Who Run the World? Five Reasons Why You Should Make a Feminist Reading List

Hey! It’s Women’s History Month Y’all!

And last week was International Women’s Day… I celebrated by opening the first play written by a woman AND directed by a woman for my local community college.

While I’ve considered myself a feminist for many years now, I am far from being a truly good one. But as Roxanne Gay puts it in her book ‘Bad Feminist’, “I would rather be a bad feminist than no feminist at all.” That said I’m trying to be better, particularly better educated on the major and not so major issues that still plague us. So I attacked my lack of knowledge in the only way I know how, I hit the internet and asked the brilliant folks in my social media circle to help me compile a Feminist Reading List to fill in some of the gaps. Books as always provide access to worlds and ideas that sometimes feel beyond my reach… that and they allows me the privilege to be taught by minds far better and brighter than my own.

Finding new books and creating my list has not only been a fun project, but it’s also been really enlightening and I highly recommend giving it a shot. And here are some reasons why you should make your own Feminist Reading List

  • Mainstream History is Male Dominated

Chances are, unless you went to the world’s most amazing schools your history classes have been filled to brimming with the achievements of great men and how they shaped the world. But aside from some well-worn names and maybe a unit on suffrage the women who helped shape the world were likely thin on ground. And unless high school curriculums have changed drastically since the early 2000s, you have to do some extra legwork if you want to find out how women have contributed to the narrative of history*. Adding books like ‘The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold History of the Women Who Helped Win World War II’ by Denise Kiernan, ‘Hidden Figures: the American Dream and the Untold Stories of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the SPace Race’ BY Marogt Lee Shetterly and many more can add dimension to our understanding of history and reinforce the notion that men and women can contribute equally and cooperatively in major moments. Reading about how women have helped shape the past and present can aid us in our fight to help shape the future.

  • Women Writers Still Need Support and Validation

Believe it or not, there are still critics and writers out there who dismiss novels written by or about women as somehow lesser works than those by and about men. Look no further than Jonathan Franzen’s beef with Jennifer Weiner or the backlash against novels like ‘The Goldfinch’, ‘Gone Girl’, ‘The Lovely Bones’, ‘Room’ and ‘A Little Life’ for being what some important critics have essentially labeled sentimental trash. But it’s not just major titles that get run through with stinging gender coded critiques, whole swaths of women centered stories get heaped onto the pile of easily dismissible “chick lit”. While it’s true that a handful of women authors can be found prominently  in THE CANON (Austen, Bronte x3, Alcott, Wharton, Plath, Morrison, Angelou etc.) they are outnumbered. And while women are the primary consumers of fiction there is a certain critical stigma that women writers can’t seem to shake. So how do we combat this? We read the amazing if sometimes undervalued books by and about women. We revel in their diversity and unique experiences and learn from them… just like any other book. We support, engage with and validate women writers and the stories that they tell, and in so doing we get to help shape that ever evolving beast THE CANON and infuse it with more diverse voices.

  • Intersectionality is Important

This is where I, and many other feminists, fail and must do better. Mainstream feminism (aka white feminism) often focuses primarily on the issues that affect women in general like reproductive health, the wage gap, media representation etc. but largely ignores that sexism affects different groups of women in different ways. Women of Color, Queer Women, Disabled Women, Fat Women, Neurodivergent Women, Poor Women, etc. all face different challenges that intersect with mainstream sexism. Understanding these challenges, recognizing whatever privileges we may have, making spaces for all experiences, and learning when it’s appropriate to throw in our two cents and when it’s not are all crucial elements of working toward being a better feminist… and well a better person. Reading widely from a diverse group of authors with differing perspectives can help build a foundation of understanding—especially if you don’t encounter diversity in your daily life.

