As I mentioned when I wrote about pivoting my blog, I had given some thought to doing what I’m now calling “Book Briefs” – essentially posts about a group of books that may or may not be related, might not fall into my “love this book” category but captivated me because they were interesting or insightful or deep or I really didn’t like a book but my belief is that reading is subjective and you might! This first collection includes books that I read over past little while that fascinated me for different reasons.
Hunger by Roxane Gay
Hunger is a memoir by the bestselling writer Roxane Gay and it is subtitled A Memoir of (My) Body. It is an honest and insightful and at times, painful, story of the experiences Gay had throughout her childhood, her teenage years and as an adult – experiences that shaped the decisions she made, who she became and the person she is today. As I read it, the word that continued to come to mind was “brave” because Hunger is so honest. It’s a critical look at her life and the person she is and while it was heartbreaking to read at many points, I gained so much from it. And continue to.
It wasn’t an easy book to read – I sometimes put it down because I needed to take a breath – but it’s an important read and I highly recommend it.
Too Fat Too Slutty Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman by Anne Helen Peterson
Anne Helen Peterson is a Culture writer at Buzzfeed and it was that fact, along with my fascination of pop culture, that made me add the book to my reading list. And fascinating it was:
Petersen writes about 11 famous woman who are pushing the boundaries in their own way and might be seen as “controversial” – for example, Serena Williams being “Too Strong” and Lena Dunham being “Too Naked”. Petersen dives into why they might be too strong or too loud or too old, what the culture around them thinks about it and how they continue to push the boundaries in what they do and in boundary pushing, pave the way for other women. Definitely worth discussing at the water cooler!
How to Survive A Plague: The Inside Story of How Citizens and Science Tamed Aids by David France
I hate to use the word fascination when I discuss AIDS and the interest I’ve had in it for most of my life because it doesn’t seem like the right word to use. And I can’t really explain why I’ve always had that interest but I have and as such, I have tried to learn as much about it as I can. It’s why I was keen to read How to Survive A Plague which is the story of activists that were born out of the rise of HIV and AIDS and the work they did to help turn the tide in fighting the disease. It is an essential story of people who became activists because their lives were at stake and they were losing people they loved at an alarming rate. And how they worked with science, government and more to change how the disease was seen and how it was treated. I say “worked with” but at times it was often working against or railing against but through this, Act Up was born and they continue, even today, to fight for those impacted by HIV and AIDS.
How to Survive a Plague was a documentary first and I admit, I haven’t seen it but that wasn’t necessary as the book is described as a “definitive history” and it was. It dives deep into the disease, how it impacted people, how the people had an impact on the disease and David France, the author, was there through all of it. I will definitely come back to this book in the future.