Hiatus

I hate to do this, but my writing and my studies come first, so don’t expect much up on the blog for a while. I’m still reading and will be giving basic ratings to things on Goodreads if you’d like to follow me there. Other than that, I’ll be keeping a list of what I’m reading and potentially updating this blog when time permits.

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Book 2: Jane and Louisa Will Soon Come Home by Erna Brodber

And so begins my course-readings for Spring semester, 2017! This short book crosses genres of fiction and nonfiction, allowing Brodber to write on her experiences while

I’m reading this and several other books by black women for my literature course, Contemporary Black Women Writers. The course is focused on black girlhood and coming of age, a bildungsroman through the black girlhood lens. I’ll be sure to keep you all updated on the weekly reads as far as complete books go.

Brodber wrote this novel through internal sociological perspective. She’s well respected in her field, and is an excellent writer to boot. This book is unlike anything I’ve ever read, written in vignettes with a timeline that is rarely linear. Nellie, the protagonist, struggles with the trauma that is coming from a culture that has been shattered by imperialism and attempting to rebuild it and find herself.

Brodber’s writing style in this novel is often compared to that of a prose poem, a comparison that I find to be well-founded. Her writing is lyrical, stunning in its unique imagery and style.

I give it a 9/10.

Jane and Louisa Will Soon Come Home

Happy reading,

Scarlett

Book 1: Your Soul is a River by Nikita Gill

I wanted desperately to like this book of poetry. Though I didn’t purchase it, I did have my eye on it enough to enter giveaways on Goodreads, fortunately winning it last year. I was impressed to see something published by Thought Catalog as well, I wasn’t familiar with that aspect of the site until I got Your Soul is a River in the mail.

The book is broken up into eight sections of poetry, beginning with “Cosmos” and ending in “Heal.” Each section of poems had a theme, a concrete theme that was grounded in the poems it held, and I do laud Gill for her continuity.

I felt that overall this collection lacked a good deal in originality. Gill didn’t take the risks she could have in a lot of cases, opting instead to over-explain or attempt to make each poem into a micro lesson. Her style was good enough, but her poetry read as very young.

I do think a younger audience may quite enjoy this collection. As a poet I spend a good deal of my time analyzing what I read and assessing poems to see how they might be improved – Gill’s choice to draw on cliches was the biggest downfall for me, and I do sorely wish I had more positive comments on the work as a whole.

I give the book a 5/10.

Your Soul is a River

Happy reading!
PS: I’ll be a bit absent for a while as I’m having surgery tomorrow and likely won’t get much reading done for a few days. Best to all of you.

Challenges for 2017

Happy New Year friends and fellow readers,

My tentative reading goal for 2017 is 52 books.  I plan to read various genres, as I did in 2016, and to continue to read across multiple medias.

I’ve also decided to challenge myself in a new and interesting way; though I’ll still attempt to read at least 52 books, I’m going to do so while polishing off all of the books I’ve got lined up on my Kindle so far. 

A writing goal I’m working towards is publishing 10 times this year; ideally it’ll be across a few genres and formats – I’d like to publish more poetry for my career’s sake, as well as a couple of pieces of CNF, maybe some fiction, and a few articles. With a publish count of 7 poems this year (though five are through one site), I’m setting the bar high for myself.

I’ll keep today’s post brief for y’all and say goodbye for now.

64 Books in 52 Weeks

This year has been a journey, a long and difficult one. As I worked on my goal of fifty-two books, I documented them in hopes to meet and surpass my challenge. My final book count is 64 with a page count of over 12,000 according to Goodreads.

Here is my full list!

