In 2016, I read the first and second book in the ‘Spinster Club’ Trilogy. You can read my review of Am I Normal Yet? here. After thoroughly enjoying them both, I just knew What’s A Girl Gotta Do? would be good.
This book follows the final ‘spinster’ Lottie as she decides to set up a feminist social project, called Vagilante, to call out every bit of sexism she witnesses. The decision was made after she realised the reality of everyday sexism and how it was affecting her life and the lives of those around her. Lottie’s journey through her project certainly isn’t simple, especially not when she’s facing the normal pressure of a 17 year old girl. Has Lottie bitten off more than she can chew? Especially with increasing amounts ofcoursework, revision and university applications.
There’s laughter, tears and, like the previous novels, a rather large quantity of cheesy snacks. Holly Bourne’s portrayal of Lottie is honest and raw. She has many dimensions to her personality, just like every teenage girl does. She’s cocky and confident one minute, she’s anxious and afraid the next. As the novel progresses, her voice and character shine through. Despite, it being fiction, it feels very real and it was very easy to connect with Lottie and her friends as they tried to do what they believed was right.
It was such an easy read. The words practically rolled off the page and it was an incredibly difficult book to put down. The aim of the book, Holly Bourne said herself, was to highlight the need for feminism and to encourage girls (and anyone really) to stand up for themselves and each other. It’s hard not to be inspired by Bourne’s stories and characters in that way. I, for one, am very much inspired.
One of my reading goals for 2017 is to read more journalism. Find my reading goals here.
Here are the things I’ve been reading this past week:
National Geographic. Gender Revolution.
This was a really fascinating read. A whole magazine on the topic of gender and sexuality, something I think is very important to talk about. There were articles about FGM and sexual violence, worldwide gender inequality, what it means to be a boy or girl for nine year olds across the world, the rise in acceptance of the gender nonbinary and what the future holds for gender.
The Huffington Post. MPs Vote Against Compulsory Sex and Relationships Education for Schoolchildren
This is something I’ve been passionate about for a while now. I found it quite disheartening that it was voted against but there is some hope. Articles like this one and the campaign created by Laura Bates, author of Girl Up, will help raise awareness of the important of good sex and relationships education in schools.
Refinery 29. If Ryan Gosling’s Speech Was Sexist, What Isn’t?
Whilst no one has to agree fully with the points raised by the writer of this article (I certainly don’t), it’s definitely an interesting one to read. It relates to the ongoing issue of whether a woman should put her career on hold to look after a child whilst her male partner continues working as normal. I recommend reading the comments of this article for a more detailed and balanced debate.
This article written by Louise O’Neill, author of Only Ever Yours and Asking For It, and discusses whether the protests and public displays of anger in things millennials believe in actually make it worse instead of better. Is it better to be the generation who safely do nothing or the generation who are vocal but attract attention for the trolls in the process? Definitely worth a read. Expect some deep thinking afterwards though!
This was certainly a good choice to kick off my 2017 reading. I’ve been a fan of Neil Gaiman since I first read Coraline as a child. The fantastical elements Gaiman is able to weave into our own world blew me away then and still blows me away now. Since then, I have read 5 of his novels and now one of his short story collections. Until this point, I had not read many short stories. I liked the idea of it – testing the very limits of descriptive language by condensing whole tales and worlds into as few words as possible – so I decided it was a style of writing I must try to read.
Trigger Warning is Gaiman’s latest collection of short stories and contains pieces he has written over a number of years and two previously unseen stories. The last story in the collection is an American Gods sequel and follows the main character, Shadow Moon, on one of his many journeys after the events of the novel (I read American Gods over 2 years ago and very much enjoyed it).
Each story varies in length and style. Some are structured like poems and one is even in the style of an interview questionnaire. I really enjoyed the variety in the collection. Not one story felt the same as another which meant it was refreshing and exciting from start to finish. In the introduction, Neil Gaiman explains that, whilst most collections are linked by an idea or theme, this one wasn’t. He believes this helps the reader experience stories they ‘would have otherwise never read’.
Shortly after finishing this book, I went out and bought two more of his short story collections. I am looking forward to reading them very much. I also feel my eyes have been opened to the potential wonders of short stories as a genre of writing, something I hope to explore further in the future.
Happy New Year! For last week…
It has been a while since I have posted on this blog but that is about to change. I don’t usually set myself new years resolutions – I think they are often too ambitious and can set yourself up for failure – but this year, I will set myself some reading goals. By reading goals, I don’t mean challenge myself to a certain number of books for the year, I just mean give myself ways to make sure I spend more time enjoying reading and really thinking about what I am reading.
I will have lots of set texts to read at university very soon which will mean I’ll have less time for casual reading. Like last year, I still hope to read on the bus and in the evenings when I can so I can still enjoy the books I want to read as well as reading for my degree. This makes my first reading goal of 2017 a continuation of one from 2016. Easy start!
I already read a reasonable range of books, non-fiction and fiction, but I hope to increase the variety as the year goes on. I would like to read more diverse books from authors from around the world. I feel this will improve my cultural awareness and understanding of the world even through fictional works. I would also like to keep reading books around the topic of my degree, English, to better my knowledge and improve my university experience.
Something I’ve learned more recently is that there’s a lot more to reading than just books. Throughout school, teachers nagged us to read more newspaper and magazine articles which I never understood because I used to think studying English was all about books and literature. That was until now. So my final reading goal for 2017 is to read more journalism. Newspaper articles, online opinion pieces, historical journalism and even Twitter. Over the course of the year, I hope to read a wide variety of journalism to better understand the style of writing in a linguistic sense, and to just be more aware of the world around me. I really like the way Emma Gannon lists the articles she has been reading that week on her weekly newsletter and I feel I may adopt a similar style on this blog or simply on Twitter. I hope that over time, I will be able to create strong opinions on some articles, especially the controversial ones, and use this blog to voice them.
I hope these goals will be simple enough for me to keep up with them throughout the year, but challenging enough to make me really think about what I’m reading. I hope that the more I read, the more I’ll write about reading so the more I will post on my blog. Here’s to a good year ahead!