Showing posts with label Feminism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Feminism. Show all posts

The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur

The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  3,274 Ratings  ·  511 Reviews
The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur download or read it online for free
The Sun and Her Flowers
by Rupi Kaur
From Rupi Kaur, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of milk and honey, comes her long-awaited second collection of poetry. A vibrant and transcendent journey about growth and healing. Ancestry and honoring one’s roots. Expatriation and rising up to find a home within yourself.

Divided into five chapters and illustrated by Kaur, the sun and her flowers is a journey of wilting, falling, rooting, rising, and blooming. A celebration of love in all its forms.

this is the recipe of life
said my mother
as she held me in her arms as i wept
think of those flowers you plant
in the garden each year
they will teach you
that people too
must wilt
in order to bloom

“you left
and i wanted you still
yet i deserved someone
who was willing to stay”

“despite knowing
they won’t be here for long
they still choose to live
their brightest lives - sunflowers”



This long-awaited second collection of poetry by Rupi Kaur made waves; it was a ride brimming with of every kind of emotion imaginable. Divided into five chapters and illustrated by Kaur, the sun and her flowers is a vibrant and transcendent journey about growth and healing. Ancestry and honoring one’s roots. Expatriation and rising up to find a home within yourself.

Kaur's voice is as audacious and brave as ever. She nails to perfection the specific intimate details that made her writing so achingly real in milk and honey. We have poems exploring self-love, self-hate, body-image, girls supporting girls, motherly love, feminism, insecurity, sexual assault, and so much more. I read through it in a whirlwind. I barely put it down, and it was so short I didn't even have to.

The author's smart, poised, and down-to-earth writing oozes inspiration.
4.5 Stars

Wow. Let me say I had low expectations going into this, but I was so wrong. Backstory: I'm not a fan of milk & honey. It's not a style I enjoy at all, and the entire book just felt too Tumblr and cheesy and simplistic. this blew me away. it's so different, fresh, and jaw-dropping.

it’s interesting to see how her writing has grown and evolved. there are very few short poems (unlike m&h), which i was thankful for, because in m&h it seemed like she would just write sentences with skips in it, then label them poetry, and i really hated that style. however, this utilized a lot of longer poems and metaphor and personification of nature, and although it’s still not my favorite style, it’s gotten so much better.

This book was just so much more personal. m&h felt like a ton of blanket statements and tumblr posts, but this one had quotes that actually made me sit back and go “whoa.”

“i even tried to bury myself alive
but the dirt recoiled
you have already rotted it said
there is nothing left for me to do
- self-hate”


This book adds on an entire section about immigration and refugees, and I thought it was new and powerful as opposed to only talking about feminism, the body, and self-love. also, brown girls NEED to pick up this book. there is so much positivity and messages about acceptance of your skin.

i will say, if you decide to pick this up, don't give up hope until you reach part 2. The whole first part seems like it was a step back from milk & honey? milk and honey was so feminist and focused on recovery and self-love and some of the poems in the first part were like “TELL ME I’M PRETTY I NEED VALIDATION” and stuff like that and I was like ??????? It started out really weak but definitely got better.

Lastly, another thing I wasn’t a huge fan of is none of her poems use punctuation. She had some longer poems unlike anything she had in m&h, but most of those just employed really long-winded run-on sentences and I wasn’t a huge fan of that style. Because of that, it was hard to tell sometimes when one poem ended and another begun because none were punctuated, some didn’t have titles, some were just one sentence, etc.

Regardless, I'm sorta speechless because I expected to hate this and I actually enjoyed it so much. Several of the poems gave me chills. If you gave up hope after milk & honey, definitely think about trying this from a library or something because it is a MAJOR improvement and I think its messages are valuable, and nothing about this feels like a regurgitation of a Tumblr post.
[4.5 ⭐️]

Rupi Kaur does it once again. Her poetry is blooming. Her words hit home as they always do. I mean, there's a reason why there's a surge in poetry books being sold now. She's the reason.

