Books: Stacked.

The other day a friend asked me how I “prioritise my stack” of books, and I thought it might make an interesting blog post, if only so I can navel-gaze at the books, magazines and articles piling up on my bedside table and bookshelf as opposed to offering any valuable insight into how I get through them.

’Cause the answer is, there is no system to getting through them. If anything, more books, magazines and articles are added to the piles than what is taken away from them and filed neatly in the bookshelf or recycling bin.

My friends often tease me ’cause it usually takes me several months to get through a book. The book I’m currently on, My Sister, My Love: The Intimate Story of Skyler Rampike by Joyce Carol Oates, I started over two months ago! I try to put away a few chapters each night, but this is in addition to the probably 500 other pages of content I read per week. Blogs, magazines, articles. If you ask me, that’s a pretty good effort. I wonder how many of the haters get through a 500 page book per week :P.

My love of taking in anything and everything in the feminist blogosphere is both a blessing and a curse. I love that there’s always new content and I’m always being informed, but at the same time, it would be so easy to just curl up in bed with a good book and turn my brain off for a few hours. Then again, if I really wanted to turn my brain off, I’d carve out a nook in the couch and flick through channels all night. And who has time for that?

Currently in my book stack, I have three books that were gifts from my birthday last year, and winning a worst dressed contest (Fables comic book, The Big Book of Small Business and Self-Publishing for Dummies); three that are borrowed (Walt Disney’s biography by Neal Gabler, Russell Brand’s second memoir and Kristin Chenoweth’s autobiography); two I bought from Amazon in January (Marilyn Monroe’s Fragments and Sloane Crosley’s second book of essays, How Did You Get This Number?); and the rest (The Night Listener and Maybe the Moon by Armistead Maupin, Brock Lesnar’s Death Clutch, Less Than Zero and Lunar Park by Bret Easton Ellis, Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth and Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile) I’ve bought in recent months, mostly secondhand.

And the magazines and article stack, which is a complete eyesore on my bedside table, consists of several Vanity Fair’s, some Monthly’s and… to be honest, I don’t actually know what’s in there! When I go on holidays next week, I aim to get through that stack, and it will be a veritable treasure trove! Like Christmas morning!

Seeing as I can offer absolutely no substance to “how do I prioritise my stack”, I’m handing it over to you. Does anyone have any tried and true methods? Here’s one, at the suggestion of my friend Clare: stop buying books til I’ve finished the ones I already have. But they’re too good!

 

Book Shop: Book Now, Bendigo.

So this review was originally going to be about Bendigo’s Book Mark, which still remains the best secondhand book store I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting.

Such gems I’ve managed to find there are Mick Foley’s rare first novel, Tietam Brown, and a $7 copy of Michael Jackson’s Moonwalk. I scoured the shelves for over an hour looking for that one. When I took it to the counter, the man who served me marveled at it being left on the shelves; he’d put all Jackson-related literature on their website to be sold at an elevated price after his sudden death.

But perhaps my friend Hannah and I left it too late on a Saturday afternoon to visit the shop: they close at 4pm and we got there at 4:05!

So we decided instead to venture over to Book Now, located at 1 Farmers Lane, opposite Rosiland Park. There’s no denying I’ve gotten some good titles there before—a first edition of The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving springs to mind—but I find it a bit stuffy and overpriced for a secondhand book store.

However, this weekend’s trip yielded some fantastic finds for both me and Hannah. Hannah is studying to be a doctor in Russian history and social sciences, so she took home a book on Nicholas II of Russia, and his wife Alexandra Fyodorovna, parents of Anastasia of Russia, and Atonement by Ian McEwan.

I knew Book Now has a large collection of Joyce Carol Oates books, so I rummaged through them in the vain hope of finding My Sister, My Love, a recent novel based on the JonBenet Ramsey murder. And low and behold, I did find it resting on a shelf right up the back of the shop.

