I first found out about this book because of Instagram. I’d been following Harriet Young (thesenovelthoughts) for a while so I had been aware that she was writing her first novel. When she was looking for funding on Unbound, it didn’t take a lot of persuasion for me to preorder it. I was fascinated by the story and the history of the Pendle witch trials. I’ve been waiting to read this one for a long time and, when it arrived last moth, I couldn’t wait to start reading it. Of course, it was just a huge coincidence that it also crossed off one more letter on my Spell the Month Challenge.
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.
I’ve had this on my shelf for a really long time. I’d say it’s been about 5 years but I can’t actually remember when I bought it. When I got it, I had every intention of reading it quite quickly because I liked Amy Poehler. Spoiler alert, I didn’t. I think it’s because I struggle with non-fiction so much. I’m especially sceptical of memoir style books. They can be so hit and miss. Something that the writers believes is a hilarious anecdote might actually just be an in-joke that most readers won’t appreciate. So, this could very easily have remained unopened on my shelf for the rest of time. Well, until I decided to take part in my own version of the Spell the Month in Book Titles challenge. When I tailored my January TBR to spell out the name of the month, I knew that I’d need a book starting with “Y”. Looks like the time had finally come.
Disney+ didn’t start streaming in the UK until March this year but it debut in the certain countries last November. One of the first original films to be released on the service was this Anna Kendrick Christmas film. For the subscribers like myself who didn’t have access to Disney+ last year, the film was released last month. I can’t say that I was exactly relishing the idea of watching Disney’s answer to Fred Claus and it was only partly because I find Kendrick’s quirky schtick a bit tiring. However, I need to start making the most of my subscription at some point. The only things that I’ve watched on it so far are The Simpsons, The Lizzie McGuire Show, and Recess. I have plans to watch a load of Star Wars and Marvel stuff over Christmas but, until then, I’m always looking for opportunities to watch.
On Saturday 19th September, I woke up to the news that Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died. I know that when a well-known figure dies there is always an outpouring of grief on social media but everything I read about Ginsburg felt different. This was a woman who had done so much and was such a beacon of hope. The collective sadness of so many, particularly women, was clear and this was a loss that would be felt for a long time to come. Ginsburg leaves behind her an amazing legacy and her fight for gender equality has changed the course of American politics. She was so much more than a feminist icon. In recent years, she became a cultural icon thanks to her nickname Notorious RBG. What else could I do this week but look back on her great career?
I have a copy of Caitlin Moran’s How To Be A Girl somewhere on my bookshelves. Obviously, I haven’t read it yet but I haven’t read a lot of the books on my bookshelves. A friend gave me a copy of How To Be A Woman for Christmas one year but I haven’t read that either. It’s not that I didn’t want to. It’s just that there are so many other books in the world. Being a reader is like having the worst case of FOMO imaginable. There are so many books that have already been published and plenty still to be published. Of course, you’re always going to be wondering if the book you’re currently reading is the best one that you can get. It’s understandable that certain books and authors are going to miss out and, unfortunately, Caitlin Moran was one of them. I had thought about waiting until I’d read the book but if I did that I’d never have watched the film. It probably goes against the bookish code but it had to be done.
Last week, I posted a short video to Instagram that featured a few ideas for films, documentaries, and television shows that people could watch to champion black voices. When it comes to the films that I review on this blog, I don’t tend to put too much thought into what I’m watching. It’s either whatever I fancy watching or whatever I can access at the time. I’ve never really looked at the diversity in my film choices in the same way that I do with my book choices. I make an effort to read a wider range of authors and stories every year, so why don’t I do the same with films? Why do I not do more to listen and pay attention to black voices and stories? Why do I not think more about who is directing and writing the films that I watch? All I care about is the story. It’s the very thing I get angry about whenever anyone speaks out against Oscars So White criticism. It’s something I need to work on and there’s no better time than now. Starting with one of the documentaries that I suggested on my Instagram post.
I’m pleased to announce that I’m currently on book 3 of Jacqueline Wilson’s Girls series. Unfortunately, that is a little bit longer than the rest and I’m quite busy with work stuff at the moment. So, I’m not actually getting as much reading done. I’d been finishing the other books in two nights but this is proving a bit trickier. Still, I’ll get there. I’d actually finished Girls Under Pressure at the weekend but I couldn’t post my review until today. Not that I mind. I loved being one of the stop’s on the Inside the Sun Virtual Book Tour. Although, the time between finishing the book and writing this might explain why it’s proving a bit difficult. Of course, it might also be the fact that this book means a lot to me. It’s something I’ve already addressed here on the blog and it does make me rather biased.
I currently have a lot of streaming services on the go and it means that I never really know what I want to watch. Normally it means that I just watch the same old thing over and over again. Take this week for instance. I didn’t know what to start so started watching a random series of Buffy. Unfortunately, the one that Amazon recommended to me was season 7. Yes, I still watched it but I didn’t exactly enjoy it. Is there anyone out there that enjoyed season 7? Why the show didn’t stop after season 5 is still a mystery. But it got me thinking, which season did I really think was the best. And as it’s Friday, I only went and ranked them. Initially, I was just going to do it based on how attractive I find Giles. I think he peaks around season 5 for me. But then the singing in season 6. God, the singing. But I’m getting away from the point.
I’ve been working from home since Wednesday and it took until yesterday for me to really use the situation to get on with my reading. I spent a few hours on Sunday afternoon to finish the last 110 or so pages of my current read, which wasn’t great going considering it is only about 160 pages long. Still, it has hopefully set me up to get better and use my downtime to read more. Which I need to do considering how many books I’ve bought recently. My 2020 book buying ban had been going quite well until I was faced with having to spend an undisclosed amount of time stuck inside my house. Then I went crazy and decided I need to bulk buy books to keep me occupied. Not that I’m ever in any danger of having nothing to read. On the plus side, I bought and preordered a few books by international authors. I’ve been getting better at reading a wider range of authors in the past few years, so 2020 should prove to be my most diverse reading list ever.