I love what she advocates in her poetry collections, what she stands for. How it is told in a format of stages, of growth. Following on from her previous collection (not that it is a sequel, but the format and themes are similar), the sun and her flowers is tackling the root of our own emotions and suffering, to taking it in and accepting the people around us, our ancestors and our heritage, our immigrant parents, to ultimately establishing self-love. Yes, you do come first. You are important. I feel like it's a mantra in her poetry and I love that. It's beyond empowering!

As per her usual style, the poems are direct, simple, easy to grasp and full of passion. There are underlying layers and raw thoughts and emotions beneath those words that have me wanting to savour it, reread it. Annotate the whole book and find my own meaning within it. The illustrations truly make it come to life and paint a vivid picture and emotion inside you.

I can't wait to see what else she has in store! I know I can read her work over and over again!
The Sun and Her Flowers is my anticipated poetry book this year by the one and only Rupi Kaur. Her poems are relatable and exceptionally written. This collection is divided into five chapters depending on the topic. There's love, relationships, racism, grief, refugees, empowering women etc. and my personal favorite is about self-love. It's straightforward and successfully stirred my emotions.

Here are my favorites in this collection:

we need more love
not from men
but ourselves
and each other

- medicine


you are a mirror
if you continue to starve yourself of love
you'll only meet people who'll starve you too
if you soak yourself in love
the universe will hand you those
who'll love you too

- a simple math

it felt like you threw me
so far from myself
i've been trying to find my way back ever since

.....let's find our own sun. grow our own flowers. the universe delivered us with the light and the seeds. we might not hear it at times but the music is always on. it just needs to be turned louder. for as long as there is breath in our lungs--we must keep dancing.

I love it. It is organized and has minimalistic illustrations. Just like milk & honey, I really enjoyed it and I shall look forward on her upcoming books.
Rupi Kaur. You never cease to amaze me with the power of your simplicity and rawness. You speak for so many. 🌻

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  92,554 Ratings  ·  11,013 Reviews
Milk and Honey is a collection of poetry and prose about survival. It is about the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity. It is split into four chapters, and each chapter serves a different purpose, deals with a different pain, heals a different heartache. Milk and Honey takes readers through a journey of the most bitter moments in life and finds sweetness in them because there is sweetness everywhere if you are just willing to look.
Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur download or read it online for free
Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

Rupi Kaur is a writer and artist based in Toronto, Canada. With a focus in poetry, she released her first book of prose and poems in November 2014. Throughout her poetry, photography, illustrations, and creative direction she engages with themes of femininity, love, loss, trauma, and healing. When she is not writing or creating art, she is travelling internationally to perform her spoken word poetry, as well as hosting writing workshops.



milk and honey is a collection of poetry and prose about survival. About the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity. It is split into four chapters, and each chapter serves a different purpose.

It’s difficult trying to review this because every poem is extremely personal, tender and exquisite in its own way.

So I decided to feature some of my favorite ones:

“you tell me to quiet down cause
my opinions make me less beautiful
but i was not made with a fire in my belly
so i could be put out
i was not made with a lightness on my tongue
so i could be easy to swallow
i was made heavy
half blade and half silk
difficult to forget and not easy
for the mind to follow”

“i struggle so deeply
to understand
how someone can
pour their entire soul
blood and energy
into someone
without wanting
anything in

- i will have to wait till i’m a mother”

“when my mother says i deserve better
i snap to your defense out of habit
he still loves me i shout
she looks at me with defeated eyes
the way a parent looks at their child
when they know this is the type of pain
even they can’t fix
and says
it means nothing to me if he loves you
if he can’t do a single wretched thing about it”

“he only whispers i love you
as he slips his hands
down the waistband
of your pants

this is where you must
understand the difference
between want and need
you may want that boy
but you certainly
don’t need him”

“i am a museum full of art
but you had your eyes shut”

“people go
but how
they left
always stays”

“what i miss most is how you loved me. but what i didn’t know was how you loved me had so much to do with the person i was. it was a reflection of everything i gave to you. coming back to me. how did i not see that. how. did i sit here soaking in the idea that no one else would love me that way. when it was i that taught you. when it was i that showed you how to fill. the way i needed to be filled. how cruel i was to myself. giving you credit for my warmth simply because you had felt it. thinking it was you who gave me strength. wit. beauty. simply because you recognized it. as if i was already not these things before i met you. as if i did not remain all these once you left.”

