March & April Book Announced

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Rules for Radicals: A Practical Primer for Realistic Radicals by Saul Alinsky

Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgement to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins– or which is which), the fist radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom — Lucifer.

 –Saul Alinsky

Saul Alinsky was an apt community organizer and thought to be the father of modern community organizing as we know it today. Saul worked in the black ghettos of Chicago and traveled to ghettos across the United States to better the lives of citizens in the most poverty stricken areas.

Though many thought his ideas and work to be communistic, he never affiliated with any party claiming his own independence far too important a thing to write away. Nor did he hold a great respect for many political leaders of his time. Here is a quote from his 1972 publication that holds an almost scary resemblance to the tune we hear so often today:

Alinsky described his plans for 1972 to begin to organize the white middle-class across the United States, and the necessity of that project. He believed that many Americans were living in frustration and despair, worried about their future, and ripe for a turn to radical social change, to become politically active citizens. He feared the middle class could be driven to a right-wing viewpoint, “making them ripe for the plucking by some guy on horseback promising a return to the vanished verities of yesterday”.[4] His stated motive: “I love this goddamn country, and we’re going to take it back.

This quote was taken from Wikipedia as well as cited from a Playboy article and should therefore be taken with a grain of salt. However, this would be the most prophetic notion of his many works. Therefore in March, even though it is Women’s Mont, we will be reading Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky, because he wanted to unify America and the United States and that is something we are in dire need of at this point in our history.

Get the PDF Version of Rules for Radicals Here

The Girls: Other Readings

I can quite honestly say I have not read another book similar to this. I know. Everyone’s astonished. I went into this book with thoughts of feminism and empowerment for women. Some BA girls running around stirring up trouble for the patriarchy. Clearly, I should have read the back of the book. They do run around and stir up trouble, but at the same time they are all fawning and under the spell of Russel. (Right now I’m halfway through and will update this later.) However, I will muddle through with the hope that these girls grow their wings and fly out from beneath his thumb and lunatic rhetoric. So because this book is so far outside my normal wheelhouse I went to the internet to find a list (there are many). So without further adieu or rambling, straight from :

1. Girls On Fire

Written by Robyn Wasserman, Girls on Fire is about that special kind of bond that only teenage girls can have. Hannah (Dex) and Lacey are best friends and share, amongst other things, a mutual hatred of popular girl Nikki. As their friendship becomes more intense, so too do their feelings for Nikki.

Get Girls on Fire here.

2. Invincible Summer

Four friends, 20 years and a lifetime of stories.Following Benedict, Lucien, Sylvie and Benedict as they graduate from university, the book looks at what happens to the energy and dreams of the young as Real Life (boo) sets in. By Alice Adams.

Get Invincible Summer here.

3. Before The Fall

Everyone raves about this book. I got a couple of pages in and realised it all revolved around a plane crash. I have a phobia of flying and a long-distance flight coming up so sozza, I ditched it. Anyways – it’s about a guy who gets on a family’s private jet back from rich-people holiday destination Martha’s Vineyard. The plane crashes, he survives. What happens in the aftermath is the focus.

Get Before The Fall here.

4. The Muse

The next offering from the wonderful Jessie Burton, the lady behind 2014’s beautiful The Miniaturist. Set not in 1600’s Amsterdam but rather in 1960’s London, The Muse is about Odelle, a Trinidadian girl trying to make it in London. She gets a job at a gallery where the book diverges into the mysterious backstory of an exciting work of art.

Get The Muse here.

5. Sweetbitter

Written by Stephanie Danler, Sweetbitter is about Tess, a 22-year-old who moves to the big city to erm, do something. Whilst working at one of New York’s fanciest restaurants she finds herself caught up in a triangle of love affairs set against the city’s fast-paced restaurant scene.

Get Sweetbitter here

6. Maestra

The intelligent woman’s 50 Shades. Written by Oxbridge historian Lisa Hilton, it’s about a girl called Judith Rashleigh who worked in an auction house by day and a sleazy West End bar by night.  When she tries to steal money from a rich man, she ends up running for her life. Basically, imagine if Amy from Gone Girl replaced Anastasia from 50 Shades. Read our interview with Lisa here.

Get Maestra here.

7. The Glorious Heresies

This book won the Baileys’ Women’s Prize for Fiction this year so, it’s kind of a big deal. It’s about a group of people living in the criminal underworld of the Irish city of Cork in a post-economic crash world. There’s Ryan, the teenage drug dealer, Jimmy, one of the city’s most terrifying gangsters, Georgie a prostitute and Maureen, Jimmy’s mother. As the groups’ lives cross, things disintegrate further.

