Sunday, December 17, 2017
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‘Cat Person’ and ‘Zola’: Two Viral Shorts, Two Different Reactions

Image courtesy of Evening Standard.

Spoilers for ‘Cat Person’ ahead!

This week, a short story in The New Yorker took the Internet by storm.

Cat Person, written by Kristen Roupenian, is about two individuals meeting, texting, and eventually going on a lackluster date. Told from the point-of-view of Margot, a 20-year-old college student, the piece encapsulates what it means to date as a young woman. Cat Person explores the fantasies, insecurities, and looming threat of danger that women, in general, face on the dating scene. Margot’s 34-year-old date, Robert, is also guilty of projecting his fantasies onto the dating experience, and by the end, he turns on Margot in a way that feels all too real for many women who took to Twitter to express their solidarity with Margot.

Roupenian’s story is well-written, smartly laid out, and filled with great character moments. However, the message is what really resonates with readers. While Margot spends much of the piece trying to assess her own feelings, she also takes responsibility for Robert’s feelings as well— something many women do in the course of a relationship. It’s the fear of displeasing him that continually puts her into positions where she’s less and less comfortable, ultimately leading to her regret most aspects of their encounter, especially when it turns sexual.

Margot finds herself routinely wondering if Robert, who is still relatively a stranger, will do her physical harm. Not that he has done anything to suggest violence, though his thoughts and feelings remain a mystery throughout the piece. But the constant fear that things could escalate is what most women say they’ve experienced in their lives. When Robert turns on Margot at the end, calling her a “whore” because she refuses to engage with him after a barrage of texts, it feels like what is an almost inevitable consequence that is relegated to women whether in a dating situation or simply when moving through the world.

It’s no surprise that the story went viral immediately with both female and male readers praising the nuances that Roupenian observes about modern dating. There was also backlash against the piece that was as swift as the praise for it. Many people on Twitter refused to see the story as fiction, instead treating it as creative nonfiction or an essay about Roupenian’s personal experience. This speaks to a longstanding problem in publishing where women’s works of fiction are often taken as real life experience, while fictional work by men stands on its own apart from the author. Some of the backlash is blatantly sexist, including comments from a new Twitter account called “Men React to Cat Person,” that allows male readers to share their overwhelmingly negative reactions to the piece and to women as a whole. Those negative reactions largely miss the point of the story and are inclined to mislabel Margot’s experience as a cry for sympathy while totally ignoring the tone-deaf reactions of Robert. Several tweets called her “hyper judgmental,” a “borderline sociopath,” or much worse, when her actions did nothing to warrant such vitriol at a time when questionable male behavior is in the national spotlight.

In some ways, the controversy around Cat Person can be juxtaposed against the Zola story that broke on Twitter in 2015 and was also a viral sensation. This insanely engaging tale, told as a series of tweets, is about a stripper who goes on a road trip to Florida, gets caught up in a situation that involves drugs, prostitution, sex trafficking and murder. Originally, the author, Aziah Wells, presented the entire story as nonfiction. Later, it became clear that large parts of it were fabricated. Still, Wells was interviewed by Rolling Stone, and James Franco is currently turning the saga into a film. But even when Wells admitted to exaggerating large chunks of the narrative, there was almost no Internet backlash. No Twitter accounts were made vilifying her. Most people wanted to assume that her outlandish story was true. The most significant backlash Zola received was related to Instagram photos of her breastfeeding her daughter in public, something that is very natural and should not be considered controversial.

So how does a mostly fictional story about sex trafficking compare to an entirely fictional story about a woman dating and why are they treated differently? To truly understand why, we need to look at how gender is portrayed in each story.

First, let’s examine the similarities in both. Though perceived differently by readers, Zola and Cat Person have a lot in common. Each one is told from a female perspective and women are the protagonists. Both works deal with the nuances of relationship abuse in some form and give insight into how men and women relate to each other. Both deal with the same paralyzing inability to fight back against a structure where others have so much more power than they do.

In the case of Zola, that power involves sex work and sex trafficking. In the case of Cat Person, it’s a more subtle breakdown of how young women approach modern dating. Whether that power is real or perceived, it’s still there, reminding both women to always be vigilant as a pleasant situation can turn bad at any time. For the most part, both stories are fiction, though some content is possibly grounded in real experience. Still, despite these similarities, the Zola story received far less hate than Cat Person.

Zola (Wells’ stripper name) is brash and smart, a characteristic some men claim is unappealing, but her profession as a stripper is all about pleasing men, which ultimately makes her an attractive character. There’s an inherent reason for the male audience to like her as she understands their pleasure and makes it her prerogative because it increases her income. Even though men are represented as violent and dangerous in Zola’s story, they play roles we’re familiar with through media: the concerned boyfriend; the angry pimp; and the strong, virile man protecting his woman (even while he’s putting her in increasingly dangerous positions). At the end of the day, men are still able to see themselves as the hero in Zola’s story and distance themselves from the outlandish events and less than savory character flaws attributed to the men in Zola’s life.

In Cat Person, men aren’t portrayed as strong, tough or protectors of women and ultimately of femininity. Instead, they’re insecure, unattractive, and unable to attune to a woman’s needs. Attempting to understand why those needs aren’t being met by the man in the story requires putting a mirror up to oneself in a way many bristle at. As a character, Robert is a weakling. He’s wishy-washy in his affections and doesn’t have as much power as he seems to think over Margot’s feelings about him. This lack of power and control is why he turns on her in the end. Margot hasn’t behaved the way he wants, and, therefore, he it is his right to cut her down. So many women have experienced this in romantic relations, in the workplace, and even on social media and, as a result, have learned to approach men and these situations cautiously. The reality is that if we don’t, if men lash out, we cannot protect our persons. If we’re lucky, that reaction happens over text, but in some cases, the face-to-face rejection of a man’s unwanted advances can be fatal.

The story of Zola is so over-the-top that most of us are able to immediately see the events for what they are. But Cat Person is more universal, more characteristic of a larger segment of women and, therefore, forces us to examine our own behaviors more closely. Margot, and women everywhere, know what it is to have an encounter where our needs aren’t being met— where we are too afraid to voice our desires out of fear of how we will be perceived; where we feel like we need to go along because we don’t want to disappoint anyone or feel that “it’s too late to back out now.” Margot is young and naïve, she doesn’t always behave well in the story and the way she breaks off from Robert is awkward and blunt, but it still doesn’t give him the right to hurl a engendered insult at her simply because her behavior is not to his liking.

“I would never do that,” is the response a lot of men have to Cat Person. While this is an awesome revelation, it misses the point: just because one man wouldn’t respond that way doesn’t mean this isn’t part of a systematic problem and a real experience for so many women.

By the end of the story, Margot has learned an implicit lesson: if I don’t act in the way a man desires, I might be subjected to insults, shame, or worse. The need to always stay polite, always be on the lookout for possible predators isn’t inborn, it’s something women learn after repeated encounters where we’ve been made to feel unsafe. This is why dating can be so difficult and so scary; this is why it’s also important to note these experiences are 100% more difficult and scary for women of color and transgendered women. This is why Cat Person is such an important read for women and men.

 

Did you Cat Person as much as we did? These books are similarly great reads:

The Love Gap, Jenna Birch

The Last Black Unicorn, Tiffany Haddish

 

Peach, Emma Glass

Girl Logic, Iliza Shlesinger

 

Tall Poppies Review: Nomi Eve’s ‘Henna House’ is Thrilling in Concept and Reality

Sometime in the middle years of my twenties, my sister and my cousin hennaed my breasts on a lark, using a dime-store-quality kit we bought off a mysterious woman at a street fair. It was summer. The air was heavy. The moon was full. It all made sense at the time.

I had no idea how very close we came to correctly approximating the tradition of henna, which I did not understand to be such a robust and ritualized art form until I read Nomi Eve’s Henna House.