“loneliness is a sign you are in desperate need of yourself”“you tell me
i am not like most girls
and learn to kiss me with your eyes closed
something about the phrase—something about
how i have to be unlike the women
i call sisters in order to be wanted
makes me want to spit your tongue out
like i am supposed to be proud you picked me
as if i should be relieved you think
i am better than them”

“other women’s bodies
are not our battlegrounds”

“you were a dragon long before
he came around and said
you could fly

you will remain a dragon
long after he’s left”

“you look at me and cry
everything hurts

i hold you and whisper
but everything can heal”

“how you love yourself is
how you teach others
to love you”

“what terrifies me most is how we
foam at the mouth with envy
when others succeed
but sigh in relief
when they are failing

our struggle to
celebrate each other is
what’s proven most difficult
in being human”

(Most of my favorite quotes were from the healing section, and it was pretty though trying to narrow it down to my preferred quotes.)
Breathtaking - Brutal - Beautiful

Rupi Kaur's poetry is unlike traditional poetry. For one thing - this small book feels like a graphic poetry novel.
Many of the pages had a familiar 'looking-style' which short poems have....but with the delicate, simple, drawings, I forgot I was reading poetry. The drawings tell a story --we feel the emotions from the them before we even read the words. In essence,
capturing bruises women have experienced.

The book is divided into four sections: hurting, loving, breaking, healing.
This book honors women.....addressing chaos with, loss, trauma, abuse, healing, and femininity.

It's real. It's raw. It's relatable.

I say again.... 'beautiful'

"If you were born with
the weakness to fall
you were born with
the strength to rise".

  makes you grateful for your love of reading because it makes you understand how powerful words can be. It fills you with peace, acceptance and joy. You know that moment when you read something and you think. 
I needed years and a lot of pain to come to the same conclusion, if only I would have read this book earlier, it tells everything with such clarity”. I will recommend it to anyone who’s sad, depressed, down, heartbroken or lost. Basically the message is accept your flaws, move on, life is flux, don’t let anyone make you feel unworthy. Be a shark. A nice, feminine, gentle shark. But a shark.
You are every hope I’ve ever had in human form.
Love knows life has been hard enough already
You said, if it is meant to be, fate will bring us back together. [...] It’s us you fool. We’re the only ones that can bring us together.[...] Isn’t it such a tragic thing. When you can see it so clearly but the other person doesn’t.
Don’t mistake salt for sugar if he wants to be with you he will it’s that simple
You’d rather have the darkest parts of him than have nothing
You whisper I love you What you mean is I don’t want you to leave
Like I am supposed to be proud you picked me
But I swear you will get through the hurt will pass as it always does
Nothing even matters except love and human connection
You have to stop searching for why at some point you have to leave it alone
If you are not enough for yourself you will never be enough for someone else
terrifies me most is how we foam at the mouth with envy when others succeed but sigh in relief when they are failing

I’ve heard THE PRINCESS SAVE HERSELF IN THIS ONE and FORTY RULES OF LOVE are similar to milk and honey.
To be simply put, this isn't a book meant to be loved or raved about. It is just meant to be read.

I feel as if the people giving it three stars or so went in expecting it to ravish them, thrill them but it was not meant for that. Why on earth would you seek something so much more from a book that was written so truthfully, with feelings so raw that the hurt and the bitterness and the sorrows behind the words will never dull?

