Part Two

What I love about Roxane Gay’s essays in Bad Feminist is that it feels like she is exploring imperfections and flaws with each subject matter. As she explores the subject matter, she questions the flaws while giving her argument and opinions. She allows herself to be imperfect while questioning the world around her while embracing that’s it’s OK to be messy. That has allowed me to take the pressure off myself and embrace that I am messy because it’s human to have faults, and our world is imperfect. I am messy, and I am a required taste and honest to a fault and here I am vulnerable and a mess while I write these blog posts right down to my wording and mistakes.

While what I am writing about here are my opinions and thoughts, what I am saying is related to Bad Feminist feeding my brain so not all opinions and thoughts are my own but can be what I have picked up from Roxane Gay.

As a writer, Gay is constantly thinking about “connection and loneliness and community and belonging.” She writes, “so many of us are reaching out, hoping someone out there will grab our hands and remind us we are not as alone as we fear” As a reader, I am always thinking the same. I find myself searching for those stories that connect us as humans so I can understand more and not feel as alone as I do. While seeing and admitting my truths and the truths in this world helps me understand the world better and I feels less alone. Looking for that understanding I seek by reading leads me to want more out of what I am reading. I started to think about how women are portrayed in fiction and how well the themes the author is exploring are represented in fiction. I find myself paying more attention to that and wanting to talk about representations in stories. While I am attempting to read better, I am still going to read what I want to read and continue to read for many different reasons. I might contradict myself, and I am going to be all over the place. Sometimes I am going to care and sometimes I am not. I might get it wrong and have no idea what I am talking about, but I will question things and allow myself be messy and flawed. As always I love to see what others think so please join me by commenting.

I have read a few stories that explore privilege, and I didn’t understand what privilege really meant until I starting reading about racism. Privilege is a theme in stories I feel is often misrepresented.

Gay says “The problem is, cultural critics, talk about privilege with such alarming frequency in such empty ways, we have diluted the word’s meaning. When people wield the word “privilege,” it tends to fall on deaf ears because we hear that word so damn much it has become white noise.”

Gay addresses a bit about privilege in her essay, Peculiar Benefits and talks about what privilege is and her own privileges are.

“Privilege is a right or immunity granted as a peculiar benefit, advantage, or favor. There is racial privilege, gender (and identity) privilege, heterosexual privilege, religious privilege, able bodied privilege, educational privilege, and the list goes on and on. At some point, you have to surrender to the kinds of privilege you hold. Nearly everyone, particularly in the developed world, has something someone else doesn’t, something someone else yearns for.”

The problem with wielding privilege around is that it implies that people with it have it easier than others when really, if you look at yourself, you will find you have an advantage in one way or another over someone else. If you can put food on the table, you have a privilege that someone else might not have. ” to have privilege in one or more areas does not mean you are wholly privileged.” Life is hard for most people, and wealth privilege is not what privilege is all about. So I question when authors represented privilege to money.

Gay also addresses accepting your privileges(advantages). This was something I didn’t understand before I starting feeding my brain by reading better. I would get defenses about my advantages because life has kicked us when we weren’t expecting it. However, my advantages helped us get through that. So it’s ok to acknowledge your privileges because it helps us to understand the world around us. She also mentioned ” self-appointed privilege police,” and I started to question some stories I have read and wonder about authors doing that, or maybe I am being one when I do?

“You need to understand the extent of your privilege, the consequences of your privilege, and remain aware that people who are different from you move through the world and experience the world in ways you might never know anything about.”

The great thing about privilege is we can learn from one and another!!

Well that enough of my rambling for one post and If you have made it this far, thank you so much for reading my post. Do you have any comments? I would love to hear them.

Brenda’s review

The timing on this one is perfect, and surprising when you think about how Emma Donoghue starting writing the story in 2018, and it is so relevant today. It’s startling when you think about how history can repeat itself and leaves you to consider how we can learn from history. The one thing that might not change is the astonishing heroes in times of crisis. The ones of yesterday and we see today! It’s stories like this that focus on the remarkable, selfless heroes that rise above all the ugly, put others first and risk it all to save others and don’t lose their humanity along the way.

Emma Donoghue does not shy away from the ugliness of the 1918 Great Flu as she creates a tense one-room scene here in the “maternity/fever” hospital room in Dublin. She develops a darkly and graphic written story here with the details surrounding the care and procedures with the pregnant women suffering from the deadly flu. She creates unflinching, remarkable women here with Nurse Julia and volunteer Bridie while highlighting not only their courage but stamina with the overwhelming conditions. Women are represented well here as the story explores the lives and bodies of women, and Julia addresses some concerns the patients live under with kindness, compassion yet still showing human feelings of frustrations and anger. Not only is the dark realities explored here, we see hope and survival against all the odds.

