FEMINISM IS FOR EVERYBODY: PASSIONATE POLITICS -- the author explores the nature of feminism and its positive promise to eliminate sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression
Feminism Is For Everybody by bell hooks (2014, Routledge; 138 pages)
This book starts like this:
“Everywhere I go I proudly tell folks who want to know who I am and what I do that I am a writer, a feminist theorist, a cultural critic. I tell them I write about movies and popular culture, analyzing the message in the medium. Most people find this exciting and want to know more. Everyone goes to movies, watches television, glances through magazines, and everyone has thoughts about the messages they receive, about the images they look at. It is easy for the diverse public I encounter to understand what I do as a cultural critic, to understand my passion for writing (lots of folks want to write, and do). But feminist theory-that’s the place where the questions stop. Instead I tend to hear all about the evil of feminism and the bad feminist: how 'they' hate men; how 'they' want to go against nature-and god; how 'they' are all lesbians; how 'they' are taking all the jobs and making the world hard for white men, who do not stand a chance.”
This is probably one of the best books about feminist theory I’ve read. bell hooks offers a welcoming and passionate vision of gender, sexuality, and society. The book is inspiring, and the writing is accessible and engaging. The definition of what is feminism for bell hooks (a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression) is a theory rooted in common sense and also, very importantly, it is based on the wisdom of her own experience. Respect, justice, inclusiveness are concepts vital to feminist politics, and bell hooks calls for that. She also calls for a feminism free from divisiveness, but she welcomes debate to find alternatives to end a patriarchal, racist and homophobic culture.
The book is not very long, just over one hundred pages, with an introduction ("Come Closer to Feminism") and nineteen chapters, starting with Feminist Politics (Where We Stand), and ending with Visionary Feminism. There are chapters on Global Feminism, sisterhood, class struggle, feminist education, consciousness-raising, feminist parenting, ending violence, race and gender, feminist masculinity, sexual politics and more.
“A genuine feminist politics always brings us from bondage to freedom, from lovelessness to loving…There can be no love without justice.” – From the chapter “To Love Again: The Heart of Feminism”.
This book is a jewel, a must read, a “read it now” book.
Find this title in our catalog: Feminism Is For Everybody
Recommended by: Maite
A History of the World in 100 Objects: From the Handaxe to the Credit Card by Neil MacGregor (2013, Penguin Books; 736 pages)
Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, brings us a book to enjoy over and over again. The book takes a dramatically original approach to the telling of history, using objects that previous civilizations have left behind as a way to explore the lives of men and women.
A History of the World in 100 Objects tries to bring alive all sorts of objects, from a cooling pot to a golden galleon, from a Hebrew Astrolabe (a favorite) to a Suffragette-defaced penny (my absolutely favorite). And it does so in a way that is truly enjoyable, with great pictures and descriptions that don't stop with the objects, but go on to show us their significance in the context of where the objects appeared. If you enjoy finding out how Spanish pieces of eight explain the beginnings of global currency; how an early Victorian tea set reflects the impact of empire; how the Ain Sakhri Loves Figurine (another favorite chapter!) may embody a key response to a new way of living and a different way of humans to think about themselves, this is the book for you.
The book is an encyclopedic project because it embraces the history of humanity, a history of invention and innovation. The writing is wonderful, vivid, witty, and humorous. The contents are divided into twenty parts, starting with “Making us Human,” a period between 2,000,000 and 9000 BC and ending with “The World of Our Making” from AD 1914 to 2010. It also includes maps, a list of objects, a great bibliography, references, picture credits and text.
I read an object a day, and I didn't finish the book before I had to bring it back to the library. So I decided to purchase it, because it is one of those books that will call you over and over again. A book to find answers in the silent past, and a call to slow down. Delightful. Read it.
