It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (June 9, 2014)

Skytree

Skytree from Distance by Yuya Sekiguchi


Slenderman Stabbing Shows Girls Will Be Girls, Too by Rebecca Traister for New Republic

Writing this, I think even of the hours and months my high school best friend and I spent obsessing over fictional characters on soap operas. None of which led us to stab anyone, but which was certainly symptomatic of how powerful and intoxicating escapist fantasy from the sometimes scary world of female adolescence, especially in thrilling tandem with another person, can be.

The intensity of bonds between young women have gone especially underexamined in recent years. For generations, it was accepted that adolescent girls might form highly emotional, deeply felt relationships with each other, kind of proto-marriages. For periods of American history, adolescent and teen schoolgirls regularly shared beds, openly expressed their adoration and devotion to each other and were sometimes said to be “smashed”—entwined in committed partnerships. But in the early-20th century, as heterosexual marriage came to be seen as a relationship based on emotion and mutual desire, female partnerships began to be seen as competitive and suspect.

Break the YA Monopoly: Give Us Female Heroes for Adults by Emily Asher-Perrin for Tor.com

And on the playground, when my friends and I pretended to be other people, I pretended to be boys.

It’s entirely possible that many fans who complain that the Harry Potter books should bear Hermione’s name instead are reacting to this very trend, the insistence that women are never the central figures no matter how much know-how, bravery, and fortitude they contribute to a story. Moreover, the lack of these figures in popular adult fiction sends a hard and fast message to female readers and viewers: that once you grow up, you graduate to adult books and adult characters — and they are men.

But here’s a question no one is asking… is it possible that the reason for YA’s popularity amongst an older crowd is in part due to the fact that there are so many female protagonists to chose from? Are we running toward the genre with our arms wide open because we see something that we want and don’t find elsewhere?

Translating Frozen into Arabic by Elias Muhanna for The New Yorker

The Arabic lyrics to “Let It Go” are as forbidding as Elsa’s ice palace. The Egyptian singer Nesma Mahgoub, in the song’s chorus, sings, “Discharge thy secret! I shall not bear the torment!” and “I dread not all that shall be said! Discharge the storm clouds! The snow instigateth not lugubriosity within me…” From one song to the next, there isn’t a declensional ending dropped or an antique expression avoided, whether it is sung by a dancing snowman or a choir of forest trolls. The Arabic of “Frozen” is frozen in time, as “localized” to contemporary Middle Eastern youth culture as Latin quatrains in French rap.

The Fifth Annual #Bookaday Challenge by Donalyn Miller for Nerdy Book Club

Let me admit a secret. I probably won’t make my Book-a-Day Challenge this year without reading more than a few picture books and graphic novels to hedge my bets. You probably won’t either. Book-a-Day is not a competition. It’s an opportunity to enjoy marvelous reading experiences and rededicate ourselves to daily reading. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what we read, or how much, or when. What matters is that we have fun and indulge in our favorite leisure activity—reading a lot of books!

Just Take it Bird by Bird: On Personal Writing by Rachel for Autostraddle

For me, the key to reminding myself of those things and also actually writing is first to buy a non-intimidating journal. Because I am ~a writer~, many a well-meaning person has gifted me with beautiful $25 journals with like gilded angels on the front and matching silver unicorn pens (that is a real thing, not a joke). This is a wonderful gesture, but because I am also ~full of anxiety~, I can’t bear myself to sully it by ever actually writing in it, because nothing I write will be worthy of that notebook.

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