Uncategorized, What I'm Reading

What I’m Reading: Autumn

Welcome to What I’m Reading Valentine’s Day edition! You might be thinking “The book was called Autumn but it’s February” and well get to that!

Over break I went into Boston and while I was on Newbury Street I stopped by Trident Books. It’s right next to Pure Barre and I don’t know how I never stopped there before!

They have this cute bookshelf at the front of the store called Blind Date with a Book! Ta-da! So I’m writing today to tell you all about my blind date. How this works is that all of the books on this shelf are covered in paper bags and have pictures drawn on them so you have no idea what’s underneath.

The shelf was filled with so many books and I was so torn on what to pick until I saw this:

If you haven’t picked up on it yet I’m a huge fall fan so this was just calling my name!

I took the commuter rail in to the city and on the way home I finished the book I was reading at the time and so I was left with a decision: open the book now and risk tearing the paper or wait until I could show my mom (she’s also a huge fan of Trident Books). Still having 30 minutes left on the train I opened the book. Very. Carefully.

The cover was absolutely stunning. I fell in love with the book almost immediately.

So now onto the real deal…

Autumn by Ali Smith is the first in a series of 4 seasonal novels. Summer has not been released yet which is fitting as it seems summer is years away at this point.

At first glance, I had no idea what I had gotten myself into. Smith’s writing can be overwhelming until you get used to it. She alternates between the story and another narrative that took me awhile to pick up but I’m so glad I did.

If you like linear plots, this is one you should put aside (unless you want to challenge yourself and expand your bookshelf of course). Smith switches between past, present, and everything in between. This book covered everything from intergenerational friendships, a pop-artist, feminism, and Brexit.

The wise people of Goodreads have put my feelings into words and I will share that with you know: I’m not exactly sure what I’ve read. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed what I read, I’m just not exactly sure I picked up on all of the references she included. I think Smith is a brilliant writer and I will definitely be picking up the other two, and eventually a third, but I don’t think there’s anyway I could have possibly picked up all of the things Smith addressed.

While I was able to understand the relationship between Elizabeth and Mr. Gluck, and I fell in love with it, the Pauline Body part was just too much for me. If there had been less Body I think I would have enjoyed it more but it tied together Elisabeth’s childhood to finding her thesis. It’s just that it kept going on and on and on.

That being said, I am very excited to pick up the next few books in her series. Something I find extremely interesting about this series is that it’s called a “series quartet” in that they’re stand-alone books that relate to each other as seasons do.

Let me know what you’re reading in the comments!

xox,

Marissa

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On the Basis of Sex

Yesterday I went to see the new Ruth Bader Ginsberg movie with my grandmother and I was so inspired to write a post immediately! In case you didn’t know the third annual Women’s March is today! Unfortunately I have to go to work later so I will not be taking to the streets of Boston or Northampton, but sending a huge shout out to all those ladies celebrating ladies out there today!

One thing this movie made me think is, “We’ve come a long way.” Ginsberg was one of nine women in her class of 500 at Harvard Law School. When the women went to the Dean’s house for dinner, they were asked to share their name and the reason they took a spot away from a man to be at Harvard. Not only did Ginsberg take her law school course, she balanced that with taking care of a child, a husband with cancer, and she went to all of Marty’s (her husband) classes to make sure he didn’t fall behind. Yet when Marty graduated he had no problem finding a job, while Ruth could not be hired as a woman anywhere. She was told, “oh we already have a woman working here” and was asked questions like “when are you having another child?”

This movie also made me think, “We have a long way to go.” Some things never change, when Ruth was practicing for her very first case, her superior told her to smile more, she was coming across as cold-hearted. But this is nothing new. Hillary Clinton was criticized for never smiling when she was on the campaign trail, and once she started smiling? People said she smiled too much. Then the judges on Dancing With The Stars had comments about Simone Biles facial expressions and how they didn’t see it as authentic. To which she replied, Smiling doesn’t win you gold medals.” Why is it when men are stone-faced it’s powerful but when a woman does it they are stone cold?

So how can you make a difference?

  • First, learn about your implicit biases! Harvard has developed a series tests called the Implicit Association Test (IAT) and you can take as many as you want to learn what biases you have! In honor of today I recommend taking the gender and science/liberal arts test.
  • Then, stay informed! Read your news app! Everyone has it on their iPhone, stay up to date on topics that are important to you. But make sure you’re getting your news from multiple places as some outlets tend to lean one way or another,
  • Lastly, stand up! In the movie Jane Ginsberg says, “It’s not a movement if everyone’s sitting down. It’s a support group.” We watched the film Sicko in one of my classes and while this quote is about healthcare, I believe it could apply to much more, “The French government is afraid of the people, but the American people are afraid of the government.” In Sicko we see that the French people will protest anything they see as unfair, so what are we waiting for!

I hope you get the chance to see On the Basis of Sex, if you liked watching Elle Woods push her way through Harvard Law, you’re going to love this movie. I loved it way more than I love Legally Blonde, because it based on a true story and a strong woman.

Happy weekend!

Marissa