I loved the relationship Julia and Bridie developed over such a short time as they bond together over the painful conditions they are dealing with. We see the beauty in the characters through their compassion for each other and selfless determination to do what it takes for the women suffering from the disease.

It’s an empowering story that celebrates our selfless heroes and one that highlights the realities of their world. I highly recommend but with caution to readers who need a more gentle read.

Lindsay’s review

Another fantastic novel by a favourite author of mine.

Relevant and timely. Eye-opening and informative. Outstanding and unforgettable characters!

Dublin, 1918: Julia Power celebrates her thirtieth birthday while working as a nurse in the maternity unit of a hospital overloaded with patients battling a new and deadly strain of influenza. Expectant mother’s who show signs of the Great flu are transferred to Julia’s charge. Her makeshift ward is an old supply closet that fits three beds with very little room to move between patients. Julia is overjoyed when volunteer Bridie Sweeney arrives eager and ready to assist. Julia and Bridie form a quick friendship while working endlessly to tend to their patients.

This was a powerful, extremely relevant and informative story that had me surprised at how very similar this time in our history was to our current world situation battling Covid 19. Our current world pandemic made this novel feel even more real and impactful.

Although extremely atmospheric and relevant to our times, I found the characters to be the heart of this book! I simply adored the main character Julia. I loved her personality, her work ethic, her dedication to her patients and staff. She was a phenomenal lead character. Bridie was just as enjoyable and endearing — the type of character who got right to my heart.

The novel takes place over the span of three days. We get to know the characters in their work environment but their personal lives filter into the story which makes it even more relatable and heart wrenching. There is a lot of birthing detail that could make some readers uncomfortable. The atmosphere is thick — I truly felt as if I was alongside the characters witnessing them assisting their patients and making on-the-spot decisions.

Overall, this was a beautifully written and detailed story that had me fully invested and rooting for the characters. I highly recommend!

Brenda’s review

This is one of those stories that might not be about what you think it is about. I went in thinking this was about climate change and loss of animals due to that, but it’s much more than I expected. The story explores the connection humans have to nature as it explores one of my favourite themes, loneliness, belonging and our need to find a connection. Here we follow Franny’s journey as she searching for a connection, a will to live and something to live for. She finds a connection to the sea, and the birds she is following becomes her family. Through her point of view, she takes us to her troubled past, and I started to see her quest was about more than what it seemed.

While the plot is engaging as we piece together Franny’s past, her demons and what makes her wander, she is guarded, and it was hard to connect to her because of that. I found myself connecting more to her pain, sadness, loneliness, her need to wander, and with the connection she finds to the land.

My son sees trees and plants as healing, and he finds inner when near them. He needs them as much as he needs air. I find anything to do with water quiets the noise in my head. Animals are healing and why we have a strong connection to them. The story gave me a lot to think about how as humans we connect to nature and not only protecting our environment is essential to animals but human health as well.

I enjoyed the dynamics between the crew with broken souls, who, are lost without a connection to their environment and are searching for that emptiness to be filled. Even though they don’t trust Franny, they find comfort with her in that loneliness. I loved the connection they formed through understanding that about each other.

While at times, Franny’s journey felt grim, I could also feel some hope in the words written as Charlotte McConaghy paints us a beautiful story about healing. These characters felt like finding friends who understand the need for nature for inner piece and who would be lost without it. I highly recommend it.

Lindsay’s review

Long hidden family secrets. An old secluded (haunted?) mansion. Unreliable and mysterious characters. Gothic foreboding atmosphere. This book has all the ingredients to satisfy my reading tastes!

Miranda discovers a letter from her estranged twelve-year-old cousin asking for help. Intrigued by her mothers’ dark and secretive past, Miranda starts to dig into her familial background uncovering secrets and long buried stories that make her question her sense of identity.

The writing was excellent! I was completely engrossed from the first to last page and felt as if I were actually there alongside the characters. The thick, eerie atmosphere was palpable and ever-so-enjoyable. The pace and flow were consistently perfect and kept me curious throughout. Miranda was a unique and endearing character who I loved rooting for – I enjoyed following her journey in uncovering her family’s past.

Though there were a few convenient situations that occurred within the pages of this story, they didn’t take away from my love for this novel. The writing, characters, old mansion house, family secrets and foreboding atmosphere were so brilliantly done that I could easily overlook those aspects and stay lost within the story.

This was a phenomenal debut novel and I look forward to reading what this author comes out with next!

Thank you to Edelweiss for the review copy! Thank you to my lovely local library for the loan of the physical copy!

Brenda’s review

Well, well, this one surprised me! A lot is going on here with this one, and I had to think a bit about how to describe this story. I would say it’s a modern gothic psychology thriller, entertaining family drama with a hornet’s nest of secrets and lies and a twist to Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca.

Because I like to make up phrases, I would also call this a surface read. What you read is what you get. I didn’t find much depth layered in here to the story or the characters. It’s an easy, entertaining read with enough suspense and tension to keep me turning the pages to see how it all comes together. I would say there is some of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca brilliantly layered in well (layered might be a stretch)in the story, and that could be a hit or miss for some readers.

