Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Nov/Dec book! Mom & Me & Mom by Maya Angelou

Dear Our Shared Shelf, 

November and December’s book will be Mom & Me & Mom, Maya Angelou’s final work, published a year before her death, in 2013, when she was 85 years old. It was the first book to focus on her mother, Vivian Baxter, who abandoned Angelou when she was a child and it portrays their complicated relationship. The story is about the special connection between mother and child; both women found a way to move on and form a profound and enduring bond of love and support.

Many of you may be familiar with Angelou’s 1969 classic, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, but that was just the first of seven works of autobiography. And, despite the length of time between their publications, some have referred to Mom & Me & Mom as a spiritual sequel to this first book. Angelou revisits episodes and people in her life mentioned in her previous works in a different context and all focused around her relationship with her mother. 

Vivian Baxter cuts a fiercely unapologetic figure, imperfect but admirable, and we discover not just how she had a hand in Angelou’s evolution as a black woman but also in her feminist perspective, her independence and self-awareness, all of which contributed to her unique way of looking at the world and the way she expressed herself on the page. As a result, this is perhaps the greatest window into what shaped Angelou as a writer and poet and a fitting end to a lifetime of amazing works.

This book is one I have read before and is one of my favourites - I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

Emma x 
US: http://amzn.to/2ektR3p
UK: http://amzn.to/2e6Zwtb

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Sept/Oct book! Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide

Dear Our Shared Shelf,

For September & October, I’ve chosen a book that tackles inequality and women’s rights head-on: Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.

Half the Sky depicts, in eye-opening detail, the various cultures and customs that suppress women and gives a voice to those individuals who need to be heard the most. Traversing through Africa and Asia, Kristof and WuDunn introduce us to some incredibly strong women and describe their stories of suffering and survival. Most importantly, the book spotlights how these women were able to stand up and transform their lives and, through their inspiring examples, we learn that the key to enabling change and economic growth is in unleashing women’s potential (the title of the book, after all, comes from the ancient Chinese proverb, “Women hold up half the sky”). Kristof and WuDunn dare us, as readers, to join the cause and Half the Sky shows us how, by doing even a very small amount, we each have the power to change other women’s lives. 

Since its publication in 2009 it has started a global movement (www.halftheskymovement.org). 

Hope you like, 

love,

Emma 

US: http://amzn.to/2aXfXjU
UK: http://amzn.to/2blbKL5


Friday, July 8, 2016

July/August book! Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl

Hi everybody, 

The winner of the poll for July & August’s book is Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl, by Carrie Brownstein!

Thank you for voting and I’m really looking forward to reading this one with you all. 

Love,
Emma 

  

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Announcements: July/August

Dear Our Shared Shelf,

Some announcements!

First, after careful consideration I’ve decided to make books bi-monthly to give people enough time to borrow/buy, read and discuss each book (I hope this gives everyone some extra breathing space. For eager beavers and keen beans I might add a few extra things to look at when a new book is posted. 

Second ! For the first time………….. I want YOU to decide what we read over July/August so I’ve set up a poll. I’ve added some ideas to get you going but I’d love to see your suggestions too if you feel strongly. I can’t wait to see what you all pick!

Love, 

Emma x 

Monday, May 23, 2016

June Book: Persopolis

Dear Our Shared Shelf, 

Our next book will be Persepolis, a graphic novel that serves as the memoir of the author, Marjane Satrapi. It's about a bold and brave young woman and her experiences in 1980s Iran.

Persepolis was first published in French in 2003 and like Art Spiegelman's Maus (which was about the Holocaust and was the first graphic novel to win the Pulitzer Prize) is now widely considered a classic of the graphic novel form. 

Satrapi grew up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution and its aftermath; Persepolis is the story of her childhood. Through Marji's youthful (though not-always-innocent) eyes and mind, we see a turbulent moment in history unfold, and we witness the tremendous impact that local and global events and politics can have on even the most intimate moments of personal lives.  We experience with Marji her day-to-day dreams and struggles, from family strife to wrestling with religious faith and custom.  We're swept up in her parents' anxieties and her grandmother's memories of an utterly different era.  And we get a very real sense of what it was like to be a woman in Iran during this intense time of cultural and political transition. 

As Iran enters another important period of change, with relations re-opening with much of the world, I think this is a particularly good time to pick up Persepolis.  Satrapi's deceptively simple, almost whimsical drawings belie the seriousness and rich complexity of her story--but it’s also very funny too. 

I’m excited to hear what you think.

Love, 
Emma x
 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

May book!! The Argonauts, by Maggie Nelson

Dear OSS,

I've been searching high and low for our next book. The club has been much more international than I had anticipated - and much bigger. I'm really proud of my club members - discussion-wise - you are all hitting it out of the park. I'm having to find books that are accessible, cover multiple perspectives and languages, that are unique and not too well known already... So without further ado... 

Our next book is going to be The Argonauts, by Maggie Nelson. The story is about the author’s relationship with artist Harry Dodge, who is fluidly gendered. It's about their romance, the birth of their son, the death of Harry’s mother and their changing bodies, as Maggie becomes pregnant and Harry undergoes surgery, but it’s also about inclusion and the powers and shortfalls of language. It might require a bit of work but The Argonauts rewards us with an expansive way of considering identity, caretaking, and freedom—along with a liberation from, what Maggie calls, “the demand that anyone live a life that’s all one thing.” I am excited to read this book with you. Maybe it will change the way we think and speak about others and ourselves?