  • We Aren’t There Yet…

Ladies have come an awful long way… but guess what! We still have a long way to go. We still live in a culture that is plagued by sexist ideology that is damaging to women and the ways we engage with society. The best way to combat this issue it so do the homework. Read the books that explain what rape culture is, how the beauty myth affects women of all ages and backgrounds, how the bodies of all women have become political battlegrounds. Both women and men need learn about what’s out there so that we can work to build a better future for the kids coming up behind us. It’s kind of like that whole “know your enemy” adage, only our enemy isn’t an invading army, it’s that sneaky little fella, ingrained cultural misogyny.

  • There are Some Seriously BadAss Ladies Out There

Seriously… go to the library or to Goodreads or the bookstore. Read about amazing women who paved the way for future generations, women who shattered glass ceilings, women who fought to give us the rights we take for granted. There are so many amazing women out there to inspire women and men alike. Get out there, get inspired and you know… smash the patriarchy!

*My experience with history is obviously largely predicated on the fact that I attended public school in the United States.


When I Was YA: The Jessica Darling Series

Once upon a time, in the early 2000s, the YA genre was pretty limited. We had decades old Judy Blume books (which I am not knocking FYI), the saccharinely tragic love stories of Lurlene McDaniel (I never got to read them because they were always checked out) a few soapy series that put Gossip Girl to shame, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, (which wasn’t even shelved as YA at the time) and the magically pretentious works of Francesca Lia Block.

I read them all—except of McDaniel—with abandon, but I never saw myself on those pages. All of the teens were too worldly, too pretty, too troubled, too tragic etc. I never saw honestly rendered awkwardness, or anxiety, or anyone who ever seemed even a little bit real in those YA novels. That is, until I met the awesome Jessica Darling.

I recently started rereading these books and while, if I stumbled across them today there is a distinct chance that I wouldn’t like them (they’re kind of problematic…or like really problematic), I read them first at a time when I deeply connected with Jessica Darling. I mean I too had a best friend move away in high school, leaving me to form superficial connections with far inferior “social survival friends”. I also had a Marcus Flutie type dude who top up too much of my brain. But mostly I felt a kinship with Jess because like her, I overthink everything. In short the premise of the books was relatable AF.

The Jessica Darling series written by Megan McCafferty, (who’s also written the pretty interesting dystopian YA series Bumped/Thumped) introduces the world to Jessica Darling a clever, funny, moody, and definitely not always nice sixteen year old dealing with the devastation of her best friend moving away right in the middle of high school, the ups and downs of her feelings for her complicated first love, and her endlessly frustrating family.

I loved (and still love) Jessica because she’s real to me. She’s not “troubled”, but she is deeply flawed and tartly funny. Her problems are the same ones that many teens/young adults go through. It’s her approach to the world that makes her special rather than her circumstances. Her “adventures” are commonplace and everyday. Her friends and family are exaggerated in such an honest adolescent way which makes them hilarious and charming to the reader.

Very little in this series rings false which is why it’s such a powerful time machine for me. As a relic of the early 2000s it lacks the ubiquity of cellphones (Hope and Jessica email each other quite a lot, but very little if any cellphone action) we see today, that and references to Y2K really remind me of my teen years. But ultimately it’s the honesty and humor of the writing brings me back to when I was that age and that time in my life.

McCafferty treated her devoted readers to five installments that took Jessica from a teen in high school to a young adult dealing with her first job out of college. All the while she struggles with her family, friends, relationships and life in general in a way that while familiar is fun and engaging.

Today young adults and teens have a wide variety of unique characters and interesting impactful stories to choose from, but take it from one of your elders (me… I’m an old): READ THIS SERIES.

Seriously, go read… You, Yes You.

IIIIIII’m BaaaAAAaaack!

Hey Readers! I’m back in the Garret!

So toward the end of September, I hinted at the fact that I was feeling more depressed than usual. I thought I was on an upswing toward the end of October and I really thought I’d be back to reading and posting and being a generally active–if extremely minor–member of the online book community… Well you know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men and women suffering from depression…

Things went awry.