My Book Now trip was pretty much complete after that, however I did spot some Armistead Maupin titles, and picked up a few of those. (To be honest, I own so many of his books I wasn’t 100% sure that I don’t already own The Night Listener and Maybe the Moon. But at $6 a pop, who am I to complain if I do?!) Finally, I stumbled across Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth and decided to add that to my ever-growing pile.

So what began as a somewhat disappointing afternoon when Book Mark wasn’t open, ended as a surprisingly great one, with four new additions to my bookshelf.

Bendigo only has a few really good bookstores, so if you’re ever up in Central Victoria, visiting the Bendigo Art Gallery (stay tuned for more this afternoon) or the Golden Dragon Chinese Museum, pop on over to Book Now or Book Mark.

I know I will on my next visit.

Related: Evolution of the Bookshop at the Wheeler Centre.

In Appreciation of Mick Foley.

The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving Review.

Is There Really a Beauty Myth?

Armistead Maupin in Conversation with Noni Hazlehurst.

Elsewhere: [Book Now] Homepage.

[Bendigo Book Mark] Homepage.

Image via Book Now.

The Beauty Myth.

From “How Yoga Makes You Pretty—Part 1” by Melanie Klein at Elephant Journal:

“We’ve been told that ‘pretty’ is the magical elixir for everything that ails us. If we’re pretty we’re bound to be happier than people who aren’t pretty. If we’re pretty, we’ll never be lonely; we’ll have more Facebook friend requests; we’ll go on more dates; we’ll find true love (or just get laid more often); we’ll be popular. If we’re pretty, we’ll be successful; we’ll get a better job; we’ll get rewarded with countless promotions; our paychecks will be bigger.  In short, ‘pretty,’ something Naomi Wolf refers to as a form of cultural currency in the feminist classic The Beauty Myth, will buy us love, power and influence. And, in the end, ‘pretty’ will make us feel good.”

Related: Is There Really a Beauty Myth?

Elsewhere: [Elephant Journal] How Yoga Makes You Pretty—Part 1.

Has Feminism Failed?

Last Wednesday evening, I went to a debate about the state of feminism and whether it’s failed at the Melbourne Town Hall on Swanston Street.

Entitled “Feminism Has Failed”, I went into the debate with my own preconceived notions about feminism’s success and came out of it with similar feelings, as I think most of the attendees did, if the vote before and after the debate was anything to go by.

I felt that for someone like me, a young, white, middle-ish class Australian female, feminism hasn’t failed, but for most other women around the world who don’t have access to such things I’m afforded (education, employment, food, water, shelter, the ability to do/be almost anything I want), feminism has certainly failed.

And that was the basis of the first speaker for the affirmative team, Virginia Haussegger’s speech.

Instead of feminism working for women all over the globe, the rest of the world has waged a “global war against women”, or a “gendercide”, if you will. An example of this is the recent Time magazine cover in which an Afghani woman, or girl rather, was depicted with her nose and ears cut off by her husband, after trying to flee his abusive household.

To rebut this argument was Jennifer Byrne, who said she was taking a “working girl’s view” of feminism, and mentioning a phrase we’ve heard a lot of in third-wave feminism“wonder woman”. (Funnily enough, Haussegger has published a book of the same name.) She noted that we have so much choice now that we “scarcely notice feminism” now.

Stephen Mayne, the only male on either debate team, took a business point of view, and harped on about the dismal number of women on ASX publicly traded company boards. He mentioned that his fellow team member, Gaye Alcorn, who spoke last, editor of The Sunday Age, is only given one day a week, as opposed to the six other days of the week in which a man edits the newspaper. Mayne said that feminism surely HAS failed if a phenomenon such as Britain’s Page 3 girls exist, and if “this country came this close to electing Tony Abbott.” All in all, Mayne was the best speaker of the night and really brought it home for his team, in my opinion.

Next up was Monica Dux, whom Haussegger verbally attacked during her speech as “the snooty head girl [of feminism] with the key”, who wouldn’t let her become part of the club because she has views that aren’t necessarily Dux’s own.

Dux addressed the negative connotations feminism sometimes has, asserting that feminism doesn’t have a Bible, as it’s “constantly evolving and changing”, and is “not a cult” with Germaine Greer at the helm.