This was her story. She isn't asking for you to judge if it's "exciting" enough because it's not a fiction meant to be critiqued. Life isn't always "okay and then what?" Sometimes you can get stuck before you even try to move on.

if you were born with
the weakness to fall
you were born with
the strength to rise

I am so moved by this. These were words she had woven out for herself and now we are allowed to read them and take them to our hearts, too.

you tell me to quiet down cause
my opinions make me less beautiful
but i was not made with a fire in my belly
so i could be put out
i was not made with a lightness on my tongue
so i could be easy to swallow
i was made heavy
half blade and half silk
difficult to forget and not easy
for the mind to follow

Honestly, I am a young woman, a college student, surrounded by women who dumb themselves down and go out of their way to impress boys-because they think that'll give them happiness, in the end, and it may, but it will be what they think happiness is rather than what it actually is. But I've never felt more alive than when I was happy with myself, even if it was a small thing. And this poetry encourages self love beyond anything. It normalizes it. You can't get anywhere in life if you're holding yourself back.

The doodles were so wonderful! Sincerely, they made me want to rip out the pages and put them up on my walls so I can look at them and remind myself of what is and what isn't and how I should grow, too.

What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton

What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton

 4.31  ·  Rating details ·  10281 Ratings  · 776  Reviews
What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton download or read it online for free here
What Happened
by Hillary Rodham Clinton
“In the past, for reasons I try to explain, I’ve often felt I had to be careful in public, like I was up on a wire without a net. Now I’m letting my guard down.” —Hillary Rodham Clinton, from the introduction of What Happened

For the first time, Hillary Rodham Clinton reveals what she was thinking and feeling during one of the most controversial and unpredictable presidential elections in history. Now free from the constraints of running, Hillary takes you inside the intense personal experience of becoming the first woman nominated for president by a major party in an election marked by rage, sexism, exhilarating highs and infuriating lows, stranger-than-fiction twists, Russian interference, and an opponent who broke all the rules. This is her most personal memoir yet.

In these pages, she describes what it was like to run against Donald Trump, the mistakes she made, how she has coped with a shocking and devastating loss, and how she found the strength to pick herself back up afterward. With humor and candor, she tells readers what it took to get back on her feet—the rituals, relationships, and reading that got her through, and what the experience has taught her about life. She speaks about the challenges of being a strong woman in the public eye, the criticism over her voice, age, and appearance, and the double standard confronting women in politics.

She lays out how the 2016 election was marked by an unprecedented assault on our democracy by a foreign adversary. By analyzing the evidence and connecting the dots, Hillary shows just how dangerous the forces are that shaped the outcome, and why Americans need to understand them to protect our values and our democracy in the future.

The election of 2016 was unprecedented and historic. What Happened is the story of that campaign and its aftermath—both a deeply intimate account and a cautionary tale for the nation.


  • Thank you Hillary Rodham Clinton, history will be kind to you and we the majority of knows the truth. Highly recommended, and I at 67 years young my grandchildren will know I voted for you, and believed in our values to keep our children world safe from dictatorships, and pollution of propaganda. Have my hard copy, and audio version. HRC your mother, father, daughter, brothers, husband, are so fortunate to be in her company. Your grandchildren, will do great things for others no doubt.

  • Candid, reflective, funny. I assume writing it wasn't easy, but oh boy, what an absolute joy to read! The chapter about Women in Politics should be read by every woman out there.

  • I have just finished reading. I purchased both Audiobook and hardcover. Audiobook is read entirely by Hillary and it was really great.

I attended many political events including Trump and Sanders during the 2016 presidential election, and I wrote many articles about it for several Japanese media including Newsweek Japan. What Hillary wrote in WHAT HAPPENED was exactly what I saw and reported. I thought many American media was very unfair to her (and also to Kasich, but in a different way) and wrote about it. However, I was attacked viciously by not only Trump supporters but also from left leaning activists. By reading Hillary's memoire, these bad memories came back in full force.

I know many people who says "I just don't like Hillary" for no particular reason. I hope they will read this memoir without any prejudice as I listened to many GOP candidates without prejudice. I found Kasich likable and capable even though I didn't agree with some of his positions. I would've been so depressed if Kasich was the President instead of Trump.

  • I've been really depressed since November and I have not watched TV since that fateful night. But, I can't just be that way. As Hillary says in the end of the book, There was only one answer: "Keep going."

