“Hunger,” Roxane Gay

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This is, without question, the most anticipated book I’ve discussed on Lit She Wrote. Historically, many of my choices have been books that have already been established in fiction and nonfiction circles. I work in a bookstore, so it takes a lot to get me excited about new release Tuesday, and even more to convince my bank account to buy anything in hardcover.

Roxane Gay has the unique ability to do both. Hunger is a memoir of Gay’s experience having what she calls an unruly body in a world that will show it no mercy. I tore through the first 75 percent of this book rapidly; I could barely put it down. At that point, however, I forced myself to slow down. Why? Because I didn’t want this book, in which I was seeing so much of my own experience, to end. Continue reading

“Neon Soul,” Alexandra Elle

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Young women are finally having their day. With Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur holding firmly to its bestseller position—both in hardcover and paperback—there’s been a renewed interest in poetry, particularly in young adults. As a bookseller and poetry buff, seeing young women coming into the store every day and heading for the poetry section has been gratifying and heartwarming, if I’m honest.

Many ask me for recommendations after finishing Milk and Honey. I have a few standbys (which will be discussed here at some point). Neon Soul, a new release from Alexandra Elle, just shot to the top of my recommendation list.

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A Brief Word

A few days after posting my review of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s latest release, an interview in which she expressed transphobic/trans-exclusionary views came to my attention. While this isn’t entirely surprising-it’s sadly not an uncommon view-the fact remains that it is extremely disappointing, and a reminder that we still have a long way to go.

Any iteration of feminism that delegitimizes the perspective of any woman will in no way be condoned here. If your feminism is not intersectional, I suggest you rethink it.

I admire Adichie’s writing, and her nonfiction works do serve their purposes. In my previous post, I mentioned that she explained her heteronormative hypothetical scenarios by saying that she only wrote that way because it’s the only scenario to which she can personally attest.

I sincerely hope that in the future she able to give the same respect to the trans experience.

“Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions,” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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I have struggled for the past few days to decide what to post about on International Women’s Day. It seems as apropos a day as any to be writing for my feminist book blog, and I have a backlog of books to discuss, but I couldn’t make up my mind.

Luckily, when I arrived at work yesterday morning—an opening shift at a bookstore on New Release Tuesday—the answer was waiting for me on the bestseller table. Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. It ticked a lot of boxes. A book with “feminist” in the title, by a known feminist author, and one short enough to read in a day. I’m choosing to call it an International Women’s Day Eve miracle.

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“Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth,” Warsan Shire

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Well, it’s been a hot minute, hasn’t it? 2016 was weird—personally and universally. Fear not. 2017 is going to be a good year for Lit She Wrote.

My blogging hiatus was primarily consumed with a lengthy (and still ongoing) poetry kick. I found myself wanting to be immersed in the work of primarily modern poets. One poet I’ve wanted to read more of for a long time is Warsan Shire.

Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth was Shire’s first published poetry pamphlet. At just over 30 pages, its intensity is concentrated. The poetry is visceral and deeply intimate. Shire writes holds nothing—if anything—back.

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“We Should All Be Feminists,” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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Absolutely.

I could, in good conscience, end this post here if I wanted to. But I don’t want to. The subject demands and deserves time and thought far beyond its own short length.

We Should All Be Feminists is a short book—or long essay—by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who adapted it from her own TEDx Talk. The book outlines her introduction to feminism and how sexism and misogyny have shaped her life, as well as the lives of countless women.

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“Milk and Honey,” Rupi Kaur

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This is the first time I’ve written about an extremely topical book here. The book has been on the NYT best sellers list for several weeks, and as a bookseller I got to witness it suddenly skyrocketing. Women were coming into the store to request it. Others were reserving copies online. In my time working at the bookstore, I hadn’t seen many poetry books become popular. This one, for a while, was out of stock in our warehouse. So, naturally, when I saw we’d finally gotten a few copies in store, I was quick to buy it for myself. I’m a lover of poetry, particularly modern poetry, and one that was being linked to other feminist poets and authors was sure to appeal to me.

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“Are You My Mother?” Alison Bechdel

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Familial relationships are complicated. There’s no sugarcoating it. A childhood in a tense environment can spell lifelong trauma.

In Are You My Mother?, Alison Bechdel chronicles her relationship with her mother throughout her life. The memoir is framed by the works of psychoanalyst David Winnicott, whose theories on the true and false self and transitional objects Bechdel found particularly relatable.

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“Americanah,” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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Literature is at its best when it moves you. A good novel will elicit an emotional response of some kind. A great novel reaches out and slaps you in the face. It might be depictions of harsh reality, or emotionally charged character behavior. But it nevertheless needs to not only reach you, but also affect you.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie possessed this quality in droves.

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“A Thousand Mornings,” Mary Oliver

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People often shy away from poetry, thinking it’s too complicated, saying that they just don’t get it. Worse: that it’s boring or old. Fair enough. I can’t say it’s for everyone. But, I am a firm believer that any avid reader who decries poetry just hasn’t read the right poems yet.

In Mary Oliver’s A Thousand Mornings, we see the space in which traditional poetic themes are gracefully met by modern sentiments and feelings.

“I go down to the shore in the morning
and depending on the hour the waves
are rolling in or moving out,
and I say, oh, I am miserable,
what shall—
what should I do? And the sea says
in its lovely voice:
Excuse me, I have work to do.”

I Go Down to the Shore, p. 1.

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