Book 11: You Don’t Have to Like Me by Alida Nugent

Can I just say, I haven’t been this excited for a book in QUITE some time! Nugent has a knack for titles, choosing cover images that wow, and making people laugh. You Don’t Have to Like Me is her second book, and though I haven’t read the first it’s certainly on my list. From what I’ve heard, it’s pretty damn good too.

Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse: One Twentysomething’s (Mostly Failed) Attempts at Adulthood

I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy of this book, and on Valentine’s day I got to pick it up off of the shelf from my local Books A Million (shoutout to my mother for keeping me in books and dark chocolate these days).

I knew I’d picked up the right book when the intro was hilarious (and contained a nice little Hannibal Lector reference). In the first essay, I was pretty pumped at her use of “fuck donut,” as an insult. It just got better from there… I expected more in the first chapter about raising kids with the freedom to choose their gender instead of just teaching girls that they don’t have to be beautiful and removing gender from toy concepts, but I wasn’t entirely disappointed. She comes back to the topic of gender and sex in her chapter on Sex Ed and does a nice job at approaching the concept.

I fell in love with Nugent when she dove into self love; she has the attitude about it that I revel in. I love her unapologetic love of her face, her mention of wearing way more makeup than people advise and NOT CARING what they think. That’s my view of it all, and as an avid lover of all things cosmetic and dramatic, I really enjoyed seeing her mention it in her book. Makeup can be a controversial topic in feminist circles, and Nugent’s advice to do what you like was exactly what I want to see more of. Her bits about buying and loving makeup for herself made me happy.

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Image credit: Amazon.com

Nugent doesn’t spare herself or her readers; she delves into dark moments in her life, discusses her flawed and problematic behavior before feminism, and takes her readers on a walk through her eating disorder. Coincidentally enough, Nugent briefly mentions Beloved, the last book I reviewed. I enjoyed her musical references and the frequent pop-culture references. I’m madly in love with her comment on Robin Thicke. She also commented on the Kardashian/Rose issue, and sides with the author of the next book I’ll be review, I guess she’s just a bad bitch like that!

“They will never buy the cow if they can get the milk for free.
Never once do they consider that I might not want to be bought, and that I am not a cow at all.”
p.141

A few more things; This book cover is amazing; orchids are sexy flowers, it’s not everyday that nature blooms and looks like female genitals. The world is full of phallic symbols dating back to ancient times, so the floral symbolism on this book isn’t lost on me. I love it, and I love Nugent’s title – it’s so true, such an honest way of letting the world know that her main concern isn’t pleasing everyone around her.

Nugent’s blog seems pretty damn awesome, and I’d definitely recommend giving her a follow. Her personality translates well through her posts, and I’d say that her content is what you’d expect from reading her book; hilarious and pointed.

I did have an issue with an instance of implied fat shaming on page 151 (“down his fat throat,”), though I didn’t have much else to critique.

I give this book an 8/10.

You Don’t Have to Like Me: Essays on Growing Up, Speaking Out, and Finding Feminism

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Why I Read Memoirs

I felt compelled to write this piece because I, being a giant nerd, don’t feel that non-fiction gets as much recognition as it should. 

As I previously mentioned in my review for All Gone, I have an affinity for memoirs. When I need advice, especially unbiased advice based on real life experience, I often buy a memoir that deals with similar issues. Advice from a stranger is much easier to handle than advice from a close friend; they aren’t invested in you, they don’t care if they’re pleasing you, and in the case of a memoir it’s certain that they don’t have to worry much about your response.

As a sub genre, memoirs are among the most frequently challenged forms of non-fiction. For one thing, memory isn’t entirely reliable, especially when the writer is referring to events long past. Another reason that they’re so frequently challenged is the fact that many memoirs are written to describe fantastic or irregular lives that don’t translate to be as believable as a more boring, mainstream lifestyle might. Lying, of course, is human nature, so there’s likely hundreds of memoirs that are riddled with created memories and ‘white lies’ that greatly affect the way that readers respond to the text as a whole. Knowing all of these things, seeing multiple memoirs cut down and shifted over to the fiction shelves (and James Frey getting kicked off of Oprah’s book list), and keeping human error in mind helps me to remember to take memoirs with a grain of salt. Everyone lies, often we lie without realizing it, be it a misquote (god only knows how many quotes are slightly different from their original statements in one memoir), or a conflict of opinion. I certainly don’t read a memoir the way that I read a scholarly article, and I wouldn’t recommend it.

