Thursday, April 3, 2014

Monthly Reads: March 2014

Outdated: Why Dating Is Ruining Your Love Life by Samhita Mukhopadhyay
I think this is actually a good book to read even if one doesn't quite identify as a feminist and might be a little uncomfortable with the word. It makes it really approachable and explains that feminism means equality and fairness for us all, not just for women. Instead of issuing blanket statements about what is right or wrong, it questions certain behaviors and practices so that we can be critical of our own actions and really think about why it is we do the things that we do. There was a lot of background and explaining of the systems in place, but I guess I was hoping for more suggestions on um.. how to fix my dating life? Kidding (..half). This book addresses things like chivalry, masculinity, marriage, open relationships, casual sex and hookup culture. There's a lot here and it was helpful to read. A lot of people think that politics aren't personal, but that's not true-- they're SO personal. The way gender dynamics are played out in a relationship is important and it would be great to date someone who understands this.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz
This book was about so much more than one nerdy Dominican kid's life. I was amazed at the in-depth family history that was told, from generation to generation, fukú and all. It tugged at all sorts of heartstrings and was relatable in so many ways! It was funny, nerdy (soo nerdy), and heartbreaking. The characters are developed magnificently. Not just the characters, but the relationships between them. You KNOW how much Oscar's sister loves him, because you feel it from the beginning of the book. On another note, I was inspired by Oscar's dedication to his writing, and the way it carried him through so much. And how brave he was to relentlessly fall in love over and over again! I love the way Diaz casually mixes English, Spanish, and millions of references to nerdy stuff together. I read somewhere that this book took eleven years to write, and I read it in a mere three or four days. It was difficult to put it down and I was always excited to come back to it. It's similar to the feeling I get when the holidays come around-- you spend all day in the kitchen just to spend 20 minutes eating! But it's so, so worth it.

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
A collection of eight powerful, albeit sometimes painfully sad, short stories. These  are stories of diaspora-- stories of families and such nuanced dynamics that I have previously only talked about with my closest friends. When I was reading, I felt like I was consuming so much of my own experiences. Something happens when you realize you have a shared experience with someone, or just when you realize that someone else could possibly understand the complexities of your family. It's was like this book was saying "look, you're not alone." Even though the characters are mostly of Bengali descent, I related to a number of their experiences with having immigrant parents. The stories are each so rich and contain a mass of detail. I don't think I can even pick a favorite! I savored every single one. I think I might need to reread this in the not-too-distant future. And I'm definitely going to check out her other books. The cherry on top of this book is that I got is from The Book Thing of Baltimore.

How to Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting to Kill You by Matthew Inman, The Oatmeal
This just deserves honorable mention simply because it's so hilarious. Read it--you'll laugh!

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