Wednesday, November 9, 2016

If you asked me this time yesterday why I would be spending the whole night crying, why I’m in tears right now, I would have told you that I was so happy to see love win over hate. To see bigotry smashed by inclusion. To see that hope is greater than fear. To see our first woman president elected.

My mom, my greatest supporter and champion in my life, told me to be careful with what I say and what I post on social media. I’m sorry, mom, I am too angry, too scared, too disappointed to not raise my voice in solidarity with those upset about the result of this election. I am aware of my privileges — my citizenship, the color of my skin, my sexuality, my education — I am aware of the protections they afford me, and I am aware that if I stay silent now, I become complicit in a system that has failed so many. I refuse to let fear silence my outrage and my hurt.

I didn’t expect the outcome of this election to hit me so hard. Mostly that’s because I didn’t expect the results to turn out the way they did. I didn’t expect half of the country that I love to vote for ideals so contrary and abhorrent to my nature.

I know people who voted for Trump. Good people, kind people. I know they had their reasons. Dissatisfaction with the current administration. Voting for a party historically aligned with their religious values. They shoved Trump’s bigotry aside or even agreed with it, saying “so what” and ignoring the pain it caused other people, because they didn’t feel like those things affected them.

I know people who voted third party. Who, when faced with two options they hated, refused to vote for a major party, even knowing that their vote could help usher in a victory for hate. I know some of them hold no qualms voting the way they did because Trump’s hate didn’t directly affect them either.

I know all these things, but there’s so much I don’t know. Don’t and can’t understand. I don’t understand how such a highly qualified candidate can lose against someone with no government experience. I don’t understand how a platform built around inclusivity and the tenable fact that all are created equal can lose against a platform that not only wants to deport so many but also wants to build physical walls to further isolate and divide us. I don’t understand how a country’s hate for one woman could be so encompassing that it erases all the undesirable qualities of the man running against her.

I’m not saying that Hillary is perfect. I’m not saying that we don’t need political party reform in order to attract better and more viable main party and third party candidates. I realize the the ideological limits of a two party system and the frustration of backing a candidate, an ideal, a notion that has a slim chance of winning against establishment politics.

Our system is broken and needs change and reform, and I know that I will do what I can to help fix that. But right now, as a woman, as the daughter of an immigrant, as a member of a diverse and beautiful local and global community, I am worried.

I am worried for the rights of all women. I am worried for women in the workplace, under respected and under paid. I am worried for sexual assault and rape survivors, who are blamed and victimized in our society of rape culture and “locker room talk.” I am worried for everyone’s access to proper and affordable healthcare, including access to birth control and safe abortions for women. I am worried for the minorities in this country, facing injustices everyday to try to get their voices heard. I am worried for the LGBTQ community, afraid of a government against who they are and who they love. I am worried for people with disabilities and those who suffer from mental illness, unable to get the help and support they deserve. I am worried for immigrants, risking so much in hopes of finding a better life in America. I am worried for refugees with no place to go and no home to return to. I am worried for Muslim and Hispanic communities. I am worried for women of color. I am worried for my friends, for my mom, for my brother, for myself.

I am worried for a country so divisive that it neglects the ideals and hopes of half its citizens. I am worried for a country of people too blinded by their privilege to empathize with those whose beliefs are different from their own.

I am worried knowing that people I know — people who say they care about me — voted for a candidate who wants to take away my rights and the rights of so many of the people I love.

I’ve read a lot of things today, but I am perhaps the most heartbroken from the experiences of parents and teachers explaining the result to their kids. Explaining how a liar and a bully could become the president. I am worried for the kids who live in fear because of this result.

While I allow myself this day for mourning, left in the numb terror of a future that allows for the prevalence of hate, I know I can’t let my worry, my heartbreak, my disappointment, my fear bind me to inaction. I cannot stand idly by to see the rights stripped from those who need them the most. I refuse to expose my future students and my future kids to a reality of hate and hopelessness. I refuse to accept a future without hope.

