Category: Feminist Booklist

Just Us: An American Conversation by Claudia Rankine (2020): Fact-Checking and Footnoting Her Own Pain

This book was hard to read. It is full of raw pain. I so appreciate Rankine’s willingness to expose her vulnerability. I am struck by how hurtful it is for a black woman to live in the culture of the United States. She is brave to expose herself this way. Rankine, a professor at Yale teaching classes on the history of whiteness in the U.S. wonders one day,  “What it would mean to ask random white men how they understood their privilege. . . . I found myself falling into easy banter with all kinds of strangers except white...

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A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende (2020)

The exposed beating of a heart, a miraculous extension of a life almost extinguished by the cruelty and recklessness of war. That beating heart a symbol of love, which keeps life bearable in times of turmoil and torture. Thus, (in my words) begins Chilean-American author, Isabel Allende’s newest novel, A Long Petal of the Sea. (The title is a line from one of Chilean poet and politician Pablo Neruda’s poems,  describing Chile’s physical appearance.) NPR’s Marcela Davison Aviles states, “The timing of this novel’s publication was either destined or clairvoyant — but in any case, Allende’s research and her...

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Pocahontas was a Powerful Medicine Woman with a Plan

#Nastywomanwriter Paula Gunn Allen (1939-2008) sets the record straight about another #nastywoman from history in her book Pocahontas: Medicine woman, Spy, Entrepreneur, Diplomat Gunn Allen rescues Pocahontas (childhood name) Matoaka (adult name) Amonute (medicine woman name) Rebecca (Christian name) from the story told and sold about her and in so doing opens the setting of this story wide and large enough to include the reality, place, time and belief systems of all the players involved. The Powhatan Alliance (people of the Dream-Vision), the loosely allied group of 30-35 Algonquin speaking tribes settled in what we now call Chesapeake Bay, then known as...

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The Book of Gutsy Women: Favorite Stories of Courage and Resilience by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton (2019)

This is remarkable: the stories of over 130 courageous women and their contributions in one book! In the introduction, the authors, Hillary and Chelsea, are clear about their motive: “Power has largely been associated with – and defined – by men since the beginning of time. Yet women have painted, written, created, discovered, invented and led for just as long. It’s simply that their work is more likely to go unrecognized – sometimes for centuries. We believe it is past time for that to change”(ix). Not delving too deeply into any one woman’s story, they remind us that if...

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The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin: Ambisexuality, both male and female in the same body, explored in a novel written in 1969 by one of the greatest thinkers of our time.

In the preface to the 2019 edition of the novel, The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin, the second book on my list of Covid-19 reading, David Mitchell, calls Le Guin a “thought experimenter.” One of the thought experiments considered in this novel is, “What if gender was not fixed but serially mutable?”(LHD X). The inhabitants of the planet Gethen, called “Winter” by other planets because of its extreme and constant cold, experience a 26 day cycle where they are androgynous and celibate followed by a 2-3 day cycle of “kemmer”  “where they become sexually active...

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