My Hopes for the Blog

Right now I’m in the middle of reading Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay. This book is a collection of essays on feminism, gender, race, and politics. Knowing my interests, I think that my readership could guess that I would probably be interested in a lot of these essays. I wasn’t really sure what to expect out of the book, but so far it’s been pretty amazing. Gay mixes her vast knowledge of fiction and nonfiction in order to create parallels to society and social norms. So far in the book, she has successfully intertwined literature, film, television, and general pop culture to create a narrative about her experiences in the United States. Even though I haven’t finished the book, and will surely devote a post to reviewing it, it’s made me stop and think about my intentions for this blog and what I want people to get out of it.

When I started blogging I wanted to be really intentional about a couple of things. I want this to be a space where I can write about books in a different kind of way. I want to paint the fictional (and non fiction) books that I read in a specific light focused on human connection and interaction. At the basis of all stories, I think there’s a commentary about our society and how we interact with others. I want to focus on highlighting those ideas and finding what books can teach us, good or bad, about ourselves.

Within this desire, I also realize that people are extremely busy. With the increase of accessibility to the internet, the widespread use of smart phones, and an almost constant inundation of information, I often find myself wanting to gather facts in the quickest amount of time, so I can move on to the next thing. Because of this, I had the idea of making each of my blog posts around 500 words. I’ve found this exercise to be one of the most challenging, yet rewarding parts of blogging so far. Finding the right words to get across my point in the most concise way is helping me become a better communicator. I have to decide what’s really important for a reader to know about this book or topic, and therefore I feel like my writing is really accessible and easier to digest.

After writing my review of Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me, I realized that a lot of my readers might not have context on race relations in the United States. I began created a series of pages under The Issues. On these pages, I hope to link my readers to more resources and information on different salient identities so we can all be better informed and better to each other.

I’m writing this post, because I hope that people who stumble across my blog will feel as though they’re engaging in some valuable dialogue about society. I hope to make connections in a similar manner to Gay, mixing my love of literature and life to bring awareness to certain biases that we may hold. I hope that my readers will challenge me on my thought processes and give me recommendations for ways to expand my world view, because we’re all in it together.

Until Next Time World…

April Wrap Up

Yet another month down, and summer is just around the corner. I’m looking forward to warming days and no students around. This should be the first summer that I really get to relax and rejuvenate…and I am so ready. April is my birth month, and I was hoping to get a lot of good reading down. Although I feel like I had a book in my hand most days, I think I read some pretty serious novels over the course of the month which ultimately did not leave me with a high book total. I should be reading 12 books a month, but if I can get through 10 – I’m a happy camper. And as always, my favorite books of the month are highlighted in red.

  1. White Hunger by Aki Ollikainen
  2. Just One Day by Gayle Forman
  3. Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach
  4. The Four Books by Yan Lianke
  5. Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King
  6. Just One Year by Gayle Forman
  7. The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner
  8. Just One Night by Gayle Forman*
  9. The Vegetarian by Han Kang
  10. The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson
  11. The Heart (or Mend the Living) by Maylis de Kerangal

 

I’m not sure what May has in store for me. I’ve built up quite a TBR pile at my house, which makes my earlier rant about the affordability of buying books seem laughable. After I finish these next two library books, I’m going to start on these pile I’ve accumulated through friends and family.

Until Next Time World…

*You are not a book; you’re basically a short story.

On Being

I recently took the plunge and requested a book for review purposes. I was first altered to The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson from some random clicking around Goodreads, my favorite way to waste time. At the time (and frankly until I wrote this post), I thought the book was already published, but just unattainable to me. Disappointed, I tabled my quest for the book and moved on to other things. As I mentioned in an earlier review, I read Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin about a gender non-conforming teen, Riley, who was struggling to fit in at their high school. I really enjoyed the book and wanted to read more about trans* teens. I was poking around on NetGalley the other day, and I stumbled across The Art of Being Normal again. Needless to say, I requested a copy and dug right into the goodness.

Now that you’ve heard the uninteresting fable about how I actually received the arc, let’s talk about the novel. This novel is written in the alternating point of view of two characters, David and Leo. David is struggling with wanting to identify as female, hiding this from their parents but being open with friends. Leo comes from a dangerous, low income area. They have a twin sister, little sister, and an absentee mother. We know that Leo attends therapy and is transferring to a school in an affluent neighborhood, but that’s all the reader gets from the onset.

At the heart of this novel, and all YA novels, is the story of a couple of teenagers trying to figure out life in the bodies and environments in which they’ve been born. There’s an air of mystery surrounding the book, and particularly Leo’s character, which is revealed almost half way through the book, to no surprise to me given the general topic. There’s also the story of friendship that builds between Leo and David, not organically but by great effort, as a lot of close relationships do. Even though this novel’s focus is on trans* identity, it just doesn’t focus on that, it focuses on how humans live life.

There were a number of things I liked about the book that I think help its approach-ability for someone new to the topic of transitioning or gender identity. One of the first things is David’s lack of knowledge about the topic. There’s a lot of focus on how David feels and how he desperately wants to escape his body, but he’s slightly clueless as to how transitioning actually works. Although he’s done some informal research on the matter and read news articles, the language he uses in the book is sometimes wrong and awkward. I appreciated this, because it helps remind the reader that he is in fact 14. It allows it to be okay to start somewhere on your quest for knowledge; even knowledge that intimately has the ability to affect your happiness.

Another thing that was really great in this book was the environmental development. While at times I think that Williamson could have worked harder at developing Leo and David, particularly David, as characters – their settings were highly developed. It was easy for me to imagine Eden Park high school, Leo’s neighborhood in Cloverdale, and the Tripton-on-Sea inn where they spend a weekend. These environments help give life to the characters, making them feel like people you might one day meet.

Although I have a lot of positive things to say about this book and its content, I ranked it 3 stars. It’s a solidly enjoyable book that’s neither light nor heavy, which is an accomplishment given the topic and some of the events that take place. However, there are parts in the book that are simply boring. Leo is a much more developed character than David, which makes the chapters narrated by David seem to drag on and on. There are also a series of minor characters (David’s two best friends, Leo’s family) that aren’t developed at all and seem to only hold the place for some filler dialogue.

Given all of the legislative nonsense that has been occurring in the United States, this book is an encouraging read that definitely humanizes the trans* experience for people who might not have been exposed to it yet. I’d recommend it for anyone who is curious about this topic.

Until Next Time World…