This Monday was International Women’s Day. A day that is dedicated to celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. It is a day to highlight and challenge the disparity between the genders. A time to call for equality. As people in the book community, it is also a time to celebrate and champion female writers. As such, those of you on Instagram will no doubt have noticed plenty of amazing female centric content cropping up in your feed. There was one post that really caught my eye and prompted me to write this post. The caption started with the age-old question:
Do you preferentially read books by women or men?
I, obviously, responded in my normal pretentious and, probably, obnoxious way, which I won’t go into yet because it would negate the need to write this post. Instead, I want to focus on most replies. They consisted of a sentiment that went along the lines of “I don’t care about the gender of the writer. It’s all about the story.” There’s nothing wrong with this idea in theory but it’s an attitude that I do think we need to change. And I’ll tell you why.
Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, which means that lists of the most romantic reads are popping up all over the internet. Now, I have a huge problem with these lists. Mostly because of the books that continually appear on them. I’ll be honest, I’m not a massive fan of the romance genre anyway. It’s just not my thing. There’s nothing wrong with it but I get bored of the waiting. I also know that romance novels aren’t as terrible as certain people try to make out. There is a pretentiousness that often comes out when talking about romance that mostly occurs because, historically, it has been a genre written for women. I could go deeper into the problematic history of the genre and the marginalisation of certain writers/subjects but I think that’s best saved for a better writer. Instead, I want to focus on problematic books that appear on lists of Valentine’s Day reads. Let’s be honest, many of the supposedly most romantic books ever written feature relationships that we shouldn’t be celebrating. Everywhere I go, I see young bookish people romanticising toxic and awful relationships and I can stay silent no longer. Here are just a view literary loves that we really need to accept aren’t #goals.
As I’ve said countless times already this week, I didn’t get a lot of reading done over Oscars week. I just couldn’t find the time between writing so many posts and watching so many films. Yet, I’ve been determined to continue writing 2 book reviews a week. For one thing, it pushes me to read more and, for another, it gives the blog a better balance between films and reading. In order to catch up, I listened to 2 more audiobooks this weekend. The first was The Child which I reviewed on Monday. The second was a dramatisation of Winnie The Pooh. I was all set to post a review of it today but, instead, I wanted to talk about something that’s been bugging me recently. I was out with some friends last week (none of them are big readers) when I mentioned how many books I’d read last year. They were impressed, which is how you can tell they’re not overly bookish people. Compared to most of you guys I’m an amateur! But, they’re encouragement was quickly displaced with disbelief when I mentioned how useful audiobooks had been in helping me get there. Apparently, it doesn’t count. I know they were joking but, in the bookish world, this attitude still exists. And I’m not here for it.
Do you remember when Ricky Gervais was doing interviews about Special Correspondents and decided to lecture everyone about what comedy is? And then it turned out to be dreadful? Yeah, pretty awkward. Well, this week director Martin Scorsese has decided to use an interview discussing the release of his film The Irishman to deride comic book movies. Actually, he didn’t even do that. He simply dismissed them. In an interview with Empire magazine, Scorsese told them he didn’t bother watching Marvel movies: “I don’t see them. I tried, you know? But that’s not cinema”. Now, of course, Scorsese is in a much stronger position than Gervais was to tell people what’s what but that’s not to say he deserves the final say on what is and isn’t cinema. After all, what is cinema? According to Google, “the production of films as an art or industry.” The MCU sounds like it’s the exact definition of cinema.
So this is the official end of my run of book reviews. I was doing so well and now I’ve lost it again. It’s been a super hectic week and I’ve not had much time to read. Plus, I’ve been trying to get ahead with my posts and stuff before I go on holiday. I think I can just about manage it but it does mean I’ve had to put aside reading to get things done. I’ll definitely make up for it whilst I’m away but it does mean my next two Wednesday posts will be kind of bullshit. Well, hopefully not bullshit but not what they could have been. I even started reading The Hate That U Give in the hope that I could finish it in time. I didn’t. But I hopefully will soon. I’m enjoying it much more than I expected but that’s mainly just due to my general mistrust of YA fiction. Something that I could go into now but I have bigger fish to fry. Bigger fish like Johnny Depp… again. After all, the second Fantastic Beasts trailer was released a matter of days ago. And, unsurprisingly, I had a lot of thoughts about it.
