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Bibliobitch: The 2010 Amelia Bloomer List

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The Amelia Bloomer Project is an annual book list published by the Feminist Task Force of the American Library Association's Social Responsibilities Round Table that puts out a list every year of recommended reads for young feminists (click here for their blog and past recommended reading lists). Named for the American women's rights advocate Amelia Bloomer, this list is a great resource for feminists of all ages.

And the good news for us feminist bookworms is that they have just released their 2010 list of "recommended feminist literature for birth through 18" and it looks like they've picked some good ones!

Though I personally have only heard of/browsed through a handful of the many choices, here are few titles that caught my eye (synopsis blurbs via Powell's Books):

Because I am Furniture by Thalia Chaltas. "This unflinching debut novel told in verse is about a girl, her family, and the devastating power of silence in an abusive house of horrors."

Rapunzel's Revenge by Shannon, Dean, & Nathan Hale. "Watch as Rapunzel and her amazing hair team up with Jack (of beanstalk fame) to gallop around the wild and western landscape, changing lives, righting wrongs, and bringing joy to every soul they encounter."

Rachel Carson: Fighting Pesticides and Other Chemical Pollutants by Patricia Lantier. "Rachel Carson was a marine writer, biologist, and ecologist whose work inspired millions to take seriously the danger that human activity poses to the environment. She both revealed the wonders of the natural world and exposed the sinister threat to that world posed by DDT and other pesticides."

Sweethearts of rhythm: the story of the greatest all-girl swing band in the world by Marilyn Nelson. "In 20 poems titled after swing tunes, Nelson writes in the voices of the Sweethearts' instruments, now gathered in a New Orleans pawnshop. Connecting music to greater human truths (some dark, some triumphant), the verse strikes nostalgic yet celebratory notes, underscoring how the band's music delivered joy and hope during an era plagued by war and racism."

Women Mathematicians by Padma Venkatraman. (No review available on this one, but it sounds cool!)

The Daring Miss Quimby by Suzanne Ge Whitaker. "In this portrait of Harriet Quimby, an independent daredevil who, in 1911, became the first woman in the U.S. to gain a pilot's license, vibrant watercolors re-create an era when planes 'looked more like bicycles with wings.'"

Don't those books sound like such great reading? It almost makes me want to go back in time and get more of a YA feminist fix (I'll just read them as an adult instead, but you know what I mean). More recommendations from the list can be found at Veronica Arreola's review at Awearness, and for more young feminist reading recommendations, check out this Page Turner post from Ellen Papazian. Do you have any picks from the list you'd like to share? Anything that was left out? Any you thought were duds? Leave your reviews in the comments section!

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Books that weren't on the list

...but I thought were worth mentioning:
A Great and Terrible Beauty trilogy (the titles and book covers look lame and passive, ladies in corsets with the last book titled "The Sweet Far Thing" which made me a bit weary to read them at first) but, as they say, don't judge a book by it's cover (or title) because this is quite the empowering feminist series. It is set in Victorian England with Gemma, the main character, at a ladies boarding school (preparing the sweet, young ladies for social gatherings and husbands) and she longs for something more than sitting as a pretty little object for some man to claim. It turns into fantasy novels- as she discovers a psychological power within her to escape to another world- but even THERE she and her 3 friends get opressed by the magical mens group who don't want the females to have the power of the magic. Struggling for sexual equality on earth and the realms are the confused Gemma, the bullied Ann, the warrior girl Felicity, and the family disgrace (she's epileptic, and heavens forbid if anyone knew, for then how would she marry?) Pippa. It does, guiltily enough, go into the over-ridden lusty strong-tanned-man-untying-her-corset scenes here and there, and they turned my favourite character into a villain- but other than that, the whole trilogy is beautifully written. Now, how can this possibly be a feminist book? Well, I'll tell you, Gemma becomes quite the powerful heroine, but you have to read them to find out how...

This next one isn't so much about female power so much as bending gender roles:
What Happened to Lani Garver is my all-time favourite book. Who is Lani Garver? Neither he nor she, gay nor straight, Lani doesn't like to use labels (but to make nararation easier, when the main charcter asks if Lani is a girl and Lani says "no, not a girl" the writer refers to Lani as "he"). When asked "do you like boys?"
Lani says "I love boys." "Do you like girls?" "I love girls"
Lani comes into Claire's life in her tiny fishermen redneck town, where nobody takes kindly to Lani, insisting he's a freak and a faggot. Claire's "friends" gossip and confuse her over and over, trying to convince everybody against him, but Lani reaches out to Claire and helps her with emotional issues that nobody else would. The major themes, I found, were sexual identity, gender bending, the power and manipulation of gossip and lies, and angels (because the writer somehow refers Lani to an angel, which, meh, it depends on your feelings towards that.) It's a deliscious, emotional, compelling read and I reccomend it to anyone who doesn't want to read another regular Boy Meets Girl tale- for this one is even above a romantic (or even sexual) scene to make the reader interested.

Gemma Doyle Trilogy!

I've read those books since the year they came out. I never thought of them as feminist...but i'm not what you might call a critical reader. ;)