I just started the Sisterhood Chapter. I am gripped and cannot put this book down. It's bold, it's raw, and it's riveting.

Guess what else? I'm not the only one who has a thing for Goldfish Crackers!

Don't be scared of the book. You won't be re-living the election. Rather, you will be finding out for the first time what HRC was really thinking at certain times during the campaign.

This book is EPIC and will go down in history as What Happened in 2016.

  • At first I felt all the negative reviews of this book was just right right-wing hate speech. I'm over half way through the book and it is almost laughable to the point that part of me thinks it's satire. 
Hillary Clinton is either a marketing genius who knows that people will buy this book just to get angry or (more likely) she is a completely oblivious person to reality and to how the average American perceives her. I don't like Bernie Sanders but after everything he had to endure with the DNC email scandal for Hillary to attack him and have the attuide that he should genuflect at the Clinton alter is just offensive. Her attacks on the press in this book are out of line as well. No rational person who followed this election can honestly say with a straight face that the mainstream media wasn't clearly pulling for her. Respect is earned not given, until Hillary Clinton learns that lesson she will never be a leader, at least not a effective one.

  • Try again.
I put a review on this site yesterday. It was a negative review, not nasty, but negative, and I bought the book from Amazon-----it was deleted.

This is a very poorly written book and nothing but a Trump bashing. She lost and needs to come to grips with that. Writing negative books and Amazon deleting negative reviews is not going to get her elected. The whole concept of democracy is evidently lost on Hillary and Amazon-I ran therefore I should win is not how it works. Simply because her last name is Clinton does not give her the right to be president. A lot of people have lost presidential races, you don't see anyone whining in books about it. In this book she has shown she is not mature enough to be president.

All the Single Ladies by Rebecca Traister

All the Single Ladies by Rebecca Traister

All the Single Ladies
by Rebecca Traister
A nuanced investigation into the sexual, economic, and emotional lives of women in America. In a provocative, groundbreaking work, National Magazine Award finalist Rebecca Traister, “the most brilliant voice on feminism in the country” (Anne Lamott), traces the history of unmarried and late-married women in America who, through social, political, and economic means, have radically shaped our nation.

In 2009, the award-winning journalist Rebecca Traister started All the Single Ladies—a book she thought would be a work of contemporary journalism—about the twenty-first century phenomenon of the American single woman. It was the year the proportion of American women who were married dropped below fifty percent; and the median age of first marriages, which had remained between twenty and twenty-two years old for nearly a century (1890–1980), had risen dramatically to twenty-seven.

But over the course of her vast research and more than a hundred interviews with academics and social scientists and prominent single women, Traister discovered a startling truth: the phenomenon of the single woman in America is not a new one. And historically, when women were given options beyond early heterosexual marriage, the results were massive social change—temperance, abolition, secondary education, and more.

Today, only twenty percent of Americans are wed by age twenty-nine, compared to nearly sixty percent in 1960. The Population Reference Bureau calls it a “dramatic reversal.” All the Single Ladies is a remarkable portrait of contemporary American life and how we got here, through the lens of the single American woman. Covering class, race, sexual orientation, and filled with vivid anecdotes from fascinating contemporary and historical figures, All the Single Ladies is destined to be a classic work of social history and journalism. Exhaustively researched, brilliantly balanced, and told with Traister’s signature wit and insight, this book should be shelved alongside Gail Collins’s When Everything Changed.


  • Before picking this book up, I read a lot of articles about it and interviews with the author. When perusing the comments sections of these articles, the criticisms that I've read of unmarried young women tend to fall into one of three camps: they are selfish leaches (the assumption here being that they're all single mothers on welfare); they're narcissistic and immature; or they’re man-hating feminists out to destroy the fabric of society.

