The Reading Hour.

It’s that time of year again and, in the spirit of tonight’s Reading Hour, I thought I’d tell you what I’ve been reading since last years’ event.

Rookie Yearbooks 1 & 2 by Tavi Gevinson.

I fell in love with Tavi Gevinson at last years’ Melbourne Writers Festival and had to snap up Rookie Yearbook One at the event’s bookstore. The second yearbook I got after visiting the U.S. late last year. They both compile the best of the Rookie website for those who don’t always have the chance to check it out. My favourites were anything by Sady Doyle and Lena Dunham’s interview with Mindy Kaling.

Hollywood Babylon by Kenneth Anger.

My former housemate bought this at a secondhand bookstore in Geelong when we went there for an exhibition and surprised me with it for my birthday. I ended up using some of the intel I gleaned from the book for an article on the dark side of Hollywood that I’m shopping around, and it informed me when I went to the Museum of Death in Los Angeles, to which Kenneth Anger is a benefactor.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins.

I read this around the time the second movie came out and I think I enjoyed the big screen version much more than the print one. I liked how the film streamlined much of the at times unnecessary plot additions.

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn.

Gillian Flynn has fast established herself as one of my favourite writers, and this is not only my favourite book of hers, but also one of my favourites in general. Couldn’t recommend it highly enough. A gritty page-turner that kicks Gone Girl’s ass.

Mateship with Birds by Carrie Tiffany.

I was unimpressed by last years’ Stella prize winner.

Inferno by Dan Brown.

I made the mistake of taking this hefty tome on my trip to the U.S., thinking I would get most of it read on the plane but I was still lugging it around for weeks after I returned home. I think because I read it pretty sporadically throughout the trip I didn’t get as into the story as I have with other Brown books. I did like the notions of overpopulation and the need to eradicate part of the population for the greater good of the human race, though.

Well Read Women by Samantha Hahn.

This is more of a picture book than anything with read substance, but I was gifted it in the States for my birthday after having mentioned it months and months before!

Floundering by Romy Ash.

I really enjoyed this debut novel from Ash, which was shortlisted for many a prize upon its release. If you like evocative Australiana in an alternative style, I urge you to pick up Floundering.

The Way We Lived Then: Recollections of a Well-Known Name Dropper by Dominick Dunne.

A sort-of pictorial autobiography of my favourite author that I picked up from New York’s famous Strand bookstore.

Reel Religion: A Century of the Bible on Film by the Museum of Biblical Art.

I couldn’t tell whether this guide to the exhibition of the same name at New York’s Museum of Biblical Art was propaganda or, as it asserts in its title, a history of the Bible on film. Either way, if you ever have some spare time in Central Parker West, check out the free museum.

How Did You Get This Number? by Sloan Crosley.

Crosley seems to have lost her allure since I last read her work in book form, I Was Told There’d Be Cake, a few years ago.

Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews.

What a horror show this was! I primarily read it so I could watch the Lifetime movie of the same name starring Heather Graham and Kiernan Shipka, but I had been wanting to satisfy my curiosity for it for quite a while.

The Family Law by Benjamin Law.

Laugh-out-loud funny as Law always is.

The Fabulous Moolah: First Goddess of the Squared Circle by Mary Lillian Ellison with Larry Platt.

Another one I got in New York at Westsider Rare Books and, as an autobiography of perhaps the most famous—and certainly the longest active—female wrestler, I had to snap it up.

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn.

This marks the third and final Flynn book I’ve read, and while the colleague I borrowed it from found it boring, I loved it almost as much as Sharp Objects. It features another eleventh-hour plot twist that Flynn has become famous for. Can’t wait to see what her next release will be.

John Belushi is Dead/Hollywood Ending by Kathy Charles.

I’d been wanting to read Hollywood Ending for quite a few years, but little did I know that the book was also published under the title of John Belushi is Dead, so there I was with two copies of the same book and no place to go. It turned out to be a spectacular waste of money as I was sorely disappointed by this narrative.

Tragic Hollywood: Beautiful, Glamorous, Dead by Jackie Ganiy.

This book nicely elaborated on much of what I learned on my visit to the Museum of Death and a Tragical History tour of L.A. but, as a self-published effort, it was riddle with spelling and grammar mistakes and continuity errors.

