Books, Feminism, Recommendations

The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

Better never means better for everyone, he says. It always means worse, for some.

Continue reading “The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood”

Books, Feminism, LGBT, Recommendations

Wing Jones – Katherine Webber


No, I don’t dream about the accident. I dream, over and over again, that I’m running. Running like I’ve never run before. Running like Eliza Thompson. Running like my lioness. Running as fast as my dragon flew that night, up into the sky and away from here. The setting changes – I’m on grass, on the beach, on the dirt track at school, on the road – but I’m always running. So far and so fast that my dream lungs ache and my muscles scream, but I keep going. I can’t tell if I’m running away from something or if I’m running toward something.

Tonight is no different. I wake up drenched in sweat. Every beat of my pounding heart is a command.

Run. Run. Run. Continue reading “Wing Jones – Katherine Webber”

Feminism, Other

Street harassment, and silence

This week at school, we had a talk from Laura Bates, who runs She was asked in to talk to our year 11 boys, and some other students and quite a few members of staff went along, too. She was fascinating, clear and generally brilliant, answering questions in detail and, crucially, not falling for the boys’ attempts to wrongfoot her. It led to some encouraging and interesting conversations with colleagues, and hopefully amongst the students, and I left work feeling empowered and positive that we could bring about change.

Fifteen minutes later, as I approached the train station, a man in the street reached for my arm, wanting to ask me about my hair. I skittered around him and carried on my way, like I have done a thousand times before. I wasn’t afraid. I wasn’t upset. He didn’t even actually touch me. It was nothing.

Except that it isn’t. Continue reading “Street harassment, and silence”

2016 reading challenge, Books, Feminism, Reading challenges

Shrill – Lindy West


Coming of age in a culture that demands women be as small, quiet, and compliant as possible–like a porcelain dove that will also have sex with you–writer and humorist Lindy West quickly discovered that she was anything but. Continue reading “Shrill – Lindy West”

Books, Feminism, Recommendations

A Petrol Scented Spring – Ajay Close

IMG_0427Arabella Scott, suffragette and hunger striker, is held in solitary confinement for five weeks, force-fed by the prison doctor, Hugh Ferguson Watson. Two years later, his wife, Donella, is trapped in a sexless marriage with a man haunted by the past. What happened between the doctor and his prisoner patient? Fifty years on, Donella is still trying to find out. A Petrol Scented Spring is a riveting novel of repression, jealousy and love, and the struggle for women’s emancipation. Continue reading “A Petrol Scented Spring – Ajay Close”

Books, Feminism

Only Ever Yours – Louise O’Neill

Only Ever Yours, Louise O’Neill

freida and isabel have been best friends their whole lives.
Now, aged sixteen and in their final year at the School, they expect to be selected as companions – wives to wealthy and powerful men. The alternative – life as a concubine – is too horrible to contemplate.
But as the intensity of the final year takes hold, the pressure to remain perfect becomes almost unbearable. isabel starts to self-destruct, putting her beauty – her only asset – in peril.
And then, the boys arrive, eager to choose a bride.
freida must fight for her future – even if it means betraying the best friend, the only love, she has ever known…
Continue reading “Only Ever Yours – Louise O’Neill”

2015 reading challenge, Books, Feminism, LGBT

Book challenge #32: A book with antonyms in the title

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? Jeanette Winterson

Truth for anyone is a very complex thing. For a writer, what you leave out says as much as those things you include. What lies beyond the margin of the text? The photographer frames the shot; writers frame their world. Mrs Winterson objected to what I had put in, but it seemed to me that what I had left out was the story’s silent twin. There are so many things that we can’t say, because they are too painful. We hope that the things we can say will soothe the rest, or appease it in some way. Stories are compensatory. The world is unfair, unjust, unknowable, out of control. When we tell a story we exercise control, but in such a way as to leave a gap, an opening. It is a version, but never the final one. And perhaps we hope that the silences will be heard by someone else, and the story can continue, can be retold. When we write we offer the silence as much as the story. Words are the part of silence that can be spoken. Mrs Winterson would have preferred it if I had been silent. Continue reading “Book challenge #32: A book with antonyms in the title”

2015 reading challenge, Books, Feminism, LGBT

Book challenge #14: A mystery or thriller

The Hourglass Factory, Lucy Ribchester

Books-recommended-by-Chloe is a regular theme of my reading – she gave me this one at Christmas, too, as well as Warpaint. It’s been sitting on my bedside table ever since, picked up occasionally, read for a bit, then forgot about for a bit because it’s too hefty to carry on my commute. But I took it to Wales with me last week and, having finished Five Quarters of the Orange, I got stuck into it on the train home. Which was lucky, because there was an extremely irritating pair of people across the aisle from me, having an unnecessarily loud conversation about work. For two hours. No thankyou. But I digress. Continue reading “Book challenge #14: A mystery or thriller”