New Erotica for Feminists – Caitlin Kunkel, Brooke Preston, Fiona Taylor, and Carrie Wittmer

I first saw this book without the tagline: satirical fantasies of love, lust, and equal pay. I just thought it was erotic, feminist stories. I’d quite like to read that book too, but this one is still brilliant. I’m assuming the tagline was added so as not to confuse people like me.

Inside is a collection of feminist fantasies. For example:

He calls me into his office and closes the door . . . to promote me. He promotes me again and again. I am wild with ecstasy.

It’s really funny, although I would have liked to see more longish stories – most are only a few lines long.

You get some slightly extended stories in the historical and literature section. For example, a feminist retelling of Adam and Eve. In this one Eve decides to not bother with eating the apple, because she’d prefer to carry on living her great life, in the Garden of Eden, full of guilt-free sex.

The extra funny thing was when I told a friend about this story he was baffled ‘I’d never associated sex with guilt’. No shit, male friend, no shit.

If you want a book that will make you laugh, and laugh, and then make you hate the world just a little bit more for the fact that these fantasies are just fantasies, this is for you. The last part of the book gets you to take that anger and direct it at changing the world.

This book would be perfect to give as a gift too.  I want to be gifted book like this. 😀

 

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I Am, I Am, I Am – Maggie O’Farrell

A memoir told through seventeen near death experiences. Wow. Some of these stories just floored me. Maggie O’Farrell has had a lot of adventures, and not all of them very much fun. This is a fascinating look at her life, and the way she has chosen to present her memoir is brilliant.

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As much as I want to dissect many of the different stories, I won’t. I don’t want you to read this book already knowing the outcome, or surprises, or the details. It’s a much better experience to take O’Farrell’s hints about things she hasn’t fully told you about yet… and wait for her to get around to that bit.

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The seventeen stories are not ordered chronologically. We are time travelling through O’Farrell’s life and piecing the timeline together ourselves. Each story is named for the body part involved in the near death part of each story. The beginning of each chapter has an accompanying medical illustration, and I loved these. The book title is from The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath:

I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart: I am, I am, I am.

Gorgeous.

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I Am, I Am, I Am is brilliantly moving, unbelievable – yet believable,  jaw dropping, tense, and magical. So much is horrendous, but there are moments of sheer joy. There are true quiet heroes in I Am, I Am, I Am.

I loved how O’Farrell took every near death moment in her stride – though I feared for her recklessness too! Some moments are truly chilling. Come and find me when you’ve read it too, then we can talk about it!

Wild – Cheryl Strayed

I’d already seen the 2014 film made of this book, starring Reese Witherspoon, but knew I wanted to get around to reading the book one day. I loved the film and wanted to read the book to get the full story. I was not disappointed. I loved Wild.  It was as moving and inspirational as I was expecting it to be.

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Strayed’s story is that she lost her mother, and lost her way. She ended up divorced and taking heroin. To hopefully sort herself out she decided to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, alone, for three months. This trail goes from Mexico to Canada. Strayed had been an outdoorsy person all her life, but was never a hiker. And she had a lot to learn very quickly.

What I learned from Wild is that Cheryl Strayed is a badass brave woman. She’s made me want to go on more adventures. To be less afraid. To do stuff. Wild made me weep tears of sadness and joy. It had me on the edge of my sofa with fear for her safety, and envious of the joy she describes at certain parts of the journey.

It’s a great story and it’s also great to read. Strayed’s descriptions of the landscape are beautiful, her writing about her hardships are heartfelt and moving. Absolute top, brilliant, inspirational, motivating read.

Anyone want to come for a hike?

2018 Reading Bingo

I love doing the reading bingo review of my reading this year! I did this last year too. I never read a book thinking of these squares – I just sit down at the end of the year and see if I can get a full house. Happily I’ve just managed it this year – though I got lucky with only having one book for a few categories.

 

 

A book with more than 500 pages. 33503267

Yes! Slayers and Vampires was 528 pages long. I was worried about this one because I saw two books that were around 495 pages!

 

 

 

 

A forgotten classic inwatermelonsugar1

I’m choosing In Watermelon Sugar by Richard Brautigan for this one because I had only heard about it recently. Mostly from The Lovely Eggs song Have You Ever Heard  Digital Accordion? but also they mentioned him on the Bookshambles podcast

 

 

 

A book that became a movie THUG2

I’m picking The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas for this. I haven’t seen the film yet, but I really want to!