Audition by Barbara Walters.

While I think Barbara Walters gets kookier and more conservative with age, she was once a pioneer for women in broadcast journalism, and her autobiography was fascinating if, expectedly, long.

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent.

Another one I’d been putting off, but it lived up to the hype. I’m excited to see how the story of the last woman executed in Iceland will play out on the big screen as it has been optioned for film.

2Pac VS. Biggie: An Illustrated History of Rap’s Greatest Battle by Jeff Weiss & Evan McGarvey.

Didn’t tell me what I didn’t already know about Tupac Shakur, but I’d never really been a Biggie fan, so this book did shed some light on one of rap’s biggest stars.

An Inconvenient Woman by Dominick Dunne.

I picked this up along with Dunne’s autobiography at The Strand, and it was quite enjoyable.

Mary Ann in Autumn by Armistead Maupin.

I always enjoy Maupin’s stuff, and this marks the likely second-last installment of his Tales of the City saga, in which he revisits his beloved characters from 1970s and ’80s San Francisco in the modern day.

Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang by Joyce Carol Oates.

You never know what you’re going to get when it comes to Joyce Carol Oates, which can be thrilling and disconcerting. I’d have to go with the latter in this instance.

Changed for Good by Stacy Wolf.

Two of my favourite things: feminism and Broadway musicals. For anyone who’s got an interest in either of these things, this is a fascinating look at both, with a particular focus on Wicked, which I went to see for the seventh time on the weekend!

The Fictional Woman by Tara Moss.

Perhaps the Aussie book of the year, Tara Moss can be seen everywhere promoting her latest book—part memoir, part exploration of female tropes and stereotypes—and talking about everything from the Bechdel test to her rape and miscarriage. She writes in accessible terms and makes strong points.

The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas.

This book, a present from my housemate, has been languishing on my to-read pile for three years, so I thought it was high time I see what all the fuss was about. I’d watched the series so I was familiar with the premise and its aftermath, but I was quite taken aback by the misogyny and racism of pretty much all of the characters. Whether that was impeccable storytelling by Tsiolkas or the author’s biases I’m not sure; I guess I’ll have to read more of his work to find out. Next of his on my list: Barracuda.

The First Stone by Helen Garner.

Speaking of ingrained misogyny, Garner attempts to unpack the alleged sexual assault of two female students by a male authority figure at Melbourne University in the 1990s. What she actually ends up with is an out-of-touch, victim-blaming, second-wave VS. third-wave piece of misogyny. I would direct all readers away from this and towards Anna Krien’s Night Games: a much more balanced take on similar events.

Animal People by Charlotte Wood.

I’d been wanting to read this since I saw Charlotte Wood as part of the Melbourne Writers Festival a couple of years ago, and I devoured it in the space of the day. (I was without electricity so there wasn’t much else to do!) Pretty easy reading with a nice juxtaposition between human idiosyncrasies and animal mannerisms.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.

I’ve already read this book, but I’m rereading it currently as research for a piece about the upcoming film adaptation. This is the third Flynn book I’ve read in the past year.

What are you reading for the Reading Hour?

Related: The Reading Hour 2013.

The Reading Hour 2012.

Tavi’s World at Melbourne Writers Festival.

Taking a Bite Out of the Big Apple: My Guide to New York City.

Cherchez la Femme Fatale, Take 2.

Stella: A Prize of One’s Own at The Wheeler Centre.

The Slap & Men Who Cheat.

Why Young Feminists Still Have “A Long, Long Way to Go” in the Eyes of Second-Wave Feminists.

Night Games by Anna Krien Review.

You Animals.

Elsewhere: [Rookie] Sady Doyle.

[Show & Tell] Tara Moss On Ner Latest Novel The Fictional Woman & the Bechdel Test.

[SMH] Under the Skin.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

tavi gevinson bitchface

Tavi Gevinson is a Bitch (well, she was interviewed by them).

Another round of pro- vs. anti-Sex & the City musings. [Elle]

Dating in a push up bra (NSFW). [The Lingerie Lesbian]

American Horror Story: Coven‘s race problem. [Feministing]

Navigating victimhood in statutory rape. [Double X]

In case you forgot, R. Kelly is a sexual predator. [xoJane]

The years’ most unlikely famous feminists. [Feminist Times]

Image via Rookie.

