This is another fabulous essay by Rebecca Solnit: The Loneliness of Donald Trump | Literary Hub. That last line is devastating.
Here’s a roundup of great writing found on the Internet in recent days…
- If you are squee-ing over the return of The X-Files like I am: The Nostalgic Science Fiction of The X-Files (Joshua Rothman @ The New Yorker)
- This Is the Hollowed-Out World that Outrage Culture Has Created (Ryan Holiday @ Observer)
- How to Raise a Creative Child. Step One: Back Off (Adam Grant @ New York Times)
- Fighting ‘Erasure’ (Parul Sehgal @ New York Times Magazine)
- The White Man Pathology: Inside the Fandom of Sanders and Trump (Stephen Marche @ The Guardian)
- The Case of the Missing Perpetrator (Rebecca Solnit @ Literary Hub)
Here’s a roundup of online reading I’ve been doing lately around issues fo diversity, gender equality, and culture change. Enjoy!
- Why gender equality is good for everyone — a very interesting TED talk by Michael Kimmel.
- Twofer from the New York Times this Sunday — when can women stop looking perfect? (hint: now) and it’s payback time for women.
- A toxic work world, especially for women.
- How Wikipedia is hostile to women.
- All-male panels at conferences–sexist. Hey, it’s math!
- Time is a feminist issue.
- Did you see the new Star Wars movie? What to do when you’re not the hero anymore.
- Shonda Rhimes, normalizing TV.
- A different pinup calendar this year.
- There is no one way to live a happy life.
Happy new year! I have decided that 2016 is the year of not giving a fuck. And yes, there is a book for that.
Here’s a fresh roundup of links for your reading pleasure.
- Those books that we buy and then pile up on our shelves, unread? There is a word for that.
- Rebecca Solnit, again not giving any fucks
- Reading around the world? Challenge accepted.
- So happy to see that SF/F is now regularly reviewed in the New York Times Book Review, and by a black woman author, too! You go, N.K. Jemison.
I like to track my reading in multiple ways, for which I use the various OCD tracking tools on LibraryThing. One way is to track what I read during the year as compared to what others were reading during the same period (here’s the list). It interests me to see what trends emerge.
Here are the most popular books I read last year that multiple others also read:
- Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (also my number-one read of the year)
- Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill
- The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo (possibly the buzziest book of the year, at least in my circles)
- Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer (one of my top 5 of last year)
- Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit
- The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber
- Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie
I can recommend all of these!
Now here’s a selection of what everyone else was reading that I chose not to read, and why:
- The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins: So many people were reading this and talking about it, that I was sure it would be a letdown. Let’s just say that I’ve been burned by uber-popular thrillers in the past.
- All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, which won the Pulitzer and all, yadda yadda yadda. Let’s just say that I couldn’t bear taking on yet another World War II book at this time.
- The Rosie Project by Graeme Simpson, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley, and Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple: As we all know, we shouldn’t judge books by their covers (or titles), but these seem way too cutesy for my tastes.
- The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey: I actually picked this one up and read the first few pages, but I am sooooo tired of zombies. Burned out big time.
Feel free to try to convince me I made a mistake passing any of these up in the comments.
“The list made me think there should be another, with some of the same books, called 80 Books No Woman Should Read, though of course I believe everyone should read anything they want. I just think some books are instructions on why women are dirt or hardly exist at all except as accessories or are inherently evil and empty. Or they’re instructions in the version of masculinity that means being unkind and unaware, that set of values that expands out into violence at home, in war, and by economic means. Let me prove that I’m not a misandrist by starting with Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, because any book Paul Ryan loves that much bears some responsibility for the misery he’s dying to create.”
You may think Men Explain Things to Me, Rebecca Solnit’s short collection of essays (including the one that helped spawn the term “man-splaining”), is necessary reading for women, and you’d be right. But it’s also a great read for all creative types.
When I first started reading these essays, I felt angry. That’s okay; I’m used to feeling angry. What I liked about this collection is that she goes beyond anger, which can lead all too easily to feelings of despair and hopelessness, and provides hope for a brighter future, as well as an impetus that we all keep doing our small part because everyone’s work toward equality is important. “Woolf’s Darkness” was the essay I most highlighted, because it talks about how creative work gets done and ties that into the limitations placed on women, and also because it introduces the idea that the future is dark. We cannot know what will happen in the future or how our actions now might make a difference. We are all spinners in a web, and how those threads come together, we just don’t know, but those threads are all necessary, so we cannot stop our work, whatever it may be. We all make a difference.
Solnit says in this essay:
“To me, the grounds for hope are simply that we don’t know what will happen next, and that the unlikely and the unimaginable transpire quite regularly. And that the unofficial history of the world shows that dedicated individuals and popular movements can shape history and have, though how and when we might win and how long it takes is not predictable.”
“Despair is a form of certainty, certainty that the future will be a lot like the present or will decline from it; despair is a confident memory of the future, in Gonzalez’s resonant phrase. Optimism is similarly confident about what will happen. Both are grounds for not acting. Hope can be the knowledge that we don’t have that memory and that reality doesn’t necessarily match our plans…”
While this essay spoke volumes to me, my favorite essay was “Grandmother Spider,” which begins by showing how women have been erased from family lines and thus from history, and ends by honoring the work of women, all of it, and how it taken together weaves an intricate and beautiful web:
“Every woman who appears wrestles with the forces that would have her disappear. She struggles with the forces that would tell her story for her, or write her out of the story, the genealogy, the rights of man, the rule of law. The ability to tell your own story, in words or images, is already a victory, already a revolt.”
An inspiring collection for all people really.