 

 

 

 

A book published this year missnightingalesnurses3

Miss Nightingale’s Nurses by Kate Eastham was published this year. It’s a really good book about the origins of nursing as a profession, the Crimean War and Mary Seacole! Kate goes to a book club I’m in, and it really is a great book 😀

 

 

 

A book with a number in the title a-room-of-ones-own

The only books I read this year with a number in the title is A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf. As a back up I did read Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller, which has a number in the title!

 

 

 

 

A book written by someone under thirty 30288282

Chloe Benjamin, who wrote The Immortalists, is 29 according to google! That’ll do for me!

 

 

 

 

 

A book with non-human characters 71nomlj8kcl

Jonathan Livingston Seagull has only seagulls!

 

 

 

 

 

A funny book heartburn3

Heartburn by Nora Ephron had me laughing out loud.

 

 

 

 

 

A book by a female author 9781473652378

I mostly read books by female authors. I find this prompt a bit.. ughh.. because as if this should be a challenge! Annnnnyway, I’m using this one to highlight one of my favourite books of the year: Sight by Jessie Greengrass.

 

 

 

 

A book with a mystery 9781786070609_7

Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi covers this one. The existence of the monster is a mystery, and this is also a great book.

 

 

 

 

 

A book with a one-word title crudo2

Crudo by Olivia Laing. A book I really enjoyed this year that just didn’t make it into my top ten.

 

 

 

 

A book of short stories motherhood1

Motherhood by Helen Simpson – the only collection of short stories I read this year. Phew.

 

 

 

 

FREE SQUARE descentofman1

I’m giving the free square to the best book I read this year on masculinity! So I award it to The Descent of Man by Grayson Perry.

 

 

 

 

A book set on a different continent homegoing3

I can do better than that and choose Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. It is set on North America and Africa.

 

 

 

 

A book of non fiction  TMOAQ2

I had a lot to choose from for this, but have gone with Rebecca Solnit’s The Mother of All Questions: Further Feminisms, because I looooooove Solnit and her writing.

 

 

 

 

The first book by a favourite author 9781408890981

I will have to choose The Pisces for this one because I know I will want to read any other books Melissa Broder writes.

 

 

 

 

A book you heard about online WINLTTWPAR6

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge is a book I heard people discussing on twitter and in other book blogs.

 

 

 

 

A best-selling book 31434883-_uy700_ss700_

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman is probably the most popular, best selling book I read this year.

 

 

 

 

A book based on a true story wild1

I have to choose Wild by Cheryl Strayed for this one.  I’ve not yet done my review for it, but it’s a moving story about a very lost woman finding herself by going into the wilderness, alone, for 3 months.

 

 

 

A book at the bottom of your to be read pile everydaysexism

Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates is a book I’ve been meaning to get around to reading since it came out in 2012. There are many more books I’ve been meaning to read for a lot longer… maybe next year!

 

 

 

 

A book your friend loves story6

I’ve chosen Story by Robert McKee for this one because it’s the only book I read this year that was lent to me by a friend, because they loved it.

 

 

 

 

A book that scared you 81oxlxekxxl

Convenience Store Woman, by Sayaka Murata, is the nearest I came to a book that scared me. It left me very unsettled and I feared for what out main character could do after the book ends!

 

 

 

A book that’s more than 10 years old  Image result for albert camus the outsider

I didn’t read any very old books this year. Surprising because I usually try and read a few that I consider proper classics! I did read The Outsider by Albert Camus though, written in 1942.

 

 

 

 

The second book in a series after you

After You by Jojo Moyes, the sequel to Me Before You, and followed by Still Me.

 

 

 

 

 

A book with a blue cover Howtostoptime3

How to Stop Time by Matt Haig has a very blue cover and I actually had a physical copy of it to photograph!

 

 

 

 

BINGO!

Heartburn – Nora Ephron

Funny, but I couldn’t identify with the life of the main character easily. It’s all flying here and commuting by plane, and having important friends. Affairs seem to be no big deal. I really enjoyed it, it’s really funny. I put it in my top fiction reads of the year! But I can’t seem to articulate anything about it! It’s taken me months to write this review, and I almost forgot to review it at all.

