Get to know me a little better by exploring the list below:
It’s All Absolutely Fine: Life is Complicated, So I’ve Drawn it Instead by Ruby Elliot. Orion Publishing Group, London, 2016.
Ruby Elliot shares her experience with anxiety, depression, eating disorders and bipolar through raw, brutally funny cartoons. This is more of a comic book than anything else, but it features short yet poignant snippets of writing in each chapter as Ruby shares the trials and small triumphs of mental health problems. There is a likeness between her written anecdotes and her drawings: they don’t have happy endings, and that makes them all the more relevant.
My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante. Penguin, London, 2012.
The protagonist of this novel frustrated me to no end. Halfway through the book, I realised that it was because she reminded me of myself. Quiet, sensitive Elena Greco constantly questions her academic ability and her value as a writer. I found myself internally shouting at Elena to realise her worth and to ignore the shallow, patriarchal glare of her Italian hometown. Despite my frustration, the book is so eloquently woven, its characters so true and complicated, that I fell in love with it. Also, Elena Ferrante’s unyielding use of commas is inspiring.
The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin. Macdonald Futura, London, 1969.
This novel is powerful in that it presents a world that is difficult to imagine. Through her creations of new, unusual worlds, Le Guin is fearless. By removing gender from the human equation, she explores what remains, prompting readers to question what they thought they knew about themselves and others. Struggling to picture a genderless world, I realised my own bias about social and political aspects of humanity. It is less difficult, and highly enchanting, to envision the landscape of Gethen, a planet that draws you in with its vast, cold and unforgiving beauty.
Several Short Sentences About Writing by Verlyn Klinkenborg. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2012.
This book reads like poetry. It serves as a pleasurable, informative book on the skill of writing without snapping at you and scaring you into a rigid means of setting pen to paper. Klinkenborg’s conviction shines through each short sentence, and I had the sense that he truly enjoys writing about writing, and wants to instil in readers the same enthusiasm.
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. HarperCollins, London, 2014.
This book is short, sharp and honest. Adichie discusses and challenges the gender issues within society by sharing her own experiences, both in Nigeria – her home country – and America. Through her words, I hear anger, determination, and courage. Adichie’s writing does not beg to be heard, for its truth speaks volumes and requires no embellishments. Anyone and everyone should read it, no matter your stance on feminism prior to picking up this small package of dynamite.
Header image: Guinevere Shapiro