Another reason I pick up memoirs is that ever since I was tiny, I’ve wanted to live a life worth writing about. Memoirs are a writer’s way to bare their soul, show us their flaws, and be honest about the things that have happened to them. A flawed character is one thing, but a flawed person is another; we get the chance to see those flaws and understand the many aspects to each person’s personality and behavior from their perspective. I read memoirs because they’re tangible evidence that my life might be on paper someday, held in the hands of another reader who could learn from my many mistakes.

Memoirs are full of regrets and life lessons that someone has learned from. You can literally pick up any memoir and learn something from it, whether it’s what the author intended or not. When I read Khloe Kardashian’s memoir/self-help book Strong Looks Better Naked (reviewed here), I didn’t develop a strong love for the gym, but I did pick up some new healthier eating habits (I’m down 7 pounds so far) and realize that her writing style was very far from what I’d like my creative non-fiction to look like. Reading Russell Brand’s My Bookie Wook several years ago didn’t lead me to reevaluate my propensity for picking up prostitutes (mainly because I don’t have one), but it did show me that public figures are often just as flawed as we are. Celebrity memoirs are one thing, and I appreciate them greatly, but I do lean more in favor of more obscure memoirs like Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, which is part memoir, part writing advice. I adore memoirs from bloggers and various other writers, (ie. Molly Wizenberg’s A Homemade Life).

Another thing that draws me to memoirs is the amount of agency that authors have with format, style, and layout (not that other genres don’t have wiggle room). Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis is written in the form of a graphic novel, though it falls into the memoir category. Many writers include recipes, family photos, and more in their memoirs. The format varies from that of a traditional novel, that of a collection of essays, that of various other mediums, to that of a family album or notebook in some cases. Memoirs have beautiful personalities.

Side note; I cannot babble on and on about memoirs without mentioning Maya Angelou. She will always be one of my favorite authors, and I will forever remember the beautiful spirit of a woman who was willing to be absolutely honest about her flaws to the world. As a public figure, she has left a huge impression on our world, and her most famous autobiography/memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is without a doubt going to remain on the classics list for years to come. My love affair with Angelou’s writing certainly doesn’t end there; my absolute favorite work of hers is Letter to My Daughter, a collection of short essays written to the daughter she never had (basically, to the young women who read her works). I read it during a period in my life where I deeply needed her maternal role, even through print alone. I also adore Gather Together in My Name, which I believe to be excellent in part because she doesn’t leave out her mistakes. She mentions her entanglement with various scenes that she acknowledges as being wrong for her, she mentions her flaws and poor choices with candor. Angelou is a writer who has had a profound effect on my life as a reader, and I am excited to say I have another of her works on my To-Read shelf for this year.

I have shelved Beloved for the time being; I’ll be picking it back up eventually, but for now I’m going to start a new book for Friday’s review. Be well my babes! 

Reading Beloved for Toni Morrison’s 85th Birthday

Toni Morrison turned 85 yesterday (2/18/16), and to celebrate I decided to read Beloved, a novel that I’ve had on my shelf for quite some time. I’d been meaning to read some Morrison for quite a while, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity.

Toni Morrison is a Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winning novelist and professor. Reading up on Morrison, I found out that she grew up in an integrated school and “did not become fully aware of racial divisions until she was in her teens.” Morrison is hailed as an excellent writer on the topic of race especially, so I couldn’t wait to pick up one of her novels and dive headfirst.

I will call them my people,
which were not my people;
and her beloved,
which was not beloved.
Romans 9:25

I’m one for quotes, especially those that come before a book. Morrison quotes the bible on an introductory page of Beloved, which definitely helped set the mood for the novel. You don’t get the sense that whoever was ‘beloved’ will be a character who is free from struggle or complexity. Beloved is certainly not; the spirit that haunts the house is described as sad and occasionally angry. When I was getting into the novel to begin with, the house was extremely active; ranging from a strong aura to violent shaking.

