THE TROUBLE WITH WOMEN -- a brilliant, tongue-in-cheek, hysterical look at women's "issues," "frailties," and "failures" in our not-so-distant history
The Trouble With Women by Jacky Fleming (2016, Andrews McMeel Publishing; 128 pages)
"In the older days there were no women which is why you don't come across them in history lessons at school. There were men and quite a few of them were geniuses. Then there were a few women but their heads were very small so they were rubbish at everything apart from needleworkd and croquet."
If you are intelligent, into satirical readings, and you need to laugh aloud at the end of a busy, rotten day, this is the book for you. You will actually roar, especially if you consider yourself a feminist. Questions like "Can women be geniuses?" or "are their arms too short?" or "why did we only learn about three women at school and what were all the others doing?" will be answered in this savagely funny book. This is a book illustrated throughout with pen and ink sketches reminiscent of Victorian cartoons.
The drawings have a caricatural style, but they are witty, they are alive, they move and they enrich the stories and characters. Jacky Fleming's women have ballooning wide skirts and astonishing, tiny heads. After all: “Female brains were not only smaller, but they were made of soft, spongey, lightweight material.” But their faces have an incredible expression that tells you they are not happy, they are not sleeping, and they are ready to be part of history.
This book is a must read, no matter what your age or gender is.
Find this title in our catalog: The Trouble With Women
Recommended by: Maite
MUSLIM GIRL: A COMING OF AGE -- a harrowing and candid memoir about coming of age as a Muslim American in the wake of 9/11
Muslim Girl: A Coming of Age by Amani Al-Khatahtbeh (2016, Simon & Schuster; 144 pages)
Amani Al-Khatahtbeh is the founder and editor in chief of MuslimGirl.com, the number one Muslim women's blog in the United States. She regularly provides commentary on social, cultural, and political issues through outlets such as CNN, Al Jazeera, and the BBC, and has been featured in The New York Times, The Guardian, and more.
This memoir is a harrowing and candid account of what it´s like to be a young Muslim woman in the wake of 9/11, during the never-ending war on terror, and through the Trump era. It is a portrait of Amani's journey through adolescence as a Muslim girl in the United States, from the Islamophobia she's faced on a daily basis to the website she launched that became a cultural phenomenon, to the nation's political climate in the 2016 election cycle.
The voice in the book is powerful and the writing is fantastic. The author brings light to many questions that non-Muslims have. She discusses myths, like the one that says that a headscarf is a signifier for radicalism or oppression. She generously shares her own personal anecdotes, and her honesty is astonishing. Amani sends a vital message, an urgent one that is a deeply necessary counterpoint to the current political climate and rhetoric about the Middle East.
A must read. Fantastic.
Find this title in our catalog: Muslim Girl
Recommended by: Maite
WE SHOULD ALL BE FEMINISTS -- a personal, eloquently-argued essay, adapted from the author's much-admired TEDx talk
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2015, Anchor Books; 64 pages)
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is the author of award-winning and bestselling novels, among them Americanah and Half of a Yellow Sun. She has also published a delightful book titled Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions. She divides her time between the United States and Nigeria, and living in both countries adds a fantastic and very interesting cultural note to her analysis about contemporary feminism, something that the reader can enjoy in We Should All Be Feminists.
The book is actually a short essay adapted from the author's TEDx talk of the same name. The readers will find a unique definition of feminism for the 21st century, one rooted in inclusion and awareness. The author's style is concise, and her voice is fun. What is truly interesting is that Chimamanda dives on her own experiences and her deep understanding of the often hidden realities of sexual politics. She questions and answers what it means to be a woman now, and from there she makes a radical and well reasoned point for why we should be raising our daughters and sons to be feminists.
This is a short and delightful read, recommended to everyone, because, as the author writes: All of us, women and men, must do better to build a better world.