Historical fiction thrills me in concept and reality; the idea that while being entertained I might also learn something vital; the possibility of acquiring – by osmosis! by accident! – facts and words and wisdom missing from my vocabulary and worldview. In Henna House we get not just the epic saga of a young Yemenite Jew’s coming of age but also a geography lesson and an environmental education as Adela Damari and her family trek mid-20th century through Arabia to the newly-formed Israel. Thanks to this book, I learned as much about this foreign land as I learned about her complex people as I followed them through the course of a life- and land-altering generation.

In the sort of sensual language too often forsaken in this age of sound bites and 140-character Tweets, I also learned about henna: “the red geometric flurry … that seemed to tell stories at once simple and incomprehensible” and the rituals that make the hennaing process, exclusive to the domain of women, as intimate and dreamy and communal as it was when I naively limned it in my young adulthood.

Henna House abounds with stories of hennaed women: aunts and sisters and neighbors and cousins like Adela and “Hani [who] thrust her hand into mine, asking me one hundred questions all at once about the fairy tales I knew, the secrets I didn’t, the stories I would maybe be so kind as to finish for her, for she had come to a point in the plot that needed a fresh perspective.”

If it is stories about women and their mysterious ways that you crave … if you believe that shared stories can bind and color us … Henna House is not to be missed.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Naomi EveNomi Eve is the author of Henna House and The Family Orchard, which was a Book-of-the-Month Club main selection and was nominated for a National Jewish Book Award.

She has an MFA in fiction writing from Brown University and has worked as a freelance book reviewer for The Village Voice and New York Newsday.

Her stories and essays have appeared in The New York Times, Glimmer Train Stories, The Voice Literary Supplement, Conjunctions, and The International Quarterly. She teaches fiction writing at Drexel University and lives in Philadelphia with her family.

 

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See the Eerie First Trailer for Adaptation of ‘The Terror’

Dan Simmons’ British Fantasy Award-nominated novel The Terror sails onto the small screen this spring on AMC.

 

Based on the real-life disappearance of the Captain Sir John Franklin mission in 1845, Simmons’ critically acclaimed book imagines what might have befallen the men of the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror during their doomed quest for the Northwest passage. Although brief, the trailer captures the atmosphere of claustrophobic mystery that makes Simmons’ epic about ice-locked, desperate crews stalked by a mysterious creature so unmissable.

If the series holds true to the novel, it will likely appeal to history buffs as well as fans of horror and fantasy. Simmons’ richly detailed book relies heavily on meticulous research about the real-life members of the Franklin expedition. But where history has no answers — what happened to the 129 members of the expedition after Terror and Erebus were entombed in ice? — vivid, chilling fantasy takes over.

AMC’s The Terror is executive produced by Ridley Scott. It stars Jared Harris as Terror‘s alcoholic Captain Sir Francis Crozier; Tobias Menzies as Erebus‘ Captain James Fitzjames; and Ciarán Hinds as Sir John Franklin himself. The series is set to premiere March 2018, which leaves plenty of time to re-read the book.

The Terror Dan Simmons

If you’re looking for more great fiction by Dan Simmons, check out these reads.

Hyperion Dan Simmons

 

Phases of Gravity Dan Simmons

 

Song of Kali Dan Simmons

 

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Writer’s Bone Podcast: ‘Smothered’ Author Talks Inspiration and Character Crafting

Megan Cassidy, author of  the recently published Smothered, talks to Daniel Ford about what inspired her to write an epistolary novel, crafting characters outside of a typical narrative structure, and exploring how people react and dissect sensational crimes.

Megan Cassidy is an author and English professor from Lockport, NY. Her first novel, Always, Jessie was recently published by Saguaro books. Megan’s other work has been featured in Pilcrow & Dagger, Wordhaus, The Flash Fiction Press, 100 Words, and Fiction on the Web.

To learn more about Megan Cassidy, visit her official website, visit 50/50 Press’ official website, like her Facebook page, or follow her on Twitter @MeganEileenC and @FiftyFiftyPress. Also listen to our first interview with the author!

 

 

 

 

 

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2017 Literary Gift Guide: 40 of the Best Non-Book Gifts for Book Lovers

Via Gifts for Gamers and Geeks

It’s usually pretty easy to holiday shop for an avid reader – just get them books, of course! But this year, why not try something a little outside the box? While we always appreciate a great new read, there are tons of other book-themed presents that we would be more than happy to unwrap this season. Here are 40 clever and eclectic literary-themed gift ideas that are guaranteed to please the most voracious readers in your life:

Library Card Socks

Cute and practical, book lovers will instantly fall for these iconic library card socks.

Tentacle Bookends

Image courtesy of Etsy.

Usually pirate ship attacks happen inside the pages of a book, though clearly not in the case of these clever bookends by Knob Creek Metal Arts.

Literary Candles

Smell like your favorite books with candles inspired by great literature. We’re dying to know what Pride and Prejudice’s “Pemberley” smells like.

Banned Books Mug

As soon as heat hits this mug, the blacked-out words disappear, revealing dozens of titles of banned books. Informative and fun!

Book Light

Any reader would want to get their hands on a book that actually lights up. It’s portable too, so you can bring this reading lamp with you anywhere.

Book-Printed Scarf

Image courtesy of Etsy.

The Etsy site Storiarts has tons of different book-printed products, but we especially love this sage-green Anne of Green Gables scarf.

Personal Library Kit

There’s nothing more annoying than loaning out books only to never see them again. With your own personal library kit, you can actually have people check them out, guaranteeing that missing books will be a thing of the past.

“Just One More Chapter” Pillow

Image courtesy of Etsy.

We all know it’s never really “Just One More Chapter.” Still, this pillow is so classy and stylish that we just don’t care.

The Book Seat

We’ve used everything to prop our books up – glasses, phones, rocks – and nothing ever works. The book seat solves all those problems, and even doubles as a travel pillow when you need it.

Book Coasters

Image courtesy of Etsy.

Carved out of wood, these book coasters are classy, practical, and filled with fun drink-related puns.

Bookworm Necklace

Image courtesy of Etsy.

This understated necklace is the perfect gift for any classy readers out there.

Literary Loose Tea

Image courtesy of Etsy.

Nothing goes together quite as well as books & tea, so why not combine the two with some literary-themed teas.

Mr. Darcy Bath Bomb

Image courtesy of Etsy.

Knowing Mr. Darcy, he probably smells great. Now you can too with bath bombs inspired by the iconic literary hero.

Personalized Rings for Readers

Image courtesy of Etsy.

These pretty wrap rings can be customized with any phrase you want – though “Shhh…Reading,” sounds good to us!

Covers for Paperbacks

Image courtesy of Etsy.

Dress up your paperbooks with fun and comfy covers that both product your books and reflect your unique style.

Book Lover Tea Spoon

Remember how we said books and tea belong together? Continue the trend with this engraved book-themed tea spoon.

Literary Tote Bag

A very dark place, indeed. We’re up for any tote bag that professes our love of books, especially when it’s as cute as this one!

Wizard of Oz Tee by Litographs

Image courtesy of Litographs.

We’re basically obsessed with all of Litographs’ products, though this graphic Wizard of Oz tee specifically caught out eye.

 World Literature Map

Image courtesy of Etsy.

Learn about all of the literary places in the world with a map made of book locations!

Gothic Literature Pins

Image courtesy of Etsy.

Give a gift that’s scary and cool! These graphic pins would please any horror lover out there.

Personalized Book Stamp

Image courtesy of Etsy.

Never misplace a book again with these elegant, personalized book stamps.

Composition Notebook Pouch

Your school days never looked so cute! Give the gift of style and function with a composition notebook-inspired pouch.

Shakespearean Insults Chart

It turns out Shakespeare invented a lot of swears. This handy chart is a complete guide on how to insult people Medieval-style.