For the sake of avoiding too many spoilers, I’ll limit this review to short chunks of information that will not spoil the entire narrative for you.

The protagonist, Sethe, and her daughter Denver live together in the house. Sethe’s other daughter is Beloved, the spirit that is haunting their home toward the beginning of the book.

Coming into the novel was difficult (not because of the writing, because of the content). Morrison has a knack for portraying emotion through her phrasing, something that I appreciate. My favorite writing is generally intense, and Morrison fits in well by writing a novel that extended the narrative of Margaret Garner, her inspiration for this novel. Garner, being a real person, whose thoughts and feelings Morrison didn’t want to fabricate and associate with her having no way of knowing what Garner actually felt and thought. 

Sethe’s story is  very long and very difficult. Her past is full of unimaginable struggle; from slavery, the loss of her husband, the severe beating from her owner before she ran away, the death of one daughter, and the event of her two sons running away.

Denver’s name sparks some interest, the story of her birth being an interesting one. Born during Sethe’s escape, she is born on a boat with the assistance of a white woman who found a beaten and dehydrated Sethe in a field. Her loneliness is almost tangible from the beginning.

Paul D. is another character that plays a key role in the story; he is the only person left from Sweet Home that Sethe knows of, walking back into her life early on in the story. Out of the men that Sethe could have paired with at Sweet Home, though he isn’t the man she chose, he is a definite comfort. The quick shift that his entrance into Sethe and Denver’s life creates is complex; Sethe and Denver’s relationship becomes tense, and Sethe and Paul D. Both seem comforted yet complacent.

Beloved walks in early on, a character whose name is the same as the single word on Sethe’s deceased daughter’s headstone. Her adoration (or obsession) for Sethe is eerie at first, not even remotely similar to her relationship with Denver. Beloved’s ghost like qualities seem to make  more sense as the novel progresses.

Baby Suggs, Sethe’s mother in law, is deceased for the majority of the novel. Stories about Baby Suggs are littered throughout the novel, and I found myself becoming deeply invested in her character. Suggs was a beautiful woman, holy according to Sethe, who encouraged black folks to love themselves and imagine their own glory. Her life was as difficult, if not more so, than Sethe’s yet she managed to keep that beautiful spirit throughout. “There is no bad luck in the world but whitefolks,” is my favorite Baby Suggs quote by far, and one that stands out by being so powerful (p 105)

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I blame this tiny kitten for my inability to finish this novel in time.

The novel is as complex as Morrison’s introduction lead me to believe, and I enjoy the eerie quality of the characters and their interactions, the constant development of the character backgrounds, and the way that Morrison weaves a tale so complex and so realistic that it enchants the reader. I will admit; I am roughly halfway through with the book, I will be finishing it up this weekend.

So far, this book is definitely full of feminist themes; race, slavery, strong female leads, and more. Morrison is lauded, a recipient of honorary degrees, and definitely a strong writer. I have yet to be disappointed in the slightest.

“Freeing yourself was one thing; claiming ownership of that freed self was another.”
(111-112)

 

Beloved

I give this book a 9/10 thus far, I’ll update y’all on Tuesday.

I recently found a copy of The Bluest Eye while going through a relative’s estate, so I’ll likely be reviewing that some time this year as well.

My next book review will be a memoir/collection of essays that deal with feminism and are supposedly hilarious. Expect that and a concept piece next week!

Have an excellent weekend babes!

Free Downloads from ReadColor

Free Downloads from ReadColor

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I can vouch for both authors being absolutely PHENOMENAL!

I’ve read all three books, each is stunning and the authors truly convey their messages in a wonderful way.

The Kindle app is free, I believe you can also download it through laptops etc. (kindle reader access online from anywhere).

If you’re looking for a numerical rating, I give all three books a 10/10.

I will be posting my regularly scheduled book review late Friday evening; I’m a bit behind on reading, though I can go ahead and tell you it’s a Toni Morrison novel in honor of her 85th birthday (2/18). 