Hope I did you proud,
Em Wats X 
http://amzn.to/1TCoQBh

Thursday, March 24, 2016

April book!! How To Be a Woman, by Caitlin Moran

Dear OSS, 

This month I am choosing a book which I confess I have already read. It is so brilliant though. It deserves to be read more than once. 

Maybe you read Caitlin’s article in my Esquire guest edit this month ("12 Things About Being A Woman That Women Won’t Tell You")… Maybe you’ve seen some of the hype about her new book Moranifesto... Either way, she is an English hero of mine who I think you need to know. On a side note, this book also appears to have been translated into lots of languages and should be reasonably easy to get hold of. 

You’ve probably guessed it by now, April's book (for a little light relief) is ‘How to Be a Woman.’ I read it on a plane from London to New York and I laughed out loud and cried so much I think the whole of my cabin, airline staff included, thought I was losing my mind. (For speedy readers out there, I am also going to read Moranifesto). 

Love, 
Emma xx

http://www.esquire.co.uk/culture/advi...

http://www.amazon.com/How-Be-Woman-Ca...

http://www.amazon.com/Moranifesto-Caitlin...

http://www.caitlinmoran.co.uk 


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Third book!! All About Love: New Visions, by bell hooks

This month's book choice is in honor of bell hooks who interviewed me for Paper magazine this month. Maya Angelou said of bell’s work, “Each offering from bell hooks is a major event, she has so much to give us’. I love hearing from bell, I am pretty excited to start “All About Love: New Visions". It’s been on my list for a while. 

http://www.amazon.com/All-About-Love-...

  

Love,
Emma x


Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Color Purple

Hugs an FYI - the books I am suggesting I haven't read myself. I am learning and reading for the first time with you. I am trying to choose works that cover as much ground as possible and are diverse... I've heard amazing things about this book from a person that I trust... The musical is currently on Broadway (starring Cynthia Erivo, Jennifer Hudson and Danielle Brooks) and a film was made of the book in 1985 by Steven Spielberg. It was Oprah Winfrey’s film debut and introduced Whoopi Goldberg (I love both of these women). I’m excited to read it and maybe do some watching too.

Love,
E xx

Thursday, January 21, 2016

From Gloria Steinem

TEN BOOKS FOR A DESERT ISLAND

If I were marooned on a desert island, I would want a book on edible plants and building a raft, but here are ten I would choose for the pleasure of big and new understandings.

The Mermaid and the Minotaur, Dorothy Dinnerstein In a migratory past when both men and women raised children, men developed empathy, patience, attention to detail, and a sense of the value of life; all qualities now wrongly called “feminine.” Dinnerstein will convince you that men again raising children is the key to world peace.

Exterminate All the Brutes, Sven Lindquist By traveling in Africa while also learning from hundreds of books stored in his computer, Lindquist shows us that racism was invented to justify colonialism. Racism came home to Europe as the holocaust.

Two Thousand Seasons, Ayi Kwei Armah In the communal voice of a storyteller, this great Ghanaian novelist describes Africa before Arab and European invasions and slave-taking. He not only re-defines history, but how history is told.

The Sacred Hoop, Paula Gunn Allen By describing the Americas before Columbus and what is still the biggest genocide in history, she tells us that “the root of oppression is the loss of memory.” Otherwise, we would know that most of what we want in the future was once here. 

Trauma and Recovery, Judith Herman From shell shock in World War I to childhood sexual abuse today, the reality of trauma has been denied. But as this indispensable book makes clear, “Remembering and telling the truth about terrible events are prerequisites both for the restoration of the social order and for the healing of individual victims.” 

At the Dark End of the Street, Danielle McGuire For a decade before Rosa Parks began the Montgomery bus boycott, she had been protesting the rapes at bus stops of black women by white men. This book helps make the female half of the civil rights movement visible.

The Color Purple, Alice Walker Because she makes the invisible visible, and redeems people who seem irredeemable, she makes every reader feel visible and redeemable, too. 

Sex and World Peace, Valerie Hudson et al All the many forms of violence against females have now added up to fewer females on earth than males. Since violence against females is the normalizer of all other forms of violence, this book is vital, from family life to foreign policy.

The Woman Warrior, Maxine Hong Kingston If a Chinese girl living in the back of a laundry in San Francisco can imagine herself as a woman warrior riding down from the hills of China to rescue her people, I can imagine myself off this island.

Dark Matter, Robin Morgan Though I plan to live to 100, this soon-to-be published book of poetry contains my favorite lines:

….It’s sweetness 
that turns leaving sour, joy that makes dying hard.” 

# # #
 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

First Book!! My Life on the Road, By Gloria Steinem

Who has their copy? 
Just put my name, where I bought the book and the date in the front of mine!
I am so excited!
I'm reading it with a pen in hand so I can do some underlining and margin writing.
Time to make a cup of peppermint tea! It's only two weeks until the last week of this month (e.g discussion time)... Got to get reading! 

http://amzn.to/1P0wRuL


Welcome

Feminism is for everyone

Dear Readers, 


As part of my work with UN Women, I have started reading as many books and essays about equality as I can get my hands on. There is so much amazing stuff out there! Funny, inspiring, sad, thought-provoking, empowering! I’ve been discovering so much that, at times, I’ve felt like my head was about to explode… I decided to start a Feminist book club, as I want to share what I’m learning and hear your thoughts too. 

The plan is to select and read a book every month, then discuss the work during the month’s last week (to give everyone time to read it!). I will post some questions/quotes to get things started, but I would love for this to grow into an open discussion with and between you all. Whenever possible I hope to have the author, or another prominent voice on the subject, join the conversation.

If you fancy it, please join up and participate. Everyone is welcome. I would be honoured!

Emma x 

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