Today, I reach out to the broken-hearted, to my friends, for comfort, guidance, support, and love. Tomorrow, I fight.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Readathon Results

This is a really quick update to my last post about Dewey's 24-Hour Readathon. I honestly didn't read as much as I hoped to. While I listen to audiobooks while commuting and working and occasionally read single issues of comics during lunch breaks or right before bed, I hadn't picked up a novel for pleasure in a really long time.

I started my morning off by reading two volumes of Bill Willingham's Fables, Volume 4: March of the Wooden Soldiers and Volume 5: The Mean Seasons. I've somehow been really dragging my heels reading my way through this series, but I really do enjoy seeing the cast of fairy tale characters cast in different lights. I think these two volumes really started escalating the threat of the Adversary even more, which was especially exciting.

The novel that I attempted to pick up was Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie. I only got 5 chapters in on Saturday, but I'm already enjoying it immensely. My enjoyment of it might actually be a contributing factor to how slowly I've been going through it; even though I know it's only the first in a trilogy, I still want to savor my reading experience. I loved The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin when I read it in college and gender dynamics are really fascinating to me in general, so I'm looking forward to seeing how they play out throughout Leckie's trilogy. Maybe it wasn't the best choice for me during a readathon, but, even with as slow as I was going taking breaks between chapters, I didn't want to switch to another book or even back to Fables.

I might not have gotten as much reading done as I wanted to, but it was really nice to carve out a day and dedicate it to reading. I'm definitely looking forward to set aside more reading days, especially as the weather gets warmer.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Readathon!

I'll be participating in Dewey's 24-Hour Readathon today!

I don't have a set TBR for it, but I will be updating my Twitter with my progress throughout the day.

I'm hoping to get through a few volumes of Fables by Bill Willingham and Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

(Yet) Another Catch-Up Post

Hi blog, it's been ages. Let's do a quick catch-up post of some of the books and movies since my last post (one day I will eventually do more than catch-up posts). Ready, set, list!

Books
  • Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill. When I first found out about this book on YouTube, it was pitched as The Handmaid's Tale meets Mean Girls. The Handmaid's Tale is one of my favorite books, so I was a bit hesitant to the concept from it adapted, but I was absolutely not let down.Only Ever Yours is a really grim, really pessimistic science fiction look into a future where patriarchy has no boundaries and highlights issues that women face in society right now. In a lot of ways, it reminded me of a Bitch Planet for a slightly younger audience — unapologetically feminist but with less cursing and nudity. I recommend it to everyone.
  • Asking for It by Louise O'Neill. I loved Only Ever Yours so much that I immediately raced to read O'Neill's other book right after. Though this one also deals with misogyny, I found that Asking for It gave a really powerful and personal look at how societal pressures affect and develop misogyny internally. Its contemporary setting deals a lot with the realities of rape culture in a really intelligent, though heartbreaking way that is, perhaps, a bit more depressing than Only Ever Yours given how real the situation is.
  • Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. I don't know why it took me this long to read this. I love female protagonists; I love spy stories; I love unusual narrative structures. I loved everything about this book; I even loved how much it made me cry. I need to get around to reading the sequel. The end.
Movies
  • The Martian. Super enjoyable adaptation of a novel I really enjoyed. The effects were great; the editing was great; Matt Damon was great. Sure, some things were left out because of time constraints, but, overall, I couldn't ask for more.
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I know The Force Awakens was basically A New Hope. Am I okay with that? Absolutely! I was so so so excited while watching this movie because FINALLY a female Star Wars! Not going to lie, I got a bit teary eyed in the theater because I was thinking about all the little girls watching it who were going to look up to Rey. I don't really understand all the fandom hype for Kylo Ren, who I'm basically regarding as the Star Wars Snape right now (btw, my absolute dislike for Snape never changed), but I love Finn and Poe and Rey and, of course, BB-8. I'm definitely looking forward to the next installment (and Rogue One!).
  • Deadpool. Deadpool was basically perfection. It's really hard to pull off breaking the fourth wall without completely messing with the pacing of action, and the timing was absolutely on point. It was super violent and super crude, but then again, that's essentially Deadpool's character and you just have to accept that.
  • Zootopia. I heard some great things about Zootopia but still wasn't too excited to go see it. Oh man. It was sooo good. It's probably the most political movie Disney has done, but it was done in such a way that it never seemed forced. Zootopia dealt with some pretty big (and relevant) issues such as women in men dominated spheres as well as regional and racial prejudices, but the overall tone was so optimistic and heartening.
Well, there you have it. A quick update on a few of the things I've read and seen in the past few months. Hopefully, I can get into the habit of posting more sometime relatively soon!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Back to Blogging — Things I've Read

A follow-up to my last post where I talked about what I had been watching, here are the comics and books, I've read in the past few months.