Rachel, a cookery writer, finds out her husband is in love with someone else. Rachel is seven months pregnant at the time. Heartburn is semi-autobiographical, a roman-à-clef, because this happened to Ephron. She has turned a completely tragic time in her life into an hilariously funny book. Rachel and her friends discussing how they will now never get into bondage was just ridiculous and so funny.  As is the incident with the pie. I will reveal no more.

I can’t think of much to say about it, other than it is great, but I took some nice pictures of it though because it has the prettiest cover.

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My 2018 Reading in Statistics

I didn’t read as much in 2018 as I did in 2017 but I’m still happy with reading just over a book a week.

How Many Books Did I Read?

55! I’m happy with that. 18 non fiction and 37 fiction.

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The Stats on these Books

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I would be happier with more non fiction, but the balance is ok for this one.

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For the second year in a row, I have read about 2/3 female authors to male. This pleases me, though I would be happy with it going nearer to 50/50.

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This is pathetic from me. I need to consciously sort this out and read more diversely.

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This is also not that great. Heavily weighted to US and British authors. I would like to read more stories from people around the world. I’l endeavour to do this.

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Some surprises in here. One is that I barely read any science books this year. Historical fiction had a boost, as did plain normal fiction.

 

Top Ten Blog Posts of the Year

Ok, four of my top ten are posts I wrote in 2017! I’m just gonna go with it. The stats don’t lie! Click the blog post title to go to the post.
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1. Review of Rebellion Punk Festival 2017. I know, I know, it’s nothing to do with books. I very occasionally write about music. This one just seemed to hit a nerve!

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2. Reservoir 13 – Jon McGregor. Oh dear… the book I really didn’t like. I don’t really go in for scathing reviews, but this book didn’t just not interest me, it actively annoyed me. I didn’t hold back with this review because it’s a hugely popular author and the book was widely loved. I felt my little opinion could be honest for this one.

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3. My Top Non-Fiction Reads of 2018. Ahh this is quite nice because I only wrote it the other day!

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4. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman. No surprises with this one – it has been hugely popular this year.

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5. The Power – Naomi Alderman. Another 2017 post. The Power is an excellent book and quite rightly it should be one of my most viewed posts!

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6. 20 Books of Summer Challenge 2018. I didn’t do so well on this challenge in 2018. I only managed 13 books – though I did read 2/3 of The Iliad. I finished 1 book in the entire of August – oh dear.

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7. Ad Astra: An Illustrated Guide to Leaving the Planet – Dallas Campbell. I only read this last December, so it’s not really surprising it’s made it onto this years top ten posts. It’s an excellent book about space!

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8. Motherhood – Helen Simpson. A beautiful collection of 5 short stories on motherhood.

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9. My Top Fiction Reads of 2018. Really happy this has made it into the top ten. My ten favourite fiction reads of the year.

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10. Jonathan Livingston Seagull – Richard Bach. Gosh you all love reading about when I don’t really like a book!

 

Finally, here’s all the books I read this year. Click the name of the book to go to my review:

Calypso – David Sedaris (Audiobook)

I’m used to Sedaris’ books making me cry, always with laughter before this one. Now I can add tears because of how heartbreaking some of the stories are in Calypso. Here, Sedaris has hilarious stories mixed in with tragedy, most notably when talking about his sister, Tiffany’s, suicide, but they also cover relatives becoming elderly, and the death of his mother, who was an alcoholic.

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A lot of the stories in Calypso are about family. His father is ageing, his sister has committed suicide, he reminisces about his mother’s death, but this is not a depressing book. Of course it isn’t, Sedaris is hilarious. Most of these more sombre subjects are still dealt dark humour.

I found myself laughing out loud at some of this book – particularly the stories to do with language and observations about strangers and their behaviour. His discussion of creating his own ‘English for business travellers’ is a highlight.

Additionally, parts of Calypso were very moving. His sister’s suicide is so tragic. But he also talks emotionally about the US allowing gay marriage at last. Calypso is a true emotional roller coaster, and you get the feeling you are actually seeing some of the real Sedaris – mostly missing from his other books I’ve read.

It still leaves so many questions though. Did Sedaris really let someone who came to a book signing cut out a benign tumour he had, in order that he could keep it and feed it to his favourite turtle? Did he??

You go on an adventure of emotions with Sedaris, and you come out the other side with a renewed sense of wanting to make life more interesting. He makes you want to explore opportunities and to make the most of what presents itself to you. And he will make you laugh, that’s for sure.