Event: Tavi’s World at Melbourne Writers Festival.

tavi gevinson melbourne writers festival

The coup of the 2013 Melbourne Writers Festival, which kicked off late last week, is undoubtedly 17-year-old blogging wunderkind Tavi Gevinson.

Her keynote address on Friday night at the Athenaeum Theatre sold out in a matter of hours, and we were stuck up the very top, practically in the rafters, which is what we get for arriving nigh on 6pm. Anyone who’s been on the internet in the past five years can see why Tavi is so popular; she’s an anomaly who attended fashion weeks before she was in her teens and now runs one of the best online magazines out there for not only young girls, but people in general, called Rookie. If I can’t be Tavi or have her as a friend, I’d like to know how, as Carrie Bickmore mused on The Project, to make a child like her. She’s got her shit exponentially more together than most adults I know.

Having said that, though, I’ve never been a die-hard Tavi fan. It wasn’t until she launched Rookie and started writing about feminism that I really caught what she was kicking. Her TEDx talk sealed the deal for me.

So apart from what I read on Twitter and in the odd interview, there was much that was new to me in Tavi’s talk. For example, I didn’t realise what a stone cold geek she is. If anyone else revealed they colour-coded Beyonce and Taylor Swift lyrics and made maps of the locations mentioned in Lana Del Rey songs I would have thought them tightly-wound nerds. (This coming from someone who spent hours cataloguing pictures from WWE.com by wrestler, colour-codes her bookshelf, and still stuck pictures of celebrities all over my school books well into university, mind you.) But Tavi has an endearing authenticity (which was a theme that ran through her talk) about being a “professional fangirl”. Her mantra, which I’m now going to adopt, is “let others like stuff the way you like stuff unto you.”

When many kids her age are more concerned with partying and their iPhones, it’s amazing that someone who’s still in high school and runs a business that sees her jetsetting across the world (and road tripping across the country) has time to compile in-depth journals about “Strange Magic” (the synchronicity of a location reminding you of a song reminding you of a memory reminding you of a movie reminding you of another song…) in between utilising her “pop culture tools” (the books, movies, tv shows and music that take her to her happy place; another Tavism I’m stealing).

I am so in awe of Tavi, honestly. It takes so much courage to reveal her fangirl idiosyncrasies to worldwide audiences whilst going through the awkwardness that is adolescence. Again, how do I make one of her…?

Elsewhere: [The Project] Tavi Gevinson.

[Rookie] Rookie Road Trip.

Image via MWF.

Magazine Cover of the Week: Sunday Life & Style Rookie.

tavi gevinson sunday life cover

When Tavi Gevinson first came on the scene as the 12-year-old blogger at Style Rookie I thought she was a bit overrated and pretentious, what with her pink rinse and grandma-esque style.

But fast forward four years and she’s a writer and feminist after my own heart at online mag Rookie marketed to teen girls but encompassing a much broader audience.

While this isn’t the greatest Tavi profile out there, I’m loving the cover and seeing her get some more mainstream exposure now that she’s transformed from clotheshorse to perhaps “the voice of her generation”, to borrow a line from Lena Dunham.

Image via Facebook.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

Tavi Gevinson on her “First Encounters with the Male Gaze” and “How to Bitchface”. Love. [Rookie]

So, I’m not the only twenty-something who’s never been in a serious relationship! MamaMia’s Lucy Ormonde writes:

“Maybe we’re too picky. Maybe we’re too focused on our careers, too busy to look. Or maybe we should stop congregating in my living room and, you know, get out there.”

While I agree with most all she said, I have to argue that we’re not “too” anything. It’s the guys’ problem if they can’t hand our standards, careers and busy lives. Amiright?

To all the street harassers: we’re not here for your entertainment. [Emanix]

The racial and cultural limitations of “Share a Coke With…” [MamaMia]

Still with race, the racial politics of the Occupy protests. [Racialicious, via Jezebel]

On smacking. While I don’t think it’s something I would employ in disciplining my future children, I don’t have a problem with other people smacking their children. But Katharine Cook does make some good points on the contrary. [MamaMia]

The problem with asserting that “real women have curves”. So what do other women have? And are non-curvy women not real? [Jezebel]

Links from the #MenCallMeThings movement: Tiger Beatdown and New Statesman.