Things got worse at the end of October. I was very blue and life didn’t wait for me to catch up, work got crazy, family got crazy, money stuff got crazy and I was left without a single spoon at the end of most days. I laid in the dark a lot, I “watched” the entire four seasons of Younger about six times on Hulu before switching over to my old depression standby New Girl reruns on Netflix. I didn’t read much, I certainly didn’t write much… I made an ill-fated attempt at NaNoWriMo that only left me feeling shittier about myself.Basically, I ended up overwhelmed to the point where even thinking about this blog and my other nonessential life stuff made me breakdown in a panic or a fit of sobs.

So I took a break.

I gave myself permission to press pause on the unnecessary stresses in my life, and pick them back up when I was feeling up to it. And guess what? I’m now feeling “up to it”. Work has calmed down for the moment–though I did just take on a temporary part-time gig directing a play–and I’m feeling a bit more, up and at’em than I have been in a long while.  

I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeves to keep me from hitting slumps too hard,namely the Bookriot Read Harder Challenge and my new ‘Read the Books I Already Own’ philosophy. I just have to keep at the whole updating this blog thing…but I also have to give myself permission to hit pause occasionally.

So, thank you to those of you who have stuck with me. I’m hoping to bring you some actual decent bookish content soon!

Sbooktober Sbooktacular Reading Adventure TBR

Well, I’m back at it with another October Readathon. This week I have considerably more time to dedicate to it, so I think the results will be better.

Readathon: Sbooktacular Reading Adventure 

When: 10/25-10/31

Who: Novel Thoughts



Team: SbookyVampire


Trick-Or-Treat: Book of My Choosing:

Book Set in the Past/ Book With Magic:

Book With Orange on the Cover:

Read After the Sunsets/Dark in the Title 


It’s overly ambitious, but next month is NaNoWriMo so I probably won’t be reading as much (you know until I realize that there is no way I’m making it to 50,000 words and give up) and need to take advantage of this week.

What are you reading for Halloween?

Spookathon Wrap-Up

Well Spookathon is over and I didn’t complete it… I got through 3 of 5 challenges.

Thriller: In a Dark, Dark Wood Ruth Ware 

It was a pretty good, pretty quick read. The beginning and middle were really strong, but as many reviews have said, that ending can be seen from a mile away. 

Spooky Word in the Title: Before the Devil Breaks You Libba Bray

I’m mixed on this one… just like the third Gemma Doyle book this one amps up the crazy. There were elements I LOVED and elements I hated… and that spot in the middle of the book where everyone gets super horny for no reason, I laughed out loud. But I also cried… ultimately I gave it a 4 out of 5.

Based on a Childhood Fear: There’s Someone Inside Your House Stephanie Perkins

Again, this was middle of the road for me. I love the homage to 90s slasher movies, there’s good representation, and the killer’s MO is cool and original. But there was a little too much focus on the romance/making out front for my taste… more horror less horny please. 
I’m moving on to the Sbooktober Sbooktacular Reading Adventure readathon that starts on Wednesday the 25. Check back for my unreasonable unrealistic TBR tomorrow!

Until then, stay spooky.

October Owlcrate Unboxing AND a Spookathon Update

Well it’s THAT time of the month again… the time when I stumble home from work to find a treat on my doorstep: 


October’s Theme: Find Me in the Forest

I was pumped for the theme because I love woodsy rustic aesthetics and I had a really good feeling what the book would be (I was right). I was excited to hear that there would be a candle and a mug… so without further ado…

This coaster Kristin Askland coaster is easily my favorite item! I love the art style, foxes are my favorite animal and it’s a nice Thoreau quote.

An In the Wick of Time candle based on The Raven Cycle series… a series I DNFed hardcore. But it smells pretty. 

Loose leaf tea from Riddles Tea Shoppe

The much buzzed about Harry Potter mug…  I was slightly disappointed in it. It’s not really my taste and I actually prefer the design of the box… oh well, I’ll still use it. 

A Princess Mononoke art print by Audra Auclair.

Adorable magnetic bookmark from Craftedvan. I love them. 

