Book 12of25 Men Explain Things to Me #ReadWithRD


men explain thingsThe book I read that was ‘written by a journalist’ was “Men Explain Things to Me” by Rebecca Solnit. She’s written a clutch of books around human rights and environmental issues alongside being a regular contributor for the Guardian newspaper, political blog TomDispatch and LitHub.

The book is a collection of essays which starts with the most well known one, describing a dinner party instance when a pompous man describes her own book to her, and refuses to believe she can possibly have written it. This is the essay which is credited with the origins of the word ‘mansplaining’, although Solnit herself says that she did not create it and it is never written in that essay.

Screen Shot 2018-07-10 at 10.16.00That essay was first published in April 2008 on TomDispatch, and to be honest, it felt like the feminism journey had carried on from here and it was now out of date. Yes, men still explain things to me and others. Yes, some people are not aware of it but the conversation has moved on since then – which is a great thing. It read more as a marker in time rather than a rallying cry, which is the innate problem with the written and published text.  As soon as it’s printed, it’s out of date.

SuffrageddonIn a world where a suffragette musical is being made and has been crowdfunded by 250%, as Suffrageddon: The Musical, a place where there are Women’s Marches, international support to repeal the 8th amendment in Ireland and so much more support for women, it’s clearly a precursor, an historical anecdote about that conversation in which it was recognised that this bloke was rude and ignorant.  You can read more on Suffrageddon here, by the way. It’s going to be at Latitude for all of you who are going this weekend!

As a collection of essays, the topics covered range from Virginia Woolf to equal marriage. All of these were interesting to read, possibly the most interesting being the equal marriage one and the ‘threat’ when we allow same sex marriage to exist. This was a nicely argued point – that same sex marriages are by definition, equal in that two men are seen as equal where a man and a woman may not be, in the eyes of the law. Therefore, for same sex marriages to exist and be equal by definition, that follows that marriage between a self identified man and woman are also equal. Solnit words it better than I do!

It’s such a slim collection that I read it in an afternoon, sitting in the garden in the sunshine. It’s thought provoking and the essay which mentions Woolf reminded me that I have never read anything by her – perhaps it’s time to start! Any recommendations?


The graphic novel one 11of25 #ReadWithRD


This post is the ‘book that is a graphic novel’ one. I actually read a few from different comics because it felt like a bit of a cheat to read one issue as a whole book – it doesn’t take very long to read!

The two I read were ‘Saga’ and ‘The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Volume 1’. I haven’t read a lot of graphic novels and I tend to stay away from the ones with thousands of issues – it seems to be too hard to keep up, too easy to get confused about what’s going where and who’s doing what and to be honest, also too expensive.  I have a weakness for notebooks, fancy water bottles and running shoes already – adding ‘five issues of various new comic book series per week’ to that list is a stretch too far.  I have read graphic novels though – the standalone ones which tend to have a strong political slant. Maus, From Hell and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (maybe the last one isn’t too political but then again, maybe it is!).

Thanks as always to the ever brilliant Mr Charming for pointing me to Saga.  Aside from being excellent in lots of other ways, he is also an employee of the equally excellent library service in Norwich. For those of you who don’t know and are local, not only is there an extensive graphic novel collection in the main city library but there is also a wealth of knowledge in the staff who are more than happy to help out and recommend/reserve/purchase books if you need them. If you aren’t local, it’s worth asking your local library or even popping down to see what they have to offer, if you haven’t already!

SagaSaga is the love story across enemy lines – a couple from two sides fall in love as they realise they don’t have their hearts in the war they’re fighting in. In the first few pages, Alana is in labour and has a baby. She, Marko and their newborn then have to flee from their respective armies as they are both deserters – traitors. It’s written by Brian K Vaughan and illustrated by Fiona Staples.

The artwork is nice to look at but, in my extremely humble opinion, nothing special. Some of the panels are a bit graphic for me, if I’m completely honest. One of the bounty hunters is a female/spider hybrid who is terrifying and beautiful, but it’s an unnecessary image to have her topless as well. I’m not very far into the narrative but what I have read is interesting – the characters are strong and I especially like The Will, another bounty hunter who acquires a small child to look after within the early stages, alongside his cat, Lying. It’s special talent is pointing out a lie by pronouncing “LYING” at the person doing the lying, which is pretty funny and has already proven to be awkwardly timed.

I will keep reading it – I’ve only read Volume One so far and I know there are lots more of them so I will carry on. I also picked up Volumes 2 and 3 at the same time so I have no excuses not to!

squirrel girlThanks to an amazing friend,Weedy, for gifting me ‘Squirrel Girl’ for my birthday. I had heard a bit about her in the past but never really got around to picking it up. She’s part of the Marvel universe and is pretty kickass, actually.  i don’t think it’s technically a spoiler to say that she defeats Victor Von Doom AND Thanos pretty much single handed, as that’s the blurb on the front of the comic. IN the first four issues, she goes to college in a bid to be a more ‘normal’ girl and get some education before getting a pardner, who she hopes will be Iron Man. Her best friend and sidekick is Tippy Toes the squirrel, who has an excellent pink ribbon round her neck. His neck? I’m not sure it ever says but to be honest, I thought he was more of  he. She also gains a roommate, a crush and  runs into some ultimate bad guys along the way. It’s created by Ryan North and Erica Henderson.

I like her character – her cheerfulness, her enthusiasm and her willingness to see the best of people are refreshing and not quite what we have been used to in the MCU in the cinema, at least. I think that the upcoming “Antman and the Wasp” film might have some of the quippiness that Squirrel Girl has, and maybe the crossover – I don’t know. It’s lighthearted and fun and I will probably read the next issue – I can’t help thinking that it would make a great film though, or a Netflix standalone TV series as an anecdote to the ‘dark and scary’ Defenders endless parade we have at the moment.

As far as graphic novels go –  I don’t think its that different from reading a book, Although judging by the facial expressions on the wait staff where I had dinner and read one night last week, they were surprised to see me reading a comic book.  I would say that I want to read series which are beautifully drawn – that’s part of the point, for me. Secondly, I find it difficult to remember to look at the panels and not just read the text, which comes from me not being used to reading them. I think that would become easier with time.