Women

5 Books to Read this Summer

By Claire Bromm

 

Summer is right around the corner (yay!) and that means having extra time to do all the things you didn’t have time for during the busy school year. This could be spending more time with family, finally getting around to working out, creating that DIY you’ve been looking at on Pinterest or sitting down and reading some good books.

Here are five books you should check out this summer.

 

  1. The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

If you knew the date of your death, how would you live your life? It’s 1969 in New York City’s Lower East Side, and word has spread of the arrival of a mystical woman, a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The Gold children, four adolescents on the cusp of self-awareness, sneak out to hear their fortunes. The prophecies inform their next five decades.

 

  1. The Winds of Winter by George R. R. Martin

The sixth installment of the A Song of Ice and Fire series is slated to be released this summer, however fans of the book, and the HBO series Game of Thrones, have been burned by Martin and his long-writing process before.

 

  1. The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor

In 1986, Eddie and his friends are just kids on the verge of adolescence. They spend their days biking around their sleepy English village and looking for any taste of excitement they can get. The chalk men are their secret code: little chalk stick figures they leave for one another as messages only they can understand. But then a mysterious chalk man leads them right to a dismembered body, and nothing is ever the same.

 

  1. So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

Ijeoma Oluo explores the complex reality of today’s racial landscape–from white privilege and police brutality to systemic discrimination and the Black Lives Matter movement–offering straightforward clarity that readers need to contribute to the dismantling of the racial divide.

 

  1. White Chrysanthemum by Mary Lynn Bracht

Korea, 1943. Hana has lived her entire life under Japanese occupation. As a haenyeo, a female diver of the sea, she enjoys an independence that few other Koreans can still claim. Until the day Hana saves her younger sister from a Japanese soldier and is herself captured and transported to Manchuria. There she is forced to become a “comfort woman” in a Japanese military brothel. But haenyeo are women of power and strength. She will find her way home.

Poetry: 4 Poets to Read for Women’s History Month

Women have been writing poems for ages – one of the earliest known female poets was the great Sappho, who was born around 630-612 BCE. Since then, women have either openly or secretly written poetry, often using the medium of verse to write about their experiences in worlds that gave them narrowly defined roles. In honor of Women’s History Month, here is a list (a very truncated, incomplete list, mind you) of American women writers that you should read, if you haven’t already.

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Phyllis Wheatley: Wheatley’s incredible intellectual ability and her considerable skill with verse make her a must-read. Her poems are both overt and subtle, and her range of subjects include classical forms, social commentary (particularly on slavery and racism), and American life. Her work drew the eye of many notables of the day, including George Washington, for its ability to celebrate America while still facing its very real problems.

 

Emily Dickinson: Dickinson is one of the best-known American poets. Her poems are renowned for their innovative form and style, and for the insight Dickinson applies to such topics as family, nature, religion, and death. Dickinson was and eccentric and intelligent woman who lived nearly a hermit’s life in her home in Amherst, Massachusetts. Her poems continue to inspire and astound new and old readers.

 

Maya Angelou: Angelou, who was mourned by a nation when she passed in 2014, is a woman of many talents – writer, activist, singer, dancer, director, editor, and so on. Her poems are powerful and rhythmic, such as the anthem “Still I Rise.” Angelou’s work includes a series of autobiographical (including the famous I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings), as well as screenplays and children’s books. Her poetry is widely read and features subjects such as the African American experience, love and empowerment, and anti-war sentiment.

 

Anne Sexton: Sexton’s poetry is classified in the Confessional school, with such poets as Robert Lowell and W.D. Snodgrass (whom she admired greatly). There is argument as to just how “confessional” her poems were, but her writing is undeniably intensely personal and tackles controversial subjects such as abortion, menstruation, and challenges to religion and traditional gender roles. Sexton’s craft is as noteworthy as her content, demonstrating an ability with both form and free verse.

As stated, this is by no means a comprehensive or definitive list, but hopefully reading poems by these women will get you fired up for more learning about Women’s History.

 

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Want more? Run and visit these other poetry-based lists for Women’s History Month:

 

More famous women poets: http://www.poetrysoup.com/famous_poets/women_poets.aspx

Feminist slam poems: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/04/slam-poems-feminist_n_6792536.html

Lesbian & bisexual women poets: http://jezebel.com/5621964/ten-lesbian–bisexual-poets-to-fall-in-love-with/

African-American women poets: http://www.forharriet.com/2014/04/15-black-women-poets-everyone-should.html#axzz42q2wXcXt

Women poets of color: http://mediadiversified.org/2015/01/01/10-poets-of-colour-we-discovered-or-rediscovered-in-2014/

Wikipedia’s list of women poets: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_female_poets

 

–MH