Get The Glorious Heresies here

8. Hot Milk

About a daughter Sofia and her mother Rosie who take a trip to Spain not on a lovely holiday but rather to a clinic to try to fix Rosie who is confined to a wheelchair. The women have a suffocating relationship and it intoxicates them both. By Deborah Levy.

Get Hot Milk here

9. Ctrl, Alt; Delete: How I Grew Up Online

It’s ex-Debrief and uber blogger Emma Gannon! Her book about growing up online (hello MSN Messenger) is funny, open, lovely and guaranteed to make you cringe as you recall yourself as a clueless teenager trying to operate as a grown-up.

Get Ctrl, Alt, Delete here.

10. Fates and Furies

One of the many books that was bequeathed the ‘Next Gone Girl’ honour by critics. Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies is, in a similar manner to Gone Girl, the story of a relationship told from both sides of a couple (Lotto and Mathilde Satterwhite – how’s that for a couple of names?). It’s brutal. And beautiful.

Get Fates and Furies here.


The Girls Discussion Questions

Straight from PRH (Penguin Random House for those who aren’t perpetually surrounded by the merch, name, and warehouse personnel.) here are some discussion questions to think about while reading (or after, seeing as how we are to be done the end of the month. Ackkkk!)  Please feel free to include moments you thought of in the comments below!

1. The Girls takes place in the summer of 1969. When Evie explains the era to Sasha, she says “It was a different time … Everyone ran around” (144). Do you think that what happened to Evie could have only happened in the 1960s? Or is her story a timeless story? How might her story be different, if it happened today?

2. One of the central relationships in The Girls is between Evie and Suzanne. What did you make of their connection? The first time they meet, Suzanne is hesitant to let Evie come along (94-95). Does she sense something about Evie from the very beginning? What might it be?

3. Evie describes the “constant project of our girl selves” and the specific attentions that project requires—the make-up, the grooming rituals. Did you see a parallel in Evie’s mother’s behavior? What are the similarities and differences between Evie’s “constant project” and her mother’s new search for “an aim, a plan”?

4. In looking back at the time before her parents got divorced, Evie describes “the freedom of being so young that no one expected anything from me” (78). Do you think that freedom still exists when she is a teenager—or has it already disappeared? Why might that sense of freedom start to vanish, as she gets older?

5. Evie delineates the difference between the attention girls can get from boys, and the attention they can get from other girls: “Girls are the only ones who can really give each other close attention, the kind we equate with being loved” (34). What do you make of this? Is something all of the girls in this story are aware of, consciously or unconsciously? Do you think it holds true forever, or does it change as girls grow older?

6. At the same time, though, Evie says that she “didn’t really believe friendship could be an end in itself, not just the background fuzz to the dramatics of boys loving you or not loving you” (49). How does this notion change and evolve as the story goes on? Do you consider Evie’s relationship with Suzanne to be a friendship, or something different?

7. Evie is constantly sizing up other girls and women, measuring their beauty and assessing them “with brutal and emotionless judgment” (34). But Suzanne, she decides, “wasn’t beautiful … It was something else” (68). How does this complicate her understanding of, or attraction to, Suzanne? Is beauty something that is valued by Russell, Suzanne and others, in the world of the ranch?

8. What did you make of Evie’s dynamic with Sasha? What similarities to—and differences from—her teenage self might Evie see in Sasha? Why do you think Evie tells Sasha so much about her past?

9. Why do you think Evie decides to mess with Teddy Dutton, when she brings his dog back to his house? Does she have a newfound feeling of power, after spending time at the ranch? Do you think that interaction with Teddy paves the way for her and the girls’ later intrusion into the Dutton house?

10. Were you surprised by the character of Tamar, and her relationship with Evie? How does Tamar differ from the other girls and women in the story—from Suzanne, from Connie, from Evie’s mother?

11. Looking back, Evie questions whether she might have known what Suzanne and the others were planning, and whether she would have participated: “Maybe I would have done something, too. Maybe it would have been easy” (321). Do you think Evie would have gone through with it, if she had stayed in the car? Why, or why not?

12. At the end, Evie describes Suzanne letting her go as “a gift” (351), allowing Evie to have the normal life that Suzanne herself could not. But she reflects that it might have been easier to be punished and redeemed, as Suzanne was. What did you make of Evie’s still-conflicted feelings about that chapter in her life? Would it ever be possible for someone in Evie’s situation to make peace with the past? If so, what do you think prevents her from doing so?