Comics
  1. Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. I caved. I finally read Saga, and I now see why everybody only has the best things to say about it. The plot is a star-crossed lovers space opera, but while it does contain elements that I've seen before, it combines them in a way that's still unique and interesting. Fiona Staples' art makes every page simply incredible (even when the contents are graphic or super far out there), and I can't wait to see what she and Brian K. Vaughan have in store for the story.
  2. The Wicked + The Divine by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie. The Wicked + The Divine is a series that I love, but I feel like I'm constantly five steps behind. When I think I've caught up, it always ends up throwing me for a loop. I'm interested in the ways it continues to delve into fan culture and reactions to celebrity and fame, and I love how it combines deities from a wide range of mythologies.
  3. The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg. One of the things that really interested me as an English major was different narration styles, and what really stood out to be through this graphic novel was the oral history feel of it. It wasn't so much an "encyclopedia" as we know it, in neat columns and arranged alphabetically, but a passing on of an oral tradition, the tradition of storytelling that composes a living encyclopedia of a culture. Overall, it was a great read!
  4.  Nimona by Noelle Stevenson. Oh, man, who doesn't love Noelle Stevenson? I love her writing for Lumberjanes and I've been following her artwork on Tumblr for awhile, so I definitely had to pick up Nimona. I loved everything about it. It gave me feels. That's it. That's all I have to say. Go read it.
  5. Seconds by Bryan Lee O'Malley. I started Seconds as soon as I put down Nimona, and I really enjoyed it as well. The plot and crux of the story were extremely relatable, including the twists and turns along the way. Bryan Lee O'Malley's art style is extremely adorable
Books
  1. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Ready Player One is one of those super hyped books I heard about on BookTube but just finally got around to reading. Overall, I am happy I read the book, if only to see what all the hype was about. One of the strong points that many people praise is Cline's references to 80s nerd culture, but, even as a lover of some of the things mentioned, some parts of the narrative seemed way too "I'm going to name drop all these references just so you know how much of a nerd I actually am." There were also so many parts that seemed way too contrived and deus ex machina-y for my liking. Wade's growth as a character was extremely limited, and so much of his victory seemed like it was handed to him.
  2. Everything Leads to You by Nina Lacour. I absolutely adored Everything Leads to You. So much of YA LGBTQ books I've read center around a character coming out, and, while those stories are definitely helpful and important, it's nice to see a story where a the sexuality of a LGBTQ character isn't questioned but is taken as an absolute fact. Furthermore, I love how it's a story of friendship and of solving a mystery, at its heart. It makes the romance plotline feel more realistic and natural, love blossoming among day-to-day life, not some all-consuming magical insta-love that sometimes seems to take over the plot of most contemporary YA books.
  3. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. I had really high hopes for this book because I am an absolute sucker for anything Beauty and the Beast related. For me, the pacing in this was a bit slow and weird. There was a lot of exposition that seemed really forced, and Freya really got to me at times. This was a really slow read for me, even when the action was picking up with the plot. I'll probably read the next book in the series, since the setup of the exposition seems interesting, but I'm not sure I'll be running to get it as soon as it comes out.
  4. P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han. I'm a big fan of Jenny Han's contemporary books, but this one feel a little short for me. I enjoyed most of the book, but my final disappointment mainly stemmed from the fact that I thought Lara Jean should have chosen the other guy.
  5. The Jewel by Amy Ewing. When I heard that The Jewel was a YA version of The Handmaid's Tale, I was super intrigued. While it doesn't exactly live up to The Handmaid's Tale, it was still a pretty decent story, and I liked the fantasy elements that were introduced. However, the book seemed like it ended right just as the action was starting to pick up, which was really disappointing. I'll continue to read the series because I'm interested, but it was a bit frustrating to be dropped out of the story when things were really beginning to happen.
  6. The Martian by Andy Weir. So here's the thing: I love science fiction, but I rarely ever read it. I don't know why, it's just not something I really grab for even though I want to read more. Anyway, I loved The Martian. How surprising. Mark's narration was amazing, and I really enjoyed the glimpses into NASA and JPL. I'm looking forward to the movie now — I absolutely love space movies!
These weren't all the books I've read in the last few months, but they're the ones that stood out to me the most. I'm particularly fond of the short review format, so I think I'm going to continue short monthly wrap-ups, probably starting next month, but from now on, I'm hoping to update this blog at least once a week!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Back to Blogging — Things I've Watched

