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.

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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?

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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!

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?

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

 

 

 

 

 

TTT: Made Me Think

I love books that make me think, that require engagement, that I get more out of by how much I put into them. The best books for me are books that have depth, or address issues, or just have a lot going on. As much as I enjoy a lighthearted bit of fluff sometimes, I crave more weight, insight, and philosophy in my fiction. Sorry not sorry.

These are just a few of the books I’ve read and enjoyed for how much they’ve made me stop and think, and consider, and figure shit out.

Nineteen Eighty-Four – My first dystopian, all those years ago. I’d never read anything like this before, but on a sunny holiday, after reading and rolling my eyes at the likes of Man and Boy, High Fidelity et al, I devoured this book. It was my gateway fiction.

Day of the Triffids – My first science fiction. There were aspects to this book that horrified me, but thinking about why they were included and what they were saying about the world gripped me.

Days of War, Nights of Love – This is a book designed to challenge the way you think, and the way you think about things—yourself, your job, your life, your outlook. I would make it required reading for everyone. (And oh, look, you can read parts of it right here!)

Crome Yellow – This one was a bizarre read. I could only read it a chapter at a time, because it used my brain so much it left me tired. But it has so much depth—it’s funny and interesting and complex and brilliant.

The Dispossessed – No government vs controlling government plus a parallel timeline culminating in the two most important scenes in juxtaposition… so much to think about!

Breakfast of Champions – Another bizarre one. I think it would be so easy to dismiss most of this book as just bloody weird, but I think that does everyone a disservice. But to say I was sure about the deeper meanings would be a lie. I took more meaningful things from it, at least.

The Female Man – More required reading. Offering the same character in different worlds, and what a difference society makes to a person—a female’s—life. This book had some epic chapters that I want to print and frame and hang on my wall.

The Paper Men – Introspection and psychology. I read so many reviews hating on this book, but I fell head first into it and adored every word.

The Girl in the Road – This one was hard work. Might be worth a re-read in the future because there was so much there. So much symmetry, referencing, and philosophy that was hard to grasp at first. But that’s why it’s on this list!

Why I Write – This book was a feast. The entire time I was reading it I was energised and analysing and just completely pumped. It articulated things I already felt so well, and opened my mind to things I’d not really considered but made so much sense. This book, folks—this book!

What books have made you think? And did you like being made to think?

TTT: Memory Wipe Re-Read

New prompts for Top Ten Tuesday have been put on hiatus, but that’s not going to stop us, right? If anything, it has encouraged me, because it means I can delve into the archive and pick any old theme that takes my fancy!

This week I’ve chosen books I wish I could wipe from my memory and re-read as if it were the first time. These are books that I had a particular kind of love for. A love that had me clutching the book to my chest when I finished it. That kind of love comes from being completely immersed in a book and swept away with the world, the characters, and the story.

These books stayed with me long after I finished them, and I’d love to be able to experience all that again for the first time.

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gold

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

King of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

The Passage by Justin Cronin

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Any and all books by Christopher Brookmyre

What books do you wish you could re-read for the first time? What impromptu or old school Top Ten Tuesday themes are you doing while new ones are off the cards? What Top Ten Tuesday theme should I do next week? Should I ask any more questions?

TTT: Imprint Covers

Today’s topic is a cover-themed freebie. Usually i don’t like freebie weeks; i find it too open and can never narrow down an option. However, when my partner suggested imprint covers, i knew it was the one.

It’s as often an imprint i’m drawn to as it is an author. It’s great to see a book i don’t own or haven’t read by an author i like, but it feels pretty safe. Seeing an imprint i love of an author i haven’t heard of or have never read feels more like an exciting recommendation. I love that these imprints are recognisable in style and general design, while each book still have its own image, theme, or pattern. I love distinctive yet simple imprints–it makes me want to collect them all!