There, Their, They’re Sweatshirt

Image courtesy of Etsy.

Give the gift of good grammar with a sweatshirt that points out one of the most common (and annoying!) errors.

Paperback Perfume

There’s nothing like that new-book smell, and now you can bring it with you everywhere thanks to Demeter’s unique fragrance, Paperback.

Virginia Woolf Inspired Phone Case

This lovely case captures one of Woolf’s most famous quotes: “I am rooted, but I flow.”

Once Upon a Time Notebook

Write your own fairy tale with an inspirational “Once Upon a Time” notebook.

Harry Potter Throw 

Who wouldn’t want to curl up in the inspiring words of Dumbledore? Thanks to this cozy Harry Potter blanket, now you can.

Louisa May Alcott Print

Image courtesy of Etsy.

We’re always looking for new wall art, and this starry-eyed print (with a quote by Louisa May Alcott!) is right up our alley.

Calligraphy Set

For those who miss the romanticism of writing with an ink and quill, then this antique set is the perfect gift.

Robert Browning Hamilton Bowl

Image courtesy of Etsy.

Etched with words from Browning Hamilton’s famous poem, “I Walked a Mile With Pleasure,” this custom-made bowl is unique and elegant.

Scrabble Earrings

Image courtesy of Etsy.

Most readers love Scrabble, which is why any of us would be happy to receive Scrabble-tile custom earrings!

Zipper Bookmarks

Readers can never have enough bookmarks, and these zipper ones are creative and fun.

Literary Postcards

These postcards are graphic and bold – exactly the kind of cards we’d want to send to our reader friends.

Little House on the Prairie Ornament

If Little House on the Prairie isn’t your thing, you can custom these adorable mini-book ornaments with any of your favorite series!

Literary Paper Dolls

Dress up iconic literary figures from Edgar Allen Poe to Virginia Woolf with this fun paper doll kit that’s suitable for kids or adults.

Wonder Woman Floating Bookshelf

Image courtesy of Etsy.

Wonder Woman always saves the day, even if it means protecting your books! This floating shelf is a clever optical illusion that make any book lover soar with jealousy.

Book Lovers Apron

Profess your love of reading even when you’re cooking with this simple but stylish apron.

Book-Themed Ipad Covers

Original book art comes to life reprinted as ipad covers. A great gift for those who prefer ebooks!

Literary Temporary Tattoos

Temporary tattoos are always fun, especially when they’re book themed.

 

For more literary gift ideas, visit one of our favorite new websites, The Literary Gift Company!

Want to be a published writer? Take a look at our writing contest, where TWO Grand Prize winners will become Booktrib Contributors!

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Feast on This: 6 Tasty Books about Food for the Holidays!

It’s December, which means time for feasts and festivities with loved ones! Over the next few weeks year-long dreams of consuming seasonal delicacies and your holiday favorites will become reality. Books about food are a great way to fill a craving without packing on all the extra pounds this time of year. Here’s a selection of books where foods of all kinds, from all cultures are the focus. Each one is so beautifully written with detailed descriptions of food that are so vivid, you can almost taste them!

Ranging from cookbooks to psychological thrillers, these reads are bound to make your mouth water with saucy plots and and tempting titles. Go on…indulge your appetite for something great to read!

Pok Pok The Drinking Food of Thailand, Andy Ricker

Pok Pok The Drinking Food of Thailand Andy RickerAndy Ricker offers 50 delicious recipes in his follow-up release to Pok Pok, a “celebration of the thrill and spirit of Thai drinking food.” With detailed descriptions of each dish that will make your mouth water, this cookbook also contains anecdotes from the Thai cooks who assisted Ricker through the process of assembling this collection, providing readers with insight into Thai culture as well as delicious products of their recipes. Some notable recipes include Yam Kop (Northern Thai frog soup) and Kaeng Awm Neua (Northern Thai stewed beef); in fact, Ricker’s description of the latter serves as one example of the types of mouth-watering details stuffed within the book that brings the taste and smells of Thailand into your own kitchen:

“…laap, minced meat cooked with a paste of dried spices and shrimp paste, is among the plates. So, too, are slowly grilled pork neck and intestines, plucked from glistening piles on a charcoal grill out front and served with fiery tamarind-spiked sauce for dipping… like many curries, it relies on a paste pounded in a mortar; in this case, one that features a very Northern Thai combination of moderately spicy dried chiles, turmeric root, lemongrass, and galangal. Like many soups, it is brothy, and depending on where you get it and how long it’s been sitting on the stove that night, it ranges from stock-thin to stew-thick. Either way, it’s salty, spicy, and herbaceous, with each bite satisfyingly intense.”

Behold the Dreamers, Imbolo Mbue

Behold the Dreamers Imbolo MbueJende and Neni, a young Cameroonian couple, immigrate into Harlem in search of better lives for them and their six-year old son. Imbolo Mbue’s debut novel, Behold the Dreamers, is a portrait of race and the immigrant experience as the city reels from the shock of the Great Recession. Jende and Neni’s story is told side-by-side with the story of their wealthy American employers, giving readers several different lenses through which to view the story. Mbue provides insight into African culture, as well as beautifully depicted characters, through her intricately-wrought language. She describes American food with as much detail as she does with Cameroonian fare, painting a lush portrait of both sides of Jende and Neni’s identities; a fancy American feast is described as offering:

“…wickedly delectable creations like sesame seared tuna with lemon-wasabi vinaigrette; beef tenderloin and olives on garlic crostini with horseradish sauce; California caviar and chives on melba toast; mushroom caps stuffed with jumbo lump crab meat; steak tartare with ginger and shallot, which she loved the most and devoured without restraint…”

Likewise, Cameroonian food is presented with the same care and attention to detail:

“All afternoon she stayed in the kitchen, making egusi stew with smoked turkey, garri and okra soup, fried plantains and beans, jollof rice with chicken gizzard, and ekwang, which took two hours to make because she had to peel the cocoyams, grate them, tightly and painstakingly wrap tea-spoons of the grated cocoyam into spinach leaves, then simmer in a pot with palm oil, dried fish, crayfish, salt, pepper, maggi, and bush onions, for an hour.”

The Expatriates, Janice Y.K. Lee

The Expatriates Janice Y.K. LeeJanice Y.K. Lee’s novel The Expatriates details the lives of three American women living in Hong Kong. Mercy, Hilary, and Margaret are American expatriates in different stages of life who struggle both with finding peace within themselves and adapting to their new, unfamiliar environment. Hong Kong is painted with a colorful brush, sparing no details about the experience of Americans who navigate lives in the bustling city. This novel also works with themes of motherhood, class hierarchies, marital and familial relationships, and love. Lee is generous with her language, not only in describing food but in every aspect of the world she creates. Right away, from the first chapter the reader is treated to a detailed description of a “slow-roasted unicorn,” which is an unconventional pairing of words that nonetheless sounds strangely delicious when brought to life by Lee’s words:

“A slow-roasted unicorn. A baked, butterflied baby dragon, spread-eagled, spine a delicate slope in the pan. A phoenix, perhaps, slightly charred from its fiery rebirth, sprinkled with sugar, flesh caramelized from the heat. That’s what she wants to eat: a mythical creature, something slightly otherworldly, something not real. A centaur. Yes, the juicy haunch of a centaur.”

More descriptions of Hong Kong street food, chestnuts with “soft shells” and “the warm meat of the nut,” and a particularly beautiful rendering of a cream-cheese-and-olive sandwich are tucked within the book:

“The small space heater in the corner is sputtering out some warmth, and she is making a cream-cheese-and-olive sandwich. She takes out the cream cheese from the small box refrigerator she bought a few weeks ago, which reminds her of college days. The cream cheese is thick and white and comforting as she slides her knife out of the container. She spreads it across the thick multigrain bread. She slices the olives and studs the cream cheese with the bits, fingers slippery with oil. Her mouth is watering. What a marvelous combination, the smooth creaminess and the salty oil, paired with the heartiness of the bread.”