It's been a while since my last blog post, mainly because there have been a lot of changes on my side. While I haven't been reading quite as much as I want to, I've still come across some pretty awesome things that I've been excited about recently. I've arranged them all by media specific category because of course I did.

Movies
  1. Age of Ultron. Marvel fangirl that I am, I, of course, had to go see the second Avengers movie. To be honest, the first Avengers is probably one of my least favorite MCU films because I get just a little annoyed when a team movie focuses primarily on one character instead of the team as a whole (also, Cap's characterization just isn't there for me). I enjoyed Age of Ultron better, but I still felt it was too Tony-centric. I did really like the dynamics of the team, even if I thought the focus on Tony should have been shifted to other characters. To me, though, Age of Ultron seemed more like a transition — a hint at what's to come in Civil War and Ragnarok as well as Black Panther and the Infinity Wars. I'm so happy with the new Avengers line-up, and I really can't wait to see them in action!
  2. Mad Max. Mad Max was  a complete surprise for me. It wasn't even on my radar until first reviews came out, praising its feminist undertones. Because of this, I had to check it out. The film is, unsurprisingly, very over the top with it's portrayal of violence and does get quite graphic, but what really impressed me was the female narrative and how, even though the abuse directed at women was certainly implied, it wasn't explicitly shown. I loved how Max was there to help Furiosa in her quest, but didn't take the spotlight away from her or twist it to his own ends. The scenes were visually stunning and so impressive, and I could hardly care that the cars didn't exactly make sense.
  3. Ant-Man. Oh man, where do I start with Ant-Man? Originally, I wasn't too excited about it. All the development issues and conflicts with Edgar Wright (I'm a big fan of Edgar Wright, by the way) left me a bit shakey about it. Also, I just couldn't believe they were going to focus on Scott Lang instead of Hank Pym and Janet van Dyne. You know, founding Avenger who actually gave the group its name, Janet van Dyne, the Wasp? But I went to see it because, hey, it's Marvel, and I am a person with very little will power. Also because I heard whisperings of rumors that my favorite, Captain America related characters were going to be in it (and, oh man, that after credits scene). Overall, I loved Ant-Man. On top of cameos from some of my favorite MCU characters like Peggy and Sam, the writing was excellent, and I absolutely adored how they basically turned a heist movie into an origin story. I'm so looking forward to Hope taking up her mother's title (and super relieved that while there was a romance element to the characters, it didn't come to the forefront of the script), and I'm super excited to see what else will come from these characters as they get more immersed into the world of the Avengers.
  4. Inside Out. I'm pretty sure I cried the majority of the time I was watching Inside Out, which is kind of a feat considering I was at a dine-in movie theater and trying to eat dinner. Inside Out was such a wonderful movie, balancing happy moments with sad (which I suppose was one of the main takeaways from it). I'm really glad to see the improved quality of discourse around mental health and depression that has come out of people going to see it, and I love how it continues to show that animated films targeted to children can successfully tackle and really breakdown super complex ideas.
Television
  1. Call the Midwife. Call the Midwife is a show that's been on my Netflix queue for awhile now, but it took two of my friends rounding up people to cosplay as midwifes at Dragon Con for me to actually sit down and watch it. I can't believe it took me this long. I'm a big fan of 1950s settings and of dynamic female friendship, and this show exhibits both exceptionally well. It's a roller coaster of a show, and I can hardly get through most episodes without crying, but the way it's framed heavily implies hope amid the heartbreak.
Anime
  1. Kill la Kill. I think the best way how to explain why I watched Kill la Kill is that my boyfriend recommended it. I was a bit hesitant about it because a few aspects of the first couple episodes rubbed me the wrong way. I did get through the series, though, and ended up liking it quite a bit, especially as the plot continued ramping up. Some of it was pretty out there in terms of violence and the jiggle physics didn't make a whole lot of sense to me, but I suppose that's a bit par for the course. In any case, I really enjoyed the development of the characters (especially of Mako) and how internally consistent the whole mess of crazy actually was.
I've realized that I might have gone a bit overboard in my wrap-up, so I'm going to recap the comics and books I've been reading in another post soon.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Dewey's Readathon TBR

