My Favourite Books of 2016.

books

It’s the time of year when everyone releases their end-of-year best-of lists. Normally I write about the best books I’ve read over the course of the year in August for the National Reading Hour, but this year I decided to fit in with the literati.

It’s important to note that some of these books weren’t necessarily released this year, but I just read them in the past twelve months or so. There were also plenty of great books that came out this year that I haven’t yet gotten around to reading, in which case they’ll probably make my list next year. So, without further ado, my five favourite books of the past year.

Friendship by Emily Gould.

I loved how unapologetically human and ugly the characters were at times. Though neither of the two protagonists were likeable, I found myself relating to both of them, perhaps Amy more so, who I somehow feel is the one you’re supposed to dislike most. I could totally see Greta Gerwig playing her in the movie version. The open-ended conclusion was great, too.

Between the World & Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

There are no words I could write to describe this book. Just read it.

Room by Emma Donoghue.

For some reason, I’d never gotten around to reading Room when it was released in 2010 but it had always been on my list. With the movie adaptation hitting cinemas (which I saw four times in cinemas and thought was the rare film that was better than the book), I thought I’d finally see what it was all about.

Told from the perspective of a five-year-old boy who never knew anything outside the titular room in which he was born to his captive young mother, I struggled sometimes with his voice (I don’t like children at the best of times, let alone when they’re trusted with an escape plan and attempting to adjust to a brand new world with rules and social norms they’ve never encountered before) but it was never at the detriment of the truly compelling story.

Hush by Eishes Chayil.

I just put this one down and it left enough of an impression on me to include it in this list. Eishes Chayil is a pen name meaning “woman of valor” and protected the identity of the author when this book came out in 2010. (The author has since been revealed as Judy Brown.) It deals with sexual assault and youth suicide in the Hasidic Jewish community and, although young adult fiction which I’m not usually a fan of, it doesn’t take away from the impact of the story.

An Isolated Incident by Emily Maguire.

This was definitely my favourite book of the year. The characters were so fully realised, the story familiar but still original, and the way Maguire writes about something we’re all too familiar with—the rape and murder of women—is far removed from the salacity with which it’s often covered.

The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood.

This one deals with similar topics to most of the books on this list, (I’m often wary to recommend books I’ve loved to friends and colleagues because they’re usually about gendered abuse!) but the way it’s written and the almost spec-fic context sets it apart. I would recommend this one to more serious readers as the themes and tone of the book is more literary than others like it.

Image via Barrington Books Retold.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

vince mcmahon donald trump

Remember that time Donald Trump “bought” World Wrestling Entertainment? Well I wrote about how politics and wrestling are more intersected than meets the eye, especially when it comes to a woman’s place in them. [Intergender World Champs]

I also wrote about the rise of female characters with mental illness on TV. [Bitch Flicks]

And what other industries can learn from porn one year on from allegations of rape against James Deen. [Archer]

People magazine put President-Elect Trump—the man who only a few weeks ago was accused of sexually assaulting one of its writers—on its cover because “it reports from inside the assholes of celebrities.” [Buzzfeed]

Don’t admire Ivanka Trump: fear her. [Buzzfeed]

Why she should acknowledge the #WomenWhoWork to keep her life functioning the way she portrays it to. [The Cut]

Like the Chinese nanny who taught her daughter Mandarin.

“How Trump Made Hate Intersectional”:

“It’s harder to talk about grabbing women by the pussy if there’s also a woman in the circle, and that in turn makes it harder to blindly assault. It’s harder to casually say nigger when there’s a black person in the circle, and that makes it harder to beat a black kid senseless without fear of repercussion. It’s harder to say faggot when someone queer is in the room, which lessens the ability to casually bully a gay person to the point where they take their own life. Yes, there’s hate spread throughout this country, but it stems from the sickness that involves stopping at nothing to keep spaces fully white, allowing white people to continue with behaviour that is no longer universally accepted in the real world.” [Daily Intelligencer]

What does the Liberal White Feminist Thinkpiece accomplish? [Medium]

Talk about a “rigged” election: here’s what it took to beat Hillary Clinton. [The Guardian]

“Identity politics” was not to blame for Hillary’s loss. [The Cut]

What it’s like to be an Asian background actor. [Vox]

Image via Intergender World Champs.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

I was on my very first panel at the Digital Writers’ Festival, talking about what it means to be a writer online away from Australia.

I wrote about volunteering for Hillary Clinton. [Daily Life]

Supporting Hillary Clinton but keeping in mind Bill’s history of sexual assault accusations. [The Cut]

What if New York City was named for its women? [New Yorker]

The black history of the nameplate necklace. [Fusion]

Two women wrestled for the first time inside Hell in a Cell so sexism in wrestling is over now, right? [Fight Booth]

World Wrestling Entertainment has an ageism problem, but it only affects women, of course. [Wrestling Sexism]

Why WWE needs women’s tag team championships:

“In WWE, women don’t really have the option to be friends. There’s no benefit to a friendship because belts can only be held by an individual, and everyone is competing for the same titles. There’s quite a sad parallel here to the real world. Women often feel that they are in competition with other women for jobs, relationships and resources that seem scarce. Has a new woman starting at your work ever filled you with irrational jealousy, even if she seems perfectly nice? Ever wonder why?” [Intergender World Champs]

In defence of Melania Trump. And if Donald Trump is as dangerous as we believe him to be, then she certainly needs it. [Melville House]

This election has taught us that “expanding roles and opportunities for women cannot usher in full gender equality unless men change.” [NYTimes]

On the (Rest of the) Net.

nia-jax

I wrote about the damaging notions of “most girls” and “real women” in wrestling for a new intersectional wrestling site. [Intergender World Champs]

I also wrote about blogging nostalgia and why I no longer identify as a blogger. [Writers Bloc]

I’m at F is for Feminism writing about being child-free by choice.