Hazana: Jewish Vegetarian Cooking, Paola Gavin

Hazana Paola GavinHazana is at once a cookbook and a culinary tour into Jewish history, highlighting the core component of food in the heart of Jewish life. All of the recipes included are vegetarian, a reflection of the mostly plant-based diets of the Jewish people who settled in the Promised Land; common ingredients include bread, goat and sheep cheese, dates, olives and nuts, and all types of fruit, all of which still make up the modern Jewish diet. Hazana shares over 140 Jewish recipes from over twenty countries, providing meticulously-curated cultural notes along the way: descriptions of Jewish holidays and festivals, history, and traditions that have been passed down for multiple generations. One section explores the role of eggs in Jewish culture and tradition, noting how “eggs– especially raw eggs with double yolks– were often given to young brides to increase their fertility and protect them from evil,” followed by an explanation of huevos haminados (hamine eggs) that Sephardic Jews prepared, one that sounds utterly delicious:

“Whole eggs are simmered very slowly overnight with a little oil and some onion skins until their shells turn dark brown– sometimes coffee grounds are added to enhance the colours. Originally, they were baked in an oven, covered with embers, which explains the literal translation of their name: ‘oven eggs.’”

The Vegetarian, Han Kang

The Vegetarian Han KangThe Vegetarian, winner of the 2016 Man Booker International Prize, is a dark commentary on the relationship between power and the body, as well as an observation on the oppressive side of Korean culture. Saturated with beautiful language that leaves one breathless, Han Kang’s novel explores the life of Yeong-hye, a Korean housewife, and how her nightmare-driven decision to become a vegetarian generates outrage and frustration in the people who are appalled at her small act of asserting her independence, including her husband, sister, and brother-in-law. This novel is a dark thriller, and leaves a haunting, lingering imprint upon readers’ consciousnesses. Food plays a large role in this novel, so it is only fitting that a lush, savory description of traditional Korean fare is presented in the beginning of the novel:

“Tongs in one hand and a large pair of scissors in the other, she’d flipped rib meat in a sizzling pan while snipping it into bite-sized pieces, her movements deft and practiced. Her fragrant, caramelized deep-fried belly pork was achieved by marinating the meat in minced ginger and glutinous starch syrup. Her signature dish had been wafer-thin slices of beef seasoned with black pepper and sesame oil, then coated with sticky rice powder as generously as you would with rice cakes or pancakes, and dipped in bubbling shabu-shabu broth. She’d made bibimbap with bean sprouts, minced beef, and pre-soaked rice stir-fried in sesame oil. There had also been a thick chicken and duck soup with large chunks of potato, and a spicy broth packed full of tender clams and mussels, or which I could happily polish off three helpings in a single sitting.”

Caroline: Little House, Revisited, Sarah Miller

Caroline Sarah Miller“White flour, white sugar, lard, and milk. Saleratus, and a pinch of nutmeg. The white flour was so silky and cool, Caroline mixed the dough bare-handed until it was warm and smooth as her own skin. She rolled it into a thick circle as large as the pie plate, then neatened the rough edges with the heels of her hands. With a knife she cut out two hearts and dredged them with white sugar until they glittered faintly in the lamplight. Quietly, she placed a layer of stones in the bottom of the bake oven, laid the heart-shaped cakes carefully into the pie plate, and lowered the plate into the oven.”

 

 

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Gabrielle Union’s ‘We’re Going to Need More Wine’ Sparks a Movement Across Atlanta

Recently, hashtags such as #MeToo have sparked conversation and allowed sexual assault survivors to stand in solidarity with one another and share their experiences without shame. Last month, college students from schools in the Atlanta University Center (AUC)— which houses Spelman College, Morehouse College and Clark Atlanta University, created the hashtag #WeKnowWhatYouDid to bring attention to rape in the AUC and call out those who got away assaulting other students.

The hashtag started after several students posted the names of alleged rapists across the three campuses in hopes of forcing AUC administrators to take action against the accused.  Signs bearing the phrases, “No More Secrets,” “Morehouse Protects Rapists” and “Spelman Protects Rapists” were also posted, but were later removed by campus police. Rape and assault at AUC has been a problem going all the way back to the 1990s.  This is why actress Gabrielle Union’s new book, We’re Going to Need More Wine: Stories That Are Funny, Complicated, and True is such a critical read for college students like myself.

From her first film appearance in She’s all thatto starring in her own critically-acclaimed drama series, Being Mary Jane, there is not one thing Gabrielle Union attempts that she does not perfect. We’re Going to Need More Wine, is another example of her ability to do just that.  The book, Union’s first, became a New York Time Bestseller within weeks of its release. In this thoughtful collection of essays, Union discusses her marriage to NBA player Dwayne Wade, being a working Black woman in Hollywood and the challenges she faces, as well as her struggles with fertility. In the midst of these compelling recollections, Union’s most personal revelation is about a violent sexual assault she suffered and survived at the age of 19 while in college and working part-time at a Payless Shoe Store.  The assault occurred while Union was finishing a night shift and she was awarded a settlement as a result of a suit she filed against the store that did not offer protection to its employees.

In an interview with The Crossover, Union explained why it as so important for her to use her Hollywood platform to advocate for sexual assault survivors by reliving her experience: “If I have to suffer for a small amount of time so other people can feel a sense of community I will do that every time.” Union attributes her courage to the African American studies classes she’s taken at UCLA.

The publication of Union’s book is timely in a climate where women are speaking more forthrightly about sexual assault and harassment on campuses and in the workplace. Too often, survivors are silenced by those who wish to uphold rape culture; Union’s book causes us to remember the courage that it takes for survivors of sexual assault to share their stories. Can we educate men about consent and respecting women’s bodies so other young women like Union do not have to suffer the same on college campuses? Groups and initiatives such as Sexual Assault Peer Advocates (SAPA), Alliance for Sexual Assault Prevention, and The Respect Program, both at Emory University are a start in offering survivors to seek the support they deserve.; reading books like Gabrielle Union’s with a candid description of how such a violation impacts one’s health, self-esteem, family and public life, is another.

 

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Give the Gift of Reading: Books for Every Reader on Your List

There’s something so special about giving the right book as a gift. You’re providing hours of entertainment, a beautiful keepsake object, and, sometimes, entry into an entirely new world. A gift card can’t do that. 2017 was a great year for books, meaning there are tons of new releases to choose from when selecting the perfect present for your favorite reader. Here, we’ve rounded up some great picks from every genre. To put the finishing touch on your wrapping job, check out our holiday gift tags.

For the Short Story Buff

Homesick for Another World, Ottessa Moshfegh

Homesick for another world ottessa moshfeghOttessa Moshfegh may have first garnered recognition for her novel, Eileen, but her short fiction is just as incredible. These stories take on relationships in flux, and readers will immediately identify with the expertly rendered characters. In a starred review, Kirkus called this volume: “A smartly turned and admirably consistent collection about love and its many discontents.” If someone in your life loves short stories, don’t be a Scrooge! Gift them this book.

For the Hardcore Literary Fiction Fan

Lincoln in the Bardo, George Saunders

George SaundersLincoln in the Bardo George SaundersLincoln in the Bardo was unquestionably one of the year’s buzziest novels. In it, a grieving President Abraham Lincoln mourns the loss of his son, Willie, who has died. The story may be based on actual historical events, but Saunders takes this inspiration and turns it into a book that isn’t quite like any other. Saunders experiments with form in ways that will delight his fans, and the end result is deeply emotionally affecting.