And so, these are the imprint covers/editions that when i catch sight of them in a bookshop, will drawn my attention and have me browsing with interest…

SF Masterworks

 

 

 

 

 

Vintage Classics

 

 

 

 

 

Penguin Modern Classics

 

 

 

 

 

Penguin Classics

 

 

 

 

 

Penguin English Library

 

 

 

 

 

Gollancz 50

 

 

 

 

 

Collins Modern Classics

 

 

 

 

 

Collins Classics

 

 

 

 

 

Dover Thrift Editions

 

 

 

 

 

Faber Modern Classics

 

 

 

 

 

…Turns out i like classics–who knew? (Me. I knew.)

TTT: Deterrents

In the antithesis of last week… ten things that will put me off wanting to read a book.

This ended up being just as hard as the last list, too. Which surprised me, as i usually really enjoy talking about why i don’t like books! Somehow it’s different when it’s about choosing whether to read a book or not. Oh well. On with the list!

Young adult – This won’t automatically put me off a book, but when i find out a book is YA i get a bit more choosy on other criteria. YA tends to be a less-interesting read for me, so unless the story sounds superb, i won’t usually bother.

No female characters – I prefer a little more representation in my books, please. No boys club crap.

Love story focused – If the main plot is about or focused around a romance, i’ll likely pass. I’m just not that into it.

Character-driven – I do, on the odd occasion, enjoy a more character-driven story, but on the whole i prefer a more plot-focused narrative.

Bad writing – Nothing will put me off quicker, actually. Thankfully i haven’t started reading too many badly-written books (i’m looking at you, James Dashner), but snippets i’ve read from books have been bad enough to put me off.

Hype – Again, not something that will instantly have me dismissing a book, but something that will make me more wary. Often times, hype surrounds books that are… mediocre. I’ve read and enjoyed books that were wildly popular but i would still describe as mediocre. I’m just more picky about them when everyone’s singing their praises.

Tacky covers – Covers with a script font, or girls in big dresses. Covers with sullen looking teenagers or an obviously will-they, won’t-they couple. Covers with a close up eye or a popular tourist location. Urgh. No.

Uninspiring synopses – When the description is too vague and doesn’t actually reveal enough about the story to be enticing.

Being compared to another book – If i liked the books it’s being compared to, it’ll never live up to the comparison. If i disliked the book it’s being compared to, why would i want to read it? Just tell me why this book is good!

Hardback – Heavy and large and cumbersome and no, thank you.

I feel like a lot of the things listed here will be things plenty of other people who look for in a book. How do you feel on the matter?

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TTT: Enticements

It’s been a while since my last top ten Tuesday, but i only jump in for topics that spark my interest and imagination, which this week did.

I actually found it quite hard to think of 10 things that make me want to read a book. There are many reasons i might be attracted to a book, but to try to articulate them ended up being trickier than i’d imagined. There’s no one thing that will guarantee my interest–i’ll always have to know more about a book–but the things listed here are what will draw my initial intrigue. These are the things that will entice me to find out more about a book and consider reading it.

Eye-catching cover – Surely this is a given? It’s the most obviously thing to catch a person’s eye. “Oh, that looks nice, what’s that about?”

Post-apocalyptic/dystopian – These settings are my weakness. The details surrounding it are important, but finding out a book is set in a post-apocalyptic and/or dystpoian world will get my eyebrows raised and my attention focused.

A hint at some sort of twist or major plot point omitted from the synopsis – If something is obviously being held back, and it’s revelation feels shocking and interesting enough, i’ll want to know more.

Strong female characters – Because i love them, i need more of them, all the time.

Recommendations – Either from people whose taste or opinion i trust/value, or based on my own opinion of something i’ve read. For example, when i’ve disliked a book and articulated why, people have recommended other books by the same author because they are more like what i might enjoy (and have been!).

Female/POC authors – This is something i’m consciously aiming for. When i come across a book by a female and/or POC author, i give it extra consideration as i actively want to increase the diversity of the books i read.

Author i already love – This list is longer than i think sometimes, but there are authors i love so much i’ll automatically be interested in their books.

Horror/sci-fi cross-genre – These are my two favourite genres, so when a book crosses both, i am suddenly very alert.

Fresh spin on an favourite concept – When a book takes a tried and tested idea and does something new with it, i’m excited to have my expectations challenged.

Short story collections – I loooooove short stories, so when i come across short story collections i get interested very fast!

Do any of these things pique your interest, or are they more likely to put you off?