Find this title in our catalog: A History of the World in 100 Objects
Recommended by: Maite
JOURNEYS: YOUNG READERS' LETTERS TO AUTHORS WHO CHANGED THEIR LIVES -- reveals how deeply books affect the lives of young readers
Journeys: Young Readers' Letters to Authors Who Changed Their Lives, Edited by Catherine Gourley(2017, Candlewick; 240 pages)
The Library of Congress is the world´s largest library and it was established in 1800. John Y. Cole writes in the foreword of Journeys that it is also uniquely American, pointing out that Thomas Jefferson, America´s founding father and third president, understood the power of words, "not just to inform but also to inspire."
This book belongs to one of the programs of The Center for The Book in the Library of Congress, whose goal is to fulfill Thomas Jefferson´s philosophy of promoting libraries and developing lifelong readers celebrating the country´s literary diversity and leadership. The book is the response to an invitation to young readers to share their personal connections with authors. It is packed with more than fifty letters that showcase how young readers have been inspired and healed by the power of a book or the power of author´s words. The book is divided into three parts: the first one belongs to the letters from upper elementary, the second one, to middle school students and the third one to high school students. Chapters are divided by themes: destinations, realizations, and returning home. The result is frankly interesting and very inspiring. One of the letters that I enjoyed the most was the one by Xiomara Torres. Through her letter, she shares with author Randa Abdel-Fattah the following testimony after reading Does My Head Look Big in This?:
"A year ago, if you had asked me about my race, I would have begrudgingly admitted that I was Puerto Rican and then swiftly changed the subject. The truth is, I was ashamed of my nacionality. I did not want to be Hispanic. I resented the fact that I had been born into my big Latino family, so I attempted to conceal it. I did everything in my power to separate myself from the stereotype about the Puerto Rican race. I paraded my obsession with rock music and my obviously punk style in clothing. I made sure every one knew that my best friend was white and that I thought shaggy-haired skaters were adorable. I straightened my overabundance of tightly curled hair whenever I had the chance. Instead of Xiomara or even my usual nickname, Xio, I demanded that everyone call me Mara because it sounded more at home among the mass of Rachels, Alis, and Courtneys at my high school. And my unbreakable golden rule: NEVER EVER SPEAK SPANISH.EVER.
I was embarrassed by myself by myself and by so many aspects of my life. I hated my small, poor inner-city school because it swarmed with Puerto Ricans, Mexicans and Cubans like myself. I constantly and publicly put down ´ghetto´ kids in hopes of deflecting any notions that I myself was one. Reggaeton, rap, hip-hop and salsa were , to me, nonexistent genres of music. Although I never bragged, I pride myself on the fact that I was number one in my class because I felt that it somehow made up for my ´sin´of being Hispanic. When I was nagged once about learning to speak Spanish, I remember yelling, ¨We are in America! Before Spanish even crosses our minds, we should learn to speak proper English!¨ I was always paranoid that behind my back, someone would be judging me, stereotyping me, making jokes about me, counting me out because of my race."
If you want to read how Does My Head Look Big in It changed Xiomara´s point of view, get this book.
Recommended to those who believe that book can changes lives and those interested in getting to know more than fifty different young readers through powerful letters. Read it!
Find this title in our catalog: This book is on order
Recommended by: Maite
THE BOYS IN THE BOAT -- an irresistible story about beating the odds and finding hope in the most desperate of times
The Boys In The Boat by Daniel James Brown (2014, Penguin Books; 404 pages)
This is an amazing account of the 1936 Olympic crew team from Washington that surprised the world and won gold. The author does an excellent job of developing parallel storylines describing Hitler’s Germany on the cusp of World War II and the struggles of the young men on the American team during the depression. Even though you know the outcome of the race from the start, the writing and the various threads of the story keep you interested. Drawing on the boys’ own journals and vivid memories of a once-in-a-lifetime shared dream, Brown has created an unforgettable portrait of an era, a celebration of a remarkable achievement, and a chronicle of one extraordinary young man’s personal quest.
