Book recommendation

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DarkOne
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Book recommendation

Post by DarkOne » Fri Mar 2, 8:11 2018

Well-read 'femmers: I need help with a potentially tricky book recommendation. If you could recommend a feminist read for a target audience that is predominantly white suburban Christian women with a college degree, in their mid-late 30s, half of them working mothers, half stay-at-home mothers, some of whom are probably not entirely comfortable with the word "feminism", what would you recommend? It doesn't need to be explicitly about feminism, though it can be if you think the book fits the audience. I feel like I need a book that's female-empowering without turning off the rather conservative audience. I have no clue where to start, since I like to read stuff where someone gets whacked at the beginning and avenged at the end, or stuff where a sorceress and/or dragon pops up at some point during the story. This book recommendation is a bit out of my depth. Any recommendations? Fiction and non-fiction recommendations are welcome.
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Re: Book recommendation

Post by Plotthickens » Fri Mar 2, 8:36 2018

One of my favorite startlingly feminist and empowering novels, hidden in what appears to be just an escapist sci-fi fantasy:

Elizabeth Moon, Remnant Population, 2003, available via hardback, paperback, kindle, and used.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/962 ... earch=true

For forty years, Colony 3245.12 has been Ofelia’s home. On this planet far away in space and time from the world of her youth, she has lived and loved, weathered the death of her husband, raised her one surviving child, lovingly tended her garden, and grown placidly old. And it is here that she fully expects to finish out her days–until the shifting corporate fortunes of the Sims Bancorp Company dictates that Colony 3245.12 is to be disbanded, its residents shipped off, deep in cryo-sleep, to somewhere new and strange and not of their choosing. But while her fellow colonists grudgingly anticipate a difficult readjustment on some distant world, Ofelia savors the promise of a golden opportunity. Not starting over in the hurly-burly of a new community... but closing out her life in blissful solitude, in the place she has no intention of leaving. A population of one.

With everything she needs to sustain her, and her independent spirit to buoy her, Ofelia actually does start life over–for the first time on her own terms: free of the demands, the judgments, and the petty tyrannies of others. But when a reconnaissance ship returns to her idyllic domain, and its crew is mysteriously slaughtered, Ofelia realizes she is not the sole inhabitant of her paradise after all. And, when the inevitable time of first contact finally arrives, she will find her life changed yet again–in ways she could never have imagined.
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Re: Book recommendation

Post by rowan » Fri Mar 2, 9:51 2018

Hmmm. Tricky one. Have you read The Fifth Season trilogy by NK Jemisin? It's kind of sci-fi/fantasy but also has concepts that are really relevant. There's some heavy politics in there which can be talked about but it's not set on Earth, so maybe easier to talk about things like that in an alternate context?

If you're looking for more light/fluffy that just have empowered women I could do suggestions for that.

Nonfiction if you want to hit up basic racism awareness 101 you can try Seeing White or if you want something heavier Slavery By Another Name or the New Jim Crow but I suspect those would go over less well.

If you want badass women of history, there are books out there, you could check out amightygirl.com 's rec's for high school students (because hs students should be reading adult stuff)
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Re: Book recommendation

Post by Sonic# » Fri Mar 2, 10:24 2018

DarkOne wrote:I have no clue where to start, since I like to read stuff where someone gets whacked at the beginning and avenged at the end, or stuff where a sorceress and/or dragon pops up at some point during the story.
So you're saying that won't fly? ;)

It's hard for me to know the line between low-key and no-key, like when something becomes so subtle about its feminism that it's actually not going to get people to think about feminism in any new way. So I'll write up a few ideas that I have:

Non-fiction/memoir: Bossypants by Tina Fey. Fey is the writer/actor who gets stuff done. She discusses coming up in the often masculine halls of improv comedy and SNL writing. She has a lot of wit, and manages to drop truth-bombs in a way that is provocative and opens up some great discussion. Example: "The definition of 'crazy' in show business is a woman who keeps talking even after no one wants to fuck her anymore."

