Category: nonfiction

Native: Dispatches from an Israeli-Palestinian Life

Book cover: Native by Sayed KashuaAt the end of the first section of Native: Dispatches from an Israeli-Palestinian Life, Sayed Kashua recounts a telephone call he received from a stranger in 2007. As a Palestinian writer living in Jerusalem, Kashua had a platform that not many Palestinians in Israel are afforded: he had a weekly column in Haaretz, Israel’s oldest daily newspaper.

The man on the other end of the line inquired whether Kashua was being censored from writing about politics and current affairs concerning Arabs. Kashua replied that he had the freedom to write anything he pleased. Surprised, the man on the other end replied, “All you write about is how drunk you got, about your wife and all sorts of nonsense…Don’t we have other problems right now, other than your hangovers and your conversation with your wife?”

At this point in the book — about a quarter of the way into the collection — I was wondering the same thing.

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Faves of 2015: Nonfiction

Nonfiction2015

I read about half as much nonfiction as I did fiction in 2015, yet narrowing down this list was hard, much harder than the fiction list was; it could easily have been twice as long. The first three titles were my favorites of 2015; everything after the jump is listed in alphabetical order.

Asking for It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture and What We Can Do about It by Kate Harding

Analyzing things like rape myths, sports culture, and law enforcement’s mishandling of various high-profile rape cases, Kate Harding takes a hard look at different components of contemporary rape culture and what we can do about it. It’s an important book that couldn’t come at a better time.

Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor by Lynda Barry

Barry teaches a class called Writing the Unthinkable, and this book is mostly a collection of her syllabi, lesson plans, and student work. Never has a book sparked so many creative ideas in me. I would give anything to take this class with her!

The Tastemakers: Why We’re Crazy for Cupcakes but Fed Up with Fondue by David Sax

There’s a reason why cupcake shops started popping up all over the place and bacon is king. There’s a reason why words like “superfoods” are probably in your vocabulary. David Sax explains the rise and fall of various food trends, going behind the scenes to talk to the tastemakers themselves. It’s really interesting!

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Read Harder 2016, Feminist-Style

Erm, well this is awkward. I was supposed to post my fave nonfiction reads of 2015 today, but…I forgot to finish that post and I’m about to spend the next 6 hours driving to Austin. I’ll post that list tomorrow. In the meantime, chew on this! I’m bumping it up the schedule just for you!

So. I completed Book Riot’s Read Harder challenge in 2015, and, being a total nerd, figured out my list for 2016 within hours of the categories being posted. This year, feminism is on the list. YAY, right? But as I was figuring out my own list, I kept seeing how many of the books I was considering overlapped with the feminist category. And then I started seeing, via the Goodreads boards and hashtags, what other people were choosing. That’s all part of the fun.

But is it me, or is everyone stuck in a feminist rut? The main titles being bandied about are:

  • We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (good book!)
  • Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay (good book!)
  • Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit (good book!)
  • How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran (PLEASE GOD NO WHYYYYY)

That’s cool (Moran’s book notwithstanding). In the world of feminist publications, those do seem to be the heavy hitters of the past few years, and it’s great that people are seeking them out (Moran’s book notwithstanding). It’s just that there’s a huuuuuuuge world of feminist literature out there. So huge, in fact, that a feminist analysis can be applied to every single category.

Every. Single. Category.

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Modern Romance

Modern RomanceToday’s dating landscape is completely different from that of previous generations’. Heck, it’s even different from my high school years! We are now living in a time where there are more options than ever before. Our grandparents’ generation tended to marry people they grew up with; even in big cities, it wasn’t uncommon for people to marry people from their same neighborhood or apartment building. Previous generations tended to marry and start a family early in life. That was the status quo.

These days, the concept of settling down with one’s high school sweetheart sounds quaint and unlikely (although, for the record, I actually do have a few friends who have been married for a decade+ to the people they were with in high school). Thanks largely to technology, we are inundated with more options than ever before, and whether we’re looking for a one night stand or a long-term relationship, we now have countless resources at our fingertips to facilitate our search for The One. As a society, our values have also changed. A career outside the home was not a possibility for either of my grandmothers. My parents married at twenty-one while they were finishing college and began having children at twenty-four. When I was little, I thought I would wait until twenty-four to get married. (Why twenty-four? No idea.) Now I’m thirty-four, and the idea of getting married now, much less at twenty-four, just makes me go, “LOLOLOL. No.”

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Dear Mr. You

Book cover: Dear Mr. You by Mary-Louise ParkerIn past blog posts, I’ve mentioned that I hate books written in epistolary format. And in each of those posts, I admitted that I enjoyed the epistolary-formatted book in question. I guess it’s time to grudgingly concede that, no, I probably don’t hate epistolary novels (but yes, I still do hate Dear Mr. Henshaw).

For her writing debut, actress Mary-Louise Parker — probably best known for her starring role as Nancy Botwin in Weeds — has released a memoir that’s presented as a series of letters to different men in her life. Her fierce love for her father is a big theme throughout the book, but she acknowledges men both real and symbolic who have nonetheless shaped the person she is. She doesn’t usually name names — the letters are addressed to people such as “Movement Teacher,” “Lifeline,” and “Future Man Who Loves My Daughter” — but whether she’s writing about specific or hypothetical interactions, a startling amount of her own history is revealed.

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