Books that Are Better Than the Movie: Additional Readings

When are books not better than the movie?! Imagining your own creative space based on the elaborate written description hardly ever translates to the screen! Now, it is very easy to create a list of books that surpass the film, so we are going to focus on ones with prominent female leads. Of course there are hundreds more and these are just a selection of my favorites, feel free to comment with ones you feel are essential to add!

The Princess Diaries Series By Meg Cabot

The Princess Diaries movie starring Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews is a certifiable classic and a personal favorite. However, if you read the book, the movie was so Disney-ified it took away from the real and relatable problems that Mia faced. The book also added depth to the story! Large essential pieces of the book were missing or changed to make it more pleasant for a family. Like her grandmother is meant to be a meanie, think Yzma and not Grace Kelly.


Also, her father is not deceased. He suffered from testicular cancer and with his perpetual revolving door of much younger women, was unable to have an heir other than Mia. She is the last resort for the family when confronted with the possibility of losing the crown. The series of now 11 books, with the most recent installment coming out in 2014, the story continues to grow and evolve well beyond the two movies. Much love to Chris Pine, but the second film was so off track from the book, that it is hard to even consider it. If I have ever given you book recommendations, ditch whatever nonsense I fed you and put this series at the top of your reading list.

Pride & Prejudice By Jane Austen


For that matter any Jane Austen, movie, retelling, or web series, is such a blessing to have to relive the content of 200 years ago. I will find any chance I have to discuss the work of Jane Austen and therefore it is no shock that she has made this list. Pride & Prejudice has numerous remakes, but the two that are considered the crux that Austenites perch their hopes on are the Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen’s 2005 film and the original masterpiece is the six hour 1995 mini series featuring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. However, for the sake of being nitpicky, we will just discuss the 2005 rendition. Though this movie is beautiful and adds to the story the almost kiss in the rain, the way he flexes his hand and his face changes with every meeting from stern to free and hopeful, and the happiness we saw between Jane and Bingley’s proposal.


However, I feel it is essential to read the book to really feel the depth of Elizabeth’s and Darcy’s change in affection.Throughout the movie it appeared to be a somewhat abrupt change as he repaired his “transgressions”, but the book correctly shows that it was the work of several meetings, their shared interests, and his actions. Yes, Pride & Prejudice is not in today’s vernacular, but that just increases the amount the book pulls you into its world of Austen’s day. Austen probably never imagined her work would make the impact to the movie, television, and web industries as it has, experiencing her work in the way in which she intended is essential. I’ll leave you with this famous quote by the author herself, “I declare there is no enjoyment like reading!”
Other renditions that are worth a read/watch are North and South by Elizabeth Glaskell and released as a miniseries in 2004, 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher and released as a Netflix show in 2017, Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty featured on HBO in 2017, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins premiered in 2012.


Some upcoming exciting small screen releases are Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, A Wrinkle In Time By Madeleine L’Engle, and Anne of Green Gables By LM Montgomery. I am so excited to see these portrayed again! Please share what you are excited to see coming to the screen and feel free to recommend other books that you feel just blew the movie out of the water!



Other Feminist Reads

Hey Guys!

Hope you are enjoying The Notorious RBG! Because this is such a stellar telling of the life of a key feminist of the past century, I wanted to point out some other seminal feminist pieces!

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide

By: Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDun

This book beautifully explains that while feminism is something we continually need to strive for in the US and other developed countries, the suffering and need is necessary on a global scale. They discuss sex trafficking as well as skills building and loans. Amazing story telling coupled with informative narrative really makes this an astounding read.

By: Caitlin Moran


Caitlin Moran is a fabulous comedian from the UK. Within her book she discusses the hilarious stories and heart wrenching pitfalls of growing into a woman that respects herself and fights for equality. Her audiobook had be in tears from laughing and then yelling from injustice. This book is not informative to the plight of the gender, but it is a great narrative delivered with comedy and snark.

Of course the list could go on and on! However these are two on either end of the spectrum in terms of feminist lit. I have always considered myself a feminist, but have just begun reading a variety of materials on the topic. Both of these selections I read as a result of Our Shared Shelf, Emma Watson’s feminist book club. Her picks are so enlightening and not always what we expect. So please check out their group on Goodreads for more recommendations!

Meeting Sunday

Hi everyone!

Just a reminder that we are discussing our first book, Wild, this Sunday at 5 pm via Oovoo. Once you have created your Oovoo account and search “literaryladies” and add us as your friend! We will invite everyone that is online on Sunday to our book discussion.