Find this title in our catalog: We Should All Be Feminists
Recommended by: Maite
PARACUELLOS: CHILDREN OF THE DEFEATED IN FRANCO'S FASCIST SPAIN -- heartbreaking stories filled with humanity, humor, and courage
Paracuellos: Children of the Defeated In Franco's Fascist Spain by Carlos Gimenez (2016, IDW Publishing; 136 pages)
This book is a graphic memoir that touches souls, especially the souls of those of us born in Spain.
Though Carlos Giménez´s autobiographical account of the plight of children in post-World War II Fascist Spain is filled with humor, it is often heartbreaking to read. One needs to be committed to learn about the darkest of history or have a historical curiosity for some of the most crucial times in our contemporary era in order to dive into this memoir and navigate the numerous dark vignettes. If the reader is, he or she will probably enjoy a book that has won virtually every comics award in Europe, including Best Album at the 1981 Angouleme Festival.
Carlos Giménez has written a work of great honesty and courage, created at a time when telling the truth about Spain’s political past could get one killed. As a matter of fact, the publication of this graphic memoir generated constant death threats from right-wing groups.
Paracuellos includes a beautiful foreword by Will Eisner, editor´s note by Dean Mullaney, and a chapter on The National Works of Social Aid, by Antonio Martin.
“Carlos Giménez uses his mastery of the comic strip medium to create a new paradigm that establishes a dialogue between history and memory, and coverts it into a demand for moral justice.¨ -From the Afterword by Carmen Moreno-Nuño, University of Kentucky.
Recommended for those with an interest in the history of Spain, or the art of Will Eisner and Harvey Kurtzman. Also for those who are not afraid to learn about the horrors brought by dictatorships.
Find this title in our catalog: Paracuellos
Recommended by: Maite
RADICAL HOPE: LETTERS OF LOVE AND DISSENT IN DANGEROUS TIMES -- a kaleidoscopic view of the love and courage needed to navigate this time of upheaval, uncertainty, and fear
Radical Hope: Letters of Love and Dissent in Dangerous Times, Edited by Carolina De Robertis (2017, Vintage; 272 pages)
Carolina de Robertis, the editor of this fabulous collection of letters of love and dissent in dangerous times, is an award-winning author of novels like The Gods of Tango, Perla, and The Invisible Mountain. She is also a longtime activist who spent ten years in the nonprofit sector before publishing her first book. During that time she led projects concerning issues like women's rights, immigrant rights, and addressing sexual violence. It is my opinion that her experience as an advocate for human rights illuminated the way to bring together journalists, poets, leading novelists and political thinkers to create a compendium of radical hope.
For many, this time we are living in is defined by despair, tumult and danger. De Robertis decided to explore the idea of forming a body of epistolary essays, or essays in letter form, as a way to build up a collective mirror of what makes the American society strong and beautiful. Those who agreed to participate did so in a radically honest, brave, and bold way. They practice the exercise of taking notice and measure of what's been lost with the shift this country has gone through, or is going through, what's changed and what hasn't. They also offer their perceptions on where we are now, and what this means in both a personal and intimate way and also a societal one.
The book is really a manifesto. It is divided into three sections that follow three big questions. The first section is compiled under the name “Roots,” and explores the histories that bring the American society to the present moment. There the reader will find many letters addressed to ancestors, for example. The second section is the epistolary correspondence that belongs to “Branches,” and it brings essays about present-day people or communities, from Baby Boomers to the protestors at Standing Rock. It is one of my favorite parts of the manifesto, because it dives into complex questions of our current era. The last section is called “Seeds,” and its radical hope sustains the future through words to new generations, daughters and sons, imagined children yet to be born, inheritors of what is happening now.
The reader is lucky. The names of contributors willing to offer their words as a beacon, balm, compass, and power source are big: Achy Obejas, Alicia Garza, Aya de León, Boris Fishman, Carolina De Robertis, Celeste Ng, Cherríe Moraga, Chip Livingston, Claire Messud, Cristina García, Elmaz Abinader, Faith Adiele, Francisco Goldman, Hari Kunzru, iO Tillett Wright, Jane Smiley, Jeff Chang, Jewelle Gomez, Junot Díaz, Karen Joy Fowler, Kate Schatz, Katie Kitamura, Lisa See, Luis Alberto Urrea, Meredith Russo, Mohja Kahf, Mona Eltahawy, Parnaz Foroutan, Peter Orner, Reyna Grande, Roxana Robinson, and Viet Thanh Nguyen.
