Every Damn Day

It’s 9pm* here in Brooklyn but there’s still time for me to celebrate women before I have my dinner (pizza, in case you were wondering). I’m not sure what exactly to do with International Women’s Day, seeing as I tend to think I celebrate women every day, but at least we ladies have six continents on National Cold Cuts Day (March 3) and National Mail Order Catalog Day (August 18). Set your calendars, proud Americans!

Still, in the spirit of womanhood, I scrolled through this list and thought about some of the books by women that have made an impact on me recently. Happily, I discovered that of the modest 17 books I’ve gotten through these last two years (how embarrassing!), 14 were actually written (or, in one case, edited) by female authors.

For now, because I am sleepy, the best I can do is name a few of my favorites and hope that eventually I will get into the groove of writing thoughtful reviews for you to peruse. Until then, I give you my very own, very short-list of life-changing books by women, as read by a woman in her early 30s:

International Women's Day

Fear of Flying by Erica Jong — A liberated woman self-discovers in the ’70s, searching to find meaning in her new-found freedom. Witty and absorbing and ground-breaking in its day.

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath — I highly recommend re-reading as a grown woman, especially if, like me, you’re still paralyzed by all those figs. Each word is served with devastating precision, if you’re into that kind of thing. (Full disclosure: I am totally into that kind of thing.)

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion — Winner of most dog-eared passages. I was struck by how Didion’s brave and raw study of grief so deftly skirted sentimentality. I honestly am shocked it took me this long to get around to reading this book, and when I finally set it down I think I was more heartbroken than I have ever been before. Luckily I now have Slouching Towards Bethlehem waiting for me on the bookshelf.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood — In our sterile dystopian future we easily slip back into those old bad habits of keeping women as property. This one’s particularly chilling because Atwood’s created a world that really doesn’t feel all that far-fetched.

So what’s next? Looking forward to finally picking up Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay this year, as well as Barbara the Slut by Lauren Holmes, Family Furnishings by Alice Munro, On Beauty by Zadie Smith and Bastard out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison.

*When I started writing, before my fresh mozzarella pie arrived and I decided to celebrate National Pizza Day (February 9) instead.

You may also like: 33 Life-Changing Books in Honor of International Women’s Day via Lit Hub.

Art of the Sentence

Weekend goal: get my paws on a copy of “At the Bottom of the River” and read it.

"At the Bottom of the River" by Jamaica KincaidIt’s incredible the work that sentences can do beyond simply moving a story forward. With one comma they’ll turn on you. In a dash they can elevate or destroy you.

If you’re reading Kincaid, they’ll pull, pull, pull you ’til you’re taut and then they’ll slingshot you.

“I milked the cows, I churned the butter, I stored the cheese, I baked the bread, I brewed the tea, I washed the clothes, I dressed the children; the cat meowed, the dog barked, the horse neighed, the mouse squeaked, the fly buzzed, the goldfish living in a bowl stretched its jaws; the door banged shut, the stairs creaked, the fridge hummed, the curtains billowed up, the pot boiled, the gas hissed through the stove, the tree branches heavy with snow crashed against the roof; my heart beat loudly thud! thud!, tiny beads of water grew folds, I shed my skin…

— “The Letter from Home,” Jamaica Kincaid

via: Jane Wong’s beautiful analysis Art of the Sentence: Jamaica Kincaid in Tin House