I enjoyed the eerie gothic feel to the story however the modern side of the story with Miranda’s character and her fall from social media grace missed that mordern mark for me, and that felt disjointed from the story for me. I found Miranda likable and more a shallow character, and because there wasn’t much depth to her, and I didn’t deleve into her character like a normally do. For me, it was all about the suspense, and I enjoyed her quest to find those secrets and lies hidden in the house of brides.

I enjoyed the easy feel to the story that didn’t require a lot from me, and like Lindsay, it “had all the ingredients to satisfy my reading tastes” and gave that overthinker in me a rest. I highly recommend for an entertaining, light and easy read.

I received a copy from the publisher!

In my attempt to escape that comfortable bubble I live in, I am looking to read better by reading more books that help me understand the world better. In my search to read better I started to add a few book to my must read list and I have created some book chaos for myself and am all over the place with reading them. So I decided to start a new feature on our blog called Reading Better where I keep my thoughts and notes together as I read a book. Please join me in following my journey, or reading with me and/or discussing the book with me by adding your thoughts in the comments.

My first book is Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay starts off by addressing “flawed if not damaging representations of women we’re consuming in music, movies and literature.” Gay gives us some examples of how women have been represented and asks “how do we bring attention to these issues in ways that will actually be heard?” I now find myself paying more attention to how women are represented in books along with so many other things we need to do better with and I am hoping by reading better I can find the books that represent woman well and use my little space here to share them in hopes they will be heard.

In the Introduction Roxane addresses the state of feminism and hits on some of my feeling as to why I was not interesting in being a feminist till now. I instantly connection to her voice and tone of her essays.

“feminism is flawed because it is a movement powered by people and people are inherently flawed. When feminism falls short of our expectations, we decide the problem is with feminism rather with the flawed people who act in the name of the movement.”

“The problem with movements is that, all too often, they are associated only with the most visible figures, the people with the biggest platforms and the loudest provocative voices. But feminism, as of late, is not whatever philosophy is being spouted by the popular media feminist flavor of the week, at least not entirely. Feminism, as of late, has suffered from a certain guilt by association because we conflate feminism with women who advocate as part of their personal brand” “When these figureheads say what we want to hear, we put them on a Feminist Pedestal”

Gay gives us her reasons for disavowing feminism when she was younger and some of her reasons are same as mine for disowning feminism till now. Like Gay, I mostly disavowed because I had no rational understanding of the movement. I was listening to those loud voices and often felt like they used the movement for popularity, or their convenience or to be put on “feminist pedal” Gay says we all don’t have to believe in the same feminism and I agree, so I am finding my feminism by listening to the voices I want to see move us through the world. I am starting with Roxane Gay.

She doesn’t claim to have all the answers, doing what is right or wants to be an example she is trying to support what she believes in, trying to do some good while being herself. She is embracing the label of bad feminist because she is human and messy.

I am embracing the label of bad feminist because I am human, flawed and messy and I want to be myself while I find my feminism.

I will be back with another post with thoughts as I continue through the book.

Are you a “Bad Feminist” or Feminist or thinking about becoming one? Have you read Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay? Any thoughts?

Yipee!!! Anxious People by Fredrik Backman is now available!! Get it today!!! It’s one not to be missed!!!

Brenda’s review

Hot Diggity Dang!! Fredrik Backman never ceases to amaze me and here he amazed, by the way, he took hard painful truths, added some comic relief and create a profound, complicated, enlightening entertaining brilliant story. He has an amazing understanding of what makes us humans and a way with words to create one of the most human stories I have read.

This is a story that you might think you know what it is about, but often stories are not what we think they are about. This story is about a lot of things. It might seem like an unlikely story about idiots and anxious people that at times feels a little over the top but is really a story about something different.

It might be a story about a bank robbery gone wrong that ends with an apartment viewing with idiots who are anxious. Maybe the bank robber is just an idiot or maybe things are just really complicated. Maybe this is a story that explores what is under the surface of what we think we see or know about someone. Maybe this is just an entertaining story or maybe under the layers is a profound story.

Backman creates a diverse group of characters with their differences and slowly reveals the differences and motivations of the characters with each chapter. He explores the kind of truths people hide, the true stories about themselves and he shows us with a little compassion and kindness people slowly start to reveal those truths.

Maybe it’s a story about what it’s like to be human in a world full of idiots who just might be anxious people just trying to survive in a loud world. I highly recommend reading to find out for yourselves what you think this story is about.

This was a Travelling Friends Buddy read and makes for a great group discussion.

Talking about my categories or maybe to myself

I have added this one to the diverse category because the characters are diverse in their differences and experiences and It is a good representation for mental health and suicide.

I received a copy from the publisher on NetGalley!

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