August, you were lovely. I was out of town a lot and maybe did a bit too much; my body shut down last week and I got a pretty bad cold. In Seattle we kind of go crazy during the summer. There is definitely some weather related FOMO and anxiety; the sun is out so we HAVE TO go outside, we HAVE TO go backpacking and camping and kayaking and swimming and have outdoor picnics and see outdoor movies and BE OUTSIDE ALL THE TIME, or in my case be out of town every weekend. August is the height of this manic behavior because we all know this is the LAST MONTH OF SUMMER. That being said, I am ready for September and for rain and for reasons to stay under blankets and wear my giant grandma sweaters, which is, by the way, what I am wearing while I sit here and type this. Okay, ya, so on to the books.
But first! I have decided to be more disciplined in recording the annotations I make in books, whether they be direct quotes or connections or observations. Now my tumblr page will hold my annotations instead of me attempting to list them here or instead of me forgetting all about them. I started to feel as though my posts were becoming far too quote heavy, mostly because I'm lazy and don't want to explain shit myself. But no more of that! So, yes, quoteables are now on the tumblr. Check em' out.
Book 32/52: An Unspoken Hunger: stories from the field by Terry Tempest Williams
I picked up this little gem of nature writing at one of my favorites bookstores in Seattle, Ophelia's. It is the perfect used book store with cats and rabbits and a spiral staircase and a cool loft. It is also next to a great record store and bakery, so basically the block you want to be stranded on during a zombie apocalypse. Terry Tempest Williams is a must-read author for those interested in nature writing and environmentalism. This was my first book by her and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Quotes here
If this book interests you, you might also like Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard
Book 33/52: Unabrow: misadventures of a late bloomer by Una LaMarche
When I first saw this book I thought I had been spelling unibrow wrong my entire life and then I realized this is a whole "play on words" thing with the authors name. I picked up this books because 1.) I, too, was a unibrow child, and 2.) I was in desperate need for some comic relief. I read some heavy books in July and I needed a break. Unabrow is a comedy style memoir by Una LaMarche, who writes a blog called the "Sassy Curmudgeon." I found this book hilarious and could relate to a lot of her quirks, like solving conflicts through song and dance, but my only criticism is that the author could be a little too self-deprecating. Yet, (ironic) self-deprecation is a huge part of female comedy, so I don't know. Funny books by women are so important and cathartic for me. Female comedians reclaim shit that was taken from them in the best way. So, ya, I suggest you read this if you like Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, Tina Fey, Kristin Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Amy Schumer, Sarah Silverman, aka THE CANON OF FUNNY WOMEN. Quotes here
Book 34/52: H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
H is for Hawk was incredible. Helen Macdonald is a brilliant and prolific writer. In this memoir, the author decides to train a goshawk, one of nature's most viscous predators, after the death of her beloved father. Through training her wild goshawk, named Mabel, the author uncovers the layers of her grief and the core of her own humanity. Read this book. It has been on too many important top ten lists to count and even Obama put it on his summer reading list. The hype is real. And because I can't help myself, here is just one quote:
"The archaeology of grief is not ordered. It is more like earth under a spade, turning up things you had forgotten. Surprising things comes to light: not simply memories, but states of mind, emotions, older ways of seeing the world." More quotes here
If this books interests you, you might also like The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
Book 35/52: Shrill: notes from a loud woman by Lindy West
This book was probably one of the most important books I have read this year. Lindy West, who is a Seattle resident, is a powerhouse journalist, fighting against internet trolls, misogynists, rape culture, and body shamers. As a fat woman, she chronicles what it was like growing up as a "big" girl. West does an exceptional job at describing how our fat shaming/thin obsessed culture permeates the lives of women. As a woman who has never had the female body that supposedly, according to our society, holds the potential for happiness and fulfillment; I found myself yelling war cries in solidarity with this text. This book is a game changer for how we view the bodies of women. It left me thinking, if loving one's body fully, just as it is, is a radical act, then what kind of world are we living in? If loving one's self is radical then hating one's self is the norm. We should start asking why we live in a world where self hate is the status quo and unapologetic women who love their bodies are the revolution.
AND one quote because it is just too important (more quotes here).
"Society’s monomaniacal fixation on female thinness isn’t a distant abstraction, something to be pulled apart by academics in women’s studies classrooms or leveraged for traffic in shallow “body-positive” listicles (“Check Out These 11 Fat Chicks Who You Somehow Still Kind of Want to Bang – No 7 Is Almost Like a Regular Woman!”). It is a constant, pervasive taint that warps every woman’s life. And, by extension, it is in the amniotic fluid of every major cultural shift. Women matter. Women are half of us. When you raise women to believe that we are insignificant, that we are broken, that we are sick, that the only cure is starvation and restraint and smallness; when you pit women against one another, keep us shackled by shame and hunger, obsessing over our flaws, rather than our power and potential; when you leverage all of that to sap our money and our time – that moves the rudder of the world. It steers humanity toward conservatism and walls and the narrow interests of men, and it keeps us adrift in waters where women’s safety and humanity are secondary to men’s pleasure and convenience."
If this books interests you, you should check out the episode Tell Me I'm Fat on This American Life.
So that was August! I'm currently reading The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy and I'm pretty sure I will be haunted by this book forever.