Feministing Reads: What We’re Reading

Happy May! Here’s what we’re reading.

Senti: Just finished Emma Cline’s The Girls, a fictionalization of the Manson murders of 1969, told from the perspective of a fourteen-year-old girl who is far more enamored by the cult leader’s female followers than the man himself. The story is brilliantly, gorgeously written, and completely drew me in. Highly recommend!

Mahroh: I’m currently reading Arun Kundnani’s book The Muslims Are Coming!: Islamophobia, Extremism, and the Domestic War on Terrorwhich challenges the narrow political confines within which Muslim Americans are allowed to operate by both the right and the left. The book is a powerful account of the costs of the “War on Terror” for the Muslim communities who have been infiltrated, entrapped, surveilled, Gitmo-ed, and killed over the last fifteen years. An absolute must-read in this environment.

Sam: This month I reread Toni Cade Bambara’s The Salt Eaters, which may be the best novel ever written about activist burnout and self-care. Published in 1980, as the utopian political projects of the preceding decades were giving way to the political disappointments of the Reagan era, the novel spends three hundred pages following a Southern black community’s various responses to its opening challenge: “Are you sure, sweetheart, that you want to be well?”

Reina: I just finished I Want to Destroy Myself by Malika Amar Shaikh. It’s a ferociously honest memoir, written in Marathi when Shaikh was still in her twenties and just recently translated and published in English decades later. Shaikh grew up in Bombay in the 60s surrounded by communist activists, poets, and artists, and married Namdeo Dhasal, poet and co-founder of the Dalit Panthers. Her portrait of her own ambitions, as well as her famous husband’s magnetism and violence — all set against the turbulent politics of the Dalit Panthers and communist movements — evokes questions about violence, power, liberation, and love that lot of women in movements continue to struggle with.

JulianaLucky Boy by Shanti Sekaran tells the story of an undocumented woman who loses custody of her baby son to the U.S. immigration system, and a liberal brown woman living in Berkeley, California, who brings the boy into her care after years of painful infertility. Sekaran does a beautiful job of writing the characters in a way that it’s almost impossible to pick a side — and when she does, you’re left devastated at the way we treat mothers in the U.S. Also, I picked up Breathless after watching a lot of Jane the Virgin and re-considering my feelings on romance novels. Beverly Jenkin’s book is not intellectually stimulating, but if you’re looking for a thoroughly enjoyable book dedicated to women’s pleasure, power, and happy endings, this is for you! Jenkin’s paints rosy a picture of 1800s Arizona that is filled with handsome brown feminist men, educated women, and racial solidarity between indigenous people and Black pioneers. A great feminist beach read.

Dana: One week and two final exams away from summer, I’ve been keeping myself healthy and happy with Durga Chew-Bose’s Too Much and Not the Mood.

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New Haven, CT

Dana Bolger is a Senior Editor at Feministing and the co-founder of Know Your IX, the national youth-led organization working to end gender violence in schools. She's testified before Congress on Title IX policy and legislative reform, and her writing has appeared in a number of outlets, including The New York Times, Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. She's also a student at Yale Law School, and you can find her on Twitter at @danabolger.

Dana Bolger is a Senior Editor at Feministing and a student at Yale Law School.

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