Saturday, September 19, 2015

Top Books That Would Be On Your Syllabus If We Taught Feminist Literature 101

A few weeks ago on Top Ten Tuesday, the topic was  picking out the top ten books we would use if we were teaching X. And, of course, X for us is Feminist Literature - what else would it be? So, with us turning up a little late to the party, here are our some books we think you should check out your education in Feminist Literature 101 by Feminists Talk Books. 

I love adult fiction. Completely and utterly adore it. And every now and again, you find a gem that your heart clings to forever. Khaled Hosseini is that gem. I love anything that he's ever written, but A Thousand Splendid Suns really struck a chord with me. Set in Kabul, it highlights the strength in women, love and the importance of female friendship, regardless of circumstance.
Mariam is only fifteen when she is sent to Kabul to marry Rasheed. Nearly two decades later, a friendship grows between Mariam and a local teenager, Laila, as strong as the ties between mother and daughter. When the Taliban take over, life becomes a desperate struggle against starvation, brutality and fear. Yet love can move a person to act in unexpected ways, and lead them to overcome the most daunting obstacles with a startling heroism.

Anytime I get asked about feminist literature, Margaret Atwood comes to mind. If you don't know who she is, stop reading this, google her, and then come back. Awesome, right? My high school English teacher was the first to ever tell me to read The Handmaid's Tale and since then I've read it around four times. THT tends to be the book people compare Fem Lit to, and honestly, it's the book I push on everybody.
The Republic of Gilead offers Offred only one function: to breed. If she deviates, she will, like dissenters, be hanged at the wall or sent out to die slowly of radiation sickness. But even a repressive state cannot obliterate desire - neither Offred's nor that of the two men on which her future hangs.Brilliantly conceived and executed, this powerful evocation of twenty-first century America gives full rein to Margaret Atwood's devastating irony, wit and astute perception.

With a focus on YA, anything Jennifer Echols, basically. She writes this complicated, complex and sometimes messy girls but they always have agency. My favorites by her are Going Too Far, Such a Rush and Biggest Flirts. I hope authors take notice of Echols' heroines and give us more of them.
High school senior Leah Jones loves nothing more than flying. While she's in the air, it's easy to forget life with her absentee mother at the low-rent end of a South Carolina beach town. So when her flight instructor, Mr Hall, hires her to fly for his banner advertising business, she sees it as her ticket out of the trailer park. Then Mr Hall dies suddenly leaving his teenage sons, golden boy Alec and adrenaline junkie Grayson, in charge of running the business. The two brothers have always made their hostility towards her clear so she's sure that her dreams of being a pilot are over… Then it Grayson makes it clear that he wants her to stay working for him, and Leah doesn't understand why. She's crushed on him for years, but always known he's out of her league… isn't he? As the summer rolls on and they spend more time together the spark between them grows, but with Alec's feelings starting to change too, suddenly things become a whole lot more complicated. Now Leah finds herself drawn into a battle between brothers - and the consequences could be deadly…

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler: this one has great female sexual agency, positive female friendship and a healthy romance. I hope to see more books like this one that explore diversity and female friendship and agency so well.

From the bestselling author of "Twenty Boy Summer," a talented singer loses her ability to speak after a tragic accident, leading her to a postcard-perfect seaside town to find romance. The youngest of six talented sisters, Elyse d'Abreau was destined for stardom--until a boating accident took everything from her. Now, the most beautiful singer in Tobago "can't" sing. She can't even speak. Seeking quiet solitude, Elyse accepts a friend's invitation to Atargatis Cove. Named for the mythical first mermaid, the Oregon seaside town is everything Elyse's home in the Caribbean isn't: an ocean too cold for swimming, parties too tame for singing, and people too polite to pry--except for one. Christian Kane is a notorious playboy--insolent, arrogant, and completely charming. He's also the only person in Atargatis Cove who doesn't treat Elyse like a glass statue. He challenges her to express herself, and he admires the way she treats his younger brother, Sebastian, who believes Elyse is the legendary mermaid come to life. When Christian needs a first mate for the Cove's high-stakes Pirate Regatta, Elyse reluctantly stows her fear of the sea and climbs aboard. The ocean isn't the only thing making waves, though--swept up in Christian's seductive tide and entranced by the Cove's charms, Elyse begins to wonder if a life of solitude isn't what she needs. But changing course again means facing her past. It means finding her inner voice. And scariest of all, it means opening her heart to a boy who's best known for breaking them...

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