Women and Power: A Manifesto by Mary Beard
(Liveright Publishing, 2017, 115 pages)
Despite the amazing reviews this book was getting, I found Mary Beard intimidating as an author. I was scared her work would be too academic and “high-minded” for me given how little I know about the Greco-Roman world (Beard is a well-known Classicist). When I saw my library’s copy of Women & Power I couldn’t resist checking it out and seeing if I could handle it… To my pleasant surprise, I could! This was much more readable than I’d thought it would be. I psyched myself out based on the author’s biography. Sure, you have to pay attention to what you’re reading – she packs a lot of punch in this slim volume – but this is accessible to the non-academic. Plus, there are pictures throughout 🙂
Hailed as a “feminist classic” already, Beard looks back at the history of misogyny and how women have been “put in their place” for ages. Her first essay addresses the silencing of women and her second looks at the relationship between women and power. We’ve been conditioned throughout history to determine who “deserves” a voice and who should have power based on a male lens. We’ve been guided by a history that prized men and devalued women. It’s time to acknowledge that and redefine how we interpret what power looks like.
I was surprised at what a pleasurable reading experience I had with this title; especially given the subject matter. Beard’s writing style was accessible and has me eager to see some of her earlier work.
If you’re intimidated by this book but keep hearing about it, pick it up! If you enjoyed Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s We Should All Be Feminists this should also find a place on your to-read pile.
Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave
(Simon & Schuster, 2015, 260 pages)
Georgia grew up on a vineyard in Sonoma but she reached a point as a teenager where that life was just too quiet for her. She pursued her law degree and moved to L.A. Now she’s engaged, preparing to move to London, and ready to start on a new adventure. Until she discovers that her fiancé has been keeping a pretty big secret from her. A big enough secret that she has to head home to try and regroup.
The home Georgia returns to, however, isn’t the one she remembers leaving. There’s something going on with her twin brothers, her parents are keeping secrets, nothing seems to be the way it should be… and in the midst of this Georgia still isn’t sure what she’s going to do about her wedding.
Eight Hundred Grapes is about remembering who you are and not losing sight of that. While I didn’t find myself as immersed in the book as I was with the first Laura Dave book I read (Hello, Sunshine) I can see why it got so many good reviews.
The Flintstones, Vol. 1 by Mark Russell; illustrated by Steve Pugh
(DC Comics, 2017, 168 pages)
One of my favorite co-workers, Kelly M, convinced me to pick up this graphic novel. I’d been hearing about it off and on but I wouldn’t necessarily have gone out of my way to pick it up for myself. Then Kelly pitched it and I figured I’d give it a shot.
This satirical interpretation of The Flintstones was entertaining and hit on a lot of issues you wouldn’t anticipate finding in a graphic novel about this classic t.v. show. You can check out a more in-depth review on Slate. Just know that I plan on seeing where they take the rest of the series 🙂 This was a quick read with surprising depth.
Hello, Sunshine by Laura Dave
(Simon & Schuster, 2017, 256 pages)
Hello, Sunshine is all about online culinary celebrity Sunshine Mackenzie. She has grown from a YouTube star to someone who is about to have her own show on the Food Network. Until someone makes it their mission to take her down in the most public way possible. Her social media accounts are hacked, secrets are revealed, and Sunshine winds up losing everything she’d worked for: her Brooklyn apartment, her career, and her husband.
Sunshine has no other choice but to head home, relying on the “kindness” of her sister to try and help her stay afloat. Sunshine attempts to find a way back to the life she’d built, but while she’s at it she discovers there were a lot of things in her life she’d been missing out on.
This was a quick read that I enjoyed picking up. The way the author touched on how social media influences the image we present to the world and the persona that we curate was well done without coming across as heavy-handed.
Going into Town: A Love Letter to New York by Roz Chast
(Bloomsbury USA, 2017, 169 pages)
Going into Town: A Love Letter to New York started as a small booklet written by author Chast as a guide to Manhattan for her daughter who was moving there for college. On the first page though, she states, “it’s not really a guide book” because, for example, there’s nothing in it about the Statue of Liberty. She covers the basics, including the layout of Manhattan, from which I learned that avenues run north and south, while streets run east and west, and the distance between avenues is greater than the distance between streets. I also learned that Manhattan is 2.3 miles across, so you could plug in a toaster on one side of the island, run the cord along 14th Street, and have toast on the other side. Chast’s dry wit made me chuckle aloud several times. In addition to the layout of Manhattan, she covers the Subway system, the Met and other museums, parks, food, and apartments. I’m planning to go to New York over the summer and will probably check out this book again before I leave. Even if you’re not going there, it’s a fun, informative read.
Batman ’66 Meets Wonder Woman ’77
by Jeff Parker & Marc Andreyko; art by David Hahn & Karl Kesel
(DC Comics, 2017, 144 pages)
The first half of the book is set in the 1960s as a female thief aided by Catwoman steals a rare book of maps from a man’s safe. The female thief grabs the book and escapes with a man in a car (who we find out later are Ra’s al Ghul and his daughter Talia). Feeling set up, Catwoman joins Batman and Robin to try to capture them. Batman flashes back to his childhood as young Bruce Wayne tries to stop thieves from stealing a similar rare book. As a boy he had been aided by Wonder Woman, who apparently never ages.
The second half of the book is set in the 1970s. Batman has retired from crime fighting, but comes back to help Nightwing (formerly Robin) and Catwoman find Ra’s al Ghul and Talia, who have resurfaced after a decade on Paradise Island (home of Wonder Woman). Batgirl also becomes involved in the pursuit, but the writers erroneously refer to her as Batwoman (two different superheroes, people)! Interestingly, over the course of the comic, Catwoman takes on each of the forms of her 1960s Batman tv series actresses—Eartha Kitt, Lee Meriwether, and Julie Newmar—respectively. I enjoyed volume 1 and plan to pick up volume 2 when it’s available. Recommended for fans of both classic Batman and Wonder Woman tv series.
4.5/5 stars (lost 1/2 star for calling Batgirl by the wrong name)
Star Trek: Boldly Go, Vol. 2
by Mike Johnson and Ryan Parrott; art by Megan Levens and Tony Shasteen
(IDW Publishing, 2018, 144 pages)
Star Trek: Boldly Go features characters from the new films (primarily Kirk, Spock, Uhura, Scotty, and Spock’s father, Sarek) along with those from the Starfleet Academy series, also written by Mike Johnson. It comprises four main stories in different settings—a peace conference focusing on the relationship between the Federation and Romulans; Spock and Uhura helping to rebuild new Vulcan; the mystery of the stolen captain’s chair from the Enterprise that is being repaired; and the search for a woman whose young daughter reports her lost. I enjoyed all of the stories, but the endings of the first two were a little disappointing. Fortunately, each story got better as it went along. Recommended to Star Trek fans of the original series and new films.