Finally, THE BOOK! Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore. I knew this would be the book, and I’m so excited!

Here’s the whole thing. It’s a nice box with some really great things in it. I was a little underwhelmed by the mug and candle but I love everything else.

I did skip November’s box because I think I know the book and none of the fandoms mentioned appeal to me.



Started but will probably DNF it:

I’ve given it 75 pages and it’s just doing nothing for me… I’m taking a break from it for now. 

Currently Reading 

I love the cover, I love the premise… I’m giving it a shot. I’m also watching Addams Family Values, so we’ll see how much reading actually gets done tonight. 

Spookathon: Read a Thriller

Alright, let’s kick this readathon off with 

In a Dark, Dark Wood Ruth Ware

Nora hasn’t seen Clare for ten years. Not since Nora walked out of school one day and never went back. 

There was a dark, dark house
Until, out of the blue, an invitation to Clare’s hen do arrives. Is this a chance for Nora to finally put her past behind her?

And in the dark, dark house there was a dark, dark room

But something goes wrong. Very wrong.

And in the dark, dark room…. 

Some things can’t stay secret for ever.

I’ve been seeing this book around for a while and I’ve always been curious. So when I saw it praised on a blog I frequent, I knew now was the time, and the fact that it happens to fit into a Spookathon challenge is just gravy!

I’m starting it tonight and can’t wait!

Spookathon Reading List!

As you, faithful readers, know, I’ve been suffering through a bit of a book slump. I haven’t really been grabbed by anything lately that makes me want to read all the way to the end. I’ve tried all the old standby remedies, and as I was trolling booktube for recommendations and slump-busting tips, I was reminded that October is a HUGE month for readathons! So I decided on two to participate in. Each one is a week long readathon with specific reading challenges.

This Week’s Readathon: Spookathon (Oct.16-22)

Spookathon is hosted by booktubers:

The Challenges:

  1. Read a Thriller
  2. Read a Book with a Spooky Word in the Title
  3. Read a Book Based on a Childhood Fear
  4. Read a Book with Orange on the Cover
  5. Read a Book Set in a Creepy Location 

My Spookathon TBR

Thriller: In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

I saw this book praised on Stacked and immediately felt like I had to read it. I loooooove a good creepy forest, so I’m here for it.

Spooky Word in the Title: Before the Devil Breaks You Libba Bray

The Devil is spooky, being broken by the Devil is very scary… basically I’m looking for an excuse to squeeze this one into the readathon, because I love this series and I’m too psyched for it.

Based on a Childhood Fear: There’s Someone Inside Your House Stephanie Perkins

So, when I was little I was certain that there was someone sneaking into my house at night. No amount of reassurance from my parents could convince me that we were safe from intruders. For a long time I was positive that The Penguin (Danny DeVito) was climbing in through my bedroom window… it didn’t matter that we lived on the fourth floor of an apartment complex.

Book with Orange on the Cover The Haunting of Hill House Shirley Jackson 

I have already told you that I love this book. I love Shirley Jackson, if I could do grad school over again, I would focus on her. This book is all kinds of creepy and I love it. Full Disclosure: the copy I’m reading has SIGNIFICANTLY less orange on the cover, but I’m not dropping unnecessary money on readathon material.

Book Set in a Spooky Location And the Trees Crept In Dawn Kurtagich

Creepy house? Menacing woods? Unconventional narrative and book design? SIGN ME UP!

The Group Book: The Stranger in the House Shari Lapena

I am not reading the group book this year, because I can’t really rationalize buying ANOTHER book and my library doesn’t have it on the shelf… so… yeah.


So, there’s my Spookathon TBR! I’m excited to get started and will post updates throughout the week.

Are you doing Spookathon? What are reading? Let me know and let’s get spooky together!