 

10 Reasons to Stop Romanticizing Lolita

TW: PEDOPHILIA/RAPE

Disclaimer: I do not think that Nabokov himself was a pedophile. I do not think that he wrote this book with the intention of romanticizing the situation. I believe that Nabokov’s intention was to write a narrative from the perspective of a true villain/criminal. I am in no way saying that this book shouldn’t be read/sold. Though I think that this narrative is important, I am adamantly against romanticizing the events. I decided to post this concept piece right after Valentine’s Day because of the common misconception that Lolita has anything to do with love. It doesn’t. It is anti-love at best. Expect spoilers.

Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita is an extremely well known book. Some consider it a love story, something that I consider deeply flawed, flawed being a gross understatement. We see and hear quite a few references to Lolita in pop culture. Lana Del Rey’s songs Lolita and Off to the Races both incorporate either lines or concepts from the narrative, Pretty Little Liars uses the book as a clue in season two to explain a character’s alias: Vivian Darkbloom, and the unrelated Lolita style to name a few. A lot of us have heard the introductory sentencing “Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins…” and without proper context those lines might seem romantic. The initial reason that I picked Lolita up as a junior in high school was definitely those opening lines; I wanted to read this great love story I’d heard about vaguely, and I felt compelled to read more classics. I’d like to be honest here; I had no idea I was picking up a narrative written as perspective from the mind of a pedophile, and I was quite shocked at the things I’d heard before

Here are my top ten reasons NOT to romanticize Lolita.

  1. Humbert Humbert is a pedophile.
    He is sexually attracted to children. the ‘nymphets’ that he describes are not women, they are pre-teen girls. Pedophilia, when acted on, is a horrendous thing that traumatizes it’s victims. Humbert acts on his fantasies. Humbert is a child molesting rapist.
  2. Lolita, real name Dolores, is a child.
    Dolores Haze, Lolita herself, is a 12 year old girl. You read that right, she is twelve. Humber meets her when he comes to see a vacant room at her mother’s house and decides to stay because of her.
  3. Humbert manipulates his way into her life.
    After initially situating himself closer to Dolores, Humbert pretends to love Dolores’s mother, eventually marrying her while continuing to obsess over Dolores.
  4. Humbert kidnaps Dolores and lies about her mother’s death.  
    When Dolores’s mother is killed after finding Humbert out and being hit by a car, Humbert goes to pick Dolores up from camp, lying and claiming that her mother is just ill and that they are on the way to visit her. Humbert is her new step-father, and though he knows he shouldn’t, he rushes to pick her up, fearing that she would be sent to live with blood relatives.
  5. Humbert repeatedly rapes Dolores.
    After abducting Dolores, Humbert repeatedly rapes her. The assaults begin in hotel rooms and last through the rest of the novel until she eventually escapes with the help of a man that Humbert does not know.
  6. There’s never a good time to romanticize rape.
    I feel like this should be obvious… If there is a disconnect, say you read Lolita and did not interpret those scenes as rape, keep in mind that Dolores is a child.
  7. We live in a society that is riddled with the hypersexualization of young girls.
    The concept of the nymphet is in and of itself horrifying. It is a term coined to refer to children who a grown man finds sexually attractive. This is not a process that should be condoned in our society, much less romanticized.
  8. Delores’s experiences aren’t romantic, they are traumatic.
    I will not begin this concept with “imagine being a twelve year old rape victim, forced to live with your rapist,” because, fortunately I cannot imagine that sort of hell. There’s no way that someone who wasn’t in that situation could, but I feel comfortable assuming that it was incredibly traumatic and ruinous. To even begin to consider that sort of situation positive is poisonous. Humbert’s obsession with Dolores (it was not love, potentially infatuation) is not some sort of supreme love. There is absolutely no reason to label that as a relationship goal, a life goal, etc. Do not misconstrue his abuse as love, it is not love, it is abuse.Do not misconstrue the repeated rapes as sex, there is no way to have consentual sex with a twelve year old, NONE.
  9. Nabokov’s intention was likely not to romanticize this situation.
    Nabokov, when interviewed, indicates that Humbert was not written as a lovable or morally good character. Thought that interview deals with more than just Lolita, it’s worth reading to gain some more context on his writings and intentions. There are other examples of how the concept of the nymphet has been misunderstood in society listed in the article as well.
  10. Validating and romanticizing the rape of a child contributes to rape culture, victim blaming, and self-blame for victims.
    Again, I feel that I shouldn’t have to explain this. Rape-culture is a concept that basically boils down to the normalization and occasional romanticization of rape. The protagonist in this narrative is a rapist, he should not be seen as someone who is loving and wonderful, he is someone vile and hate-worthy. The concept of the nymphet being even remotely to blame for her abuse, be it that she was too suggestive in pulling on her sweater or eating a sucker in front of Humbert, is incredibly indicative of rape culture and victim blaming. Blaming a child for the rapes that she endured is not acceptable. Self-blame for victims stems from victim blaming; when society tells a victim that she was to blame, she believes it. She is fragile, she is traumatized, and she should not be told to blame herself. Again: a child is not to blame for their abuse, the only person to blame is their abuser.

