TTT: Feminist Recommendations

With an open prompt this week of “recommendations for _________” I had a few ideas, but in the end I’ve decided to recommend a bunch of books for feminists, because I think a lot, if not all, of these books should be required reading for everyone—man, woman, child, and everyone in between.

I haven’t read all of these (yet!), but they all have important messages, whether straight up in essay form, or through a fictional narrative. I lovelovelove all the books here I have read, and can’t wait to get started on the ones I haven’t.

If you have any feminist book recommendations, leave them for me in the comments—i want MORE!

We Should All Be Feminists: A personal and powerful essay from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the bestselling author of ‘Americanah’ and ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’, based on her 2013 TEDx Talk of the same name.

Sisters of the Revolution: This book gathers a highly curated selection of feminist speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, horror and more) chosen by one of the most respected editorial teams in speculative literature today.

A Room of One’s Own: Why is it, Woolf asks, that men have always had power, influence, wealth, and fame, while women have had nothing but children? There will be female Shakespeares in the future, Woolf argues, only if women are provided with two basics of freedom: a fixed income of 500 per year and a room of one’s own in which to write.

The Female Man: When these four women meet, the results are startling, outrageous, and subversive.

Bad Feminist: A collection of essays spanning politics, criticism, and feminism from one of the most-watched young cultural observers of her generation.

The Handmaid’s Tale: In Gilead, where women are prohibited from holding jobs, reading, and forming friendships, Offred’s persistent memories of life in the ‘time before’ and her will to survive are acts of rebellion.

The Power: Suddenly – tomorrow or the day after – teenage girls find that with a flick of their fingers, they can inflict agonizing pain and even death.

Herland: A story about three male explorers who stumble upon an all-female society isolated somewhere in South America. Noting the advanced state of the civilization they’ve encountered, the visitors set out to find some males, assuming that since the country is so civilized, “there must be men.”

The Trouble with Women: Can women be geniuses? Or are their arms too short? Why did we only learn about two three women at school? What were all the others doing?

Revolutionary Women: A Book of Stencils: A Feminist Speculative Fiction Anthology: Both a radical feminist history and a street art resource, this handbook combines short biographies with striking and usable stencil images of 30 female activists, anarchists, feminists, freedom fighters, and visionaries.

Save

TTT: Best Beginnings

Top Ten Tuesday is back to its regularly scheduled prompting next week, but there is one more topic from the vaults from me before then: The best book beginnings.

I love it when a book has a strong start. When it’s bold and daring and interesting and I immediately want to never put it down. It’s a fairly hard to achieve thing, and when I find it, I devour the book. So these are 10 books that had me hooked by the end of chapter one, even on the first page… and in one case, by the title and cover alone.

IT – I’ve reread the first chapter so, so many times, that even just the first sentence gives me chills of anticipation. It’s probably my favourite first chapter of a book, ever, if only because nostalgia.

Nimona – By the bottom of page two, I was smitten and I knew I was going to fall hard for this book and it’s light, joyful humour. I did.

The Passage – When a book hits you hard enough to have you sobbing your heart out by the end of the first chapter, and you have 900 pages left to go… it leaves an impression.

Ablutions: Notes for a Novel – With a very unique second-person POV narrative, and an actual LOL on the second page, this book had one hell of a hook.

Haunted – Sure fire way to gab my attention: gross me the hell out in the first chapter. It’s actually really hard to do, which is why I enjoy it when it happens. Kudos, Palahniuk.

The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil – I was in love with this before before I’d even left the shop, before I’d parted money with it, before I’d lifted it from the shelf. It’s no surprise to me that I genuinely call this book ‘The Gigantic Beard That Was Awesome’ and don’t even realise that’s not what it’s called.

The Haunting of Hill House – Eerie, creepy, and very much haunting, this book has one of those first chapters that drags you in and immerses you into its world almost effortlessly.

I Am Legend – The tension builds so quickly in this book’s first chapter it’s almost tangible. I felt frozen and stiff with anxiety, and I couldn’t have put the book down if I tried. World building at its best.

Quite Ugly One Morning – I recommend this book a lot, but it’s always with the proviso that if you haven’t laughed by the end of the first chapter, just don’t bother carrying on. This book seriously needs to win some kind of Best First Chapter Ever award. It’s gross, it’s funny, it’s ridiculous—it’s perfect.