Fiction/short novel, literary: Quicksand or Passing by Nella Larsen. So full admission - this may be a hard read, as it deals with race in the early 20th century, and neither novel has a happy ending. However, I like to think of good literature as work that gets people thinking, and Larsen focuses in these two stories on a woman who serves as a professor at a segregated school and a woman passing as white in hip society. They both highlight the struggles of being a woman in times and places where she's expected to be subordinate to a man, and all in an intersectional context.

Non-fiction, essayish: Feminism is for Everybody, bell hooks. This book is back-to-basics, and manages to describe feminism in an accessible, comprehensible way. It's over a decade old now, but it remains relevant and prescient. Of course the people who are allergic to the repetition of the word "feminism" may not read at all, but I think it's thought-provoking even for people on the fence or who don't otherwise engage in intellectual discussions about women's rights.

Poems? Any collection by Lucille Clifton. Poetry is a tough sell sometimes, but I think sitting with a volume of poems by Natasha Trethewey, Elizabeth Bishop, or (here) Lucille Clifton can teach a lot about perspective, women's place in society, bodily experience, and so on. The advantage of poetry is that it's already defamiliarizing, so it doesn't start from the old terms we tend to build walls around. Here's a sample of poems to get a feel for whether they work: homage to my hips, the garden of delight, [if mama / could see], the lost baby poem. (Warning - the last poem can be hard-hitting emotionally. Be in a good place.)

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Re: Book recommendation

Post by Enigma » Fri Mar 2, 20:32 2018

It is really hard to judge the line between subtle and nothing. Here are some which I liked and have some substance without being to obviously FEMINISM. If you are interested in more obvious ones I can add some in?

Non-fiction:
Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference by Cordelia Fine
I remember this being really interesting and since it's talking about the science it might be more approachable? This is definitely non-fiction though, so they'd need to be ok with that.

I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai, Christina Lamb
This was a good interesting read but since it's not in the US it's less threatening. It allows opportunities to discuss gender and the middle east in nuanced ways (hopefully).


Fiction:
Annabel by Kathleen Winter
So this is actually more of a book about an intersex child but it's beautifully written and a good read and could open some doors to ask questions about gender?
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Re: Book recommendation

Post by geldofc » Fri Mar 2, 22:08 2018

I don’t know what will help conservative white married Christian women. A lot of people do seem to hate feminism, especially that group. I agree bell hooks is accessible and great and would recommend her to anyone. Her writing always sounds mild and loving to me even if she is radical. I need to read Octavia Butler myself atm and have seen her recommended elsewhere - but she’s feminist, writes strong heroines, and is considered one of the greatest scifi writers.
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Re: Book recommendation

Post by Mordak » Sun Mar 4, 7:38 2018

Try Australian Author Kaz Cooke, she's a feminist leaning non fiction and fiction writer over here- not too controversial, pretty moderate and she talks about raising kids a lot.
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Re: Book recommendation

Post by DarkOne » Mon Mar 5, 8:41 2018

Thanks to all for coming through with great recommendations! I have some work to do narrowing down all these to two or three.

@Plot: I'm super intrigued about Remnant Population. I'm adding it to MY list even if it doesn't make it to the group.
@Rowan: ALso adding The Fifth Season to my list, and if you can send a couple of fluffy book recommendations my way, I'd appreciate it too.
@Sonic: I wish dragons flew with this crowd. ;) I wonder if Feminism is For Everybody would fly... It might. I'm seriously considering taking a gamble with this one... And I had never considered poetry! I think I don't know how to read poetry. It always feels to me like it's a puzzle I'm failing to solve: WHAT is this poem about..? [draws blank]
@Enigma: Agree that it can be tricky. Maybe subtle was not the best word, what I wanted to describe was not-in-your-face, but I think you understood. I like these picks a lot.
@geldofc: I think you misunderstood my tone. I am not trying to "help" my friends as much as I'm trying to make the most out of an opportunity to raise awareness and promote discussion of ideas and topics and attitudes to which they may not have been exposed and which would rarely come up in everyday conversation with them. This is a chance to force them out of their comfort zone in a safe environment, I'd like for them to be stimulated and intrigued and hopefully left wanting for more. I don't want to attack, I want to welcome. I think with this crowd, that's the most prudent approach. And I'm adding Bloodchild to my list. :)
@mordak: Any faves by Kaz Cooke?
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Re: Book recommendation

Post by Plotthickens » Mon Mar 5, 10:02 2018

Just to shill, Remnant Population's main character is a grandmother who wants to live and then die in peace. Her society is a little repressive, what with the clothing restrictions and gender role requirements, and how much loss the settlement had experienced. She just wants to live and die alone, finally without restrictions, on her own terms. Then she meets another species who value women and elders. The requirements on her from her new role prove to be immense, they fit perfectly, and they got just the right woman for the job.

