Tamora Pierce is every feminist fantasy fan's favorite, hands down. She writes engaging adventure stories with, for a nice chance, substantive engagement with social justice issues. Born in Pennsylvania in 1954, Pierce started writing her fierce teenage girl warriors when she couldn't find them in the books she read. Thanks to Pierce, millions of readers don't have that problem. I discovered her when I was twelve after a classmate just wouldn't put the Alanna books down. I'm only sorry that I didn't discover them earlier, because the intervening years have been full of fan-ish joy.
Earlier this month, celebrated author Jonathan Franzen finally graced The Oprah Winfrey Show stage, an appearance roughly nine years in the making. Some of you may recall the press that surrounded Winfrey's book club selection of Frazen's novel The Corrections in late 2001. Post-selection, Franzen expressed some discomfort with having a corporate "Oprah Book Club" logo attached to his creation. Oprah, stating she didn't want to make anyone uncomfortable as the reason, canceled Franzen's appearance on her show to promote the selection. It didn't hurt The Corrections sales, but it did blemish the author's personal reputation for a period.
In September of this year, Oprah chose Franzen's new novel, Freedom, as December's book club selection. On December 6, he met Winfrey on the stage. Oprah introduced the segment saying, "…Jonathan Franzen…someone I've been waiting a long time to finally meet." Oprah barely suppresses an eye roll and the audience laughs. "Don't start with me people!"
No matter what you celebrate this time of year, chances are you're going to need to buy a gift for someone, and that's where our "Bitch in a Box" series comes in! Between now and the end of the month, Bitch HQ staff and interns will be taking turns writing themed gift guides designed to please even the scroogiest feminists on your shopping list. Below, my picks for the book lovers in your life, all of which are as lovely to look at as they are to read.
In my recent quest to find quality young adult literature, I ended up sitting down to read several YA books about trans teenagers. Trans teens were hard to find in books while I was growing up, so I was pleased to discover several YA novels written in recent years that present very nuanced and sympathetic portrayals of trans teens.
These books are important. Most trans teens grow up feeling isolated because of widespread transphobia, and their ability to access resources is often limited. But these books can act as makeshift resources, showing trans teens that there are others out there that share their struggles. A couple even include lists of websites and phone numbers for trans teens at the end, presenting options for readers looking to further explore transitioning.
And these books aren't just important for trans teens. These books should be required reading for cisgendered teens and adults, as they tune the cisgendered reader into everyday struggles that trans teens encounter, and they teach the reader just how important it is that we work to eliminate transphobia.
Mmm...books! Autumn and books just seem to go hand in hand. This week's BitchTapes is a mix of musicians celebrating books in their songs or group names. Best enjoyed while stepping on crunchy leaves on the way to your local independent bookstore. Track list after the jump!
Everyone's been talking about Jonathan Franzen's new book, Freedom. While book reviewers raved and readers waited with great anticipation for the August 31st release date, authors Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Weiner both saw all the hype as a platform from which to start asking questions about why books written by women don't get this kind of attention.
Last week, I had the distinct pleasure of attending a lecture given by Mary Roach. Many of you have probably read her books Bonk and Stiff, and thus you know she is a thorough researcher whose tastes run a bit on the weird side. As she put it, she likes to cover topics that combine "history, science, and some gross stuff." The lecture I attended was on her latest book, Packing for Mars, and the subject matter definitely fits the bill. Pooping in space, anyone?
You bookworms out there probably don't need us to tell you about Laura Lippman. You already know that she's an award-winning novelist, best known for her crime stories (which feature awesome female protagonists) and her time as a reporter for the Baltimore Sun. But did you know that she's also a member of the Bitch Media National Advisory Board? And that her latest book, I'd Know You Anywhere comes out today? We sent a few questions to Laura to get the scoop on her new novel and the inspiration behind the awesome women she writes.
Since the end of summer is rapidly approaching, I thought I'd suggest a selection of books on fat acceptance and fat bodies in general for you to finish the season with. Some of these I've read, others I'm in the process of reading. If I have any personal insights on the book I'll share them with you.
Now, let's get to reading. Or at least thinking about reading.
This past spring, Revolutionary Voices, a multicultural queer youth anthology published in 2000, was pulled from the shelves at a Mount Holly, New Jersey high school library. A formal complaint was filed by Beverly Marinelli, a resident of Lumberton, NJ who just happens to belong to a local chapter of Glenn Beck's 9.12 project. Marinelli stated that the book is "pervasively vulgar, obscene, and inappropriate". Following the request to remove the book, a review committee voted to take the book off the shelves at the school library.
Revolutionary Voices, edited by Amy Sonnie, has been described by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) as "the first creative resource by and for queer and questioning youth of every color, class, religion, gender and ability". The anthology is comprised of prose, art, letters, diary entries, and performance pieces.