These assumptions about single women are so frustrating and often off-the-mark, yet they remain deeply ingrained in many parts of our culture. But it cannot be denied that more women over the age of 18 are choosing to delay marriage or to forgo it entirely than ever before. Traister's goal here is to examine the reasons for this trend, as well as how the trend affects not just women – economically, socially, psychologically – but also men and society as a whole. It's fascinating, well-researched, and broad. It was so wonderfully validating to me, even (and maybe especially) as a 31 year-old woman who only recently got married. I seriously can't remember the last time that I marked up a book so much. It's the book I was looking for last year when I picked up Spinster.
This is a topic that I have lots of capital-F Feelings about. I’ve talked about this around here before, but the best advice I’ve ever received in my life was when my mother told me to wait until I was 30 to get married. She told me to live on my own first and make sure I did the things I wanted to do before settling down. I didn’t consciously decide to wait until I was 30, life just kind of worked out that way, but it was absolutely the right thing for me and I am so glad it worked out that way.

Until I was 25, I thought I was going to marry the guy I’d been dating since high school. We broke up for a lot of reasons, but one of the biggest was that I moved away for grad school and it gradually became obvious that it would not be easy to bring our visions for our lives together in a way that made sense. I was also realizing that I wasn’t experiencing life as fully as I wanted to because I was trying to make that relationship work. I’d never been in another relationship, I was just taking for granted that this one was the right one for me. It didn’t make sense to sacrifice so much for something I was just assuming was right.

By the time I did get married, I’d been around the block enough times to realize that could say with a great deal of certainty that, yes, my husband does actually have all the qualities that I want and need in a husband. I also believe that our relationship is significantly healthier because I took some time to focus on myself. I wasn’t always happy when I was single and I wasn’t always secure, but I learned how to embrace the things I liked about myself and make them shine, how to distinguish between balance and sacrifice, and how to function without feeling like I was dependent on someone else. Those are all things that make me a better person and a better wife, but I never would have learned them if I had stayed in that one relationship.

So I could probably write a review as long as this book itself sharing my many (many, many, many) thoughts on the topic of marriage in America, but to keep this from spiraling out of control, let me just say that the thing that frustrates me the most about those comment section criticisms is that they almost always throw the burden onto the women’s shoulders. Women are narcissistic or selfish if they don’t want to get married, but you rarely hear the same said of men. They just haven’t found a good woman yet. Single mothers are labelled morally deficient sluts setting bad examples for their children, but that ignores the roles that the absent fathers play in the women’s single status—it’s not always the woman’s decision to be a single mother, for any number of reasons, and, when it is her decision, it might be the better alternative to staying with an abusive or unreliable guy (and if you’re going to argue that they shouldn’t have gotten pregnant by an abusive or unreliable guy in the first place, let’s have a conversation about access to birth control). Finally, and perhaps most frustrating: women are the ones accused of destroying society when they’re not married. Not only does this imply that women are supposed to be the moral shepherds for men, it suggests that marriage is the only way to be moral or the only way to contribute to society.
There’s a quote in this book from Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign, in which he expressed his concern for women who were putting off marriage and motherhood until their late thirties or forties, saying that they were going to “miss so much of life.” Which made me want to find a time machine just to punch that man in the face. Why is it so hard to wrap the conservative Christian brain around the idea that A) there’s more to life for some women than just marriage and motherhood, B) waiting to pursue those things means that you get the chance to experience the other stuff first, and C) experiencing those other things might actually make you a better partner and a better parent in the end? I'm sorry, Mitt, but if I'd gotten married to that guy I would have ultimately spent the rest of my life in the same small town and never experienced a zillion different things that I got to do instead. I wouldn't have traveled, found a career path outside of random office drone, or met people who are different from the same white, small-town Protestants that populated my high school. I probably wouldn't have learned how to better manage my budget or fix a broken showerhead or take care of myself when I am sick.

Personal growth isn't selfish. Learning to take care of yourself on your own isn't selfish. It's healthy and it's important and it's wonderful. And it's all stuff that I learned to do because I was single. I genuinely don't think I'd have gotten there if I was still focusing on that relationship.

