When I learned a couple months ago that Lena Dunham was doing a speaking engagement in my city, I went straight to the “buy tickets now” page. The seats cost around $40 (+ fees, if I recall), so I wavered for a couple hours. I really don’t typically spend a lot of money on entertainment, so it seemed kind of expensive. But, I was feeling a little lonely and reasoned, I really don’t typically spend a lot of money on entertainment & a copy of the book is part of the ticket fee, so maybe I should do it! I turned on my computer, clicked the “buy tickets now” button, and found that within a couple hours, the other half of the theater had completely sold out. bummer.
So I waited in line for a library copy of the book, and just got it the other day. I like Dunham’s humor and work, and I liked the book too. Nothing in it really surprised me, but that’s ok. It’s a well-written collection of self-themed essays that will certainly amuse you for a couple of hours if you like the style of her work. The art by Payton Cosell Turner on the inside of the covers is pretty fantastic; In fact, the entire book is a pretty cute, kitschy design.
I don’t think I necessary relate to Dunham’s privileged life experience– I think my fondness is more based in the idea that I think her candid style is important and kind of revolutionary. She’s made a career out of personal TMI’s, which I’m all for. Get a copy of the book here.
I found this book accidentally– it was in a pile of new library books that were waiting to be shelved. I liked the cover, so I snagged it & checked it out before any of its intended teenage audience could get their little hands on it.
First things first, the book is British! I leaned all kinds of new terms like “loo paper” and “minge” and “luggage trolley.” The Britishness also fostered a totally “un-American” openness about sex (yay!); the teen characters had plain and clear conversations with each other about the sex that they were having, they referenced a sex ed class, and it was all without shame or weirdness.
So the premise is that teenage Jeane is a super-creative, super-weird all-around awesome blogger/public speaker/web personality on the internet (she has a growing lifestyle “brand” called “Adorkable”)– and also a righteous loud-mouthed feminist and activist in real life. She’s SO brash and opinionated that it’s hard for her to make friends with all the loathsome people at high school, but then she and a really good-looking “normal” and “popular” boy who are on total opposite ends of the teenage spectrum kinda fall in together. What follows is reexamination of preconceptions on both ends…
Honestly, I found Jeane’s character to be a little too awesome; her achievements and involvements were a few too many for me to find 100% realistic (e.g. getting a book deal and speaking at professional conferences overseas unchaperoned…). BUT. The concept of the book was pretty rad, Jeane didn’t have to give up any of her beliefs, and my interest was kept through the full 384 pages of the book (e.g. I was thinking about getting back to reading it while at the supermarket). Furthermore, on the teenage front, “Jeane” will alert teen girls about all kinds of rad stuff like labor issues, fat positivity, rock-n-roll camp for girls, general feminism, individuality, etc…
I scoffed at this book when I learned about its existence. After all, clearly the rich facebook lady was just trying to make another million.
Luckily, I have a taste for irony. Or, perhaps, a strong interest in books and media that I think will go against my queer-feminist-reallyreallyleftist-worikingclass/poor values system. I got in line for the book with like 300 other people in my library system, got it after a couple of months, and read in in a couple days. I have to admit, the fact that millions of people are reading Lean In means something really good for America. Yep, I said it. And I’m gonna take things even further: It might even be kind of like a Second Sex for the 2013-plastic-pop-internet age.
Sure, the information and inspiration in the book is best suited for college educated white ladies. And sure, it kind of creeps me out that lots of the argument and discussion is poised within a capitalist framework. But that’s how america thinks– that’s what’s on teevee.
Sandberg and her co-writer cite all kinds of sexist injustices both in the “spheres” of work and home, they point out double standards, wage differences, messed up gendered socialization, and way more that leans to inequality in the workplace and beyond. If you’ve taken womens studies 101 you know this stuff– but most people haven’t taken womens studies 101. She even pulls out the “F Word,” and actually identifies herself as a feminist in the penultimate chapter, and has lots of paragraphs explaining why. What other “inspirational bestseller nonfiction” is doing that these days?
Sure, the book has some problems (e.g., I felt like the 2nd half of the book had lots of paragraphs that focused too much on relationships and not enough on the revolution), but it really exceeded my expectations with its good research and straightforward feminism (in a mainstream arena– eek!) that will maybe help people start finally identifying as feminists and standing up for themselves…
Get a copy at your library
I wrote about one of the Rad Dad zines a bit back. If you recall, I totally liked it, despite the fact that I don’t plan to spawn any offspring.
I randomly can across this anthology at the library, and of course snatched it up.
It’s pretty great in lots of the same ways that the zine was. Dads of various genres write about experience with and the politics of, well, raising other people.
The stuff that lots of them are saying is simple, but also profound:
1. trust young people
2. you can’t control everything
3. make sure you’re happy
Good advice for everyone, I’d say.
Usually even the best anthologies have a couple of duds. I really don’t think this one did!
I picked up this anthology (published in 1998) a couple of years ago from a Friends of the Library book sale.
I finally got around to reading it (for me, 2013 is the year of FINALLY reading all those casually acquired books on my shelf!), and am not unhappy that I did. This is a solid feminist anthology of women’s writing about their own experiences with body image. It has an admirable number of pieces that actually deal with race (they don’t feel like “token” additions, as race-related pieces in feminist anthologies so often have a tendency to). Adios Barbie covers a lot of topics, including hair, fat, noses, dis/ability, gender roles, sexuality, and height, etc.
Adios Barbie is 15 years old, and it retains lots of its relevance. All the shit people have to deal with re: body image in our culture has not changed (sigh). Since its publication, many more similar anthologies have come out– but this one has the added benefit of getting to read articles that people wrote before they got more famous! It includes pieces by Carolyn Mackler before she became a very popular YA author, Amy Richards pre-Manifesta, Nomy Lamm pre-Transfused, and more.
Find A Copy HERE
Unterzakhn (which basically means “underwear” in Yiddish) transports us to New York’s Lower East Side in the early 2th century. We follow twin sisters Esther and Fanya through their child years, their teen years, and then their adult years.The sisters are close during childhood– but their passions lead them in very different (and for the era, contradictory) directions.
I don’t want to give away too many details, but you should totally check out this graphic novel. The art has depth, but is also approachable. The characters are decently fleshed out. The rich plot goes all over the place (in a good way), and touches on family history, death, abortion, brothels, hollywood, gender, love, and more. The story ends with a bit of a punch to the stomach, but nobody promised you a happy ending.
Find A Copy Here