Not Oprah’s Book Club: Holiday Round Up

As they say, it’s always “too many books, too little time.” But the holiday season is a time when a) you often get to slow down and actually devour a great novel in one sitting fireside, and b) you get to give books to all the special people in your life. Or maybe I’m just a huge nerd. In any case, here are a range of books that have been sitting on my shelves looking awesome that I thought I’d tell you about in preparation for holiday reading and gifting:
First off: Are We Feeling Better Yet?: Women Speak About Health Care in America by Colleen McKee and Amanda Stiebel. Could there be more relevant reading right about now? In these 21 essays, women from all over the country recount diverse experiences of trying to get the health care they need and deserve with varying degrees of success and/or humiliation. It’s the personal is political at its most poignant, from Paula Kamen writing about migraines to Anita Darcel Taylor on bipolar disorder to Maria Rivera on breast cancer. Of note: these essays are truly beautiful narratives. In other words, this is the perfect reflection on health care for those who couldn’t read another dry article or jargon-filled blog post without throwing up.
For the artsy fartsy: Angels of Anarchy: Women Artists and Surrealism. This gorgeous book by Prestel is the kind of thing that you put on your coffee table, but than actually read too. There is a new interpretation of “angel” at work in this book, as one of the epigraph’s by Luce Irigaray reads: “The angel is that which unceasingly passes through the envelope(s) or container(s), goes from one side to the other, reworking every deadline, changing every decision, thwarting all repetition.” In other words, this is about women questioning, creating, disrupting, and deconstructing at every turn. There are striking images by, indeed, Frida Kahlo, but also lesser known artists like Mimi Parent and Dorethea Tanning. A few hours with this book and you’ll be thinking of all they ways you might thwart people’s expectations (including your own).
For the memoir lover: Mean Little Deaf Queer by Terry Galloway. Galloway writes, “When your body betrays you like mind did me, then who’s to say the world won’t crack open at your feet, the sea rise up to sweep you away, or the sky won’t rain down its cosmic debris?” Galloway takes the reader through her unique and imagination-filled childhood in rural Texas, and all the wonders and challenges that came her way when she started to go deaf at age nine. Her later struggles with sexuality afford her another reckoning that deepens her sense of who she is and her capacity to perform and appreciate that identity. And the writing is plainly gorgeous: “Even after my visions and voices were exposed for what they were, I loved them and held them in awe, believing them to be glimpses of a secret from the beyond that had chosen to reveal itself only to me, special me.”
Special us. Happy holidays nerds.

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