Image result for dancing skeleton

5 Haunted House Novels to Read when You’re Home Alone

I have always been a sucker for a good old haunted house. I have and will continue to watch haunted house movies, take haunted house tours, read haunted house books and secretly harbor the belief that my own house is probably a little haunted. In my mind there is nothing more terrifying than the feeling—however fleeting—that something has violated your safe space and turned it into something menacing. That being said I LOVE that shiver of terror. A haunted house, while scary, is such an elegant monster.So without further a-boo (see what I did there?) let’s countdown my Five Haunted House Novels to Read When You’re Home Alone!


White is For Witching by Helen Oyeyemi

In a vast, mysterious house on the cliffs near Dover, the Silver family is reeling from the hole punched into its heart. Lily is gone and her twins, Miranda and Eliot, and her husband, the gentle Luc, mourn her absence with unspoken intensity. All is not well with the house, either, which creaks and grumbles and malignly confuses visitors in its mazy rooms, forcing winter apples in the garden when the branches should be bare. Generations of women inhabit its walls. And Miranda, with her new appetite for chalk and her keen sense for spirits, is more attuned to them than she is to her brother and father. She is leaving them slowly -
Slipping away from them -
And when one dark night she vanishes entirely, the survivors are left to tell her story.
”Miri I conjure you ”

I’m in love with this novel. I love that the house itself is one of the narrators (the cruel, terrifying one). It draws from the Gothic tradition in many familiar ways (family curse, motherlessness, haunted, isolated house, tormented young woman) and deviates or innovates in others (multiple narrators—including the house, LGBT+ themes and again THE HOUSE is telling its own story). Oyeyemi is an artist when it comes to drafting that unsettled feeling at the base of your spine (see Mr.Fox and Boy, Snow, Bird for prime examples of her elegant unease).

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Past the rusted gates

And untrimmed hedges,

Hill House broods and waits…

Is Hill House haunted, or is it just Eleanor? True to form, Jackson gives us a tale where the answer to that question lies tantalizingly out of reach. The Haunting of Hill House has all the hallmarks of a classic haunter house story: unexplained noises, doors that shut by themselves, isolated and disorienting grounds, a nasty reputation among the locals, and that unshakeable uneasy feeling of something not quite right in the air. All that and more draws a scholar of the occult and his team of volunteers (his assistant, lonely Eleanor, and Hill House’s heir) to the foreboding Hill House. As unexplainable events unfold and fear grips and releases the guests one of them is affected more than the others and the house—or rather Ms. Jackson—toys with the reader as to what the source could be.

Reading Shirley Jackson is a perverse joy. I am obsessed with the fact that even her most haunting and terrifying stories don’t draw their real terror from the supernatural, but rather from the monsters lurking inside of us. I’ve read The Haunting of Hill House four times, and I’m still not sure who/what is really doing the haunting. And that definitely gives me the chills. 

 Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin

Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse have just moved into the Bramford, a stately old New York apartment building, with a bit of a reputation, but old buildings are full of history and not all of it can be good. Undeterred by its sinister image and its strange elderly residents, the Woodhouses tackle the ups and downs of being a young married couple. Namely, Rosemary sets up house, and Guy attempts to get work as an actor in a city with no shortage of talents leading man types. But things take a turn when Guy gets friendly with their senior neighbors Roman and Minnie Castavet; Guy lands a great part, and Rosemary get pregnant. With Guy off at work, Rosemary becomes increasingly isolated with only her eccentric neighbors for company and a growing sense of dread about their interest in her baby.

So, yes I know. It’s not technically a haunted house story, but Rosemary’s Baby draws on that theme of the sacred space being violated by sinister forces. In this case both the safety of Rosemary’s house and her body become compromised by forces she cannot control nor truly understand without going mad. I love this book because it makes me feel unsafe, which I think is a great thing for a book to do. I worry terribly for Rosemary, I know that nothing is going to save her in any way that won’t scar her forever. It’s riveting, and every time I read it I am transported back to my original terrified reading as I sat on the floor of MY haunted apartment building’s laundry room floor.

Time Windows by Kathryn Reiss

The new cover of this book might inadvertently scarier than the novel itself.