 

For the Budding FBI Agent

Killers of the Flower Moon, David Grann

Killers of the Flower Moon David GrannDavid Grann’s Killers of the Flower Moon will transport readers to Oklahoma in the 1920s. But it won’t be a happy trip: There, readers will learn about the murders of many of the members of the Osage Indian Nation, who were extremely wealthy because of their oil-rich land. This string of murders would be investigated by the newly formed FBI, and its agents would go undercover to stop the killer. If you’re looking for riveting true crime, look no further.

 

For the Essay Addict

We Were Eight Years in Power, Te-Nehisi Coates

We Were Eight Years in Power Te-Nihisi CoatesWe Were Eight Years in Power is sure to be remembered as one of the most important books of 2017, and we bet it will make a great gift for anyone who loves the essay form, and anyone interested in a thoughtful take on race and politics in America. In it, Ta-Nehisi Coates (author of Between the World and Me) writes on subjects including Barack Obama, Donald Trump, and Bill Cosby. This book is illuminating and thought-provoking, and will make the perfect present.

 

For the Empire Fan

Bluebird, Bluebird, Attica Locke

Bluebird, Bluebird Attica LockeAuthor Attica Locke has many talents: She’s worked on the hit television show Empire, and she’s also a critically acclaimed novelist. In Bluebird, Bluebird, Locke takes readers to East Texas where Texas Ranger Darren Matthews is dealing with a double murder case in the town of Lark. The murders have roiled the small town, and the investigation is tense and racially charged. This is a unique noir that explores deeper questions about race.

 

For the Reader Who Loves Sleepless Nights

Glass Houses, Louise Penny

Glass Houses Louise PennyDo you have a friend who sleeps too much? Isn’t stressed out enough? Glass Houses by Louise Penny is sure to fix that. In the town of Three Pines, a terrifying scene unfolds: There is someone, or something, shrouded in robes just standing in the center of town. Then, the first body is found. This is the 13th installment in the beloved Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series from Penny, and it is sure to elevate readers’ blood pressure into the new year.

 

For the Reader Impatiently Waiting for the Next Season of Game of Thrones

The Broken Earth series, N.K. Jemisin

The Fifth SeasonN.K. Jemisin’s Hugo-award winning series came to an epic conclusion this summer. NPR called The Stone Sky “A transformative cap to a series that hasn’t so much raised the bar on epic fantasy as it has fundamentally changed the genre.” The first book, The Fifth Season, kicks off with a mother searching for her kidnapped daughter and trying to survive a disaster that threatens to destroy all life on the planet. We’d highly recommend putting all three books into the hands of your favorite SFF reader.

 

For the Stargazer

An Unkindness of Ghosts, Rivers Solomon

An Unkindness of Ghosts Rivers SolomonOver 300 years ago, the Earth began to die and humans took to the skies. Aster Grey lives aboard the HSS Matilda, a ship controlled by a white-supremacist cult called the Sovereignty. Aster was born into slavery, but a shocking discovery makes her believe that she may be able to break free. Rivers Solomon’s debut makes for a stellar gift for readers looking for an intensely thoughtful meditation on race, class, and humanity’s future.

 

For the Historical Fiction Addict

An Extraordinary Union, Alyssa Cole

An Extraordinary Union Alyssa ColeAlyssa Cole’s Loyal League series kicks off with the meeting of a Union Army spy and an undercover soldier. Elle Burns is posing as a slave in a Confederate home to relay information about the South’s plans to the Union Army. It’s there that she meets Malcolm McCall, a Scottish immigrant posing as a Confederate soldier. In the midst of war and ever-present danger, the two begin to trust each other and work together. The second book is on shelves now, and packaging both together is sure to make the reader receiving them ecstatic.

 

For the Reader who Believes in True Love

Hate to Want You, Alisha Rai

Hate to Want You Alisha RaiSometimes life gives you a second chance to make things right. In the first installment in Alisha Rai’s Forbidden Hearts series, Nicholas and Livvy are given the opportunity to reconnect after their families drove them apart. After their relationship ended, Livvy hit the road. But when she returns home to care for her mother, Livvy finds that she can’t stay away from Nicholas. Give your favorite romance reader the first two books in the series and then claim your victory as the best gift giver of 2017.

 

For the Reader who Loves a Good Road Trip

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, Mackenzi Lee

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue Mackenzi LeeHenry “Monty” Montague never met a drink he didn’t like or an adventure he didn’t want to go on. That is until he knicks a trinket that sends assassins after him, his best friend/crush Percy, and his sister Felicity. Suddenly Monty’s farewell tour of Europe (before he bids his boyish freedom goodbye and succumbs to a life of boring lordship) turns into a life-threatening trip that this trio will never forget. Mackenzi Lee’s historical novel was a must-read book of the summer and now it is a must-gift of the season.

 

For the Amazon-in-Training

Wonder Woman: Warbringer, Leigh Bardugo

Wonder Woman: WarbringerJust when you thought you couldn’t love Wonder Woman any more, Leigh Bardugo delivers an origin story that shines brighter than the Lasso of Truth. In this exhilarating tale, Diana ventures to the mortal world to stop a prophecy that predicts a war will decimate humankind. Bardugo’s novel explores the importance of female friendship, the various forms of strength, and the growth of a true hero. This is the perfect gift for readers who long to be adopted by Hippolyta and whisked away to Themyscira.

 

For the Young Trailblazer

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, Elena Favilli

Good Night Stories for Rebel GirlsReaders of all ages and genders will find themselves inspired by this incredible collection. Written in the style of fairy tales, these profiles explore the lives of women around the globe, ranging from historical figures like Elizabeth I to modern athletes like Serena Williams. Sixty female artists from across the world contributed full color portraits to pair with the profiles, making this book visually stunning as well as a first-rate education into the lives of women who tackled stereotypes and changed the world. A second volume hit shelves in November, and for a truly special treat, we’d recommend gifting the box set.

 

For the New Parents

Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth, Oliver Jeffers

Here We Are Oliver JeffersHelp new parents welcome their child into the world with this stunning picture book by Oliver Jeffers. In the dedication, Jeffers shares that he began writing this book during the first two months of his son’s life, striving to answer all of the questions a newborn might have. Here We Are is an introduction to the universe and our planet, gently guiding readers through this vast world and all of the wonders that it holds.

 

 

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Add A Little Glam: 30 New Books to Give as Gifts This Season

The year is now officially winding down to a close and while we’re all looking forward to 2018 and the new books it will bring, that doesn’t mean that 2017 doesn’t have anything more to offer! This week some of the most interesting new releases have come out, and we couldn’t be more excited about them.

Some of the best include Pino Corrias’s new novel We’ll Sleep When We’re Old that promises glamour in Rome with a kick of dark humor; and Gary Disher’s Signal Loss is all but guaranteed to be one of the most suspenseful reads of the year. But if the baked goods that inevitably come with the winter season is more up your alley, there is also a great collection cookbooks on healthy eating and desserts to peruse through. Take a look at the list below, and see what looks good to you!

Literary & Novels

Signals: New and Selected StoriesTim Gautreaux

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From classic American novelist Tim Gautreaux, Signals is a collection of short stories, some old, and some brand new. Each one is an effortless masterpiece, and ode to the heat, small-town life, faith and more of the author’s beloved home in the South.

 

 

House of the Sleeping Beauties and Other StoriesYasunari Kawabata

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From Nobel Prize-winning author Yasunari Kawabata, this book contains three charges and electric stories. Given a window into the lives of three lonely and desperate men, Kawabata explores sex and psychology, fantasy and reality, and where the boundaries are.

 

 

 

Who Killed Piet Barol? Richard Mason

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This is literary fiction at its finest. In an effort to avoid his trauma from WWI, Piet Barol takes to the African forests. Running from his secrets, he stumbles across an unexpected prize that he must have, no matter the cost. What follows is a compelling story of greed, temptation and human nature.

