Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A Year of Feminist Reading

Maybe that is what I should have called this year's reading goals. While that isn't all I've read thus far, it does encompass many (7 out of 11) of the books I've read so far. This leads me to the latest one I finished (read it today). So, here's the review.

Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty by Christine Heppermann
4 out of 5 Stars

What I Loved:
The Cover. Seriously, a good cover can just suck you in. And this one is just lovely.
The photos throughout: While some of the photos were strange beyond what I could understand, many made you rethink what you had just read, which had already made you think.
The length. Heppermann didn't try to stretch this out past what she could write well. It was a short book, readable in an hour or two and she didn't use anything as filler, aside from the aforementioned photos.
The style. This is a collection of poetry that is easy to read.
The ending. Without giving anything away, you're left basically where you were in the beginning. Feminism is still struggling, it doesn't resolve.
The poems directly relating to fairy tales.
The author's note in the end. It makes me want to read other literature about the women of fairy tales.

What I didn't Love:
The lack of character development. While I could feel for the women (or girls) as they were, I wanted to feel a deeper connection with someone. Although, that would probably have been a depressing story if it had been all one person's story.
The disconnect. Some of the poems were difficult to connect to the theme and none actually tie together.

Overall, I'd recommend this to someone who likes fairy tale retellings because it provides a fresh look at fairy tales, but also at how young girls are often facing their every day lives.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

How I'm Going To Read More This Year

I read an incredibly relevant article last year about "not enough time to read." Ok, I read multiple articles about this, all found on Book Riot. The one that really hit me the most though was this one from a mom (of twins) who talked about when she read, how and why. This really hit me hard, especially the part about how important it is to keep doing what you love. 

And so I started to think of the hows and whens of my own life for me to read. We have a super unorthodox schedule in our home due to both of us working retail management shifts. These include potentially leaving the house at 8 am or coming home up until 11 pm. The schedule is also different every week so I can't just schedule reading time every Tuesday, or even every other Tuesday. Little Goose also doesn't really have a set schedule, other than a general bedtime and general time she gets up. She naps when she's tired and she eats when she's hungry or when I think she should probably eat again. Maybe when she goes to school there will be more regularity with her, but until I'm out of retail this is how my life works and it's okay with me (for the time being).

Anyway, I still wanted to be able to read so much more this year. And not necessarily more books, but I didn't want to be at the end of the year looking for short books that still “count” as legitimate. (For the record, some of my favorite books have been these short books.) More importantly, I want to be reading more, spending more of my time that I may not realize is being otherwise wasted on what used to be my all time favorite pastime.

So I've worked out a system, kind of. It's based loosely on tips I've read for how to read more, but also on me as a person and my own schedule. This would also not likely work for people who can only read one book at a time, unless you tweaked it, a lot.

My System for Reading Lots of Books
I keep 4 books going at all times. (Sometimes more if I'm honest)
1. An audio book for the car. I don't spend a lot of time in the car at a time, but it is about 15-20 minutes to and from work each way. That in a week means I have about 2 hours of potential listening time just for work, not including time to take Little Goose to and from daycare or any other errands I may have to run (no matter how hard I try to avoid them). I usually keep this as a humor book for a few reasons. a. I'm going to and from work and need to be happy when I get there and want to de-stress when I get back in the car. b. I hate stopping in an awkward spot. Humor books tend to have shorter chapters from what I've found and also have more logical stopping places than a lot of my fiction audio books.
2. An audio book for at home. I have been trying to get myself in the habit of cleaning on a regular basis, and then maybe I'll try working out as well. So for these times, I have a lighter, usually fiction, audio book to listen to. I give myself about 2 hours of solid cleaning time (during a nap or after I drop Little Goose at daycare) and also use the book when I'm just doing basic chores that get done every day or when I'm cooking (on the rare occasion).
3. A book on my Kindle/Kobo for anywhere I go. I've finally figured out how outstanding the Denver Public Library is. So I can get e-books from them! I keep either the Kindle or Kobo (whichever I'm currently reading a book on) with me so that if I get stuck in traffic or have a few minutes between when I get to work/have to go into work or if I decide to take a lunch break, I have my book with me. I also read this at home depending on my mood and how engrossed I am in the book. (You could also use your phone for this one, but reading on my phone is not real reading for me.)
4. A book to read at home. This one is usually shorter and easier to finish or maybe a graphic novel. This is for days when Little Goose takes a lot of naps or when I want to stay up late/get up early to read.

I try to have a “next book” picked out before I finish any of these so that there isn't a standstill for any of them once I finish. And sometimes they cross over, like if I'm in a really good chapter of my home audio book and need to go somewhere, I just take the Zune with me.

The first year I started tracking how much I read (out of sheer curiosity) was 2013. I read 23 books that year. Last year I read 28. This year, it's only February, and I've already read 8. I set my goal for 25 this year, but maybe I could do 30 or 40? I only compete with myself when it comes to reading goals and I only want to make sure I don't lose something I love just because my life is different than it was in high school when all I did was read.  

Sunday, February 8, 2015

An Incredible Young Adult Novel

I almost didn't read this book. That would have been tragic because it turns out it's an incredible story. Before I started to read Wildlife, I sent out a silent wish to the universe, saying “Give me something I can't put down, something that sucks me in and doesn't let me go.” Then I picked up this book because I had it from the library and hadn't started it and had no expectations.
Usually, a book gets 50 pages to grip me hard enough and for me to make a decision about whether I'll finish it. This time, I made it 5 pages in and thought, “I'm not going to read this...” Then I got to page 7. This story is told from multiple perspectives (add one point!) and handles each of them so very well (add another point!). I really thought this would turn out to be “just another teen book” even though I'd read it on a Book Riot list of top feminist teen novels. It was so much more than what I expected.
I haven't read “Six Impossible Things” since it hasn't been released in the US yet, but I don't feel like I missed anything by not reading it before this one.

So here's what I loved:
This is not a love story. There is a romance, like in almost every YA book, but this story is not focused on that. This is a book about teenage girls' relationships with each other, both the good and the bad.

This was an incredibly believable book. I love some good paranormal YA every now and again, but when I read a realistic book, I want it to be that: realistic.

There was no teenage anst. Teenage drama, yes. But not crying in my room over a boy I talked to that one time and why doesn't he love me kind of junk.

There are strong feminist characters. And there are hidden, subtle lessons about how to become a strong feminist female in your own life.

The ending. It was perfect.

What I didn't love:

… I honestly can't think of anything. And I always try really hard to give both the pros and the cons of books so that people can weigh them to make an informed decision. I would recommend this one to anyone, though. Anyone who loves teen literature, or even coming of age stories that are perhaps not necessarily directed toward teens. Because that's what this book is, it's learning who your friends are, but more importantly, it's struggling with who you are and who you want to become. And it's beautiful.