It’s been an incredibly long time since I read this book, so long in fact that I can swear it had a different title when I read it in elementary school. I don’t have a brilliant enough memory to come up with an original plot description so I have to rely on the back of the book.

When Miranda moves with her family to an old hose in a small Massachusetts town, she discovers an antique dollhouse the duplicates her new home in miniature. Looking through the dollhouse windows, she is shocked to see scene from the tragic lives of the real hose’s past inhabitants. She soon realizes that her home is exerting an evil power over the women who live there. And even worse, Miranda’s own mother is succumbing to its influence! Miranda must find the key to unlock the past and so release the house from its spell. But doing so means Miranda must relive one of those terrifying dollhouse scenes.

I don’t remember much about this book, accept that I was terrified. I remember the very real fear I felt reading it during a thunderstorm by flashlight. I have read many books since then and can remember many of their plots and characters, but very few do I solely remember by emotional recall.

The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne

From the Dover Thrift Edition: Built over an unquiet grave, the House of the Seven Gables carries a dying man’s curse that blights the lives of its residents for over two centuries. Now Judge Jaffrey Pyncheon, an iron-hearted hypocrite and intellectual heir to the mansion’s unscrupulous founder, is attempting to railroad a pair of his elderly relatives out of the house. Only two young people stand in his way — a visiting country cousin and an enigmatic boarder skilled in mesmerism.

I had every intention of writing this entire post about The House of the Seven Gables, but everything I wrote came off sounding like one of my old grad school papers. So, I scrapped it. But this is my all time favorite haunted house novel. I love it because not only do I love a good creepy read, but I love Nathaniel Hawthorne and how his works often reach back into the real past of America’s early days only to come back with filthy hands. Hawthorne himself was haunted by his family’s involvement in the Salem Witch Trials (his ancestor was Judge John Hathorne, the only Witch Trial judge not to repent his role in the deaths of 20 innocent people. Hawthorne even changed his name—adding the ’w’—to distance himself from said relative) nearly 200 years after the fact. The House of the Seven Gables among many of his other works deals with the long shadow that ugly chapter casts in the United States. It is not only a story of spectral ghosts and magic curses, but of the ghosts of the cruelty normal human beings are capable of that poisons the wells of history for generations. It’s chilling in a very real way, because under the surface it’s absolutely real.

So there you have it, a whole neighborhood of my favorite haunted houses, feel free to trick or treat there this weekend!

Let me know what your favorite haunted houses are in the comments, on facebook, or instagram

Currently Reading: Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore

I’ve been going through a MAJOR reading slump… I’ve only finished 2 books this month. That isn’t to say I haven’t tried to read about a dozen or so.
I just haven’t found anything that has drawn me in for more than a few chapters. There are plenty of books I’m excited about, but seriously after like 50 pages I can’t seem to keep going. 

I think Jane, Unlimited my be the book that breaks the pattern. I’ve heard that it’s complicated and weird and well written and that is just what I need right now!

Jane has lived an ordinary life, raised by her aunt Magnolia—an adjunct professor and deep sea photographer. Jane counted on Magnolia to make the world feel expansive and to turn life into an adventure. But Aunt Magnolia was lost a few months ago in Antarctica on one of her expeditions.

Now, with no direction, a year out of high school, and obsessed with making umbrellas that look like her own dreams (but mostly just mourning her aunt), she is easily swept away by Kiran Thrash—a glamorous, capricious acquaintance who shows up and asks Jane to accompany her to a gala at her family’s island mansion called Tu Reviens.

Jane remembers her aunt telling her: “If anyone ever invites to you to Tu Reviens, promise me that you’ll go.” With nothing but a trunkful of umbrella parts to her name, Jane ventures out to the Thrash estate. Then her story takes a turn, or rather, five turns. What Jane doesn’t know is that Tu Reviens will offer her choices that can ultimately determine the course of her untethered life. But at Tu Reviens, every choice comes with a reward, or a price. 

Wish me luck!