It's been a hot minute since I've been able to really sit down and read and since I've been a bit negligent of my goal to become more active with the book blogging community, I thought participating in Dewey's 24-Hour Readathon would be a good way to get back in the groove of things.

I'm not entirely sure how well this readathon will go for me (especially since I'm not exactly in the habit of waking up at 8am, which is when the readathon starts for my time zone), but I have a whole list of comics (both trades and floppies) that have been piling up for some time now. Here's what I'm hoping to get through:
  1. Ex Machina, Volumes 9-10
  2. The Walking Dead, Issues 139-140
  3. Lumberjanes, Issues 12-13
  4. Ms Marvel, Issues 13-14
  5. Captain Marvel, Issues 13-14
  6. Thor, Issues 2-7
  7. Deadly Class, Issues 7-12
  8. The Fade Out, Issues 1-5
  9. ODY-C, Issues 2-4
  10. Rocket Raccoon, Issues 4-10
  11. The Wicked + The Divine, Issues 7-9
  12. Satellite Sam, Issues 1-13
  13. Saga, Issues 1-27
It's a pretty long list of titles, so I totally don't expect to get through everything, but I really want to either catch-up with or start some of these series, so I figure now is as good as time as any! Good luck to everyone else participating in the readathon!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

T5W: Books That Made You Think

Oh man, I studied English in university, so choosing books for this week’s topic was both incredibly easy but also insanely hard. Thinking about books is kind of what I do. A lot of these are repeats, from my last Top 5 Wednesday post actually, so sorry about that, but these books have really made me think about literature in a way I hadn’t beforehand.

  1. Theory of the Novel: A Historical Approach edited by Michael McKeon.  I really loved this book, because it has so many excerpts from all kinds of literary theorists. It’s the text that really introduced me to literary theory as a whole and that, in itself, completely changed the way how I thought about and interacted with other books. This anthology contained some of the most complex things I’ve ever read and it really helped me step up my pretentious English major game.
  2. Critical Theory Today: A User-Friendly Guide by Lois Tyson. Okay, fine. This is another theory book, but unlike Theory of the Novel, this one was more of a Sparknotes primer on theory, rather than a collection of actual theatrical works. It was a really nice breakdown and foundation for a lot of theatrical schools of thought like Marxism and structuralism and deconstructionism and feminist theory and LGBTQ theory, and while the ideas behind the words were complex and thought-provoking, the words themselves were actually incredibly easy to understand.
  3. The Good Solider by Ford Madox Ford. I also talked about this in my last post, but oh goodness, The Good Soldier is such a short book, but it really packed a punch for me. I’m super drawn in my Ford’s style, and the multiple perspectives and the the unreliability of narration were absolutely my favorite focal aspects when writing papers. I did an insane amount of research for my paper on this book, and still think about it a whole bunch.
  4. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. I actually didn’t read The Catcher in the Rye until pretty late (my last semester at university), but I really wished I had read it earlier (or, at least, taken the class I read it for earlier). I read it alongside Critical Theory Today and other theoretical texts and was instructed to analyze it through various ideological lenses. Doing so many close readings of the same text was something I had never done before then, and it really helped me really puzzle things together and think about them more fully.
  5. Sandman by Neil Gaiman. Even though I had taken a comics class at university and was pushed super hard to think about them (theory was a big component in that class too), Sandman was one of the first comic series that I read outside of that academic setting (aka, it was one of the first comics I read that I wasn’t assigned). We had read some pretty out there stuff for my comics class (a lot of that reading list could also be included here easily), but Sandman was the series that really cemented my love for comics and how I wanted to continue reading and thinking about them outside of a class setting.
I feel like this is a list where I can go on and on forever about basically every book I’ve ever read, and I definitely don’t think I’m the only one. What are some of the books that really stuck with you and made you think?

