WHAT BAD ASS FEMINISTS READ THIS YEAR: SARAH HOLLENBECK
We LOVE top 10 lists, and top 100 lists, and Oprah's Favorite Things, and even lists of the worst things of the year. Lists are magic they usually bring a smile to our face, and remind us EVEN IN 2017 ... joy was had. We wanted to come up with our own list for this year and decided what we really want to know is what our favorite BAD ASS FEMINISTS read this year. So we'll be bringing you a list of books from some of our favorite women.
Today we're bringing you Sarah Hollenbeck. We love Sarah with reckless abandon! First! Her writing is exquisite. If you haven't read her piece published on Shandaland, stop what you're doing right now and GET YOUR LIFE RIGHT. The piece also appears in a longer form in the new anthology NASTY WOMEN, which was published by Picador earlier this year and features Cheryl F*ckin Strayed. SECOND! She runs Chicago's favorite feminist bookstore Women & Children First. Enjoy Sarah's list of favorite books she's read this year, and then get yourself to her bookstore and buy every one of them! What did you read and love this year? We'd love to hear from you!
I could do this all day. Books were the only saving grace in the trash heap of 2017. I have so many that I wasn’t able to include here like obviously Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado, Eli Clare’s Brilliant Imperfection, Paula Carter’s No Relation. A few selections from my many favorites of the year are...
by Megan Stielstra
Feeling shitty and overwhelmed—like you’re both doing too much and too little all at the same time? Read this. These essays are the literary equivalent of having Stielstra hold your hand while giving you unimpeachable, ass-kicking life advice while telling you really excellent stories while serving you a perfectly crafted Old Fashioned. But maybe the thing I love most is how Stielstra manages to check and re-check her own privilege and blind spots throughout the book without ever being annoying and earnest. She's a miracle worker. Every time I talk about this book I want to read it again.
by Jesmyn Ward
I know that this National Book Award winner has been mentioned in other lists, but it cannot be overstated how much everyone needs to read this perfect book. This novel is cradled within the tender relationship between 13-year-old biracial Jojo and his toddler sister, Kayla. The siblings are in the backseat as their drug-addicted mother Leonie takes them along to pick up their white father from the state penitentiary. Ward writes with such tireless compassion for all of her characters--both the humans and the ghosts, who exist side-by-side in this gorgeous and elegiac reckoning with the racial violence that built America.
by Hanif Abdurraqib
I remember at one of the first concerts I ever attended, my sister, her friend, and I stood up when we heard the opening bars of our favorite song and then the people behind us yelled "Sit down!" My sister’s friend turned around and yelled back, "Stand up!" So many of Abdurraqib's essays—on Carly Rae Jepsen or Chance the Rapper—made me want to “Stand up!” because there is just so much joy here. But these essays also carry plenty of weight as Abdurraqib captures the tensions of contemporary America by discussing who is listening to what where and why.
by Emil Ferris
Reading this graphic novel made me feel like a kid staying up past my bedtime to binge-read a book under the covers with a flashlight. My Favorite Thing Is Monsters is structured as a breathtakingly illustrated diary of a 10-year-old girl growing up in Chicago's Uptown neighborhood in the late 60s / early 70s and who imagines herself as a little werewolf girl. But it's also a murder mystery, a holocaust story, a salacious pulp magazine that manages to talk about sexuality and racism and so much more. Ferris’s world is dazzling and deeply human—populated by the tribes that form among outcasts.
by Samantha Irby
Samantha Irby should win a Nobel Prize simply for writing the essay entitled: "You Don't Have to Be Grateful for Sex." This is a life-changing collection. It left me speechless--partly because I was either laughing or crying too hard to speak
by Myriam Gurba
This memoir of coming of age as a queer Chicana is brutal. Brutally experimental in form. Brutally funny. Brutally smart. Brutally mean to a patriarchal world that, well, deserves it. Gurba bookends this book with two sexual assaults and in their retelling manages to offer something close to the catharsis we all so desperately need. When I finished the last page, I couldn't help but reverently whisper aloud, "Damn."
Sarah Hollenbeck has published personal essays in Dogwood, TriQuarterly, and Shondaland. Her essay "A Goldmine" was nominated for a Pushcart and received a Notable Mention in Best American Essays. She's also a contributor to the new anthology NASTY WOMEN, which was published by Picador earlier this year and features Cheryl F*ckin Strayed. But she’s often distracted from her writing by her day-job running Women & Children First, one of the last remaining feminist bookstores in the country. As the store's co-owner she has been featured in New CIty's Lit50 twice and in Publisher's Weekly Star Watch, which honors 40 young people who are making a difference in the U.S. publishing industry.