Adventures in Modern Russia

I went to London with half a bag of books, intending to offload some possessions to make my eventual move lighter. I returned, however, with half a bag of books having bought and borrowed more!

One of these borrowed books is Nothing is true and everything is possible; Adventures in Modern Russia by Peter Pomerantsev (I know, a break from my reading ladies mantra!)

I am only at the beginning and my mind is already amazed at the workings of the Federation in the 21st century. One of the early chapters looks at the lives of women who attend the so-called ‘Gold Diggers Academies’, this is seen as a genuine profession for young women (young as of course there is a sell by date) and I am amazed at what I read – I have to remind myself that this is not a piece of fiction. Once finished I will comment further but for now I shall leave you with this extract….

russia

The War on Women

Never has a book had such a profound and immediate impact on me; my sense of the world, my knowledge and influence on my life path. The War on Women, a book written by former BBC video-journalist Sue Lloyd-Roberts, who very sadly passed away while writing, takes a look at stories from around the world relating to women’s rights.

In each chapter Sue recalls her journeys to investigate and reveal the various abuses women have faced and continue to face around the world. From the very first chapter Sue does not hold back. Although many of the stories are harrowing, difficult to read and occasionally brought me to tears they are counterbalanced with the wonderful and optimistic stories of the women who are fighting back.

The book begins with FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) and the story of Maimouna’s escape from the Gambia in order to avoid having to take the role of the village cutter. Sue looks at the issue from all angles; the graphic reality of it, the reasons for it and how people are working to prevent it – both governments, individuals and organisations.

Every chapter of this book taught me something new. Be it whole episodes of history, such as Argentina’s Dirty War to a deeper understanding of issues such as Rape as Weapon of War. There were not only new facts but new perspectives that I had been unaware of previously. Overall, it showed me how much further, on a global scale, we have to go to achieve safety and security for women along with equal rights.

Sue was a brave woman and an honest reporter. Her work, in light of recent events, seems to me to be more important than ever. The book is one I keep returning to, one I will keep learning from, keep reflecting on and will keep inspiring me to help fight back. It is a book that I think all should read, and all would benefit from doing so.

Still Reading Ladies

I’m not very consistent with these posts, but I have been consistent with my 2016 New Year Resolution – reading female authors.

Besides two summer exceptions, which were definitely worth it – Yoga for people who can’t be bothered to do it by Geoff Dyer and The Tortilla Curtain by T.C Boyle – I read books by females all year.

As the year progressed more and more people around me became interested in the idea, requesting I share with them my list of books or inquiring as to what I had gained from the experience. In truth, when I read I get consumed by the story, I fall easily into the setting and the characters and this is the same for each book be it by a man or a woman.

It appears obvious to note that novels by female authors have predominately female protagonists, hence many of the characters, if not more relatable are at least more understandable. My intention in reading more female authors was innocently that of supporting females in literature who, like in many other industries, are often overshadowed by males.

As Christmas rolled around it felt natural, when asked what I wanted as a present, to ask for books. It turns out everyone caught wind of my foray into female lit and all in my family were regaled with female books, it was great to see!

A number of the books I was very lucky to receive are non-fiction, this is a first for me besides the endless essays and critiques I read during my degree. All are by women, and so here goes 2017’s Resolution – to begin my non-fiction female reading (not the whole year, I still need my story-time). To begin with I have The War on Women and the brave ones who fought back by the wonderful Sue Lloyd-Roberts.

Reading Ladies

Although not terribly late in the year, I am proud to say that my New Year Resolution is still in tact and growing stronger by the book – I didn’t choose to quit smoking (though I will one day soon), I most definitely couldn’t make it through January dry and the thought of joining a gym fills me fear and self-consciousness induced mild panic. Instead I resolved to read, not just to read more but read female.

I thought of my previous years literature and realised that the majority of it was written by male authors. My thoughts moved then to wondering which female authors I had a read as an adult, I knew many names but had not really delved into their books. As a child and teenager I had got the most joy from books by female authors – from the heart breaking stories in Marita Conlon-McKenna’s Children of the Famine trilogy, Jacqueline Wilson’s tumultuous family tales to Louise Rennison making my sides split with the teen tales of Georgia Nicolson and her really big knickers. I knew for sure then that this was my year for female literature.

I wouldn’t claim to be the best read person around by a long shot but it was while I was compiling my reading list that I realised how much I had been missing out on. Never had I intentionally avoided female writers, it is just the way it worked out – I can’t blame any outside influences either, I don’t think at least. Over the years, however, I have identified more and more with the feminist movement and was quite disgraced with myself by how little one of my biggest passions, reading, had taken this on board when it seemed such an obvious thing.

Anyway, so far I have read The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Tar Baby by Toni Morrison and am about to embark on some Virginia Woolf.

I have a extensive list but suggestions would be welcomed!