There’s another side to the conversation here, which Traister does address to some extent: marriage among lower income women is declining, and it’s doing so for different reasons than among middle- or upper-class women. Ironically, it’s low-income women who would perhaps benefit the most, economically speaking, from a marriage that provides two incomes. I do think that this book might have benefited from even more examination of that subject and how the concept of marriage can be adjusted to make it a little more favorable towards women in poverty. Traister also spends some time looking at trends among women of color but in general, I do feel like she puts most of her emphasis on middle-class white women. (She seems to assume that many of single millennials felt primarily inspired by Sex and the City, an assumption that bothers me a bit as I was never a fan of the series. I almost wish she’d looked a little more at the representations of marriage-vs-singledom and feminism in other media outlets, too)

This book isn’t necessarily a judgement on the institution of marriage. Traister isn’t arguing in favor of not getting married—she’s actually married, though she did so later in life. She’s filled her book with anecdotes from women from many walks of life who have different approaches to marriage and how it may or may not fit into their lives. This may not provide a lot of new material for women who’ve read up on the many trend pieces and articles written on this topic over the last decade, but this is among the first books to cohesively and comprehensively tie all those trend pieces together in one place. Reading it was a great experience.

  • 4 high stars. I started listening to non fiction audiobooks about two years ago, and I continue to be blown away by the high quality of so many books. All the Single Ladies falls into that camp. A mixture of history, sociology, interviews and autobiography, All the Single Ladies makes an argument for the positive aspects of women postponing marriage or not marrying at all. In the end, Traister argues that there should not be one model for women to follow in their life trajectory. And there should be more support for those who don't follow conventional paths. While this may seem like a truism, what makes All the Single Ladies interesting are all the disparate strands of information and insight that Traister pulls together.

Oddly, while I don't fit her topic particularly well, the message really spoke to me. My husband and I married relatively young and before we had any idea what our work lives held in store. But I could still relate to what Traister had to say because what I did feel was compelled to avoid some of society's expectations about how our relationship and family life were meant to work. This has worked for us, but I recognize that I'm lucky. I've seen many female friends and colleagues over the years who have borne the brunt of achieving "work-life" balance while their male partners advanced unimpeded in their careers and unfrazzled in their home life.

This is a pretty big digression. But I think it would be hard for most women to read All the Single Ladies without reflecting on their own lives, and the lives of their friends, mothers, sisters and daughters. A powerful and interesting read. Thank you to Goodreads friend Julie for recommending this one when I asked her for suggestions for contemporary feminist writings. Highly recommend for anyone on a similar quest.

  • This is my favorite nonfiction book I read in 2016. It's just fantastic. It has tremendous breadth and depth of historical and social research, and I also liked how Rebecca Traister included examples from both pop culture and the personal experiences of her and her friends.

I listened to this on audio, but I loved this book so much I want to get my own copy and mark my favorite quotes. Highly recommended to anyone interested in the history of the women's movement, or those wanting to read more about modern social changes.

Favorite Quote
"The vast increase in the number of single women is to be celebrated not because singleness is in and of itself a better or more desirable state than coupledom. The revolution is in the expansion of options, the lifting of the imperative that for centuries hustled nearly all (non-enslaved) women, regardless of their individual desires, ambitions, circumstances, or the quality of available matches, down a single highway toward heterosexual marriage and motherhood. There are now an infinite number of alternative routes open; they wind around combinations of love, sex, partnership, parenthood, work, and friendship, at different speeds. Single female life is not prescription, but its opposite: liberation."

  • I have so many splendid female friends, and quite a few of them have felt incomplete without a boyfriend. Despite their immense amounts of compassion, intelligence, and ambition, society floods them with the message that they are incomplete without a male romantic partner in their lives. Thus, I loved Rebecca Traister's All the Single Ladies because she drives home the point that many women live without male partners and achieve long-lasting success and happiness. 
Using a compelling mixture of statistics, interviews, and critical analysis, she shows how single women have changed the United States for the better by pioneering social change in the realms of reproductive justice, workplace gender equality, and much more. With a warm and intelligent writing style, she conveys that women are so much more than their relationships with men, and that by staying single or marrying later, they can help create a more just world as well as higher-quality relationships with their friends, family members, romantic partners, communities, and themselves. One of the many quotes I enjoyed that articulates how society often conceptualizes single women:

"When people call single women selfish for the act of tending to themselves, it's important to remember that the very acknowledgement that women have selves that exist independently of others, and especially independent of husbands and children, is revolutionary. A true age of female selfishness, in which women recognized and prioritized their own drives to the same degree to which they have always been trained to tend to the needs of all others might, in fact, be an enlightened corrective to centuries of self-sacrifice."

