Reading Diaries: Un-Pretty, No-Make-Up Emotions
Once a month the members of Women Write About Comics get together to chat about what they’ve been reading. Here’s what we liked (and what we didn’t).
Amanda Vail: Wait, what DID I read this month? Has it already been a month since our last Reading Diaries? What did I do with my time?
Ah, yes. I devoured An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. I didn’t mean to finish it so quickly, but it just ate at me until I found myself using up whatever spare minutes I could collect on that book. I have a lot of thoughts about it, but I’m going to save them for a full review—so watch for it!
I am still in the middle of Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower. It’s lovely, although it is slow going. I can’t devour it because I need to savor the words on my tongue. While reading, I find that I must pause and stare off into space as I imagine the narrator’s surroundings: walled neighborhoods, dark cities, and pure, bright stars. It’s definitely a book to linger over, and you can bet that’s exactly what I’m going to do.
Robin Babb: Ugh, I’ve been meaning to read some Octavia Butler for forever. I just finished Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend. It’s so sublimely beautiful and heartbreaking. I love Ferrante’s books, because they’re all about women having very honest, brutal emotions. Un-pretty, no-make-up emotions.
My Brilliant Friend is about these two girls who grow up together in a poor neighborhood in Italy. Their friendship kind of reflects the state of the neighborhood: they care for each other so much, but they’re also so cruel to each other. They try to help each other out, try to make each other’s shitty lives more bearable, but then whenever they have an opportunity to really rise above their means, they don’t hesitate to throw each other under the bus for a leg up. It’s this intense psychological look at how many-layered and fucked-up a genuine loving relationship between two young girls can be.
Anna Tschetter: It must be Octavia Butler month! I just finished reading Kindred. Apparently, lots of people remember being assigned this in school, but I somehow missed it. It’s the story of Dana, an African American woman living in 1970s California, who is sent backwards in time to the 1820s to her great-grandmother’s plantation in Maryland. Seemingly connected to her time travel is the owner’s son Rufus, who she constantly has to save. Dana and eventually her white husband Kevin, who travels with her one time, face firsthand the horrors of slavery and the constraints of the 19th century.
I liked the story, but my frustration with Kevin’s occasional mansplaining really got me down. I realize that it’s totally unbelievable that someone could time travel, but give your wife some credit dude! Dana manages to be brave, resourceful, and almost compassionate when dealing with the horrible slave owners. A great story and despite the somewhat abrupt ending, a really good read.
Christa: I just flew through two amazing books in the last few days. The first was None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio, an eye opening and informative book about an intersex teen. And the other was The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes, which is about a young girl who ends up in prison after escaping a cult. They’re both the kind of book I want to run around shoving into everyone’s hands. Seriously go read them. And then go read the other book I loved this month—Simon vs. the Homo Sapein’s Agenda by Becky Albertalli. Just be sure to have a giant stack of Oreos ready.