1.Cognitive Behavioral Therapy by Tao Lin

  1. Why Men Love Bitches by Sherry Argov
  2. bone by Yrsa Daley Ward
  3. Zimbabwe by Tapiwa Mugabe
  4. Strong Looks Better Naked by Khloe Kardashian
  5. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
  6. Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver
  7. All Gone by Alex Witchel
  8. The Art of Sleeping Alone by Sophie Fontanel
  9. Beloved by Toni Morrison
  10. You Don’t Have to Like Me by Alida Nugent
  11. How to be a Bad Bitch by Amber Rose
  12. The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
  13. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
  14. Like the Singing Coming Off the Drums by Sonia Sanchez
  15. All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes by Maya Angelou
  16. They Can’t Take That Away From Me by Gail Mazur
  17.  Raising Confident Girls by Elizabeth Hartley-Brewer
  18. Slouching Toward Nirvana by Charles Bukowski
  19. The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver
  20. The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller
  21. Poetry With Teeth by Isabella Brooks
  22. Me, My Hair, and I by Elizabeth Benedict
  23. How I Learned to Drive by Paula Vogel
  24. The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston
  25. Celestial Bodies in Orbit by Eve Littlepage
  26. The Rose that Grew from Concrete by Tupac Shakur
  27. I’m Supposed to Protect You from All This by Nadja Spiegelman
  28. Here be Monsters by Colin Cheney
  29. Ecology of a Cracker Childhood by Janisse Ray
  30. Blackish-Grey by Devyn Springer
  31. Love and the Eye by Laura Newbern
  32. Lunch Poems by Frank O’Hara
  33. The Dogs I Have Kissed by Trista Mateer
  34. The Best American Essays 2015 edited by Ariel Levy
  35. Islam and the Future of Tolerance by Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz
  36. Earth by Cecilia Woloch
  37. Coming Clean by Kimberly Rae Miller
  38. Native Guard by Natasha Trethewey
  39. Small Ghost by Trista Mateer
  40. All Night it is Morning by Andy Young
  41. The Chaos of Longing by K. Y. Robinson
  42. Emotional Rescue by Ben Greenman
  43. Rhyme and Rebellion by Harry Whitewolf
  44. Blood Don’t Lie by Aaron Levy
  45. Kinky by Denise Duhamel
  46. The All-American Poem by Matthew Dickman
  47. The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace
  48. Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes
  49. The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan
  50. Stygian by Sean Michael
  51. The Kiss by Kathryn Harrison
  52. Honeybee by Trista Mateer
  53. Faithful by Alice Hoffman
  54. A Book of Luminous Things: An International Anthology of Poetry edited by Czesław Miłosz
  55. The Power of Meaning: Crafting a LIfe that Matters by Emily Esfahani Smith
  56. Fat Like the Sun by Anna Swir, translated by Grazyna Baran and Margaret Marshment
  57. She’s Not Herself by Linda Appleman Shapiro
  58. In-Between Time by Teva Harrison
  59. Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit
  60. Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas by Maya Angelou
  61. Wishin’ and Hopin’ by Wally Lamb
  62. Touchstone Anthology of Contemporary Creative Nonfiction (Since 1970)
    64.Collected Poems (1912-1944) by H.D.

That’s a lot of books and in turn a lot of reading, a lot of learning, and luckily some of it was feminist in nature. I needed this reason to learn; starting off this year as a college graduate was difficult, a lot wasn’t going my way for the first few months, and this challenge gave me something to look forward to. This blog became a driving force, something to work on, and in turn became something that I’m extremely proud of.

Aside from building my reading repertoire, I’ve completed my first semester of graduate school! So far I’ve got a 4.0 GPA and I have seven poems being published sometime soon. I had hoped to write a few articles, though I haven’t given it enough conscious effort to be disappointed in myself. Perhaps that’s a goal for next year…

My post count for the year is 99,

My follower count is 29,

My reading goal for next year is 52 books,

and my happiness level is a 10/10.

Book 46: Kinky by Denise Duhamel

This is a collection of poetry written about and to theoretical Barbies. A friend in the program lent me this book, and I was quite flattered after reading it; the pros to being obnoxiously outspoken continue to outweigh the cons.

I flipped through the book before I was ready to sit down and read it – just among some friends and professors – and stumbled upon what might be the most witty piece in the book; “Native American Barbie,” which is comprised of one line – “There’s only one left.” From that point on I knew I was holding a collection that would address some powerful issues and do so in a very comedic yet honest way.

