WHAT BAD ASS FEMINISTS READ THIS YEAR: KATE HARDING
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 2018 ... 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 Kate Harding favorite reads of the year list. You know (AND LOVE) Kate for a lot of reasons … TWO OF THEM … are Nasty Women: Feminism, Resistance, and Revolution in Trump's America and Asking for It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture—and What We Can Do About It. She’s also the coauthor of Lessons from the Fat-o-Sphere and a contributor to The Book of Jezebel. The cohost of the Feminasty podcast, she lives in Florida. Enjoy Kate’s list of favorite books she's read this year, what did you read and love this year? We'd love to hear from you!
The Great Believers
by Rebecca Makkai
This was my Number One book of the year, for basically all of the reasons Jeremy already laid out. I’ve loved all three of Makkai’s novels, but this one is in an entirely different category than the first two—i.e., the one where you end up a finalist for a National Book Award, with good reason. It’s warm, funny, deep without being slow or excessively self-impressed, twisty, thinky, and sad as hell. It’s this year’s book that made me immediately start texting people to ask if they’d read it yet, and if not, why not?
My Sister, the Serial Killer
by Oyinkan Braithwaite
The heart of this slim, one-sitting novel is its candid first-person narrator, Korede, and the straightforward decision she must make: will she continue to protect her murderous sister, or tell the truth and send her to prison? On that foundation, Braithwaite builds a sharp social satire that grapples seriously with questions about love, loyalty, privilege, the power of beauty, and what it means to truly know someone. P.S. I listened to this one, and I’m so glad I did, because Adepero Oduye’s reading is wonderful
by Kelly O’Connor McNees
I love historical fiction, early feminists, and Kelly O’Connor McNees—who, full disclosure, is a dear friend—so there was no way I wasn’t going to enjoy this story about Eleanor Roosevelt and her girlfriend, the journalist Lorena Hickock. But it turned out to be far and away my favorite of Kelly’s books, because she made the less commercial but totally right decision to focus not on the First Lady, but on brilliant, funny, damaged, passionate Hick. You’ll wish you knew her. You’ll be glad you were able to get this close.
Future Home of the Living God
by Louise Erdrich
Red Clocks, by Leni Zumas
I read these novels back-to-back, along with a few others, for what was meant to be an omnibus review of reproductive dystopias. The published piece ended up focusing on Red Clocks—you can go to Electric Literature to find out why it was one of my favorites this year—but Future Home of the Living God compelled, moved, and surprised me just as much. In the opening paragraphs, the narrator explains that her adoptive, white parents named her Cedar Hawk Songmaker but her real Ojibwe name is Mary Potts, and that she is writing a letter to her fetus and/or future survivors of the current era, in which “our world is running backward.” The rest of the book delivers on all that’s promised there, exploring colonialism, climate change, fundamentalist religion, fascism, and how human beings will inevitably adapt to what’s thrown at them, but not everybody will make it out alive.
Women Talking, by Miriam Toews
Content warning: rape
This one isn’t even out yet in the U.S., but I am such a Miriam Toews fan, I ordered it from Canada. Here, Toews’s own experience growing up Mennonite informs her take on a real horror story that occurred among an extremist colony in Bolivia: women in the small, insular, deeply patriarchal community kept waking up to find they had been raped in the night. Their foggy memories, combined with the colony’s limited exposure to the world, led some to conclude that demons or ghosts were attacking the women—that is, if they believed the women at all. The reality was even more sinister: a group of their own men were spraying an anesthetic used on cows through the windows of sleeping girls’ and women’s rooms, then having their way with the unconscious bodies. Women Talking picks up after the coordinated violence has been exposed, on a day when the men are away and eight women come together to decide what they’re going to do about it. It’s a fast, devastating read.