And my latest piece for SBS is on white writers telling black stories.

The catch-22 women who experience depression from taking the pill face when they have no other options. [Daily Life]

“I’m a woman wrestler and a survivor of intimate partner violence.” [Motto]

The frightening similarities between Election and the current U.S. presidential race. [The Cut]

How women’s magazines repositioned themselves to be major players in the political press. [Vox]

Elena Ferrante’s outing and Kim Kardashian’s robbery are two sides of the same privacy coin. [The Cut]

Couples with Down syndrome don’t need to be sterilised, they need to be supported. [Daily Life]

Birth of a Nation gives its women characters the short straw. [Vulture]

“Pussygate” was the final nail in Donald Trump’s presidential coffin, and women voters will make him pay for it at the ballot box. [NYTimes]

Trump’s abhorrent misogyny has brought to light the Republican party’s view of women as extensions of the men who own them. [The Cut]

Image via SE Scoops.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

I wrote about navigating hot take culture in a writing climate that demands it. [Writers Bloc]

Understanding men who murder their families. [Buzzfeed]

The problem with wishing violence upon rapists. [Daily Life]

Emily Ratajkowski on the “she just wants attention” trope. See also. [Glamour]

The dehumanisation of rape survivors, especially those who are disabled. [Pacific Standard]

Where have all the romantic comedies gone? [The Cut]

From bikini to burkini: the politics of women’s swimsuits. [Vice]

Donald Trump’s smear campaign against Hillary Clinton’s apparently ill health works because women have historically been coded as weak. [Cosmopolitan]

Chelsea Clinton is apparently a bad mother for missing her daughter’s first day of kinder to campaign for Hillary, who was also shamed for not attending.

“Donald Trump is on record admitting he had little to do with raising his own children, and we can only assume he does even less as a grandfather, and nobody bats an eyelid.

And just in case you’re wondering, there was no mention of whether or not Bill Clinton was babysitting or why he didn’t come along for Charlotte’s first day.” [Daily Life]

“Why are we championing diversity and inclusivity when it comes to race and gender [on TV], but not class?” [Paste]

Police are proving that black lives don’t matter in real life, whereas on TV they’re portrayed as necessarily saintly. [Quartz]

For more feminist goodness from across the Aussie and NZ interwebs, check out the 100th Down Under Feminists Carnival. [Zero at the Bone]

On the (Rest of the) Net.

I wrote about LGBTQIA representation in World Wrestling Entertainment. [SBS Zela]

Black American women slayed the Olympics. [ABC]

Law & Order: SVU wasn’t always the ripped-from-the-headlines guilty pleasure we know today. [GQ]

Donald Trump’s conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton’s health are just the latest in a long line of women and their bodies being unfit to lead. [HuffPo]

The braless and makeup-free trends can be exclusionary to a lot of women. [Daily Life]

Also, let’s not pit women who do and don’t wear makeup against each other. [HuffPo]

Trans actress Jen Richards breaks down why the casting of Matt Bomer to play a trans woman is troubling. [Storify]

“Black Tweets Matter.” [Smithsonian]

Has the sharing of viral war porn gone too far? [Daily Life]

The invisibility of women murdered by their intimate partners in crime reporting. [Guardian]

Toxic masculinity makes men less likely to care about the environment. [Daily Life]

On the (Rest of the) Net.

beyonce feminist

I wrote about celebrity feminism and whether it’s helping or hindering the movement. [Feminartsy]

Just over a year out from the so-called “Divas Revolution”, I examine the state of women’s wrestling. [SBS Zela]

Kim Kardashian isn’t a feminist but she is empowered. I wrote about the difference for Daily Life a few weeks ago. [Kim Kardashian West]

Harley Quinn and the problem with Crazy Bitch Syndrome. [Quartz]

Hollywood hates queer girls. [Buzzfeed]

Maybe we should be apologising to Katherine Heigl for sexistly dismissing her as a diva and subsequently ruining her career. [The Cut]

In praise of fat, black, sex-positive female musicians. [Medium]

Boys do worse than girls at school because patriarchy. [Daily Life]

The domestic abuse suffered by Lindsay Lohan and the “perfect victim” narrative. [The Frisky]

Why trans women love chokers. [Mic]

Olympic swimmer Fu Yuanhui talking about how having her period affected her performance was groundbreaking. Now let’s normalise it in everyday life. [Daily Life]

The treatment of South African Olympian Caster Semenya’s body is sexist. [Daily Life]

Women Olympians are supportive of each other even as they’re competing against each other. [The Cut]

Women’s sport should be up there with men’s sport, however the shuttering of SBS Zela unfortunately proves that they’re not.

Image via Zeteo.