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Feminism is Queer by Mimi Marinucci // Post 01

I spotted this book in a Tumblr post about some assorted queer / LGBTQ+ books, that had a photoset of different covers. The cover on this book does rather stand out – the title is written on “buttons” in the art.

And the title sounded (sounds) interesting/promising. So when, not even a few minutes ago, I spotted this book on the shelf at my university’s library, I had to pick it up. I’m going to take it home and read – but I think I’ll also annotate while writing (yay stickynotes!) and post at the end of each chapter/section on here. I sort of didn’t stick with my book review posts long, after all!

I’ve actually already read through the preface once, so there will be (hopefully) a second post once I’ve been home. But at the moment I have a few thoughts/reservations I’d like to share.

For one, it should be noted that I’m not a queer studies/gender studies student. Though I have often cast an interested glance at such courses, I have never actually taken one. I have quite literally learned all my feminism from the internet, from reading non-academic resources. I prefer my feminism as intersectional as possible, and ivory tower theory – while I certainly think it has its place (I am a history major, after all) – doesn’t really interest me. It isn’t accessible enough, for my liking, nor is it as responsive.

And my “queer theory”. I don’t do queer studies. I just don’t. I identify as queer, however, and have been navigating what that means, or can mean, for a few years now. Queer, for me, is something far more intimate and personal than just theory – and as with feminism, any exposure I’ve had to “theory” or “definition” comes from online or meatspace community. Personally, I am very leery OF Ivory Tower usage of “queer” as in queer theory. Queer, to me, begs an identification or solidarity with the under- or non-privileged and (White, anglophone) academia is sort of ridiculously privileged. They ARE the elite. And my experience with the elite, when it combines with sexual/gender identiy, is that it becomes White Cis Gay Men. (Or, at its worst, White Cis Straight Men talking about queer folk from an outside, through-the-microscope explain-those-weirdos perspective. Hopefully we have left that behind, though.)

Mimi isn’t that, which is good, in my books. Nothing against WCGM, of course – I’m sure they’re quite as capable of ‘objectivity’ such as may be reached as anyone else. But something about me feels very uncomfortable with the whole idea of ‘queer studies’ and I can’t really explain why. It’s a confusing mess, and I’m trying to sort out my feelings on it.

Such as why I’m currently hung up on figuring out if Marinucci herself identifies as queer. And if she is heterosexual or not. This seems really important, and I can’t figure out why – or, rather, the ramifications of the reasons why I feel that way. (See: wannabe historian.)

I was glad to see, though, towards the end of the preface, her acknowledgement of some degree of intersectionality and of privilege. That makes me a lot more comfortable, and hopeful, to read this book.

Week 8, Book 6: Age of Fire Book One: DRAGON CHAMPION by E. E. Knight

Age of Fire Book One: Dragon Champion by E. E. Knight
Goodreads Rating: 5/5 – “it was amazing”

Where I Got This Book: I bought this book at the local Chapters-Indigo store up in the mall. I had a couple of gift cards for the chain (which is headed by Indigo but out here we only get Chapters stores and the smaller Coles stores), so I went on a book buying spree a few weeks ago, to load up on books for coming weeks. It was hard to finally limit myself down to what I could buy with the gift cards! But one of the books that made the cut was this one, by E. E. Knight with some gorgeous covert art of a dragon (I suggest following the link above to see it).

The Book and Me: Aaah, dragons! I have a more than minor obsession with them. I adore any incarnation, from classic maiden-eating knight-fighting unintelligent (or at least, not sentient) beasts to the talking, immortal magical beings of High Fantasy. But there is always a special place in my heart for versions of dragons that are different from the normal tropes. And the promise of not just intelligent, sentient being-dragons in this series, but the fact that it is from their own point of view had me hooked the moment I read the back-cover blurb. I have never, as far as I know, read anything by E. E. Knight before though I know I have heard the name somewhere.

My Rating: My first 5 out of 5 on Goodreads for the year! I would have loved it anyway, being dragons and all, but like all the best books it was addictive and nigh impossible to put down. The writing is excellent, the characters are well-written and interesting, and I was completely absorbed by the depths of the Drakine culture, indeed, the presence of background to all the various cultures the reader comes across. And it proved to be a version of dragons as novel as I was expecting – in other words, a very refreshing take on old tropes with wonderful new aspects thrown in, such as the importance of song to dragons.

Why You Should Read It: Because dragons! No, seriously, if you’re a dragon aficionado like me, this is a series you must read. I certainly plan on buying the rest of the books in the series, in lovely paperback matching this one so they can sit on my shelf in place of honour with my beloved Naomi Novik and Tolkien and Tamora Pierce, their spines creased with love and appreciation. But it is not a gimmicky book, it is solidly plotted, fascinating, engaging, and features interesting, likable characters set in a well-developed fantasy world.

Potential Spoilers Beneath Cut
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Week 7, Book 5: The Hero and The Crown

The Hero and The Crown by Robin McKinley
Goodreads Rating: 4/5 – “really liked it”

Where I Got This Book: If you remember last week’s post, I got this book the same place as I purchased the first book in the Damar series: the used bookstore in my hometown. It’s in a bit better condition than TBS, though – no tape on the spine! I am such a sucker for the very 80’s paperback book cover art. Raised gold lettering and all.

