11. Why Not Me? (Kaling)

Jul. 23rd, 2017 11:19 am
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This is the second book I've read by Mindy Kaling and yet I still haven't seen The Mindy Project or The Office (US) - must rectify. These essays read like Mindy's confiding in you as a chum, and her anecdotes-as-memoir make it feel as though if you met in real life, you'd totally be besties. Whether it's explaining why Nosferatu is her style icon, or describing Dr Mindy Lahiri as "much less Elizabeth Bennet than she's a combination of Carrie Bradshaw and Eric Cartman" or noting "...the scary thing I have noticed is that some people really feel uncomfortable around women who don't hate themselves. So that's why you need to be a little bit brave", she avoids the usual self deprecation funny women are expected to center their comedy around.

Like Tina Fey's "Bossypants" and Amy Poehler's "Yes Please", I feel really inspired by her success and seriously, I'm totally going to watch The Mindy Project soon!

10. Herland (Gilman)

Jul. 19th, 2017 08:25 pm
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Herland is a turn of the century feminist utopian novel about three rich American dudes who seek out to discover (i.e. subdue and conquer) an isolated nation where there are no men. It's easy to make comparisons to Themyscira - girls are trained to enable them to protect themselves from a non-existent threat, educated to improve their society as well as themselves, and nurtured in a sisterhood whose religion is based on the honor of collective motherhood and ensuring the success of future generations.

Enter the menfolk: Jeff, a drippy romantic who yearns for a woman to protect and idealise, the kind who'd probably burst into tears if the lady of his affection let rip a stank pizza-and-beer fart; Terry, an oily lothario convinced against all evidence that he can vanquish the hotties for his own personal harem; Van, the level-headed sociologist narrator increasingly filled with doubt and guilt as he is educated in the ways of Herland (their term).

The penny drops for Jeff and Van - "We were now well used to seeing women not as females, but as people; people of all sorts, doing every kind of work", but gross Terry playacts his education and manages to ruin it for everyone. What a tool.

Being "of its time", Herland is chock full of gender essentialism and tiresome references to savages (naturally the ladies of Herland are all white). Everything else is very sign me up - big up the vegetarian diet and garments of many pockets! I enjoyed this short book, though it did feel like it ended somewhat abruptly where a "ten years later" style epilogue could have answered some unfinished questions.

9. The Paying Guests (Waters)

Jul. 15th, 2017 05:40 pm
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Frances Wray is a posh but poor former flapper living with her mother in a crumbling Champion Hill manor. With her brothers all killed in the war and her father's passing, Frances and Mrs Wray open their home to "paying guests" (much more genteel than "lodgers") to help pay the bills. Enter boorish Len Barber and his beautiful wife, Lilian. Illicit love blossoms and just when the women make up their minds to run away, tragedy strikes.

This was not the book I was expecting (in a good way!) - the second half kept me gripped with its anxious, urgent, page-turning tension. If you're looking for a hefty period novel, meticulously researched but never too do-you-see?-y, this is a great book to get lost in.

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Jennifer

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