Find this title in our catalog: The Boys In The Boat
Recommended by: Ann
RUMI: SOUL FURY: RUMI AND SHAMS TABRIZ ON FRIENDSHIP -- a seminal collection of poetry from the medieval Sufi mystic and his “soul friend,” which illuminate the evocative and deeply spiritual dimensions of friendship and love
Rumi: Soul Fury: Rumi and Shams Tabriz on Friendship by Coleman Barks (2014, HarperOne; 272 pages)
The thirteenth-century Sufi mystic Jelaluddin Rumi and Shams Tabriz met in 1244, the year of the beginning of their mystical and divine friendship, despite their differences. Rumi was introspective, loving, and embodied peace and kindness, while Shams was wild and honest, and full of a fiery passion that the author, Coleman Barks, calls "soul fury." Barks brings us a stunning translation of Rumi´s quatrains and also of the wise Sayings of Shams Tabriz, giving language to the delight of true friendship.
In the Author´s Note on Translation, Barks explains how the short free-verse poems are versions of Rumi´s rubai, done from Gamard and Farhadi´s translations. He writes that making versions is a way of "entering, and praising, and bringing Rumi´s insights into my own life."
A renowned poet himself, Coleman Barks is also the bestselling author of The Essential Rumi, and his job translating the Sufi mystic is probably one of the reasons why Rumi is the most read poet in America today.
This book is pure joy, an elegant and exquisite portrait of friendship. Recommended to those who love to escape to another realm when reading.
"There are those who love this physical world,
those who love spirit, and those who live inside what
Find this title in our catalog: Rumi: Soul Fury
Recommended by: Maite
STRANGE GODS: A SECULAR HISTORY OF CONVERSION -- a groundbreaking historical work that addresses religious conversion in the west
Strange Gods: A Secular History of Conversion by Susan Jacoby (2016, Pantheon; 512 pages)
This is a groundbreaking historical work that addresses religious conversion in the West from a secular perspective. Susan Jacoby, the author, challenges the conventional narrative of conversion as a purely spiritual journey. She focuses on the long, tense convergence of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and she examines conversions within a social and economic framework that includes theocratic coercion and the more friendly persuasion of political advantage, economic opportunism, and inter-religious marriage.
The book moves through different times in history, continents, and cultures and the author chooses to portray individual conversions. The reader can learn about Augustine of Hippo, John Donne, the German Jew Edith Stein, whose conversion to Catholicism did not save her from Auschwithz, boxing champion Muhammad Ali, and former President George W. Bush.
I was absolutely in awe reading the chapter "From Convivencia to the Stake," the history of The Inquisition in Spain, and the crumbling of that convivencia. The chapter on Margaret Fell, "Woman´s Mind, Woman´s Voice," is also an absolute jewel.
The book is fantastic, a combination of intellectual rigor and erudition, but also a writing lively and enlightening that makes the possibility of enjoying a non-fiction book about religious conversions a reality. Absolutely worthy of your time.
Find this title in our catalog: Strange Gods
Recommended by: Maite
ALL BETTER NOW: A MEMOIR -- a captivating memoir of the author's childhood struggles as a result of a brain tumor, only discovered following a near-fatal car accident
All Better Now: A Memoir by Emily Wing Smith (2016, Dutton Books For Young Readers; 304 pages)
This is one of those books that you can’t put down until you read the last sentence. And not just the last sentence of the memoir itself, but the last sentence of the acknowledgments too. The author, Emily Wing Smith, starts the book with a note to the readers in which she admits that truth can be embarrassing, and that’s the reason why she decided to change names and identifying characteristics of certain people. Then, she starts the prologue with a radical sentence: “I ask myself: How am I living still?” Her memoir is an answer to that question through captivating chronicles of her struggles with both mental and physical disabilities, among them a grapefruit-size brain tumor at the base of her skull, and a car accident that ironically may have saved her life. Sharing with us details of her therapy, her sudden uncontrollable bursts of anger, and her unexplained episodes until discovering the reason for her dizziness and the fact that nothing in her ever felt quite right, Emily Wing Smith delivers a powerful message: writing, telling her stories, was the only way she could escape it all.