As you’ll likely hear me say again (maybe in an upcoming book review on a memoir), I am not (and never will be) here for the romanticizing of Lolita. If you plan on commenting an argument against that go ahead and reconsider. My stance will not change. There’s literally zero chance that I will suddenly decide to condone the repeated rape of a twelve year old, even in a fictional context.

I decided against including a link to purchase Lolita in this post, mainly because I don’t feel 100% comfortable profiting from the sales of it, though I don’t think it should be banned, etc. Again, I would strongly advise against reading it if you’d be triggered by the content.

❤️ Happy Val/Gal/Palentine’s Day! ❤️

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! I’ve decided to make a quick post that explains a few alternative ways to celebrate the day (with your gals or your pals if you’re single or ace, etc!). I’ll be including some literary quotes, some music videos for a few of my favorite related songs, and some random ideas/advice.

❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

If you’re celebrating with a Significant Other:

“To love another person is to see the face of god.”
-Les Miserables

It’s wonderful to be in love. It’s an incredible feeling, one that a lot of people enjoy (some don’t, asexual/aromantic folk you are not alone). I’m one of those people who never seems to find myself involved on Valentine’s day, but if you are, consider spending the day curled up watching movies or netflix, taking a break from the hustle and bustle and enjoying eachother’s company. Dinners at fancy restaurants are great, but you can bet they’ll all be crowded tonight. Why not order a pizza and wear sweats, love doesn’t have to be performative.

(No shame to those going out!)

As far as music goes, I’m definitely one for Alicia Keys; she’s one of my go-to artist for love songs, and of course I can’t leave out two of her biggest hits:

If you’re celebrating with Significant Others:

“Soul meets soul on lovers’ lips.”
-Prometheus Unbound

There’s nothing wrong with polyamory when you’re a part of a healthy, consensual situation. Why not spend some time with everyone, be it today or over the course of a few? Valentine’s Day can probably be fairly hectic for poly folk, and I surely hope that you all enjoy today and others used to celebrate togetherness with your partners.

Picking poly Valentine anthems is something that I am definitely not the best for, but I did think that this song could make a great tongue-in-cheek anthem for your day! (I love her attitude, hopefully this doesn’t translate offensively).

If you’re having a Galentine’s Day:

“She is a friend of mind. She gather me, man. The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order. It’s good, you know, when you got a woman who is a friend of your mind.”
-Beloved

Amy Poehler isn’t my absolute favorite, but I adore the concept of Galentine’s Day; loosely translated it’s a day spent with girl friends.