Tiny Deaths – So, technically, as a collection, it was the first story, rather than chapter here that had me hooked. But I read that first story because I found the book laying around… it’s the fact I had to go buy my own copy in order to read the rest that cements its place on this list!

What books had you hooked by the end of chapter one? Any by the first page?

Save

Face-Off Friday: Fire

This week, the covers that will be judged and compared all feature fire. It didn’t take me long to decide on a book; Firestarter by Stephen King was an easy and apt choice. There were so many covers to choose from! I limited myself to 8, with only one English language edition. They all, obviously, feature fire. Let’s take a look at them…


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first is (apparently) the kindle cover, and I’ll admit i picked this because it immediately caught my eye and was my favourite of the English language covers. Bold colour, negative space, art. I love this one, straight off the bat.

The second is a German cover, and while i like the painful/angry hand gesture and the overlying flames, it’s in a cringy way. Overall, i have to say i’m not a fan.

Number three is a Hungarian cover, which i actually really like. For me it wasn’t obvious what i was seeing at first. It feels arty, and i like the colours. The fact that it’s then Charlie, the main character, and a unique looking fire make it stand out nicely for me.

Four is a Portuguese cover that i’m trying not to laugh at. Is this a book about fire ghosts haunting burning buildings? Because that’s what i would guess, looking at this cover!

The fifth is a Danish cover, and while i don’t hate it, it feels like a safe cover; a style that doesn’t stand out or offend. It’s average.

Number six is another good one. It’s a Spanish cover and it has negative space, an awesome font, a fire explosion that stands out brilliantly against the black. Another contender here.

Seven is a Czech cover, and this is another i love for the cheesiness. The literal hothead, the pink title that looks like it was made using Word. I love it, but i also hate it.

And the eighth is a Swedish cover, and a possibly surprising potential. I like the font and the wonk it’s on. I like the simple teddy bear on fire, and all that innocence/danger implies. Yeah, quite like this one.

Results? Although i really like the third, sixth, and eighth, that first one hits all my most favourite cover penchants so spot on. It’s another one i’d frame!

What do you think of this selection of covers? Which is your fave? I won’t laugh (to your face) if it’s one of the cheesy-cringy ones 😉

TTT: Quotes 2016/17

I’ve done a couple of quote-themed TTTs, but the last one was in 2015. I figured I should do an updated 2016/17 one. Because I do love a good quote. So here are my 10 favourite quotes from books i’ve read in the last two years.

Some tell it that ‘sorry’ is the hardest word, but for me it has always been ‘help’.

Mark Lawrence – Emperor of Thorns

Nothing in the media provides pleasure as reliably as books do—if you like reading.
And a good many people do. Not a majority, but a steady minority.
And readers recognize their pleasure as different from that of simply being entertained. Viewing is often totally passive, reading is always an act. Once you’ve pressed the On button, TV goes on and on and on… you don’t have to do anything but sit and stare. But you have to give a book your attention. You bring it alive. Unlike the other media, a book is silent. It won’t lull you with surging music or deafen you with screeching laugh tracks or fire gunshots in your living room. You can hear it only in your head. A book won’t move your eyes for you like TV or a movie does. It won’t move your mind unless you give it your mind, or your heart unless you put your heart in it. It won’t do the work for you. To read a good novel well is to follow it, to act it, to feel it, to become it—everything short of writing it, in fact. Reading is a collaboration, an act of participation. No wonder not everybody is up to it.

Ursula Le Guin – Staying Awake While We Read

In general I can tell those who haven’t suffered trauma from those who have just by looking at them. It’s marked on their foreheads and it shows in their eyes. The ones who saw something unbearable and continued living anyway.

Monica Byrne – The Girl in the Road

If you prick me, do I not bleed? If you wrong me, shall I not fuck your shit right up?

Christopher Brookmyre – Dead Girl Walking

They were the eyes of a person who knew he was as good as dead. When you have that look, you’re not young or old, or black or white, or even a man or a woman. You’re gone from all those things.

Justin Cronin – The Passage

He was a positive force. But only because he chose to be one.