The Goodreads group for T5W (as well as the topics and the book bloggers and booktubers who participate) can be found here.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

#DearMe

In honor of International Women's Day, I decided to write a letter to my younger self inspired by the #DearMe initiative on YouTube. Of course, it ended up a lot longer than I expected, but thanks for reading. Happy International Women's Day!

Dear Teenage Amanda,

I want you to know something: life isn't perfect.

You haven’t moved to New York (I know you’ve been wanting that for a long time). You don’t work in publishing. You still don’t understand how to relationship. Your parents end up getting divorced (you actually handled this pretty well, all things considered). You’ve lost a lot of things: from trivial things, like bobby pins and pens (so many pens), to more substantial ones, like best friends and relatives.

But here’s the thing: you’re in a good place right now.

I don’t necessarily mean that physically — you still spend a lot of time dreaming about New York life and you’re hoping to start moving towards that dream soon — but mentally. You’ll still have stumbling points; your base level of anxiety never seems to leave you, and you’ve perfected your self-depreciating sense of humor, but you have a pretty okay handle on things. You’re pretty okay.

You'll go off to college thinking that you’ll meet new people who’ll replace your high school friends (the ones you, I’m very ashamed to say, sort of abandoned your senior year in order to hang out with another group, who only accepted you on the surface). But while you’ll meet some pretty awesome people (who you still keep in touch with), you’ll come to realize how special your home friend group is during breaks from school and especially after you graduate from college. They sort of become your cornerstone; you don’t have to pretend to be something that you aren’t with them. They'll accept that you’re still changing and will continue to change. They accept you. It's pretty cool.

Speaking of friends, you’ll also get caught up in this crazy thing called fandom. While it’s kind of exhausting at times (and you’ll encounter jerks who want to put a damper on your excitement just because you’re a girl), you’ll also end up with some pretty awesome friends from all over. Embrace them — they’re good people.

You end up changing a lot in college. You prefer skirts and dresses and tights and cardigans now (even though you still nerd it up with a fandom tee). You paint your nails and wear makeup. You have a slightly worrying obsession with red lipsticks. You like wearing shoes with high heels. You took the plunge and got bangs (it was a good look for you!), but you’ll come to realize you like a short, above your shoulders style best (this is a recent development, who knows what your next style will be). You’re still toying with the idea of getting a tattoo.

You’ll change a lot on the inside, too. You still love reading, but you’ll come to prefer comics more (you’ll also develop an insane affinity for Captain America). You mainly read books digitally — it’s totally all right. Social media will become very important to you. Your love for bands like Arctic Monkeys and The Killers stays as strong as ever,  but you’ll also grow to be more accepting in your musical tastes and end up loving Taylor Swift and BeyoncĂ© too. I know it’s kind of crazy to think about now, but your love for Doctor Who and Joss Whedon will end up waning, but don’t worry, you’ll find new things to grow to love, and you’ll always have Gilmore Girls. You’ll also finally learn how to crochet and knit and sew (and you’ll stockpile patterns and fabric and yarn like crazy and you have a little side business making cute things for people). You drink your coffee black with sugar but take your tea with sugar and soy milk. You’ve discovered tons of new and tasty foods. You enjoy baking (cookies, mostly), and you’re really into soccer. Your favorite painting is Edvard Munch's The Scream.

You still cry at books and movies and holiday-themed commercials. You’re still absolutely confounded by guys and flirting. You still stay up way too late sometimes, just for the hell of it. Your sweet tooth never lessens. You have your good days and your off days. You’ve come to accept that there is no such thing as a perfect person.