There’s something to say about having excellent friends. I have the strongest network of lady friends in Kennesaw (I recently graduated from KSU), and I miss them constantly. If I hadn’t moved I’m sure I’d be spending tonight Netflixing with a bottle of wine (and pizza) on Sierra’s couch with Jessica, Carina, and Carlynn. Last year we celebrated early with a YES!body event (hosted by my committee) that dealt with self-love, body positivity, interpersonal violence prevention, masturbation, and safe sex. You know you’ve got awesome friends when you can all hang out in onesies talking about how we can further smash the heteronormative, transphobic, capitalist, racist, patriarchal society in which we live.
If you’re having a Galentine’s day with friends, blare girl power music. Play it loud. Sing and dance along. I’ve linked Beyonce’s Who Run the World because it’s like girl-power concentrate, and Nicki Minaj’s Anaconda because it’s carefree and upbeat (remember, I’m all about sex positivity, so of course I vibe to Nicki and Bey, not girl hate or slut-shaming).


If you’re having a Palentine’s Day:

“‘Why did you do all this for me?’ he asked. ‘I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.’ ‘You have been my friend,’ replied Charlotte ‘That in itself is a tremendous thing.’”
-Charlotte’s Web

I was scrolling through the Valentine’s Day tag on Tumblr this morning when I stumbled upon a post that talked about how Galentine’s Day wasn’t inclusive for non-binary folk, and I of course agreed. Palentine’s Day leaves room for non-binary, guy, or girl friends to all hang out and have a good time celebrating their friendships.

Some friend-tunes I’ve found are as follows! The RHCP song isn’t exactly bright and sunshiney but it’s a solid friendship anthem for those who deal with depression (me). Ignore Kanye’s horrible misogyny and enjoy Clique for the beat and theme. I’ve thrown in my fave John Legend song because it’s excellent for long-time friends or family.



If you’re having a V-Day Me Day:

“I am so beautiful, sometimes people weep when they see me. And it has nothing to do with what I look like really, it is just that I gave myself the power to say that I am beautiful, and if I could do that, maybe there is hope for them too. And the great divide between the beautiful and the ugly will cease to be. Because we are all what we choose.”
―Margaret Cho

Self-love is a constant struggle for me, but on the days where it is my main focus, I often find myself feeling incredibly happy. As Margaret Cho’s quote states, we have the power to be strong and beautiful no matter our appearance (who honestly cares about appearance over everything else anyway?).

Let’s not forget folks on the ace spectrum; y’all can definitely enjoy this day with friends or loved ones in your own way, or by yourself. Spoil yourself, spoil those around you, spoil them with love over gifts.

If you’re dedicating today to self-love, I would suggest listening to Florence and the Machine. She’s one of my go-tos for fun music. She writes wildly unique lyrics, and Ceremonials is by far my favorite album of hers. She does write a considerable number of love songs, but she’s multi-dimensional enough that they aren’t ever stereotypical or overwhelming.

HEART SHAPED PIZZAS FOR EVERYONE!

Since they always seem to be a hit, I’ve decided to link some options for ordering or making heart-shaped pizzas! They work fine for any form of celebration, or just for the sake of having a pizza:

Papa John’s Valentine’s Day Special includes a heart-shaped one topping and a big brownie for $15.

Pizza Hut is apparently offering heart-shaped pizzas at select locations, so you’ll need to contact your local Pizza Hut to see if they have them.

If you’re feeling a culinary inclination, you can try one of these recipes: Beet Crust Heart-Shaped Pizza, Pillsbury’s Valentine’s Pizza Recipe, or whichever recipe you use to make pizza from scratch.

❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

I hope you all have a wonderful day, be it with a significant other/others, friends, family, or alone!

Valentine’s Double Book Review

Hello everyone, I’m here with a little bit of housekeeping for starters; I’ve decided to add another post type to my blog – the double book review. These reviews will contain two (or potentially more) books that are somehow related in topic and/or title. This week, I’ll be reviewing two books that deal with ‘sleeping alone.’ Around Valentine’s Day it always seems fitting to include some content that deals with both loneliness/togetherness and fulfillment, and these books proved to have diverse themes and contents.

My Valentine gift to you all is this double review, coming after my regularly scheduled singular review. I wouldn’t expect a ton of double reviews, though I do have a pair of books laid out for my next. I’ll only be doing these for special occasions or when I have an easy week. 

❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

The first book I purchased out of the two, and in turn the first I read this past week was The Art of Sleeping Alone. This memoir, written by Sophie Fontanel, is about her choice to give up sex for a few years.