 

 

We’ll Sleep When We’re Old: A NovelPino Corrias

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Rome is dripping in aristocracy and luxury, and self-made film-production president Oscar Martello is at the center of it. When a fire burns down his villa and Oscar disappears, everyone is left wondering what happened to him – and who could have committed this act. Witty, gripping and suspenseful, this is a must-read.

 

In the Fall They Come Back, Robert Bausch

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Ben Jameson wants to change lives and his job as a teacher at a private prep school seems like the perfect place for him to do that. But he might get more than he bargained for when he becomes deeply involved in the lives of three teenagers. A beautiful story on compassion, relationships, and human nature.

 

Nights at SeasideAddison Cole

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Sky Lacroux has finally done what she always wanted – open up a tattoo shop; the only thing lacking in her life is love. Sawyer Bass, a professional boxer, plays the guitar at a local bar to escape the tragedies in his life. When the two finally meet, it seems like everything should be perfect; but they’re both fighting battles that they’ll need each other to win.

       Suspense & Murder

16th Seduction (Women’s Murder Club), James Patterson & Maxine Paetro

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Lindsay Boxer is trying to put her life back together after a fierce betrayal, when her hometown is faced with a danger never before seen. Now, she must fight to save everything she loves: her home, her career, and her life. Twisty, shocking and suspenseful, this book just continues to prove why James Patterson is the best as what he does. Note: this edition is the new paperback.

 

Signal Loss (A Hal Challis Investigation)Garry Disher

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Meth-related crime is on the rise, and when the bodies of two hit-men are found burned in their car outside a drug lab, Inspector Challis is assigned the case. At the same time, Sergeant Destry is on the case of a serial rapist who excels at leaving behind no evidence. Dark and tense, this is the latest in the Ned Kelly award-winning series.

 

Bloodstains with Bronte: A Crime with the Classics MysteryKatherine Bolger Hyde

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Windy Corner is being turned into a writers’ retreat and two of the workers are a bit too interested in Katie, the housekeeper and single mother. When a dead body turns up, Luke, the detective, is forced to investigate Katie. Emily, reading Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, starts seeing parallels between the books and the murder. But can she save Katie in time?

 

Ginger Snapped: A Spice Shop Mystery (Spice Shop Mystery Series)Gail Oust

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Shirley the realtor is found dead and the main suspect is police chief and suspected romantic interest Wyatt McBride. While he and Piper didn’t start off great, they’ve gotten closer, and Piper jumps in and enlists the help of her best friend to save him. But when things take a turn for the worse, Piper is put in danger too. Charming, with a kick!

 

A Murder for the Books: A Blue Ridge Library MysteryVictoria Gilbert

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Escaping from a bad romance, Amy Webber moves in with her aunt in Virginia, distracting herself with work at the library. When dancer-turned-teacher Richard asks Amy to hep clear the name of the woman his grand-uncle loved, the woman suspected of poisoning him, things start stirring. But the town is plunged into chaos when a series of unexpected murders start happening.

 

Cooking

Tasty Latest and Greatest: Everything You Want to Cook Right Now (An Official Tasty Cookbook)Tasty

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Tasty is the cooking brand of Buzzfeed, and now they have an official cookbook. With 80+ already reviewed recipes, this dishes in this book are the best of the best. Recipes include trendy takes, classic favorites, and new updates.

 

Simply Keto: A Practical Approach to Health and Weight Loss, with 100+ Easy Low-Carb RecipesSuzanne Ryan

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The ketogenic diet can be a tricky, with low-carb, high-fat meal rules. Suzanne Ryan’s book is perfect for everyone wanting to start out on this diet, but can’t quiet figure out the right way to do it. In addition to recipes, she also shares FAQs and her own experiences on the diet.

 

Healthy Meal Prep: Time-saving plans to prep and portion your weekly mealsStephanie Tornatore & Adam Bannon

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This book comes from YouTube’s ‘Fit Couple Cooks’ and guides you through preparing meals for a week in just a few hours. The recipes ensure you always have healthy, balanced meals, and gives you more free time.

 

The Craving Cure: Identify Your Craving Type to Activate Your Natural Appetite ControlJulia Ross

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Starting off with a five-part questionnaire, this book helps you target what you’re craving, why you’re over-eating, and how to start eating the right portions of food. Ross’s clinic in California specializes in food addiction, and over-eating, and she’s all but guaranteed to help you cure your cravings.

 

 

Secret Layer Cakes, Hidden Fillings and Flavors that Elevate Your DessertsDini Kodippili

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This cookbook updates all your favorite dessert recipes, by adding another layer to them – literally. Each classic recipe is updated to contain another elements of flavor, filling, or topping to make your recipes a fun surprise and a sure stand-out from the rest.

 

Methods of Modern Homebrewing: The Comprehensive Guide to Contemporary Craft Beer Brewing, Chris Colby

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Colby’s second book, he shows all the home-brewers how to really make the perfect beer, including everything from the fundamental basics, to the best tests, and ways to perfect the details of taste. This is the comprehensive and essential guide to beer on the market.

Memoir & Biography

Access All Areas: Stories from a Hard Rock LifeScott Ian

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This is the memoir of Scott Ian, the cofounder of iconic metal band Anthrax. Here, he shares memories of life backstage of the hard rock scene, the scenes he’s witnessed, and the unexpected events he’s been through. A fabulous writer, this memoir is incredibly engaging.

 

 

The Only Girl in the World: A Memoir, Maude Julien, & Adriana Hunter

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Maude Julien’s parents believed that they had a sacred duty to turn their daughter into the ultimate survivor – a superhero. But they did this by raising her in isolation, forcing her to hold onto electric fences,  and making her go through drills to eliminate “weakness.” She now shares her incredible story of survival, imagination, and escape.

 

An Uncommon Reader: The Life of Edward Garnett, Mentor and Editor of Literary Genius Helen Smith

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Edward Garnett was one of the most important editors of the 20th Century, and Smith’s portrayal of him in this biography is astounding. Working as a reader for hire, his relationships with other authors were everything from volatile to legendary, and his talents at finding the life-blood of books was apparent in his translative works. A truly unforgettable read.

Crown of Blood: The Deadly Inheritance of Lady Jane GreyNicola Tallis

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Not just a type of tea, Lady Jane Grey had an amazing, if short, life. There is a lot of misunderstanding about her trial and execution, and Tallis’s book is a fantastic retelling. Though she was only queen for nine days, her story is one of faith, education, and loyalty.

 

Non-Fiction

House of the Dead: Siberian Exile Under the TsarsDaniel Beer

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This book recounts the hundred year history of Siberia’s penal colony, from the beginning of the 19th century until the Revolution. During this time, more than one million prisoners were exiled, including their families. Beer’s book is a fantastic recounting, working through the ties, effects, and impacts of this migration.

 

Fortress America: How We Embraced Fear and Abandoned DemocracyElaine Tyler May

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For the last six decades, the USA has bought more guns, moved into gaited communities, and updated their locks and security more than anyone else. Elaine Tyler May looks at how the obsession with security and safety has locked us down, cut out freedom, and bred mistrust.

 

 

To Heal a Wounded Heart: The Transformative Power of Buddhism and Psychotherapy in Action, Pilar Jennings, PhD

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Psychoanalyst Pilar Jennings was approached with the difficult case of a six year old girl, whose trauma from loss was expressed in her not speaking. Taking an unorthodox approach, Jennings invited a Buddhist monk to their sessions – and what grew out of those sessions became a incredible story of healing and love.

 

YA and Children’s Books

The Truth Beneath the LiesAmanda Searcy

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Kayla wants to run away from her life: the government housing, her job and her unstable mother. Betsy wants to survive her life: the new rules, the burner phone and being watched all the time. But when their lives collide, only one girl will make it out. This debut thriller is a fantastic, unpredictable read.