The social commentary here’s intense – Duhamel touches on gender roles, sexuality, hypersexualization, empowerment, and so much more. It gets trippy – she writes about marriage and incest (“Tragedy” was quite a strong little poem) in very interesting ways. Duhamel also drops in the names of many powerful women (ie. “She preferred glamour to Ginsberg” 55).

The book had a distinctly feminist overtone; Duhamel is clearly challenging beauty standards here, but she’s also commenting on ability, on race, and more. Most frequently, Duhamel focuses on the body of the American woman as a whole; how society asks us to shape it, how we as women are expected to fit the Barbie mold. Her commentary on race, ability, and size make it a very compelling collection of poems while still maintaining a frivolity that is incredibly appealing.

Duhamel writes a good deal on sex here, as well as molestation, objectification, and the ever-shamed menstruation. I admired her constant reflections on bodily autonomy, on the nature of the female (not so trans-inclusive) body. Duhamel also reverses the male gaze in multiple instances, portraying Ken as the object, with Barbie fulfilling the role of the complex and superior being.

The division of the book into four sections (Lipstick, Powder Blush, Mascara, and Eye-Shadow) was interesting. I didn’t really feel like it needed to be split into sections, but that may just be a personal preference. I assume it’s meant to tie-in to Barbie’s made-up face and the societal pressure on women to present themselves, down to the color of their cheeks and eyelids, as perfect beings.

I took a bit of issue with Duhamel’s bits on religion, specifically Buddhism and the Mormon faith, for the simple fact that her poems contained religious stereotypes. Painting all Mormon women as sister wives is inaccurate, as is her use of the image of a fat  Buddha – the fat Buddha that we see so frequently is a more Americanized version of the Buddha, who represents moderation more traditionally. It’s a bit blatant here that Duhamel is a white woman writing on a religion she’s not affiliated with, which is an issue I have with some of her writing on race in earlier sections of the collection. I feel that her intention with “Buddhist Barbie” in relations to fatness were good, though flawed on the whole.

This collection was published in the early 1990’s. It could have been written yesterday and still be on the nose (aside from some slight terminology shifts, which did not detract from the whole).

I give it an 8/10.

Kinky

Happy reading,
Scarlett

Book 35: The Best American Essays (2015) edited by Ariel Levy

This book has a fairly transparent title; it is indeed an anthology of essays from 2015, compiled for quality. They’re all quite good, some better than others. Though it’s certainly not a book I’d have picked up at random, it was a good one!

I was assigned this book for my CNF workshop, and luckily it was quite the pleasant read.Our assignment was broken up over a couple of weeks, so I started it before book 33, but I’ve just now finished it up. If you’re keeping up with me on Goodreads you’ve probably noticed that my currently reading shelf is a mess, and it’ll probably be that way for quite a while!  

I’m a huge fan of nonfiction, as I’ve mentioned here a handful of times, and though I usually go for memoirs I quite enjoyed several of these essays. Topics ranged from childhood, love, marriage and children, life and death, countercultures, near death experiences, and more.

A few of my favorite essays are as follows;
Tiffany Briere’s “Vision”
Meghan Daum’s “Difference Maker”
Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Crooked Ladder”
Margo Jefferson’s “Scene’s from Negroland”
Tim Kreide’s “A Man and His Cat”
David Sedaris’ “Stepping Out”
Zadie Smith’s “Find Your Beach
Cheryl Strayed’s “My Uniform”
Kelly Sundberg’s “It Will Look Like a Sunset”

I enjoyed most of the essays, even a few more than are listed above (some weren’t as public as the NYT, Guernica, etc. articles were, and some I didn’t feel quite as drawn to for various reasons). There were only a handful of essays here that I found to be lackluster, though most of them were probably just not to my taste.

There’s definitely a handful of essays here with feminist themes, but the whole book isn’t centered around it, so don’t get your hopes too high. I thoroughly enjoyed the majority of them, and if you’re into CNF it’s worth the price and time.

The Best American Essays 2015

I give this book a 9/10.

Happy reading,
Scarlett