more sporadic. But reading about the same examples back to back in a book format can get kind of repetitive and take something away from the reading enjoyment/experience.
Men Explain Things to Me is only a bit over 100 pages in length, but it definitely managed to make me think. The essays range from hilarious to tragic, and Solnit manages to cover a lot of ground and make a lot of arguments within a fairly short page count. Solnit's writing style is interesting and engaging, and definitely something I want to familiarize myself more with at some point.
If you are interested in feminism, in the treatment of women in the society, and so on, I definitely recommend checking this one out. As said, you can write a lot of these essays online if you're not interested in purchasing the whole collection. ...more