TW: rape

I was a bit surprised by this book; Fontanel was raped by an older man at the age of thirteen, leaving her with a very skewed perception of sex. She comments on how she often did not vocalize her “no” and “later,” which likely stemmed from her first “no” being ignored. Her terminology for having sex was ‘letting herself be caught,’ which, though tragic, is definitely thought-provoking.

When I picked up this book several months back, I was going through a stressful period. During my last semester in college I would habitually dwell on my loneliness, missing the semi-familiar and comforting presence of another person beside me, even in a platonic sense. I was sick of sleeping alone. I came to this memoir looking for advice, expecting a sense of empowerment, and I found it. Fontanel writes of coming to a point where she happily voices what she does and does not want, something that is extremely empowering.

Fontanel’s imagination is beautiful, and following her through her singular existence is both stunning and satisfying. Her wording and style ring similar to an older French film, I frequently found myself thinking that each chapter would serve well being introduced verbally before the action in a film. She writes brief stories (2-3 pages each) in eight chapters. The format was very unique, and I never quite expected the end of a chapter. The stories flowed well, and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to see Fontanel’s experience, as well as seeing how people opened up to her about their sex lives and feelings.

The Art of Sleeping Alone really made me consider how differently everyone views sex. It is a multi-dimensional topic, one that of course cannot be contained within one blog post. The various characters who approach her to discuss their sex lives, their wants, and her strength are all bringing another morsel to the table.

Though I thoroughly enjoyed Fontanel’s language, I had a hard time connecting well with the book. I loved the content, but the short chapters became too quick to keep me drawn in. Her writing was powerful, but each story was so brief that I had a hard time focusing enough at the end of one to be drawn to the next.

The feminist themes in this book are much clearer than I thought they’d be. Fontanel is the definition of a woman who neither needs nor wants a man to feel fulfilled. She takes matters into her own hands, leaving a lover and falling in love with herself throughout the narrative. She takes the good with the bad and ultimately her writing translates as a fairly organic work.

The Art of Sleeping Alone: Why One French Woman Suddenly Gave Up Sex

I give Fontanel’s book a 7/10.

BE MINE
Credit: Meg Vallee Munoz via Facebook

The second book, The Hazards of Sleeping Alone by Elise Juska, is a novel. I’m not one for general fiction, so this was a random choice amongst my frequent nonfiction, poetry, and various literary fiction. It’s referred to as “chick lit” on the cover and on Goodreads, and I find that term both mildly offensive and misogynistic. I’ll have to pick up some better “chick lit” soon to help me cope.

Juska’s protagonist Charlotte is dealing with loneliness, though it is her daughter that drew me into the book initially; Emily is labeled as passionate and opinionated. We meet Charlotte just before her daughter is to visit, and as background we learn that she doesn’t mind her solitude for romantic reasons. Charlotte is basically written as the über uncool mom, divorced from the hip dad that her daughter resonates well with.

Within 25 pages I was thrown off by Charlotte’s character; after she mentions (internally and externally) that she didn’t expect Emily’s boyfriend to be black. She doesn’t continue to protest it, but I feel extremely uncomfortable about her approach. To be quite frank, that exchange left me so uninvested in the book that I couldn’t make myself finish it. I called it quits on page 25. I understand the appeal of a dynamic character who overcomes her racism etc. but I’m really not up for reading that narrative again and again. Mild racism is still racism, and I can’t become invested in a protagonist with that stream of thought.

(Not to imply that Juska herself is racist, I’m assuming she’s quite the opposite, writing on this topic for that reason. If you feel like you’d enjoy the book from what you’ve read so far, you’re more than welcome to read it.)

The Hazards of Sleeping Alone

I don’t feel comfortable providing a rating for this book on a 1-10 scale since I chose not to finish it.

❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

You all can expect a concept/opinion piece on Tuesday, hopefully no one will mind this week’s posts being a bit different from the norm. Keep in mind that double book reviews in the future won’t read quite the same, I almost never feel compelled to put down a book like I did this round.

Next Friday’s review will be on a book whose author’s birthday is Thursday!