I wanted to pursue things, to know things, but I could not match the means of knowing that came naturally to me with the expectations of professors. The pursuit of knowing was freedom to me, the right to declare your own curiosities and follow them through all manner of books. I was made for the library, not the classroom. The classroom was a jail of other people’s interests. The library was open, unending, and free.
Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me
Before I share my favourite films of the year, I decided to shake things up a bit by sharing all the books I read this past year – along with some quotes that resonated with me the most.
Lots of feminist stuff here though, so beware!
(5): absolutely fantastic
- From #blacklivesmatter To Black Liberation by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
- Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (“The forgetting is a habit, is yet another necessary component of the Dream. They have forgotten the scale of theft that enriched them in slavery; the terror that allowed them, for a century, to pilfer the vote; the segregationist policy that gave them their suburbs. They have forgotten, because to remember would tumble them out of the beautiful Dream and force them to live down here with us, down here in the world. I am convinced that the Dreamers, at least the Dreamers of today, would rather live white than live free. To awaken them is to reveal that they are an empire of humans and, like all empires of humans, are built on the destruction of the body.” An eloquent and poetic letter from father to son that rips apart American racist history and illuminates the dreadful reality of a black body.)
- No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need by Naomi Klein (“Nothing has done more to help build our present corporate dystopia than the persistent and systematic pitting of working-class whites against Blacks, citizens against migrants, and men against women. White supremacy, misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia have been the elite’s most potent defences against genuine democracy. A divide-and-terrorize strategy, alongside ever more creative regulations that make it harder for many minorities to vote, is the only way to carry out a political and economic agenda that benefits such a narrow portion of the population.”)
- Women, Race and Class by Angela Y. Davis
Feminism involves so much more than gender equality. And it involves so much more than gender. Feminism must involve a consciousness of capitalism, and racism, and colonialism, and postcolonialities, and more genders than we can even imagine, and more sexualities that we ever thought we could name. Feminism has helped us not only to recognize a range of connections among discourses and institutions and identities and ideologies that we often tend to consider separately. But it has also helped us to develop epistemological and organizing strategies that take us beyond the categories “women” and “gender”. Feminism insists on methods of thought and action that urge us to think about things together that appear to be separate and disaggregate things that appear to naturally belong together.
Angela Y. Davis, Freedom Is a Constant Struggle
(4): really, really good
- Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement by Angela Y. Davis
- On Female Body Experience: Throwing Like a Girl and Other Essays by Iris Marion Young
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
- Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
- Adulthood Is a Myth by Sarah Andersen
(3): not perfect, but with lots of valid points
- Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay
- The Mother of All Questions by Rebecca Solnit (“Violence against women is often against our voices and our stories. It is a refusal of our voices, and of what a voice means: the right to self-determination, to participation, to consent or dissent, to live and participate, to interpret and narrate.” This is my favourite Solnit’s book so far.)
- Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics by bell hooks (“If any female feels she needs anything beyond herself to legitimate and validate her existence, she is already giving away her power to be self-defining, her agency.”)
- The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf
- We Should All Be Feminists by Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie
Men explain things to me, still. And no man has ever apologized for explaining, wrongly, things that I know and they don’t.
Rebecca Solnit, Men Explain Things to Me
(2): either not that well written or lacking in substance
- Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit (“Most women fight wars on two fronts, one for whatever the putative topic is and one simply for the right to speak, to have ideas, to be acknowledged to be in possession of facts and truths, to have value, to be a human being”.)
- Sex Object: A Memoir by Jessica Valenti
- The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Women by Jessica Valenti
- Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She “Learned” by Lena Dunham (Just because you had a hit TV show does not mean you have enough to say to write a book. I found this book’s tone and writing style insufferable, and therefore the whole book horrific and unreadable. But maybe I’m not being entirely objective here, because I really can’t stand Lena Dunham.)
- You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson (This should be a good book. This could be a good book. But you can’t write a book the same way you would write a comedy skit. The narrative is filled with unnecessary pop cultural references, hashtags and other dope words that only hip millennials with an Urban Dictionary diploma would understand.)