5 Books on Gender & Sexuality

Sensitive topics like Gender and Sexuality often seem intimidating when looking for books to read about them. Here’s a list of books spanning women’s position in family structures, LGBTQ relationships, familial reactions to them and gender based violence to give you a head start  into this genre.

 

1. The Dream of a Common Language

Adrienne Rich is an American feminist political poet, essayist who writes about lesbian relationships, their exclusion in society and the domestic duties that prevent women from creating art in her collection of poetry ‘The Dream of a Common Language’.

a touch is enough to let us know we’re not alone in the universe, even in sleep: the dream-ghosts of two worlds walking their ghost-towns, almost address each other.

2. The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

The main character of this novel grows up seeing the different worlds women reside and how growing up seems to be a choice between becoming an independent woman with an individual’s existence or a sexual object. Esperanza, the main character tries to rebel against the society that treats women as objects but realizes that the only way to do it is to live outside it. This book is a coming of age novel exploring the themes of identity, society, gender, sexuality, femininity and the concept of ‘other’.

SHE WAS A HORSE WOMAN TOO, BORN LIKE ME IN THE YEAR OF THE CHINESE HORSE-WHICH IS SUPPOSED TO BE BAD LUCK IF YOU ARE A FEMALE- BUT I THINK THIS IS A LIE BECAUSE THE CHINESE-LIKE THE MEXICANS, DON’T LIKE THEIR WOMEN STRONG

3. My Father’s Garden by Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar

This book deals with a homosexual man’s quest for a bond that stretched beyond lust and greed, his relationships with various men in his life and familial expectations that act as a constant burden on him. He explores his sexual life and love in the first part of the book, friendship and exploitation in the second and his father’s life and hopes for him in the final part. The Hindu calls Sowvendra “one of Indian fiction’s true originals

4. Simon vs the Homosapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

For a more light-hearted Young-Adult read, Albertalli draws the story of a closeted teen who is pen pals with a guy under a pseudonym ‘Blue’ without the knowledge of his family and friends. A classmate discovers their emails and starts to blackmail Simon. Simon is faced with the exposure of a long-held secret and is forced to confront issues he’d long held at bay. Told with bursts of heartwarming friendship and the discomforts of youth, Simon vs the Homosapiens agenda provides exposure towards gender to young readers through a stirring yet fun plot.

It is definitely annoying that straight (and white, for that matter) is the default, and that the only people who have to think about their identity are the ones who don’t fit that mold. Straight people really should have to come out, and the more awkward it is, the better. Awkwardness should be a requirement.

 

5. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

This book is about a 14 year old black girl named Celie living in South America, she’s beaten up and raped by her father constantly which resulting in her being impregnated and giving birth to a girl who was taken away from her. The story continues and Celie meets a woman named Sofia and is amazed by how powerful she is. The book portrays how submissive yet how inspiring and powerful women can be. Celie draws her inspiration from different female characters described in the book which finally end up in her fighting for her own existence and ultimately being free. The Male characters are domineering and have a constant sense of superiority which is the building block of the toxically patriarchal society.

The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for white, or women created for men.

 

4 August 2019

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Frantic phone calls spiderweb across families

college sessions terminate 2 days after they start

lights for a wedding lie still, unlit,

in anticipation, in unclarity

an indefinite curfew imposed

the night before an orphan was to be married.

 

Kashmir lies still,

veins taut in alarm,

too much stillness

for a possibility of war.

~ Saadia

 

Wrote this on the 4th of August when it was still unclear what was going to happen, there were rumors of war and Kashmir was gripped with a fear that was impossible to swallow. 65+ days of communication blockade and 90+ days of internet shutdown later, here we are, still counting the days.

The Dream of a Ridiculous Man – Fyodor Dostoevsky

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“A dream is a strange thing. Pictures appear with terrifying clarity, the minutest details engraved like pieces of jewelry, and yet we leap unawares through huge abysses of time and space.”

 This is a short story by Fyodor Dostoyevsky written in 1877. It chronicles the experiences of a man who decides that there is nothing of any value in the world. – Wikipedia

The journey of a man from a nihilist to a believer, The Dream of a Ridiculous Man walks us through his suicidal inclinations, a small encounter that changes the course of a lifetime, a sudden sleep, a vivid dream, travel through space and time, a parallel universe, corruption, social constructs, a change of mind and the attainment of ‘truth’.

Dostoevsky writes this story based on his own experience; a dream that changed his view on life and the human condition. He examines the self intensely, asks questions that he seemingly can’t get answers to and when he does, rejects the notion of knowledge being more important than love. He maintains the belief that suffering gives life meaning and changes us, how we interact with the world.

“On our earth we can only love sincerely with suffering and through suffering. We do not know how to love any other way and know no other love. I want to suffer so that I can love.”

This short story is also full of allusions to Christian faith; a figure of grace, references to crucifixion, humanity’s ‘fall from grace’ shows a hint of the fall from Eden, and the realization “love others as you love yourself.”

A work that untangles fold by fold and seeks to talk about a multitude of themes, The Dream of a Ridiculous Man is a compelling story on nihilism, faith and humanity.