Gaye Alcorn confuted Byrne’s former assertion that “we hardly notice feminism anymore” with “sexism has become so embedded in our culture that we no longer notice it”, making reference to the David Jones sexual harassment suit that Mayne also spoke about.

Alcorn also mentioned Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth and the great porn debate (more on that to come this week), and that in some ways it’s harder for womenbody image-wisebecause the culture that young people grow up in has changed.

Controversially, Alcorn referenced the Body Image Advisory Board and it’s chairwomen, the “gorgeous” Mia Freedman, Sarah Murdoch and Kate Ellis, saying that of course they had beautiful women to front the campaign, because it wouldn’t have gotten any publicity with Plain Janes. Out of everything the affirmative team said, this was the only thing I took issue with. “Like, sorry those women happen to be genetically blessed, but they have as much right to talk about body image and beauty as a less fortunate-looking woman does. You can’t help the way you’re born,” I said to my friend, who satirically replied, “Well, it’s about beauty, hello?!” Gold.

Finally, Wendy McCarthy spoke, saying that “feminism is the most significant social movement” of the last fifty years. She mentioned that feminism has “created space for men to be better fathers” which, to me, signals that perhaps feminism has failed if that’s the main point she can come up with; that it benefits men.

The debate ended with the final vote, in which the results stayed pretty much the same. While the affirmative team definitely won the debate, in the minds of the audience members, at least, feminism has not failed, and is still alive and well in our culture.

But as the affirmative team mentioned, Western feminists need to stand up for women in less fortunate countries, and by the same token, “feminists can’t be accountable for all feminist issues at all times.”

Seven Links in Heaven.

Darren Rowse of ProBlogger has challenged his fellow bloggers to post seven links to seven blog posts in response to seven categories.

Rachel Hills did it (albeit with eleven), and now it’s my turn!

Your first post: Aside from the “Welcome” page, it was a review of Dog Boy by Eva Hornung, a book that I thoroughly enjoyed reading.

A post you enjoyed writing the most: The ones about issues that get me fired up. “Why Are Famous Men Forgiven For Their Wrongdoings, While Women Are Vilified for Much Less?”, “Is there Really a Beauty Myth?”, “Katy P VS. Lady G”, “In Defence of To Kill a Mockingbird, “Sisters Are Doing it For Themselves… But Not The Gays” about Julia Gillard’s appointment to PM, but her refusal to legalise gay marriage, and anything to do with The Hills (The Hills FinaleAll Good Things Must Come to an End” and The Hills Have (Dead) Eyes”). Of course, I love “On the (Rest of the) Net” and “Magazine Cover of the Week”, as those posts showcase my favourite things of the week.

A post which had great discussion: As a fledgling blog, none of my posts have great discussion! But a couple that spring to mind are “Beautiful Women Cause Earthquakes AND Heart Attacks, Apparently” in which the comments were longer than the actual post, and “Everything They Touch Turns to Gold” about mag editors Mia Freedman, Sarah Oakes et al. In addition, “Beauty & the Book” was meant as some fluffy man-candy, but drew criticism from the masculist crowd.

A post on someone else’s blog you wish you’d written: Anything on Jezebel, Musings of an Inappropriate Woman, Mama Mia and Girl with a Satchel. They are my muses.

Your most helpful post: This is a hard one, as none of my posts deal particularly with things that people need help with. Perhaps, “How NOT To Promote Your Book” and “Life by Numbers”?

A post with a title you are proud of: “Bad Boys, Watchya Gonna Do? Host a Seven Family Show”.

A post that you wish more people had read: “Katy P VS. Lady G” was one I had a lot of fun writing (see above), but I can take solace in the fact that Sarah Ayoub of Wordsmith Lane commented on this one! As well as “The Beautiful Bigmouthed Backlash Against Katherine Heigl & Megan Fox”, which I thought would fire people up a bit, but not a bite! And while “The Changing Face of Beauty” garnered my highest number of hits, not one comment! Would like to know what people thought of that one.