Radical Hope is a must read for those who are wading through waves of despair and need to hold onto love, courage, and company to navigating this time of uncertainty
Find this title in our catalog: Radical Hope
Recommended by: Maite
THE BOOK OF VEGANISH: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO EASING INTO A PLANT-BASED, CRUELTY-FREE, AWESOMELY DELICIOUS WAY TO EAT, WITH 70 EASY RECIPES ANYONE CAN MAKE
The Book of Veganish by Kathy Freston with Rachel Cohn (2016, Pam Krauss/Avery; 288 pages)
This is a great resource for those curious about what is veganish and why go veganish. The first two chapters are dedicated to answering those questions. The book format is very attractive, with colorful pictures, fonts and text. Once the reader has the answer to the important questions that could basically change her or his diet, the authors develop six more chapters filled with very interesting information about how not to starve when eating out, how to deal with the non-vegs in your life, and more. The book includes a fabulous chapter with really good recipes, a great glossary and a very helpful shopping list and resources.
Some of the recipes included in the book are very fun and easy to put together. I tried and love the marinated bean salad to go, the better bean burgers, the banh mi salad bowls, the curried couscous pilaf and the chocolate mug cake that, according to the authors, is the answer to those late-night chocolate cravings … cravings that you can have even when you are not a teenager any more.
I would recommend this book to teens and also to adults curious about the wonderful world of veganish, which ultimately is a matter of justice.
Find this title in our catalog: The Book of Veganish
Recommended by: Maite
ALTRUISM: THE POWER OF COMPASSION TO CHANGE YOURSELF AND THE WORLD -- a robust and passionate case for cultivating compassion as the best means for simultaneously benefitting ourselves and our society
Altruism: The Power of Compassion To Change Yourself And The World by Matthieu Ricard (2015, Little, Brown and Company; 717 pages)
This is a book written by a happy man. His name is Mathieu Ricard. He was born in France and he is a Buddhist monk who left a promising career in genetics to study in the Himalayas. He now lives in Nepal and devotes much of his time to 140 humanitarian projects in Tibet, India, and Nepal.
The book is a compelling read for those who are looking for compassion as a way to digest life and the world. In fact, the book’s name is Altruism: The Power of Compassion to Change Yourself and The World.
The book opens with an introduction and then it navigates through five chapters. "What is Altruism?" is the title of the first chapter, in which the author explores the nature of altruism, the concept of empathy, compassion, love, emotions etc. The second chapter focuses on the emergence of altruism in theories of evolution, maternal love, evolution of cultures and more. It also contains one of the most fascinating analyses, for me, of the book, in which the author searches (and finds) altruistic behaviors among animals. The third chapter explains how to cultivate altruism, exploring questions like “Can we Change?” The fourth chapter is dedicated to the Contrary Forces: egocentrism, ego, individualism, narcissism, selfishness. Here the author explores the origins of violence or devaluing the other. He also shares his beliefs about the natural repugnance to kill and analyzes massacres and genocides as dehumanizing the other. This is also a fascinating chapter where the author explains the effects of the meat industry on poverty, environment, and health, and he closes the analysis with some thoughts about institutionalized selfishness. The last chapter is dedicated to building a more altruistic society. Here Matthieu Ricard leaves us with the question of opting for hope. He talks about the virtues of cooperation, an enlightened education, fighting inequality, choosing a caring economy, etc. And he closes with a great conclusion entitled "Daring Altruism."
An absolutely wonderful read, inspiring, riveting and a great tool for those who are looking for guiding principles to lead this world to a better place. Read it!
Find this title in our catalog: Altruism
Recommended by: Maite
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