Nnedi Okorafor – Lagoon

“And if, one day,“ she said, really crying now, “you look back and you feel bad for being so angry, if you feel bad for being so angry at me that you couldn’t even speak to me, then you have to know, Conor, you have to know that it was okay. It was okay. That I knew. I know, okay? I know everything you need to tell me without you having to say it out loud. All right?”

Patrick Ness – A Monster Calls

Bill felt panic trying to rise and pushed it back. It went, but not easily. He could feel it back there, a live thing, struggling and twisting, trying to get out.

Stephen King – IT

“I can wait for the galaxy outside to get a little kinder.”

Becky Chambers, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet

By revolution we become more ourselves, not less.

George Orwell – Why I Write

Have you read any good quotable passages or lines lately? Share them in the comments!

Friday Face-Off: Knife

This week’s cover comparison theme is knives, and i decided to go for some clear knife-themed covers by choosing The Knife of Never Letting Go. I haven’t actually read this book yet, and the cover i own does not feature a knife. But those facts aren’t going to stop me.

Here are the covers, which all link back to their respective goodreads pages.

       

The first two are both English language editions, and i like them well enough–simple artwork, negative space, interesting font. They’re the simple easy choice; there’s nothing i dislike about them, but they don’t grab my attention, either.

The third one is a Turkish cover. I like the shape, with the knife and the kid and the dog, and i like the negative space. But i don’t like the colours or the patterns. What could have been quite striking is, i think, lost in those too-bold colours and strange patterns.

The fourth one is an Italian cover… and it really suits that, i think. I like the black/white/touch-of-red colour scheme here, and the negative space that creates. It’s simply and bold without being too much or too little.

The fifth is a French cover, and i like a lot about this. The shadow as the blade of the knife, the blocking, shady font, and the negative space that fills most of the cover. I love it all, except the colour. Which is a shame, as it’s the main thing about this one!

The sixth one is a Romanian cover. This one took a little while for me to process, as it’s a bit busy. But i like the lines and broken patterns. The colours are an odd choice, but after the garish reds in other covers, it’s a welcome difference. The white font is also a notable difference, standing out nicely against the pink.

The seventh is a Swedish cover. I like the font, but otherwise almost nothing appeals to me here. It seems like a silhouette photo of the knife, with an vague out-of-focus background. The black and brown colour choices are a bit dreary here too.

The eigth cover is Chinese, and again, i don’t favour the abundance of red personally. I don’t hate the knife and the face within it, but it isn’t what i am usually drawn to.

Of the covers here, I have to say the pink and blue Romanian one is my surprise favourite. It’s striking and different and interesting. I quite love it. However, i’m going to throw a little spanner in the works, and add a bonus cover. It didn’t make the cut above because it doesn’t have a knife on the cover, but for my tastes it is a perfect cover. It’s a Russian cover, and the artwork, the font, the colours, the negative space are all spot on… this cover is amazing.

What do you think? Which cover do you prefer and why? It’s okay if you love all the red–someone has to.

TTT: Books I’m Not Sure I’ll Read

A while back I did TTT about books I know I’ll never read, but there are also a lot of books I’m not sure if I want to read or not. These are books that have piqued my interest in some way, but for one reason or another I still have reservations about. Some of them I even own a copy of, but still can’t commit myself to reading…

Catch 22
This one has been on my radar for as long as I can remember. In my head it’s in the same league as Nineteen-Eighty Four, and I want to read it, but just can’t decide if I’ll actually enjoy it. I think it’s the wartime setting putting me off the most. I just don’t know!

Fates and Furies
I’ll be honest, it’s the cover that drew my attention to this book—it’s gorgeous. The synopsis is more troublesome. It sounds like it could be a really interesting character-driven novel, but I’m not the biggest fan of books focused around characters over plot. It also sounds very relationship-focused, which again is not normally my cup of tea. Do I really want to take a chance on a book that’s nothing like I’d normally read for a beautiful cover?

1Q84
This one sounds interesting, but I’ve not looked into it deeply or read any reviews, and its length is a tad intimidating. I think this one will remain on the ‘maybe’ list until I hear something about it that pulls at my interest a little more.

We Are the Ants
Again, a book I love the cover of. Again, a book I’m not sure I like the synopsis of. It sounds… weird. But like, a weird that could be amazing or a weird that could be cheesy and just bad. There’s nothing there that’s telling me to take a chance on it, yet.