 

Disney*Pixar: A Pop-Up Celebration, Matthew Reinhart 

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This pop-up book from New York Times best-selling author and artist is the ultimate celebration of the history of Pixar. Each pop-up contains an Easter egg to Pixar’s films, and the vibrant, colorful and special pop-up creations are a beautiful homage to the original works.

 

Martin Luther King: The Peaceful WarriorEd Clayton & Donald Bermudez

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This book was previously released in 1969, and has been updated for the new generation of children today. With beautiful illustrations, this book documents the life and efforts of Martin Luther King, Jr., written by an author close to the family. This is a great addition to the books written on Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

Star Wars: Rogue One Graphic Novel Adaptation, Alessandro Ferrari

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Star Wars: Rogue One was the blockbuster latest in the Star Wars film series, and now it’s here in graphic novel form. Follow along and read about Jyn Erso, the daughter of the Death Star’s creator, as she tries to save her father from Imperial control.

 

The Best of Archie Americana Vol. 1: Golden Age (The Best of Archie Comics)Archie Superstars

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This is the first of a three-part series, each focusing in a different age in the history of Archie Comics. First introduced in 1941, Archie was an instant hit, and this collection of 416 pages worth of material from the Golden Age show us why.

 

Where’s My Teddy?Jez Alborough

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Eddie is in for a big shock when he finds out that his teddy bear is too big for him to cuddle. But the fun begins when he meets up with a real bear whose teddy bear has shrunk too small to cuddle. What comes next is a cute comedy-of-errors and mistaken identity.

 

 

 

 

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It’s Your Presence Not Your Presents That Can Make The Holidays Stress Free

For most of us, when we think about the holiday season it evokes a feeling of excitement, anticipation, peacefulness, beauty and more. As the holidays get closer, we often begin to fall into our old patterns that have plagued us for our adult lives. The feelings of needing to buy gifts for everybody, having a ready supply of hostess gifts, dealing with family members, hosting the perfect party and the ever mounting list of expectations.

When overwhelm sets in, it’s time to take a breath and find a remedy for these problems. In your own life, you can make a list of what stressors you are reacting to. On a piece of paper on the left hand side write down everything that bothers you year after year and anything new that is coming up for you this year. On the right hand side of the paper write down a counter action to your problem. Here is what mine would look like:

1. Gift Expectations

Only buy gifts for my family that I live with. I can send loving emails or cards to other people and give to the less fortunate. I can also sit with my family and decide what we want our holiday season to look like and create a plan together. Do we want to have a simple holiday season this year, go away on holiday or maybe make it all about giving to others?

2. Hostess Gift Overload

Not everybody expects hostess gifts anymore. I can buy several of one type of item such as candles or plants to have on hand. I can also make a bouquet of herbs and greenery from my garden or theirs.

3. Dealing with Family

I can practice taking deep breaths and meditation beforehand and catch myself when I feel triggered. I can also remove myself from a situation and have a break so I can re-center myself.

4. Being the Perfect Hostess

My friends just want to have a nice time; they don’t expect perfection. People actually enjoy themselves more if the hostess is relaxed. If I imagine the situation reversed, I wouldn’t want a friend to be stressed to make the perfect party.

5. Too Many Parties

I don’t have to say “yes” to every party. Or I can make an appearance briefly and leave early.

Now that I have a rough outline of what truly bothers me, I can go even deeper with journaling. As you journal, you will uncover another layer to your issue and get to the root of the problem. If you feel yourself falling into old patterns, take a breath and regroup knowing that it is a process and you a learning a new skill set. Next year will be even better.

When we are armed with information and solutions, the problem can no longer affect us so much. Rather than feeling overwhelmed and powerless during the holidays, we can feel completely in control and prepared for anything heading our way.  In this light, we can shift from surviving the holidays into thriving this holiday season.

 

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Jenny Slate is Winning with a New Commercial and Collection of Feminist Fables

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Actress and comedian Jenny Slate has been winning! She had us all in stitches on Parks and Recreation as Mona-Lisa Saperstein and since then, she’s starred in a variety of shows and movies like Lady Dynamite, Zootopiaand GirlsLast week, Slate not only debuted an Old Navy holiday ad, she also announced that she is writing her first book: a collection of feminist essays and fables.

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Though she’s a very funny lady on-screen, Slate has always been very serious, and outspoken on her opinions about feminism and womanhood. Slate clearly defines herself as a woman who’s life and success are her own, even responding to queries that her relationship with actor Chris Evans may be a benefit of fame. “There are so many women spoken about in terms of who their partners are. It’s not the way we should be seeing women or how many women see themselves.”

Now, she’s bringing her thoughts and perspectives to us with her upcoming book. Many people have written feminist essays, but how many can say they’ve written feminist fables?

Fables are stories involving anthropomorphized elements of nature or animals that lead to a particular moral lesson, the most famous of which are Aesop’s Fables. If the idea of feminist fables sounds like it might be complicated to write, we think so too; but with Slate behind the wheel, it’s all but guaranteed to be amazing.

Why delve into such a complicated-sounding genre? Slate explains how her book examines womanhood in a misogynistic culture by drawing parallels between the experiences of women and animals who are preyed upon by other animals in their natural habitat.

The book will be published in 2019 by Little, Brown and Company. Below is a list of similar books that you can enjoy in the meantime!

Men Explain Things to Me, Rebecca Solnit

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In her original, scathingly witty essay Men Explain Things to Me, Solnit’s experience inspired the word “mansplaining” to come into use and popularity. In this brilliant essay collection, Solnit takes a global look at the epidemic of violence and prejudice aimed against women for being women. This book is brutal in its honesty and those looking for a lighthearted feminist perspective will have to look elsewhere. But that doesn’t mean you should feel discouraged from reading this book; Solnit’s perspective is one that is universal, and should be shared universally.

 

Sister, Outsider: Essays and Speeches, Audre Lorde

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There can be no true list of feminist books that doesn’t include Audre Lorde. The “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet” has long been a champion for women’s rights. In this collection of her essays and speeches, she tackles blatant sexism, intersectionality, homophobia, racism, ageism, and a host of other social issues. Her writing is as lyrical and beautiful as she is wise and she ultimately ends on notes of hope. This book will always be vitally important and should be considered a must-read for anyone who wants to talk about the issues of today.

 

Her Body and Other Parties: Stories, Carmen Maria Machado

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These might not be essays but the stories are just as relevant and poignant as any essay could be. Crossing the boundary of a variety of genres, Macho’s stories are shaped around the very real and horrific violence that is visited on women’s bodies. While this is a debut, it seems like it’s been written by a master novelist. Changing paces with every story, Machado changes from sexy and sultry, to deathly serious, and even traumatizing. There is no other word to describe this collection other than ‘exquisite.’

 

Black Milk: On the Conflicting Demands of Writing, Creativity, and MotherhoodElif Shafak

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Post-partum depression is still something of a taboo topic for many women, and families. There is an expectation, driven my media, culture, and social norms, that when women become pregnant and give birth, they are instantly happy, and fulfilled. But this is not the case; not now, in the past, or in the future. Elif Shafak, one of the most beautifully, brilliant writers in the world, wrote this book in 2012, after giving birth to her child, and plummeting into depression. Looking at other female writers, such as Virginia Woolf, and Alice Walker, Shafak navigates her way through her new maternal role, writing in a male-dominated society, and creativity, in this eloquent and poignant book.

 

View Slate’s Old Navy commercial:

 

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The Silence Breakers: 5 Books Inspired by Time’s Person of the Year

Image courtesy of NY Daily News.

The 2017 Time Person of the Year was announced last week and it could not have gone to anyone more deserving: the silence breakers. For the past few months, more and more women (and men!) have come forward, sharing their stories of sexual harassment and assault at the hands of some of the most powerful men in our culture. From politicians to movie producers, these people have continually used their power and clout in ways that pressured and compromised those less powerful than them. In the past, women and men who came forward have been shunned, ignored or silenced. But this year, they’ve managed to start a revolution, unseating men from the most prestigious positions and demanding that they be held accountable for their actions.

