Geisha, a Life by Mineko Iwasaki and Rande Brown
Geisha, a Life by Mineko Iwasaki and Rande Brown
The Black Count by Tom Reiss
In the wake of 9/11, growing up French-American in Georgia gave me a particular appetite for the bloodier annals of French history. When “freedom fries” were a thing and there was always that one guy in my history class who could not get enough of mocking France’s supposed pacifism, I could always be counted on to rant incoherently about the Terrors and Napoleon. I’ve since evolved into a less spiteful and more articulate human being, but the appetite for the history of revolutionary France remains. Combined with my love for Alexandre Dumas, that means The Black Count may as well be written for me. Thanks for the recommendation, Cass!
The Pinecone by Jenny Uglow
Ten Days in a Mad-House by Nellie Bly
Matthew Goodman’s Eighty Days is a really fantastic piece of nonfiction—the kind that’ll make you gasp out loud, even though you know how this race between two lady journalists in the 1880s is going to turn out. I’d heard of Nellie Bly in passing before (something something asylum something something), but Eighty Days introduced me to her in her entirety, from birth to death. Naturally, despite Goodman’s warnings about Bly’s subpar attempts at writing novels, I was interested in what put Nellie Bly on the map: Ten Days in a Madhouse. While it was originally published as a series of articles in The New York World, it was collected into a book the same year (1887), making it eligible for my establishment.
Harley Loco by Rayya Elias
I adore the eighties—the colors, the androgyny, the everything. This is mostly due to watching I Love the 80s ad nauseum at a formative age, which also means that my vision of the eighties is a particularly sanitized one. And I didn’t realize that until I was watching Paris is Burning, the documentary about queer New York’s ball culture in the late ‘80s, and saw, briefly, the old Times Square. As much as I love the eighties, there’s still much to learn, and that’s when Harley Loco popped up on NetGalley for me. A memoir by a queer woman of color cutting hair and struggling with drug addiction in New York in the eighties? Sometimes, the universe is kind.
We Killed by Yael Kohen
I was disappointed with Bridesmaids. When I finally watched after hearing all the hype about how this was the film that proved female comedies could work, I was underwhelmed. It’s still an important milestone in that it proved to both studios and a wide audience that women could carry a Judd Apatow comedy, but I wished it had been proven with a earthshakingly hilarious film instead of this. But perhaps I should be more disappointed in a culture that had to have it proved that women could be funny (and in a way anointed by Apatow). I mean, I’m part of an all-lady MST3K-style comedy troupe that brings me to tears every Thursday night. As Yael Kohen says in the introduction to this book, “Women have always been funny. It’s just that every success is called an exception and every failure an example of the rule” (5).
Fire in a Canebrake by Laura Wexler
Part of the reason I’m taking this class on Southern history is because, all things considered, I’m probably going to leave the South at some point in my pursuit of publishing glory. This will mean negotiating different standards of manners (I never realized how Southern I was until I spent five minutes in Boston). It also means that, being Southern (well, because of my accent, revealing I’m Southern) is going to get me some looks from Yankees, and I want to be prepared to talk frankly about the South’s painful, problematic past when I’m asked. Thus this class, and thus books like this.
Gasping for Airtime by Jay Mohr
Eighty Days by Matthew Goodman
When I was a but a wee lass (or, to be more specific, the wombat that walked as a girl), there were a select few philosophical conundrums I chewed on constantly. The concept of mortality occupied much of my time, but, in my considerations, I occasionally expanded to extreme distances. The idea that I could go all the way right and end up right back where I started boggled my (metaphorically) little head. I’d forgotten about these recess ponderings until I ran across Matthew Goodman’s Eighty Days. Initially, I picked it up because c’mon, lady reporters racing around the world in the late 1880s! But reading it, it reminded me of those recess ponderings—in a good way.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Chronicles — Art & Design by Daniel Falconer
Is that not one of the most unwieldy titles I’ve had to format for the blog or what? As a fantasy fan reared on video games, I consider myself fairly immune to convoluted titling, but this, I think, takes the cake, with two subsections. Yeesh. Anyway, the book itself. Despite my sighs over The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Jackson’s Middle-Earth remains a large part of my internal landscape, so I was touched to my core when my awesome friend Natalya presented me with this amazing gift for Christmas. (Also: Natalya totally needs to get a blog, so all the world may come marvel at her amazing insights into film.)