Moby Dick
Another classic. I do love classics, but this one I can’t commit to, and I’m not even sure why. I guess I don’t really know much about it. A dude and a whale, right? But what’s the story there? Maybe I’ll never find out…

Black-Eyed Susan
I often love the general premise of these popular thriller novels, and love the twists and turns in any book. But I’m also wary of the more popular thrillers. I enjoyed Gone Girl and Girl on the Train well enough, but they fell shy of being amazing books for me. This might be a book I’ll eventually pick up when I want a quick and easy, but twist and turny read.

Final Girls
This one caught my attention because I love horror films and studied them at university, so the idea of the “final girl” is not a new one to me. My hesitancy is similar to the book above, in terms of hype and mediocrity, but also it not being what I’d want it to be. As a horror/slasher fan, I’d want a book centred around the concept of the ‘final girl’ to be filled with references and nods to the genre while turning the trope on its head a little… I greatly fear I wouldn’t find that.

Riddley Walker
This book sounds fascinating, but also intimidating. The unique writing/language style is apparently important to the book and the character, and finding out why and what it’s all about is hugely intriguing. At the same time, I worry I wouldn’t be able to hack reading it for long enough!

The Humans
I had this one on my radar and it was recommended to me, but still I’m not sure. The premise sounds interesting enough, but the book generally strikes me as one of the “average” types of books I’d usually avoid. The kind of book that appeals to people who don’t usually read or don’t read a lot. The kind of people who just want a light book to read while on holiday. And that’s just… not the kind of book I like.

Short Fuses
I bought this one from a charity shop on whim, simply because it’s book of short stories and I love short story collections. But. But I know absolutely nothing about this book. It’s from a collective known as The Book Shed (or just The Shed, I’m not entirely sure), and there aren’t really any reviews of it online. And, if I’m honest, the graffiti-style cover becomes less and less appealing the longer I think about it and don’t read it…

Have you read any of these books? Want to help persuade me into reading (or not reading) one? What books can’t you decide if you want to read or not?

Friday Face-Off: Planet

Another fun and silly weekly meme, because why the hell not? This one is from Books by Proxy, and it involves comparing different covers for a book and picking the most attractive one.

This week’s theme is covers with planets on them. My first thought was A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, but I figure maybe quite a few people will do that one. Instead I thought I’d go much more obscure.

My book is Quest of the Three Worlds by Cordwainer Smith. And here are the—frankly, hideous—covers…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first one is the cover I own. I like the colours and the classic pulp science fiction cover, plus that awesomely cheesy tagline!

The second one I found on Google Books. I’ll come right out with it—I hate this one. It’s too shiny and modern and characterless.

The third one is a Spanish cover. I love the purple. I love the negative space (which is, in this case, actual space). I love the font. I love the stars, the twinkle, the swirls.

The fourth one is a German cover. It’s definitely the most bizarre. I like that it makes me asks a lot of questions (like who is this woman and why is she popping up out of the paving?), but let’s be honest it’s pretty ugly.

It should come as no surprise that the third cover is my favourite (I used the word ‘love’ four times, for goodness sake!). The first one is a close second, if for nothing but the array of colours.

What do you think of these covers? Which is your favourite and why? If it’s the weird German cover I promise I won’t judge you.

Save

Save

Save

Save

TTT: Frame-Worthy Covers

As I have admitted several times before on this blog—i judge books by their covers. I love a gorgeous book cover. I won’t buy a book solely based on its cover (coughanymorecough), but it will entice me to pick it up and find out more about it.

I chose this topic for today’s TTT because when I bought the first book on this list (a mere three weeks ago), I admitted to the guy in the shop, “I love that cover so much, I want to frame it and hang it on my wall.”

My cover love themes are well-established and show themselves strongly here: artwork, limited but bold colours, negative space…. these covers are just gorgeous.

 

 

SeasonsTiny DeathsWeird LiesThe Long Way to a Small Angry Planet

       

 

 

 

 

 

LagoonThe Instrumentality of MankindDeeperWonderbookSoppy

 

 

 

 

 

Any and all John Wyndham covers – I actually do have plans to get a bunch of these printed and framed