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18th of November 2018

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Five books ... hot new reads that upend traditional views about women | The Star

Thu., Sept. 13, 2018

Hot new reads that upend traditional views about women

Feminasty: The Complicated Woman’s Guide to Surviving the Patriarchy Without Drinking Herself to Death, Erin Gibson

Bad Girls: A History of Rebels and Renegades, Caitlin Davies, John MurrayBad Girls: A History of Rebels and Renegades, Caitlin Davies, John Murray  (John Murray)Feminasty: The Complicated Woman’s Guide to Surviving the Patriarchy Without Drinking Herself to Death, Erin Gibson, Grand CentralFeminasty: The Complicated Woman’s Guide to Surviving the Patriarchy Without Drinking Herself to Death, Erin Gibson, Grand Central  (Grand Central Publishing)Little People, Big Dreams, Lincoln Children’s BooksLittle People, Big Dreams, Lincoln Children’s Books  (Lincoln Children's Books)Untrue: Why Nearly Everything We Believe About Women, Lust, and Infidelity Is Wrong and How the New Science Can Set Us Free, Wednesday Martin, Little, Brown SparkUntrue: Why Nearly Everything We Believe About Women, Lust, and Infidelity Is Wrong and How the New Science Can Set Us Free, Wednesday Martin, Little, Brown Spark  (Little, Brown)Vox, Christina Dalcher, BerkleyVox, Christina Dalcher, Berkley  (Berkley)

Erin Gibson is the co-host of the political comedy podcast Throwing Shade and the Funny or Die web series. She is angry and funny in equal measure, and in this first collection she sure doesn’t hold back. The essays focus on ideas, people and things she dislikes, or hates. These include Mike Pence (“a religious terrorist”); people who feel #MeToo is ruining lives (she debunks five common complaints); women who undermine women (Michele Bachmann and Megyn Kelly for starters); menstruation (“periods don’t just ruin panties, they ruin freedom”); and many more.

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Vox, Christina Dalcher

This dystopian novel offers a nasty spin on free speech. A repressive U.S. administration sets about putting women in the home where they belong: they are limited to uttering just 100 words a day (a wrist counter delivers a shock on the 101st) and are not allowed to read, write or travel. At school, girls are taught physical fitness, home economics and one academic subject: Simple Accounting for Households. Christina Dalcher’s first novel focuses on a former brain researcher named Jean, now the housebound mother of three sons and a daughter. Jean toes the line until she can no longer remain silent. (Dalcher offers this fun fact: the average person speaks 16,000 words a day.)

Bad Girls: A History of Rebels and Renegades, Caitlin Davies

The bad girls of the title are women who were jailed for drunkenness, prostitution, being suffragettes, murder, theft, performing abortions — indeed the full monty of activities that society frowns on. All were locked up in Holloway Prison, whose founding mandate was to be “a terror to evildoers.” It began life as a House of Correction in north London in 1852, became a women’s-only jail in 1903 and was shut down in 2016. This is a deeply researched social history of the prison and the women confined in it. One of Davies’s six novels, The Ghost of Lily Painter, was inspired by the first two women executed at Holloway, in 1903.

Untrue: Why Nearly Everything We Believe About Women, Lust, and Infidelity Is Wrong and How the New Science Can Set Us Free, Wednesday Martin

Wednesday Martin comes to her meditation on female unfaithfulness with a point of view: adulteresses are brave and their experiences instructive. In the great relationship pool that is Manhattan, she expected to date, meet her perfect man and settle into monogamy (a word she quips sounds like something comfy to sit on). Instead, she dated prolifically, had lots of sex, got serious, got bored, then found herself interested in a new guy. If that sounds familiar, this book may be for you. Martin is a lively stylist (her controversial memoir, Primates of Park Avenue, was a bestseller), and her research into female philandering draws on many disciplines — science, history, literature, philosophy, popular culture, and more.

Little People, Big Dreams

It is called Little People, Big Dreams, but all the little people since this series began in 2016 have been girls who grew up to be famous women — Amelia Earhart, Frida Kahlo, Emmeline Pankhurst, and about 20 others by year’s end. The latest two are Mother Teresa and Canada’s own L.M. Montgomery, both written by Isabel Sánchez Vegara. These beautifully illustrated stories for young feminists describe how a little girl named Agnes grew up to be Saint Teresa of Calcutta and how an imaginative child named Maud from P.E.I. wrote Anne of Green Gables. Next year, 10 more titles will be published, including several stories of boys who became noteworthy men.

Sarah Murdoch, smurdoch49@gmail.com

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