The Book and Me: So, remember how I kept saying “never read this one before, really looking forward to it!”? Well, I was wrong! I had read this before. When or where, I have no clue, but I definitely have. It was less familiar and less well-remembered in my mind though, and I’m assuming it was around the same time as reading TBS.

My Rating: Again, a 4 out of 5 on Goodreads. I almost put it as a 5/5, because I really, really love this book. But not quite! It is engrossing and fascinating and thoroughly delightful. TBS was still fresh, of course, which made it doubly interesting to spot bits that are of importance in that book… and at moments the knowledge I had from TBS made it so that I could predict something coming up (such as meeting Luthe), which was particularly interesting! It wasn’t spoiler-y, really, but with this book as a prequel, not a first book, it is quite elegantly done, I think.

Potential Spoilers Beneath Cut
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Week 6, Book 4: The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley

The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
Goodreads Rating: 4/5 – “really liked it”

Where I Got This Book: I picked up The Blue Sword at the used bookstore back in my hometown when I was there over winter holidays. I hadn’t gone looking for it, but was just browsing the shop for anything that looked interesting – and I spotted this. A delightfully well-used paperback copy of TBS with some gorgeous cover art in classic fantasy paperback style. The front cover is held on, low down on the spine, by strategically layered Scotch tape, the edges of the pages have gone slightly yellow and creases mar the spine and covers, white showing through where the colour has peeled off. I’m something of a sucker for used books… particularly the scent of them. And this copy of TBS is a prime example of that. I love taking in used books and giving them, at least for a time, a new home.

The Book and Me: I’ve actually read TBS once before, many years ago. Enough years ago that it meets my rules for “must not have read in past 5 years”. I remember loving it, but not a lot more. I did remember the title, however, for a very long time, which is unusual. I’m usually quite crap at remembering titles of books I own, let alone ones I just borrow from libraries (which is how I read this, the first time). As you may notice, its taken me longer than usual to get around to finishing this book. I suspect part of that is because it is, for all that more than 5 years are past, a reread and so there is less urgency in me to finish it. But mostly I’ve been delayed by busyness in school and life.

My Rating: I have yet to rate a book 5/5 on Goodreads this year, if I recall correctly. TBS comes quite close to deserving the “it was amazing”. Really, if I could give half-points this would be a 4.5, because I more than “really liked it” – I love this book. Loved it the first time and still in love with it now. It is a sheer delight to read and not at all for nostalgic reasons – although I do suspect this is one of those books which has had significant influence on me in my tastes, beliefs, and writing.

Potential Spoilers Beneath Cut
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Week 3, Book 3: Gather Together In My Name

Gather Together In My Name by Maya Angelou
4 stars out of 5 on Goodreads

Posting a day late, but I had very lazy Saturday followed by a night out!

Unlike the previous two books I have read this year, this one is not a work of fiction. It’s the second book in Maya Angelou’s autobiographical series. The first book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is probably much more well-known. I read Caged Bird in high school, so the memory of that book is a few years distant now. (It still seems so odd to think of high school as something that happened two+ years ago. Hell, I turn twenty this year which is just baffling! But I digress.)

Over the winter holidays I was back in my hometown staying with my parents for a few weeks and just before I left in early January I decided to pay the local used bookstore a visit. My original purpose was to find a used copy of The Silmarillion, but as I mention in last week’s post I was unsuccessful in that. I did manage to acquire, however, Robin McKinley’s The Blue Sword and The Hero and The Crown, along with this book, Gather.

Now, I’ll freely admit it: until I had to read Caged Bird in high school, I had never heard of Maya Angelou before in my life. Even now, I really don’t know all that much about her – although I did finally take the initiative to go read her Wikipedia page. Her fame and importance seems to stem from her series of autobiographical books, with Angelou being one of the first African-American women to tell her story in such a way. She also has had what seems to be a certain prominence and importance in the civil rights movement and so forth.

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Week 1, Book 1: Leviathans of Jupiter

Leviathans of Jupiter by Ben Bova

I picked this book up at Coles bookstore in my hometown, the second day of this year, simply because I’d entered a bookstore with money in my pocket and thought I’d get something new to read. I have something of a weakness – though it isn’t often indulged – for science fiction of this sort. ‘This sort’ being, of course, sci-fi that uses the premise that Earth is not the only place of intelligent life on the solar system. I find it particularly enjoyable when it features what we know as gas giant planets. As soon as I spotted the title of this book, I thought of Missing Men of Saturn – an old book which I read some years ago and enjoyed greatly, despite its science being rather out of date nowadays.

So I picked this book up with the expectation of indulging in some fun, adventurous sci-fi of a rather classic twist, and the blurb did nothing to disabuse me of this notion. The fact that Leviathans was written in 2011 by a notable sci-fi writer just made me more eager, as I hoped for a more modern – and thus more aware of the problematic writing that has afflicted science fiction through the years – perspective. It is still, I believe, the only book by Ben Bova I have read, and it wasn’t until just now that I was aware that Leviathans was a sequel to Jupiter, a previously published book featuring some characters that also appear in this one.

SPOILER WARNING: Character spoilers and hints of plot spoilers

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