Men also explain things to me. [Alternet]

God save Community. [Jezebel]

An oldie but a goodie: deconstructing “Sarah Palin Feminism”. [Jezebel]

Images via Rookie, Community Things.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Race and online dating. [Jezebel]

Hermione the heroine. [HuffPo]

Jezebel also writes in praise of “The Women of the Harry Potter Universe.”

Tavi Gevinson on growing into her beauty:

“I could pretend to be an archetype of a feminist superhero and say I never want to be a conventionally attractive person. But, while I have so much respect for the people who can say that truthfully, I’m not there yet… I admit to the basic human desire to be attractive…

“Maybe I liked my face. Is that not okay?” [The Style Rookie]

If the DSK case has taught us anything, it’s that “any deviation of the victim’s life from the concept of the ‘perfect victim’ is exploited and becomes the focus of attention, as has happened to the DSK victim. Ever had a drink? Been to a party? Been a little bit late to a meeting? Lost your temper? Tried to fight back? Lied to your friends about what’s going on in a relationship? Forgiven someone? Posted a Facebook photo of you hugging someone? Well then clearly YOU ARE A DRUG-ADDLED VIOLENT SLUT BITCH and that necessitates a billion more hearings to talk about how VIOLENT and SLUTTY and DRUG-ADDLED and BITCHY you are.” [Think on This]

Still with Strauss-Kahn, Bob Ellis airs his always controversial, archaic and small-minded misogynist thoughts on the “honeytrapping” of “good men”. [ABC The Drum]

“When Rape Victims Lie.” [Sasha Said]

And this wraps up the DSK portion of the program:

“… I have no sympathy, empathy or even good thoughts for Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Not just because of the rape accusations but also because of his betrayal of the socialist ideals he was supposed to uphold as a prominent member of the French Socialist Party. His ideals that went through the drain when he accepted to become head of the IMF, one of the most subjugating, neo-imperialist institutions imposed on the Global South.

“And now, of course, there is no longer a case against him. However, and this is where I’d like us to focus, there is no longer a case because, it is claimed, the victim lied on issues unrelated to the rape allegations. Let that sink in for a second: a woman who is an asylum seeker/refugee, who hails from one of the poorest countries on earth (where the IMF played a big role in promoting the prevailing poverty and economic hardships that afflict her homeland) was found to have lied in order to get on with her life.” [Tiger Beatdown]

Jokes about Casey Anthony: too soon? [Splitsider]

“So you want to move to New York?” Here are the realities. Not as grim as you might think, yay! [Yikes Machine]

“The World Map of Useless Stereotypes.” If they’d reduced the space allocated for New York, they might have been able to include Australia. Oh yeah, maybe they were playing up the stereotype of us being the forgotten continent of sorts. [Jezebel]

The Lion King promotes homosexuality? And nine other “crazy things” that have come out of potential 2012 Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann’s mouth. [Think Progress]

Elitism in the public school system. [Persephone Magazine]

If global gender equality was represented by the FIFA Women’s Soccer World Cup, this is what it would look like. [Jezebel]

Ten life lessons, according to Ja Rule. Hilarious! [Thought Catalog]

“If I Were a Girl,” also on Thought Catalog, is equal parts poignant and insulting. Interesting to get a guy’s point of view on what it would be like to be a girl.

Read what happens when “a teen… calls the Westboro Baptist Church” to talk about feminism! [Jezebel]

Waking up to the Leiby Kletzky murder crime scene. [Jezebel]

Sleazy News of the World-esque journalism has a place somewhere, right? [Gawker]

“Penis shaming.” [Rachel Rabbit White]

On “Writing Race.” [Zero at the Bone]

More on the should-we-tell-little-girls-they’re-pretty debate. [The Beheld]

Part two of Camilla Peffer’s “In Defence of Women Behaving Badly.” [Girls Are Made from Pepsi]

Men in crisis: “Digging deeper into modern Masculinity.” [Rachel Rabbit White]

Images via The Style Rookie, Buzzfeed.