Celebrating International Women’s Day 2015

International Womens Day 2015 Books

Happy International Women’s Day! Every year on March 8th, International Women’s Day celebrates women’s achievements while advocating gender equality. I think days like these are so wonderful because while we have made great progress when it comes to gender equality, there is still so much to be done. (And I’m still in shock when people tell me that gender inequality doesn’t exist…)

So, in honour of International Women’s Day today, I’ve chosen some of my recent favourite reads to celebrate! These in some way or another have touched me and inspired me. I realize as I’m typing this now that I should have included Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist, so let’s pretend that her book is pictured.

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The first thing I loved about this book was its packaging. It’s so small and compact that it would be perfect as a small gift (and it totally should be given away as gifts). I also love that it’s so cheerful and bold with its colour choice. It really demands attention, and for a rightful reason. On to the content: this is actually an adapted essay by Adichie, who originally presented it as a TEDx talk. Adichie shares personal anecdotes and defines what feminism means to her. She doesn’t shame anyone for not recognizing gender issues; she merely explains (very eloquently) how they exist and why we should be paying more attention. One of my favourite passages:

“The problem with gender is that it prescribes how we should be rather than recognizing how we are. Imagine how much happier we would be, how much freer to be our true individual selves, if we didn’t have the weight of gender expectations.” (pg 34.)

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

There is a reason why The Handmaid’s Tale is hailed as a classic. This haunting dystopian novel shows us a world where there is no freedom – even those in the ruling class are required to follow strictly defined roles. Handmaids are chosen to be reproductive machines, while Wives are simply housewife figureheads. Commanders are supposed to have relationships with their Wives but mere relations with the Handmaids. This is a society that is so constricted by their prescribed gender norms that hardly anyone is happy. If you haven’t read this yet, I’d strongly recommend it.

Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum

This is an upcoming title from Random House but I loved it so much that I thought I’d give it a shout out here. The story follows Anna, an American expatriate living in Switzerland with her banker husband and three children. As the novel’s title suggests, Anna is a housewife. She is completely dependent on her husband and his family. She doesn’t know how to drive, and thus relies on trains or someone to drive her when she needs to go anywhere; she has limited grasp on German (and even more limited handle on Schwiizerdutsch), requiring her husband to help her with paperwork; she doesn’t even own a bank account. That she is a housewife almost defines her, except for her secret life away from her family. I highly enjoyed getting to know Anna – not as a housewife but as a deep, complex person – and I can’t wait to chat about it more when it officially comes out.

Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham

Moving away from fiction, I wanted to feature two memoirs that I have loved recently, the first one being Not That Kind of Girl. It is no secret that I admire Dunham. She is not afraid to be different – in fact, she flaunts it – and she continues the trend of letting us in on her thoughts and feelings in her memoir. She doesn’t claim to know everything, yet she offers sound advice from time to time. Something that has stuck with me:

“Here’s who it’s not okay to share a bed with: Anyone who makes you feel like you’re invading their space. Anyone who tells you that they “just can’t be alone right now.” Anyone who doesn’t make you feel like sharing a bed is the coziest and most sensual activity they could possibly be undertaking. Now, look over at the person beside you. Do they meet these criteria? If not, remove them or remove yourself. You’re better off alone.” (pg. 20.)

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Like Dunham, Amy Poehler is another public figure I adore. I love that she is so committed to promoting rising female talent (Broad City, Upright Citizens Brigade, Smart Girls at the Party, anyone?). The fact that she has such a strong friendship with another female – Tina Fey – just makes me so happy. To me, Poehler exemplifies the fact that you don’t have to step over everyone’s toes to get to the top. Why not do it together and show that successful women are not exceptions to a rule? There were so many wonderful bits in Yes Please that I shared my favourites in this post. The “currency” tip is my absolute favourite.

So there you have it! If you’re looking for something new and inspiring to read this International Women’s Day, I hope my list proves to be as thought-provoking for you as it was for me.

Are you reading any female-centered literature this International Women’s Day? Do you have any book recommendations for me? (I need to find my copy of bell hooks’ Feminism: From Margin to Center…)

Giveaway | Not That Kind of Girl: A Night With Lena Dunham

Lena Dunham Not That Kind of Girl Toronto

Lena Dunham has been someone I’ve admired for quite a while. I think that she’s an important public figure in that she seems like a pretty down-to-earth person with a lot of interesting things to say, especially about gender relations and mental health. I am a huge fan of her show GIRLS and I devoured her newly-released memoir Not That Kind of Girl in two days (in my opinion, I read it a little too quickly, but that’s what re-reads are for, right?). So, when I managed to snag tickets to see her in Toronto, I was over the moon.

When I watched GIRLS for the first time, I was in a place in my life where I felt like I was getting it together but also not really getting it. I found a lot of myself (and my friends) in the girls in the show, and the honesty with which it portrayed women (or, at least, a group of women) really impressed me. I finally felt like there was a show that was real; it wasn’t sugar-coated or tied up neatly. I could relate to it. Oh, and did I mention that on top of that it’s also funny and thought-provoking? Because it’s both of those things too.

I’m happy to report that Lena in person is just as impressive as Lena on screen or Lena in writing. Her answers to interviewer Johanna Schneller’s questions were smart, humorous, and honest. She was very articulate and charming and I agreed with a lot of the things she said. Since I was basically in awe the whole time I was at the event (honestly, it felt like such a surreal night), I didn’t think to write down any quotes; luckily, Jessica from Paper Trail Diary has a wonderful re-cap that I urge you to check out.

After her on-stage interview, Lena signed copies of her book. She was incredibly friendly and really took the time to talk to each of her fans. She even personalized each book, which I wasn’t expecting her to do since the line up was so long. I was a jumble of nerves when talking to her but I managed to get a few words out and I’m glad I got the chance to tell her how much I love her work. It was truly a magical night.

Now, here’s the fun part! I want to share my love for Lena Dunham with YOU! I was able to get an extra copy of the book signed, so I’m giving it away to one lucky reader!

**CLICK HERE TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY**

CONTEST RULES:
1. No purchase necessary.
2. Open to residents of Canada + the United States only.
3. If a winner is picked and their Twitter account only has giveaway entries, I will choose again.
I want the winner to genuinely enjoy these books!
4. Have fun and good luck!

Are you a fan of Lena Dunham? Will you be checking out (or have you read) Not That Kind of Girl?

Wishlist Wednesday | Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham

Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham Book Cover

Source: Goodreads

[Wishlist Wednesday is a book blog hop hosted by Pen to Paper]

I’m not normally a huge memoir/autobiography reader, but after reading and loving Elaine Lui (Lainey Gossip)’s Listen to the Squawking Chicken, I’m looking forward to reading my next one! When I heard Lena Dunham was writing a book, I was instantly sold. I’m a huge fan of her HBO show Girls and have high hopes for Not That Kind of Girl.

Of the book, Dunham says, “If I can take what I’ve learned in this life and make one treacherous relationship or degrading job easier for you, perhaps even prevent you from becoming temporarily vegan, then every misstep of mine will have been worthwhile. This book contains stories about wonderful nights with terrible boys and terrible days with wonderful friends, about ambition and the two existential crises I had before the age of twenty. About fashion and its many discontents. ” (from the book’s Goodreads page)

Needless to say, I can’t wait to read this book. I think it will be full of Dunham’s trademark humour and wit. And if her work on Girls is any indication, Not That Kind of Girl is going to be insightful, hilarious, and relatable.

Are you as excited for Not That Kind of Girl as I am? Are you a fan of Girls? Did you add anything new to your wishlist this week?