Sunday, March 13, 2016

Coffee + Blogs No. 25

I haven't put together a Coffee + Blogs post in forever. Which way do I go? Serious, politically-minded, addressing the visceral fear I feel about the current state of our country? Total froth, Shadowhunters and Gilmore Girls, which is my current escape method? Straight Hamilton lyrics all the way, which is a mix of both?

I'm just going to put some stuff out there and when I get too exhausted, go to my Tumblr dash, which is completely comprised of fandom GIFs, fat girl fashion, and YA book aesthetic photo sets. Lovely.

So...this. An All-Caps Explosion Regarding the Liberal Backlash Against Hillary Clinton. I voted for Bernie Sanders in our political primary. But I think this article brings up a really important point about how much harder Clinton is expected to work and how "likable" she has to be in order to be considered relevant. And memes about how uncool she is melt my heart a little every time.

#VeryRealisticYA describes the plot of young adult books if they were happening in real life.  Kody Keplinger: Girl finds out boy from class has been sneaking into her room to "watch her sleep." Is terrified. Presses charges. There's more where that came from in this Buzzfeed round up of some of the tweets from the hashtag.

Kendra James at the Toast writes about her disappointment over Leslie Jones' role in the new Ghostbusters trailer. I am eagerly anticipating the new incarnation of the franchise (Melissa McCarthy!) but I know that a big part of my excitement is that I get to see a plus size actress I love in a role that isn't a Chris Farley impression. I completely recognize James' weariness. 

Gala Darling wrote about Beyonce's video for FORMATION and it's perfect. Bolded emphasis in the quote is mine. "This video was not made for white women like me and that is exactly why it is essential that we watch it. Without seeing music videos and movies made by black artists, without hearing the words spoken by people of colour, and without reading books by people who are different to us, we will never learn about anything except our own — dominant, heteronormative, white — culture. Without being conscious and paying attention, we will never fully grasp the immense privilege afforded to us simply based on the merits of having white skin."

Pictures of the US Presidents as young hotties.  "It’s not easy telling your husband that you’re leaving him for a 163-year-old daguerreotype of Rutherford B. Hayes. So what you’re going to want to do is just leave him a note."  LOL at Clinton's caption. I love you, Obama.

 I recently finished Things No One Tells Fat Girls by Jes Baker, aka The Militant Baker. Jes does amazing work around body acceptance and you should follow her on Instagram immediately. She recently published a list of diverse and body positive books for kids. I've read some of these titles and will be checking the others out soon!

I've been extra busy for the past few months because I've begun contributing on a regular basis to Book Riot. (!!!!!) This is a huge honor, as Book Riot is one of my favorite sites for book news/discussion, and I have been reading it daily for almost a year now. So far I've submitted articles about becoming a book girl, life lessons I learned in the library in the 90s, love triangles, modern takes on fairy tales, and following authors on Twitter. The back channel, where contributors and editors discuss posts, book news, and book recs, has exploded my TBR list and educated the shit out of me. 

Camp NaNoWriMo is coming! Run by the same people who do National Novel Writing Month in November, camp months (April and July) let authors set their own word counts, and you get grouped in cabins with other authors who can motivate you. I was in a great cabin last year where we shared about our real lives, pieces from our works in progress, and in general cheered each other one. If you've ever been curious about NaNoWriMo but are overwhelmed by the commitment of 50K, definitely try a camp month in April! If enough people are interested, I'd love to start a cabin together! Let me know.

Right now I am deep into an obsession with Gilmore Girls (Season Five, Episode 3. I started out getting excited about Rory's love life and now I am OBSESSED with Lorelai's current situation) and am reading too many books. TOO MANY BOOKS. Dietland by Sarai Walker, Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare (!), Fearless 10 by Francine Pascal, Notorious RBG: Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon, Shana Knizhnik  (#beyourownbookclub), Lumberjanes Vol. 2: Friendship to the Max by Noelle Stevenson (and many others), I Woke Up Dead At The Mall by Judy Sheehan, and I just started Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho on audiobook. I am getting a little confused and may to set some of these aside.

