From the Library: Summer Reading Had Me a Blast
This month, we're kicking off our second annual Bitch Library Summer Reading Program in Portland, Oregon. The prize incentives (yes, you win prizes if you read books from our library this summer) certainly help everyone get in the mood for a one-on-one with a good book. I asked around to find out what everyone at Bitch HQ is reading this summer. Here are some of the books that we're currently crossing or looking forward to soon crossing off our lists.
Featured books on our summer reading blanket: Gay Genius edited by Annie Murphy, FAT!SO? : Because You Don't Have to Apologize for Your Size by Marilyn Wann, Intercourse by Andrea Dworkin, Feminism for Real edited by Jessica Yee, Huntress by Malinda Lo, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel, Two or Three Things I Know For Sure by Dorothy Allison, Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume, Feminism Is for Everybody: Passionate Politics by bell hooks
My copy of Eli Clare's Exile & Pride: disability, queerness and liberation has become extremely dog-eared since I picked it up earlier this week. Clare's thoughts on intersecting oppressions are powerful and articulate; you'll find yourself making phone calls to friends so that you can read paragraphs from the book that so effectively explain the problem with single-issue politics. Clare explains the significance of 1990's loggers being pitted against the spotted owl, the impact that the end of the freak show had on disabled people, and the steps that need to be taken to ensure that queer people can lead openly queer lives in rural areas. Exile & Pride was originally published in 1999, but the 2009 edition (published by South End Press) includes additional notes from Clare that honor perspectives and struggles that weren't included in the original edition. Up next is Audre Lorde's Sister Outsider. It's a feminist classics kinda summer, you know?
I heard from my friends at the Pulitzer Committee that Jennifer Egan's A Visit From the Goon Squad—which is about music and time and all sorts of important things—is really great and I've been wanting to read it forever! In fact, I borrowed Bitch staffer Kjerstin's copy an embarrassingly long time ago but am only just now getting around to it. Sorry Kjerstin! I'm going to start reading it tomorrow! After finishing that one, I'm going to be picking up The Big Burn by Timothy Egan. I love historical fiction and I love the Pacific Northwest, so this book about the great fire of 1910 is obviously on my to-read list (the fact that my mother has been imploring me to just read it already for a few months doesn't hurt, either). The subject matter may be a little grim, but I'm looking forward to learning more about "the fire that saved America." I guess both of my upcoming reads are authored by people with the last name Egan. Are there any other books by Egans that I should add to my summer reading list?
Right now I'm about a quarter of the way through Carson McCullers's The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, a novel about a deaf and mute man named John Singer and his interactions with various people in his town after his best friend is sent to an institution. I love how McCullers makes Singer's character so open and accessible to the reader even though he's so mysterious to everyone around him. I can't wait to finish the book, but I also don't want to stop reading it!
I just finished John Waters' Role Models, which is a great summer read. It can be read chapter by chapter and is the right mix of trash and erudition. I also have A Visit from the Goon Squad on my list (chop chop Kelsey!), The Warden, the first in Anthony Trollope's Barsetshire series, and Violet the Pilot to read with my son and daughter.
I'm hoping to find some time to read Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know this summer. I don't have a dog, so I am, as the book's website says, "imagining what it would be like to be able to smell sadness in humans or the passage of time." It's science-y and approachable, a little bit funny but mostly just really interesting stuff about (hu)man's best friend.
I'm about midway through The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities from South End Press. An expanded version of a zine published a few years ago, this volume goes beyond just violence within activist communities. Through interviews, personal essays, and organizational accounts and strategies, this anthology confronts how marginalized communities (such as sex workers, undocumented immigrants, people with disabilities) address their own safety and needs in the face of both intimate and institutional violence. It's a must-read and will definitely be making a huge impact on the future of feminism (read Ms. mag's review here). Bitch blog readers can look forward to a Q&A with the editors soon!
Alright, you're up next. What are you looking forward to reading this summer?
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