It would be a good framework to discuss current gender roles and expectations, and how things have changed for the elders in our society -- such as from the Opioid Epidemic -- and how we could respect women more for the work that we do, even if it's unpaid and expected.



Speaking of gender roles, Ethan of Athos is hilarious. Here's the publisher's blurb, and then mine:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/990 ... earch=true
The familiar old SF "planet of women" chestnut is reversed in the planet of Athos — an all-male planet made possible by the invention of the uterine replicator. Ethan, drawn out of his beloved Athos by a quest, finds himself an alien in more mainstream human society, and cannot help but find women disturbing aliens as well, especially the ultra-competent, ultra-beautiful Elli.



A planet of all men sends out a representative to get more material for their clone vats. He is scandalized by:
* how actual woman are not utterly evil harlots
* how dangerous and complicated life can be where there's time to plot, because
* off Athos, galaxial society is more increasing and affluent by significant percentages than athos. This is because
* off Athos, women are expected to bear and raise children without recompense. This is weird to him as
* men on Athos must build up Social Credits to be considered worthy enough to raise a kid and
* men on Athos expect to be compensated for their childrearing work
* which results in a much less affluent, less intricate & less populous Athos society

The whole story is told through the eyes of this gullible idiot whose MGTOWish expectations of Galaxial Society come crashing down at every experience. It's HILARIOUS, very sly. The plot twist at the end will make your eyes cross.
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Re: Book recommendation

Post by rowan » Mon Mar 5, 17:13 2018

Do you think they'd go for re-imagined fairy tales? Ash and Bramble by Sarah Prineas is good. https://www.harpercollins.com/978006233 ... nd-bramble
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Re: Book recommendation

Post by DarkOne » Mon Mar 5, 21:27 2018

rowan wrote:
Mon Mar 5, 17:13 2018
Do you think they'd go for re-imagined fairy tales? Ash and Bramble by Sarah Prineas is good. https://www.harpercollins.com/978006233 ... nd-bramble
Oh very possibly! Hell, the only reason I semi hesitated is how much I disliked Once on TV. Ugh I hate Once. But I'd definitely give this a go!
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Re: Book recommendation

Post by Rainbow Dolphins » Tue Mar 6, 4:55 2018

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin comes to mind. It's about a society where gender is fluid and it gets you thinking about how gender plays out in our own society.

I have read Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler (I saw someone else mentioned her) and it wasn't particularly my cup of tea, but I think it would fit the bill. It was a good book, to be clear, just not what I normally go for. I'd like to read it again sometime because it was a long time ago, and maybe I'd appreciate it more now that I'm An Adult.
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Re: Book recommendation

Post by Plotthickens » Tue Mar 6, 8:26 2018

Ooooooo Left Hand of Darkness. Omimaude that's a good one. I gotta go re-read it.

What's the one where there's four genders? Aigh it's right on the tip of my tongue.
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Re: Book recommendation

Post by melsbells » Tue Mar 6, 13:58 2018

I don't have any recommendations to add, but I wouldn't give "Feminism is for Everybody" to a bunch of conservative white Christian women. I think the chapter on religion could cause them to turn on the rest of the book.

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Re: Book recommendation

Post by DarkOne » Tue Mar 6, 14:53 2018

melsbells wrote:
Tue Mar 6, 13:58 2018
I don't have any recommendations to add, but I wouldn't give "Feminism is for Everybody" to a bunch of conservative white Christian women. I think the chapter on religion could cause them to turn on the rest of the book.
Point taken. Guess how many copies of this my local library system carries? Zero. Over 1M volumes, and we carry zero copies. Le Sigh.
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