I appreciate that Traister wrote this book, as single women endure so much stigma in society because we assume that they want a male partner or we think less of them when they do not have a man. Traister raises several incisive points to combat these ignorant and outdated notions, such as how many people in romantic relationships and marriages actually feel unhappy, but we assume the opposite because of how society glorifies romance. Furthermore, the increasing amount of single women reflects their rising economic and political power, as they can create fulfilling lives for themselves instead of depending on men as the patriarchy once forced them to. Traister also does a solid job of framing her commentary in an intersectional way, by highlighting how black women and poor women suffer even more from institutions that only value women who have male partners. One quote that captures how white people benefit from the exploitation of women of color:

"The nation's history has included many iterations of the privileged white co-option of black, and often poor, habits and behaviors, which, when performed by white populations, have drawn different kinds of attention. When white flappers danced to black jazz beats, they were culture-shifting rebels; when, in the mid-sixties, white women busted out of their domestic sarcophagi and marched back into workforces in which poor and black women had never stopped toiling, when Betty Friedan echoed Sadie Alexander by suggesting that work would be beneficial for both women and their families, that was when the revolution of Second Wave feminism was upon us. It has long been the replicative behaviors or perspectives of white women - and not the original shifts pioneered by poor women and women of color - that make people sit up and take notice and that sometimes become discernible as liberation."

Overall, a fantastic book and the best work of nonfiction I have read in 2017 so far. I would love to read a follow-up book about how men's emotional constipation contributes to the rise of single women and how men can learn to get in touch with their emotions, so that they can provide nurturing and caring, essential components of any relationship. Perhaps I will write this book myself, as Trainer and other amazing female authors have women covered. I would recommend All the Single Ladies to those who want to learn about the joys and revolutions experienced and created by unmarried women, an important demographic in contemporary society.

The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now...Read More

Book Review

I’ve been moved by books in the past, many times, but I’ve never before read a book that has emotionally drained me to such a degree. This is frightening and powerful. And sometimes it only takes a single paragraph to make you realise how much so:

“Yes, Ma’am, I said again, forgetting. They used to have dolls, for little girls, that would talk if you pulled a string at the back; I thought I was sounding like that, voice of a monotone, voice of a doll. She probably longed to slap my face. They can hit us, there’s Scriptural precedent. But not with any implement. Only with their hands.”

Needless to say, this is an absolutely awful situation. From the very beginning, I knew how much I was going to like this book. Its story isn’t one that it is simply read: it demands to be heard. It beckoned me to see the full force of the situation. The Handmaids, the average woman, have no free will or individualism; they are treated as simple baby producing machines. An oppressive regime is forced upon them, and to deviate from the said standard results in a slow and agonising death. There’s no hope or joy for them, only perpetual subjugation.

Indeed, this is where Atwood’s awe inspiringly persuasive powers reside. By portraying such a bleak situation, she is able to fully demonstrate what life could be like if we suddenly followed the misogynistic views of the old testament with fierce intensity. Women would have no power whatsoever. This would be reinforced by a complete cultural destruction and lack of any form of self-expression. They would not be able to read or write; they would not be able to speak their minds. It would even go as far as to condition them so powerfully, that they completely lack the ability of independent thought. And, to make it even worse, the women know no difference. Sure, the narrator of this remembers her past, but she’s not allowed to. She is forced to repress any sense of individual sentiment.

“But who can remember pain, once it’s over? All that remains of it is a shadow, not in the mind even, in the flesh. Pain marks you, but too deep to see. Out of sight, out of mind.”