This book is both breathtaking and heartbreaking, and takes the reader on a journey from beauty to pain, and from humor to sadness. It is a fast-paced memoir, filled with anecdotes that swim in vulnerability and honesty. The prose is raw, and works extraordinary well when describing painful events, or simply asking questions aloud.
I’d recommend this book to mature young readers (it is located in our J-Biography section) who believe in staying true to themselves no matter what, and adult readers who can relate to feelings of isolation and just plain weirdness.
Find this title in our catalog: All Better Now
Recommended by: Maite
WALK THROUGH WALLS: A MEMOIR -- a vivid and powerful rendering of the unparalleled life of an extraordinary performance artist
Walk Through Walls: A Memoir by Marina Abramovic (2016, Crowne Archetype; 384 pages)
Memoirs are one of my favorite genres. If you add to that the fact that I love women's art, this memoir arriving as an advanced copy to our library simply made the following weeks a pure joy.
Marina Abramovic is, of course, one of the most celebrated performance/conceptual artist in the world. She was raised in the former Yugoslavia, but now this artist with an impeccable sense of humor (reflected very well both in her art and in this memoir) lives between New York city and the Hudson Valley.
The book tells the story of Marina's life. The child of Communist war-hero parents under Tito's regime in postwar Yugoslavia, she was raised with a relentless work ethic. Even as she was beginning to forge an international artistic career, Marina lived at home under her mother's abusive control, strictly obeying a 10.00 p.m. curfew. This routine didn't kill her insatiable curiosity and desire to connect with people, two radical characteristics of her art and life.
The Ariadne thread of Walk Through Walls is a love story based on the relationship she had with Ulay, a fellow performance artist. This story is also a road trip across Europe. Elements are a van, no money, love, sex, art. They made history together and they said goodbye atop the Great Wall of China.
If you know Marina's art, you will understand the constant movement towards the limits: she uses her body to explore fear, pain, exhaustion, danger, transformation. She is truly remarkable and this memoir is fantastic and powerful. Read it.
For more information about the artist, click here and here
Find this title in our catalog: Walk Through Walls
Recommended by: Maite
NEW ORDER: A DECLUTTERING HANDBOOK FOR CREATIVE TYPES (AND EVERYONE ELSE) -- a revelatory, witty guide to a clearer home and a more creative mind
New Order: A Decluttering Handbook for Creative Folks (and Everyone Else) by Fay Wolf (2016, Ballantine Books; 208 pages)
This book by organizing expert Fay Wolf includes all that you need to declutter a space and fuel your creative mind: how to create productive to-do lists, stem the flood of paper, downsize digital clutter and social media, arrange your space to spark creative juices, curb your desire to accumulate, collaborate and connect with others for support, embrace imperfection, and keep up the momentum.
The book also offers Wolf's favorite productivity apps and resources for donating your many, many items (that probably you have!). "From the outer clutter of your home to the inner clutter of your chatty mind, this handbook will help you make room for artistic inspiration and invite you to treat yourself to less."
The format of the book is very attractive. This is a little jewel for those who feel stuck in the chaos of possessing too many things, and who feel the desire to have less and do more.
Find this title in our catalog: New Order
Recommended by: Maite
ON THE MOVE: A LIFE -- Oliver Sacks' memoir is a fascinating account of the author's remarkable life
On The Move: A Life by Oliver Sacks (2016, Vintage; 416 pages)
Oliver Sacks died last August, and during his lifetime he was educated as a neurologist, but what his memoir, "On the Move," reveals is that he was anything but a man with a singular interest. His career may have been in neurology, but his life was filled with activities as varied as bodybuilding, motorcycle riding, writing, and snorkeling. His memoir explores all these facets of his life, and makes clear just what an engaged, interested, and interesting man Sacks was. To learn more about Sacks, you can listen to a "Fresh Air" program that ran shortly after his death, but I also highly recommend reading his final book, "On the Move," which will allow you to spend some time with a fascinating man's thoughts.
Find this title in our catalog: On The Move
Recommended by: Brooke