I know that everyone does this and blah, blah, blah but I genuinely don’t care. I recommend books to everyone, even if they don’t actually read books [or pseudo-intellectualise by parroting reviews from the Times Literary Supplement which some men might want to remember is not only available on subscription to those middle aged white dudes with penises. The rest of us can read it too. Just saying].
So, these are my favourite books of 2012:
Lisa O’Donnell’s The Death of Bees: It is triggering since it covers the systemic violence against women, particularly against those young girls who aren’t considered “proper” victims but it is also beautiful, funny and full of hope. It is the story of two sisters, Marnie and Nelly, struggling to survive in a Glasgow housing estate without their parents, who they’ve just buried in a shallow grave in the backyard. They are victimised and revictimised in every manner possible and left to self-destruct by a welfare state that doesn’t give a shit about poor kids from the housing estates. After all, when school is only “a convenient way for all of us to congregate in one place”, it is obvious that these are the kids no one cares about (p.47). But, it’s more than a litany of abuse. It’s about surviving, friendships, the meaning of sisterhood and what really makes a family.
Maggie O’Farrell’s The Vanishing Axt of Esme Lennox : It’s about families and betrayal and the destruction of generations after one malicious act. It’s heart-breaking but beautiful. No redemption but the importance of hearing when someone speaks, even if it seems something innocuous like a nickname.
Julia Long’s Anti-Porn: The Resurgence of Anti-Porn Feminism: It’s both a critical analysis of the representations of anti-porn feminism, pro-porn feminism and the pro-porn campaign within the media and culture; as well as a history of the anti-porn movement within Britain. Most importantly, it is a radical feminist critique of the debates surrounding pornography [and prostitution]. Far too often the “debates” on porn within the media focus on porn as an empowering tool for women [conveniently ignoring the fact that men are the ones getting rich from porn] and porn as an expression of human sexuality [and ignoring just how much porn dictates a hegemonic, heterosexual, racist sexuality which, in and of itself, is incredibly limited]. Long traces the feminist activism against pornography and illustrates some of the more successful feminist activist anti-porn campaign. Long has given a voice to both the survivors of the porn industries and the grassroots activists fighting against pornographication. She has contextualised the anti-porn feminist movement in the UK within diverse factions of feminism.
Emma Donoghue’s The Sealed Letter
Esi Edugyan’s Half Blood Blues
Helena Kennedy’s Eve was Framed: Women and British Justice
Maya Angelou’s The Heart of a Woman
Maya Angelou’s All God’s Children Need Travelling Shoes
Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Maya Angelou’s Gather Together in My Name
Maya Angelou’s Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas
Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche’s Thing Around Your Neck
Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche’s Half a Yellow Sun
Marilyn French’s A Woman’s Room
Andrea Dworkin’s Intercourse
Joumana Haddad’s I Killed Scheherazade: Confessions of an Angry Arab Woman
Isabelle Allende’s Island Beneath the Sea
Ngoni Achebe’s Onaedo: The Blacksmith’s Daughter
Frothy Dragon and the Patriarchal Stone
Hiding Under the Bed is Not the Answer
RadFem Groundhog Day
Rage Against the ManChine
Salt and Caramel
Sian and Crooked Rib
Sisterhood is Powerful
Smash the P
You think I don’t understand but I don’t believe you