Welcome to The Art of Landing’s Summer Round Up – 2019!
In keeping with last year’s summer round-up, this year’s summer reads involve a steady plowing through my TBR pile and reading lots of women authors and loving every minute of it. Here’s a short stack of what’s been keeping me happy as the humidity keeps my skin “glowing” and my hair fluffing.
100 Times: A Memoir of Sexism, by Chavisa Woods
This book, which began as a series of Facebook posts, through which Woods cataloged her experiences with sexism, sexual discrimination, and assault, reveals an overwhelming truth: for most women (cis and trans), sexual violence is rarely an isolated incident. Woods gives us candid, intimate insight into just how pervasive sexism is – it is so “normalized” we often don’t even notice it. Through 100 personal stories that occasionally give way to cultural criticism, Woods chronicles being a victim of attempted rape; workplace discrimination; physical violence; even strange men, while hitting on her, telling her she needs to shave her legs! 100 TIMES is a powerful exploration of systematic sexism, and despite the often triggering subject matter, it is mesmerizing. It’s also infuriating and necessary.
Side Chick Nation, by Aya de Leon
I don’t read much by way of heist fiction, but Side Chick Nation has a lot more going on than just fast-paced crime. De Leon packs a healthy dose of feminism, sex positivity, and romance into the fourth in her Justice Hustler series, and her protagonist, Dulce, is the right balance of street smart and naive. Set in Puerto Rico during and after Hurricane Maria, de Leon deftly weaves political commentary into her compelling narrative.
Why Karen Carpenter Matters, by Karen Tongson
Until I picked up this book, the bulk of my knowledge about Karen Carpenter came from an after-school special about eating disorders. But Karen Tongson, named after the beloved pop icon, argues persuasively for Carpenter’s much larger impact on the world. As she digs into the “white-washed” sound of “normalcy,” Tongson uncovers why The Carpenters’ “musical fantasies” had profound impact on her as an LGBTQ person of color — and how she’s not alone in this regard. This slim book is quirky and fun, even as it digs into the destructive perfection that ultimately claimed Karen Carpenter’s life. She writes: “Karen Carpenter was my gateway… Straight as she seemed, again, in all senses of the word, Karen was the original coordinate for my queerness.” Close to You will sound totally different after you’ve been inside these pages.
Right after the Weather, by Carol Anshaw
A fascinating meditation on violence of all kinds, and especially how each action we take influences the following events of our live, narrated by a 40-something theater lesbian who can’t quite get a firm grasp on adulthood. Unflinching and spare, with a lingering impact, I’ll have a longer review of Right after the Weather out at Lambda Literary soon.
The Last of Her Kind, by Sigrid Nunez
It’s easy to fall into this seductive and smart novel, about two women from decidedly different backgrounds who become college roommates and ultimately friends in the late 1960s. After a falling out ends their friendship, one is convicted of a violent crime, and the other spends the rest of her years unraveling the impact their friendship has had on the trajectory of her life. Get ready for a hearty but subtle dosing of literary, race, and class politics worked into gorgeous prose and an evocative heaping of hard-edged nostalgia as the plot twists and twists again, leaving the reader with plenty to linger on.
A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle
I like to revisit a classic or two each year, and since I’m working with a client on a time-travel novel, this one seemed an appropriate choice. As smart and enthralling as ever.
Summer of ’69, by Elin Hilderbrand (not pictured)
Not pictured, because I listened to it on audio (My first)! Pretty sure this would have annoyed me as a print read, but via audiobook, I couldn’t help be sucked into the dazzling, privileged world of the Foley-Levin sisters as they navigate Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard during the summer of 1969. History collides with their emotional narratives, producing a lovely exploration of that politically charged year. I couldn’t stop listening eager for its final, satisfying word.