I've been spending more time on Tumblr, so make sure to follow me and reblog lovely things for me to heart! I also updated the Books page here at Be Your Own Lady. Anyhow, what are you reading/watching/loving this week? Please share! xo

Monday, March 7, 2016

Be Your Own Book Club February 2016: Kissing in America by Margo Rabb

Kissing in America surprised me in the best way. I picked it because I wanted a book that featured female friendship for February (to help us celebrate Galentine's Day, of course) and because I loved the premise- a girl who loves romance novels travels across the country with her best friend to see the boy of her dreams. It sounded fun.

This is a not a story about fun, romantic love.

It's about every other kind of love. Mother/daughter love, the love you have for someone you've lost, love that's changed, love between best friends, love for travel, and that embarrassing, all-encompassing first love that makes you goofy. Well, kind of idiotic.

This book was important because Eva makes big mistakes, and not everything gets put right at the last minute. I was struck how the really tense moments were centered not on her eventual reunification with Will (who I kept picturing as Dean from Gilmore Girls but I think that's just my current IRL context), but around the rifts that spring up between her and Annie, between her and her mother. The discomfort of visiting Annie's cousin Grace and the awkwardness of balancing the different parts of your life, the different friends you have in different places.

This book was not about kissing. I'm actually relieved. 

Rabb did a beautiful job of creating characters who did things you didn't like without being villains. Larry wasn't an evil guy trying to insert himself into Eva's family...he was a little doofy but generally nice. Real. Irma, his mother, was wrong to rush things along and assume Eva would be excited about a wedding, but she was being kind in her own way. What Eva does to Annie, on the surface, is unforgivable, and I'm so glad that Annie was rightfully pissed, but it is such a nuanced situation, and it works out in a believable, non-bombastic way. 

I am glad that Eva rode home with her mother. At a certain point, I started thinking "Oh, well now she can get together with Trent!" but again, that is not what this book is about. It's about driving home with your mother. It's about being on the beach with the most important women in your life. Trent's existence reads to me like a gentle reminder: there will be other guys, lots of people who will like you. There will be crushes and relationships and dating adventures. Now tend to your family.

The two things that made this story for me were the the pieces of poetry and the descriptions of grief. I lost my dad around the same age that Eva did, and everything was so spot on- the wanting to talk about it, the not wanting to talk about it, the shock when you realize the grief extends to other people. At one point, her mother (in a pivotal scene where they are FINALLY discussing this tragedy that is tearing them up under the surface) says, "I wanted to be strong for you...Maybe it wasn't the best way. But it was all I could manage to do." It seems like a very simple statement but the entire narrative to that point was around Eva's emotions and the ways that Eva's mother was stifling her grief and it's the first time that Eva is faced with the reality that her mother is just surviving, too. I love when they probe at their grief and Eva faces the uncomfortable fact that her remembrance is gilded- in hindsight all the negatives are weeded out and you start missing a mystical superhero, not a person. Oh my god, so perfect. I wish I read this at fourteen.

The poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay at the beginning of part four is one of my favorite poems about grief. I love the fury in the line "Time does not bring relief; you all have lied." That line echos in my head often. I had never read I Remember You by Marie Howe, but it struck me in the same lovely way. I've not often drawn to poetry, but this book made me want to read more.

So much for a short recap. I really loved this book and will definitely be buying it to add to my collection, for the poetry as much as for the plot. As March is Women's History Month, I really want our next pick to be a biography of a kick ass woman. I have only skimmed  I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, which I feel is a bit of a tragedy, since every snippet or quote I hear from her resonates so deeply with me. I've also been dying to read Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Camron and Shana Knizhnik, but was a little afraid it might be too heavy for me to follow. I combed through some reviews and it referred to as "breezy", and "a mashup of pop culture and serious scholarship." I couldn't decide, so I'm going to read both in March! 

Talk to me. Did you read Kissing in America? Who did you like? Did you want more kissing? Are you going to read along in March?