Image courtesy of The Crimson Connection.

We know a lot about these silence breakers. They’re brave, they’re from all walks of life, and in some cases they’re risking everything to come forward. These are the women who started the #MeToo movement, the actresses and actors who have shared their experiences regardless of the backlash, and the citizens who are making the harrowing choice of standing up to those more powerful. But no matter what, these are true heroes and we commend Time for recognizing them as such.

It also turns out that many of them are authors. There’s actress Ashley Judd, who was the first major star to come out against Harvey Weinstein. Her memoir All That is Bitter and Sweet was published in 2012. There’s news anchor Megyn Kelly and her memoir, Settle for More, which came out just last year. Kelly accused Roger Ailes, former CEO of Fox News, of sexual assault, and she also publicly condemned Bill O’Reilly and went to FOX executives about his behavior. There’s

Terry Crews, star of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, who was groped by agent Adam Venit at an event and is now suing both him and William Morris Endeavor. His book, Manhood, came out three years ago. And then there’s Dr. Wendy Walsh, a frequent guest of Fox News, who alsoshared her story about being harassed by Bill O’Reilly. Walsh has written several books, including The 30-Day Love Detox.

It goes to show that these silence breakers aren’t just brave: they’re talented and diverse, and they deserve to have their voices heard. We’re more than ready to support any author who’s willing to stand up for what’s right. On that note, here are 5 new books that are inspiring, empowering, and necessary reads for anyone trying to understand how we got here:

Brave, Rose McGowan

McGowan has long been vocal in Hollywood about her treatment as a woman, including when her agent dropped her for speaking out against sexism. She was also paramount in helping to expose Harvey Weinstein, who sexually assaulted her in a hotel room early in her career (they reached a settlement in 1997). She’s also called out other actors, like Ben Affleck, for knowing what was going on and doing nothing. Her memoir, Brave, comes out January 30th, and it’s an unflinching look at McGowan’s life, particularly her time in Hollywood. While fame and society were trying to wedge her into one box, McGowan rebelled, determined to make her own path. A harsh reality of what it means to live in the spotlight, Brave is an honest look at how the actress found – and held onto – her voice as a woman and an activist.

Together We Rise, Women’s March Organizers & Conde Nast

No event represents the modern feminist movement quite like the Women’s March, where around 500,000 women descended on Washington last year to advocate for women’s rights (and environmental and human rights). And that was just in the capital – there were marches across the country and even worldwide, with an estimated 5 million people participating. To celebrate the upcoming anniversary in January, the organizers of the march have put together a collection of essays, photographs, and insights that honor and celebrate the historical event. Hear from authors like Roxane Gay, actors like America Ferrera, and get behind-the-scenes stories about how it all came together in the first place.

Women & Power, Mary Beard

Known for her thoughtful writing and powerful nonfiction, Beard returns with a searing look at what it means to be a women, both historically and socially. She tackles the concept of misogyny by looking at where it came from, tracing woman’s place in society from early works of literature to our modern perception of women in power. Beard looks at how that power has been continually undermined for women, and what it would take for us to have a society that actually values a woman’s voice. Women & Power weaves together Beard’s own personal experiences with the larger ramifications of what it means to be a woman in today’s world.

Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado

The paperback version of Machado’s powerful collection of short stories came out in October, and we were first in line at the bookstore. Blending reality, science fiction, fantasy and horror, Machado hops around genres in order to tell a fundamental truth about women and how our bodies have shaped us. While she never flinches away from the grotesque, the real horror in Machado’s work is about the violence and violation that is so often inflicted upon women’s bodies (particularly that of LGBTQ women). From stories examining a world-ending plague to a novella reimagining episodes from Law & Order: Special Victim’s Unit, this is a collection that’s powerful, challenging, and a strong examination of the female experience.

Enough As She Is, Rachel Simmons

The full title of Simmons’ latest parenting book is, Enough As She Is: How to Help Girls Move Beyond Impossible Standards of Success to Live Healthy, Happy, and Fulfilling Lives. An expert on how young women are socialized, Simmons’ breaks down a major problem that modern girls are facing: they’re soaring academically, while suffering from high levels of anxiety, depression, and the feeling that they’ll never be good enough. While young boys are encouraged to take risks, girls are pushed to achieve but aren’t taught true confidence. Based on years of research, Simmons’ lays out the larger problems, while offering plenty of concrete advice for parents on how to handle the envy that social media creates, how to help girls stop over-thinking, and so much more.

 

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Second Chance at Love: How a New Man Turned a Writer’s Nightmare into A Dream Come True

Image courtesy iStock.

My whole life I dreamed of what it would feel like to fall in love. Listening to love songs and watching romantic movies as a teenager, I was excited to find my own love story. But the realities of my society slammed hard in my face. I was told that I had to chose someone that would be able to support me properly, someone who was from the same social class as me (or higher), and someone I could get along with. Whether we were in love or not, was immaterial.

Over the years, I would look at people on the streets: I saw happy couples holding hands, hugging each other or even giving each other a peck on the lips. Such simple common gestures were so far away from my reality. I felt alone and empty in my marriage. The man I had married, well, He Never Deserved Me.

Meeting Lucca turned my life upside down. I never saw it coming and it hit me like a runaway train. We slowly got to know each other and we both realized how good we were for each other. I was happy that I was finally experiencing love for the first time. That someone I loved loved me back the same way was a revelation.

What we have found in each other is exceptional. Not only do we have a connection at the soul level but we experience a physical chemistry that is nothing short of explosive.

It doesn’t always work that way for a couple. That we have found both qualities in each other is incredible. We are able to open up to each other and share our deepest secrets. But most importantly, we allow ourselves to be vulnerable with each other. And that has made us even closer.

Aside from having a strong bond of friendship, our sex life is out of this world. Before meeting him, I had no experience other than the coldness and the selfishness of my ex-husband. But when it’s explosive, you just know. Experience is not necessary to know that what you have is out of this world. His touch on my skin is enough to ignite me and I have this exact effect on him. The best part is that sometimes we laugh during sex; we realize how lucky we have been to have found each other. We loved to play and see how to make it more fun in bed. We liked to constantly learn what we both enjoy and we feel free but especially safe to try it. Our bodies are always in synch. We listen to each other’s breaths, to our bodies. We understand each other’s desires and give each other what we need.

Every aspect of our relationship blows my mind. He is a man of small loving gestures, he constantly compliments the way I look, the way I am, my smile makes his face light up. I know that I should never ever take what we have for granted and I never will. We make each other extremely happy and ultimately that’s what is important.

With him I feel like I have come home. I know that people easily throw this phrase around, but I have truly experienced what this is like. I know that he loves me and that he will never hurt me. To be able to trust a man, like I trust him, means the world to me.

I honestly believe that every experience and every painful moment in my life was worth it, because they led me to him.

 

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Writer’s Bone Podcast: Legendary Screenwriter and Author Phoef Sutton Talks ‘Colorado Boulevard’

Phoef Sutton, legendary screenwriter and author of the Crush series, talks to Daniel Ford about his new novels Colorado Boulevard and From Away. He may also slip in a “Cheers” story or two!

Phoef Sutton was born in Washington DC. He cut his eye teeth as a playwright, but first made a living as a writer in TV. He worked on the classic NBC series Cheers for eight years, and went on to write movies (The Fan, Mrs. Winterbourne) and also serve as consulting producer and writer for Boston Legal and Terriers. He recently wrote Darrow & Darrow for Hallmark Movies & Mysteries.

Colorado Boulevard Phoef Sutton

“I am compelled to write all the time.”

— Phoef Sutton

To learn more about Phoef Sutton, visit his official website, like his Facebook page, or follow him on Twitter @phoefsutton. Also listen to our first interview with Sutton.

 

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