The September book pick for the Feminist Book Club was Wordslut: a feminist guide to taking back the english language by Amanda Montell. I’ve always been curious about language, both in English and Spanish so I was very excited to read this book. Specifically, this book deconstructs various aspects of language that relates to women and other marginalized genders.
Also, Montell gives very good tips for dealing with people who tend to correct grammar (viciously) or those who refuse to learn pronouns, or even how to see beyond how some politicians are portrayed in the media.
At one point in my life I was very involved in editing Wikipedia and bridging the gender gap that exists in biographies about women. At one of the annual conferences there was an editor and researcher who had looked at all the times that the words “she” and “her” were used in the site and it turned out that the majority were referring to ships (boats, cruises, warships, etc) so it wasn’t a surprise to learn that language is not exactly feminist as it stands right now (specifically the English language).
I really enjoyed Montell’s writing style, she talks about linguistics and society while also adding footnotes that made me chuckle while reading. It is clear that she loved researching and writing the book so it was not hard work to read and understand.
Overall, this book made me think about my own use of language. English is not my first language, it is Spanish, and as an immigrant it was very important that my accent, my grammar, everything really was as perfect as it could be. I’m often told that I don’t have an accent, people have remarked how good my English is, and well, yep, that’s the point! Of course, there is something lost there too, a part of my own identity is wrapped into how I speak and use both English and Spanish. A different personality comes out when I’m speaking Spanish with my family or friends, and same with English! If anything, Montell validated a lot of my feelings about how the English language is quite unfair towards women of color like me, and other marginalized groups. That in itself felt really good, to see the reasons why I don’t use curse words generally and why I triple check spellings and grammar even while texting with a random friend.
I think this book also gave me the confidence to use language (all of it) and explore it fully without fear of being “wrong”. The biggest lesson for me was that people like me have the power to change language for the better. We don’t have to keep trying to stay within the “rules” because at the end of the day those rules are always changing. And, if these changes to language will empower women and other marginalized genders, why wouldn’t we make those changes?
If you’re at all interested in language, feminism, and just a book that is interesting and so so fun to read, definitely check this out!
But first, let’s take a look at what I’m currently reading:
The Stand by Stephen King: Yep, still buddy reading this, nearing 75% now and I’m so ready to see how this all wraps up!
Todos los Cuentos by Gabriel García Márquez: I am nearing the end of this book and I just love how Márquez manages to envelop me in beautiful writing and just all the atmosphere of his stories.
Emma by Jane Austen: I was not expecting this one to be so funny! I absolutely love Emma’s dad, he’s ridiculous in the most endearing way ever.
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon: I barely started this one and it will unfortunately go into the backburner for a bit since I’ll be putting other books as priority for the first half of September. However, I’m super enjoying the writing so far, I need to know what is going to happen!
Temporada de Huracanes by Fernanda Melchor: This is the new pick for the book club with my friends and wow it’s so good! It is about brujas in a town in Veracruz, Mexico. A woman, known to be a witch in her town, is found murdered and so far we see how her origin is full of rumors, mythology, and violence. Excellent writing, absolutely love it.
And now, let’s look at what I will read for the Novice path for the Magical Readathon that I mentioned above!
For my character I’ve chosen to create Anukis Atali who lives in the urban center of Kerador and who is of Skaimorn heritage. She is a reader who has always been super curious about the magic that might be within her but which she has never been able to harness except in moments of intense pressure. She was raised by her great-uncle who is all about searching for the origins of his ancestors, genealogy is his passion. As such, Anukis knows that she comes from a line of powerful magic, which makes her inability to harness her own quite frustrating. The three books seen (Fight Club, Romancing Mr. Bridgerton, and Club Dumas) will be read before April 2022 so I will talk about them in future TBRs.
So the idea for September is that my character will be embarking on the journey to Orilium Academy in order to learn how to harness her magical abilities. As such she must travel through various landmarks, each marking a trial that she must endure and pass in order to make it to the Academy. She’s not alone but she’s also super shy so hopefully she’ll be able to overcome that shyness in order to get to her goal.
The Novice Path Entrance — Read a book with a map: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo: No, I haven’t read the Shadow and Bone series but I absolutely love heist movies and I’ve never read a heist book so I really wanted to check this out. I don’t know much more about this book other than the heist element and I am pretty sure that’s all I need!
Ashtorn Tree — A book on top of your TBR: Wordslut: A Feminist Guide to Taking Back the English Language by Amanda Montell: This is the pick for this month’s Feminist Book club so of course it’s at the top of my TBR! This book takes a look at words that have often been used against women, labeling women as less than, and tracks their origins in order to take away that negative connotation and allow the reader to take back the word into a different kind of use.
The Mist of Solitude — Read a Standalone: In the Wild Light by Jeff Zentner: I am SO excited to read this book. I’ve loved all of Zentner’s books so far and I don’t expect this one to be any different. I don’t even know what this book is about!
Ruin of the Skye — Read a book featuring ghosts/supernatural elements: Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas: This book follows Yadriel, a Latinx brujx, who has managed to summon the ghost of the school’s resident bad boy, Julian Diaz. Now they are forced to work together in order to set things right for both of them. Ghosts, romance, LGBTQ+ and Latinx representation, can’t wait!
Obsidian Falls — Read a thriller or mystery book: The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix: I am a big fan of horror movies and one of the tropes in many of them is that final girl who manages to survive. So this book follows a group of final girls who have survived their respective serial killers and who now come together to help each other deal with the aftermath. But apparently their horror story is not over….
Tower of Rumination — Read a five star prediction: Sabrina & Corina by Kali Fajardo-Anstine: This is a series of short stories centered around Latinas of indigenous ancestry. There’s friendship, motherhood, sisterhood, and heritage. I’m pretty sure I’ll love this.
Orilium Academy Arc — Book with a school setting: A Tale of Magic by Chris Colfer: A middle-grade book about Brystal, a 14-year-old girl who is whisked away to a magical school where she’ll learn that maybe her life is not as boring as she thought! I loved The Land of Stories series so I expect that this will be no different.
And that’s it for the Novice Path TBR! IF there’s time at all, I will also be starting All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, which came up in my last Want To Read List Cleanup post. As it stands, it might be pushed into October but that’s quite alright since there’s no hurry. Who knows, I might be in the mood and start it even while working on the books for the Orilium journey, we’ll see!