This realization isn’t as depressing as you think it’ll be. There’s not a pinnacle point of perfection, so you can always aim to become better. You’ll find this intangibility comforting. You’re a constant work-in-progress. You’re still working out how to be a better friend, daughter, sister — a better person. You’ll still make mistakes, and that's okay — own up to them, and accept the fact that, sometimes, the blame really does lie on you. Apologizing isn’t the same as backing down — it doesn’t mean you’re being walked over — it doesn’t mean you’re weak. There so many interpretations, and you’ll learn how to piece them together to help you gain a larger perspective about the the world.

Despite your insistence that you won’t ever take theory-heavy English classes, you’ll end up taking two near the relative end of your time at university (by the way, you graduate a semester late — it’s fine; don’t worry about it). These classes end up being two of your favorites. The first one will expand your thoughts about literature in so many mind-bendingly cool ways, and the second one will open your eyes in so many other important ways. It’ll introduce you to deconstructionist theory and feminist theory and LGBTQ theory and intersectionality, and I can’t stress to you how important you will find all these things to be.

You’ll learn the importance of female friendships. The importance of building other women up, instead of making everything into a weird sort of competition, where the only winner is a society that treats all women poorly. If there’s anything you could have learned earlier, I wish it were this. Value your female friends; value your femininity; value your voice and your agency as a female. Seek out good representations of women in the media. Don’t shame other women. You don't have to tear other women down in order to build yourself up. Don’t be afraid to stand your ground, especially with guys and especially with your guy friends. You’re always going to have to work on this, but please please please, don’t back down.

You still have a lot of things you would like to improve about yourself and about the world. That’s fine. Embrace change, but don’t get yourself down when things aren’t progressing as fast as you would like them to. Keep up with your friends. Don’t stress yourself out too much. Sometimes, all you’ll need to do is cool down for a bit and unwind with a cup of tea and a book or something to watch.

Most importantly: keep doing you. You've already been doing a pretty amazing job.

Best wishes,

Amanda, aged 23

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

T5W: Books You'd Save in a Fire

This week’s topic was really interesting for me because I mostly read books digitally and I’m currently in the process of slimming down my physical bookshelf because, even though I do have some pretty nice signed editions and some really gorgeous covers, I'm not overly attached to my physical book collection. As a result, this week’s list is composed of primarily school books, which are jammed pack with sticky notes and (sometimes indecipherable) marginalia.
  1. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. I read Mrs. Dalloway three times throughout university, each time with a focus on something different. I used the same edition for all my classes, so you can see some pretty distinct changes in how my analysis of the text evolved from my freshman year through my senior year (one of the most notable changes is that I stopped using highlighters). It’s a pretty neat process to track.
  2. The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford. The Good Soldier was one of the last books I wrote a paper about at university, and I did so much extra research that the pages are absolutely overwhelmed with sticky notes and flags, underlined passages, and notes. I ended up being super proud of this paper, and it’s pretty nice to have a tangible object to show how much work I put into it.
  3. The Norton Shakespeare edited by Stephen Greenblatt. I originally received this anthology as a birthday present from one of my friends who knew about my love for Shakespeare. I haven’t talked to him much since we’ve gone off to university, but he wrote a very nice note to me in the cover, and I’ve used this anthology in almost every Shakespeare class I took (the one exception being the semester I studied abroad).
  4. Theory of the Novel: A Historical Approach edited by Michael McKeon. Wow. Okay, this is a bit of a pretentious pick, but my history of the theory of the novel class turned out to be one of my favorites, and it really helped me expand my way of viewing and interpreting literature. We didn’t end up reading everything from the book in that class, but the passages we did read are heavily underlined and annotated and are ones that I often think about.
  5. Harry Potter series. This one is a major cheat because not only do I mean my original copies of the seven books, I also mean the UK editions of the series that my grandmother bought me and the UK and Italian editions I have of Beedle the Bard. But it’s Harry Potter, okay? You’re allowed to cheat for Harry Potter.
I feel like so many book bloggers and booktubers focus a lot about their physical collection (at least considerably more than I do), so what are the five books would you save in a fire?

The Goodreads group for T5W (as well as the topics and the book bloggers and booktubers who participate) can be found here.