~ Saadia

 

 

Being a better person

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Being a better person,

falling into the skin of a better ‘you’

is what takes most courage,

 

We can be our truest, most authentic selves,

if we rest in the belief

that we are capable and we are enough,

 

we can realize our potential for greatness,

if we don’t hold on to everything that passes us by,

but let the weight go

when it isn’t meant to stay.

~ Saadia

Loss of meaning & Loneliness

Life seems to mean so little,

in our cities of material excess,

the silk curtains that keep the light out

are our cages,

our narrow circles, our shackles.

 

Yet we are happy with false friendships

and falser values,

we register a heavenly day

when the sun has already set,

and so we trudge back to our now comfortable cells.

 

We’ve been deceived by billboards

and the American dream,

in a world of hyper-connectivity,

we are lonelier than we’ve ever been.

~ Saadia

 

Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare – Book Review

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Lady Midnight is a young adult urban fantasy novel by Cassandra Clare. The book follows the events that occur in the Los Angeles area in 2012, focusing on the residents of the Los Angeles Institute. ~ Wikipedia

Genre: Fantasy Fiction, Paranormal fiction

Review: The title is apt as it points to the central mystery that is unfolded throughout the book.

Cassandra Clare’s writing style is engrossing and seamless but her plot suffers from repetition of patterns that the reader has already witnessed in The Infernal Devices and The Mortal Instruments. The ideas of being ‘cursed’ and ‘forbidden love’ are used again and again till they become wearisome and bring down the level of the book. Most of the motivations and fears she’d used in her previous series appear again and create patterns that make the story lag. As The Odyssey writes, “Clare writes heroines as strong as they are stubborn, and boys as tortured as they are handsome.” I rated this book 3.5/5 stars.

While the story arc has always been a problem for Clare, her character building is stunning yet again, she makes the reader care for and fall in love with the characters. The side characters have their own quirks, issues and personalities which stand out distinctly. This book has autism and body image issues (possibly BDD) representation.

Julian and his parent’s love for art makes this book more humane and endearing.

“These pictures are my heart. And if my heart was a canvas, every square inch of it would be painted over with you.” 

As with the Infernal Devices, family bonds are shown in a raw and unflinching manner while true friendship is also portrayed beautifully. The loyalty that Shadowhunters show to their own is heart-warming and heartbreaking in equal parts.

“You belong where you’re loved.” 

Clare does not shy away from showing the true dysfunctional, chaotic side to families or the bittersweet relationship of siblings. The way responsibility and confinement of a family are shown makes this book cherished and true to life.

“When you love someone, they become a part of who you are. They’re in everything you do. They’re in the air you breathe and the water you drink and the blood in your veins. Their touch stays on your skin and their voice stays in your ears and their thoughts stay in your mind. You know their dreams because their nightmares pierce your heart and their good dreams are your dreams too. And you don’t think they’re perfect, but you know their flaws, the deep-down truth of them, and the shadows of all their secrets, and they don’t frighten you away; in fact you love them more for it, because you don’t want perfect. You want them.”

Themes:

  • Urban Fantasy
  • Paranormal
  • Family & Friendship
  • Forbidden love
  • Action & Adventure

Get it on Amazon:  https://amzn.to/2xFi7Ti

Happy reading and have a wonderful day

~ Saadia

Lord of the Flies by William Golding – Book Review

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The book focuses on a group of British boys stranded on an uninhabited island and their disastrous attempt to govern themselves.

Genre: Allegorical, Psychological Novel, Young Adult fiction

Review: 

The plot is stagnant for the 1st 130 pages, the middle of the book stretched out unnecessarily. This makes the characters feel under-developed during throughout these pages. It was tedious to get through and the narration seemed monotonous for majority of the novel. I rated it 2/5 stars.

The ending is very detailed and graphic, propelling the story forward all of a sudden and the build up of the moral degradation of the young characters finally culminates in savagery. In my opinion, this should’ve happened sooner to limit the stretch of the tedious chapters that seem to add nothing to drive the plot onward.

I agree with the critics that have claimed the book to be “too abstract”. One only begins to appreciate the allegorical aspects of the book when looked through the author’s eyes.

“Maybe there is a beast… maybe it’s only us.”

“The thing is – fear can’t hurt you any more than a dream.”

“He found himself understanding the wearisomeness of this life, where every path was an improvisation and a considerable part of one’s waking life was spent watching one’s feet.”

“They walked along, two continents of experience and feeling unable to communicate.”

Get it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2G0HpzQ

~ Saadia

The Tidy Guide to Publishing your Novel by Rachel Aukes – Book Review

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This book aims to provide actionable and concise tips and processes to publishing your novel.

Review: Aukes starts off the book by delivering information about the various forms of publishing; publishing houses or self-publishing or the ways that lie in-between. This throws light on both the traditional and the new forms of issuing your book. I rated this book 3.5/5 stars.

This book provides information about what you need to keep in mind about imprints within a publishing house, the editor’s part in publishing, the significance of having an agent and the importance of keeping the book rights indisputably yours.

In the last half of the book, the author provides precise, concrete steps to follow while publishing your book.

Buy it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2X8wiue

~ Saadia