It’s reaching that time of the month when us bookish people start to set out what we plan on reading in the weeks ahead. As a keen Bookstagrammer who sticks to a couple of photo challenges for inspiration, I am used to post at least one photo at the start of every new month to show off the books in my monthly TBR. Now, I know there are people out there who will stick religiously to whatever they pick at that point but I’m not one of them. In fact, each of my TBR Instagram posts just tend to be a random selection of books that I kind of want to read but know, deep in my heart, that I won’t be doing it any time soon. It’s just a routine I’ve found myself in. But this month is worse than other months. Because I’m in the middle of a major reading slump. I’m currently still reading Frankenstein in Baghdad: a book that I actually opened for the first time towards the end of March. Fucking March, guys! That was ages ago. So, I’m feeling a little more stressed than normal about my selection this month. And, as we all know, stress isn’t something that really helps in a slump.
Poetry. It’s something I love but don’t often read these days. I blather on and on about my university days when I read Romantic poetry all the frigging time but I’m 30 now. As much as I don’t want to admit it, it’s been a while since I finished my degree and I’ve kind of lost my way with poetry. So, I’m always trying to get back into it. Obviously, I have my favourite Romantic poets and have a certain fondness for the greats. I’m talking Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, Yeats, TS Eliot etc. TS Eliot’s Love Song of Alfred J. Prufrock is one of my favourite ever works of poetry. It shares the top spot with The Rime of the Ancient Mariner but I’ve discussed this before. My issue is contemporary poetry. I guess the closest I get to really loving contemporary poetry is the work of First World War poets. So, you know, not at all contemporary. It’s not that I hate it; I just don’t have the same love for it. Recently I’ve been trying to push myself to read more. It was this quest that got me to pick up Rupi Kaur’s collection Milk and Honey and Amanda Lovelace’s the princess saves herself in this one. Both collections were ones I’d seen praised all over social media and the internet as a whole. I expected to be blown away. I wasn’t.
As I started typing this last night I’d literally just finished watching the second season of the Netflix original show 13 Reasons Why. The first series was based on the popular YA novel by Jay Asher. It showed us the aftermath of a teenage girls suicide and the discover of thirteen tapes she recorded before she died. On them, Hannah outlined all of the reasons she had for killing herself and demanded that they be passed between all of the people mentioned on the tapes. I wasn’t a fan of the first season but mostly because i thought it was just badly made. It was way too long and self-indulgent. On top of that, I think it failed to do what it was trying to. The message it was trying to tell got lost because it was too quick to make entertainment out of sexual assault and suicide. There were far too many depictions of rape on-screen especially considering the audience it was targeted for. It seemed more interested in making headlines than in actually helping people. But mostly it was just boring and bad. Everything was dragged out way too long. What it did have was a complete story. We had reached the end of Hannah’s story
Anyone out there who is a fan of Harry Potter, so most of the reading population of planet Earth, will know that today marks the fictional anniversary of the fictional Battle of Hogwarts. On this day of fictional commemoration, the real author J K Rowling takes to Twitter to apologise to her fans for killing one of their favourite characters. This year she said sorry to her social media followers for the death of fan favourite Dobby, Harry Potter’s faithful House Elf-friend. In the past, she has made similar public apologies for killing characters such as Severus Snape, Remus Lupin, and Fred Weasley. And, as I sit here desperately wanting to go to bed but needing to write something for today’s post, I can’t but wonder why the fuck she bothers. I mean if it bothers her that much why kill them in the first place? It’s just more of her pathetic pandering to her fans to ensure that the Harry Potter gravy train she’s riding for the rest of her life never stops. And, really, every year I lose a little more respect for her as a writer.
So it’s been quite a while since I had a good old-fashioned rant about JK Rowling, hasn’t it. But now, only a few weeks after JK Rowling and David Yates caused a stir by brushing off the controversy surrounding Johnny Depp’s continued presence in the Fantastic Beasts franchise, the Harry Potter author is pissing off her fans once again. Over recent years, I’ve sort of become disillusioned with Rowling. Yes, she does a lot of great things and has used her money to aid some fantastic causes. That doesn’t mean she can get away with anything, though. Whether she means to or not, she has allowed herself to gain a certain sense of entitlement that only goes with becoming the world’s richest author. Just look back on the moment when she acted like a victim when it was revealed she had written The Cuckoo’s Calling.