WHAT BAD ASS FEMINISTS READ THIS YEAR: INES BELLINA
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 Ines Bellina’s favorite reads of the year list. You know (AND LOVE) Ines, she’s one of your favorite Heauxs! She keeps you up to date on THIS IS US and she is also the co-host of XX, Will Travel, a podcast geared towards independent women travelers. Enjoy our final book list of the year from Ines, what did you read and love this year? We'd love to hear from you!
Ever since I dropped out of a PhD program to follow my dreams of becoming a writer—LULZ, we can talk about that cringe-worthy life decision later—, I don’t feel like I ever read enough. That’s because my average rate has gone down from about 150 books a year to about twenty-four, which is still twenty-four times of the average MAGA supporter but still. 2018 has been a banner year for me in terms of reading, having broken finally past thirty publications and counting. I’m terrible at keeping up with the zeitgeist and my to-read shelf is close to becoming a Very Special Episode of Hoarders, but what I can say is that I have impeccable literary taste and I’m very well-informed in the most specific of niches. Like contemporary Latin American literature after 9/11. For what it’s worth. Anyway, here are a few of my absolute faves of the year:
In the Distance
by Hernán Díaz
Ok, I’m pretty sure starting off with a book written about a dude centered on a dude searching for a dude is violating the secret code of list making for bad ass feminists, but hear me out. This eerie Western/American odyssey follows the story of Swedish Hakan, who loses his older brother en route to America during the rugged 19th Century. This book gives two craps about the romanticized notions of settler life in the West, or the reductive immigration narrative, or frankly anything having do with accurate historic representation of the United States. Instead, the country serves as a backdrop for a brutal meditation on loneliness, the fleeting nature of home and the emotional austerity of having to make your way on your own. I’m also petty enough to derive some glee from a Latin American author using the North to whatever his flights of fancy dictate.
by Ling Ma
In this searing critique our consumer-driven, vicious late-stage capitalist economy, the zombie apocalypse arrives via the mechanical nature of your most tedious office job ever. It’s 2011 and most of the world’s population has been ravaged by Shen Fever. Candace Chen is one of a handful of survivors who are trying to make their way to Chicago from New York. The horrifying universe depicted, though, isn’t that of the fevered bodies rotting away in mundane tasks but the chilling nature of work pre-Apocalypse, where Candace thrives precisely for sticking to routine, sanitizing emails about dangerous factory conditions to her clients, and showing up to her job even as the world crumbles around her. As someone who lived in New York from 2006-2011 the descriptions of post-college youth in the city were so spot on, it almost made me nostalgic. If it wasn’t for the fact that we all come off as insufferable assholes. (We probably were, let’s face it.)
We don’t have a very developed young adult lit market in Latin America and my ongoing theory is because we’re too freaking aware of the fact that protecting children from the realities of adulthood is a fool’s job. Seriously, by the time I graduated high school, I had already lived through periods of terrorist violence, one dictatorial regime, and at least one bout with E. Coli. You think my parents were afraid that I was reading inappropriate material for my age? Bitch, please. What we get instead are engrossing laments about the fleeting nature of love and its subsequent loss, like this novel by the Mexican writer Laia Jufresa. A 14-year-old girl decides to start a garden in the courtyard of her housing complex in Mexico City, as a way to cope with her little sister’s death. The narratives weaves in and out of the different neighbors that populate the place, like a somber version of El Chavo del Ocho but with the same kind of character-driven threads that asks what family even means.
We Are Never Meeting
in Real Life
by Samantha Irby
Any book that starts with an application to be a contestant on The Bachelor is on its way to the Pulitzer, as far as I’m concerned. What to say about this collection of humorous essays by Samantha Irby, national treasure, that hasn’t been said before? I spent a splendid week reading this on my commute to work bursting out laughing, holding in my pee, and scaring every single person sitting next to me because I DO NOT have a quite chuckle.
Aquí No Es Miami
by Fernanda Melchor
Sorry, folks, looks like you’re going to have to brush up on your high school Spanish for this one because I don’t believe it’s been translated yet. It’s seriously worth the extra time on Duolingo, though! This chronicles by Mexican journalist Fernanda Melchor map out how her hometown of Veracruz went from somewhat-corrupt-port city to full on Narco City in the last decades. Stop getting your info about the War on Drugs via English-speaking media or your angry uncle at Thanksgiving, and pay attention to those who are boots on the ground. Also, this book includes one of the freaking scariest, true-life haunted house stories I’ve read in years.
We Don’t Eat Our Classmates
by Ryan T. Higgins
I don’t care if this is a picture book. It’s one of the most profound descriptions of the absolute heart-wrenching anxiety anyone can have in a new social situation. In this case, it’s the first day of school for a T. Rex who wants nothing more than to eat her classmates because children are delicious.