It’s been so long since my last post that I feel like I need to reintroduce myself. Hi, I’m Rohini, a burnt-out student who, after a year and a half of online school, was kind of tired of sitting and writing at a computer. My last post came out in March, and then I told myself once finals and exams were over, I’d spend the summer rediscovering my love for blogging and writing. What ended up happening is that once summer started, I found myself finally relaxing a bit and engaging in a lot of doing nothing. However, I’m ready to get back to blogging (which I love), and what better way to re-enter the blogging world than with a book recommendations post? When I said I’ve been spending the summer doing nothing, what actually I meant is that I’ve been reading. A lot. I can definitively say that this summer, I have spent more time reading than on my phone. In this post, I’m sharing some of the books that I feel helped me develop my unique perspective. These books taught me new things, actively employed my critical thinking skills, and are just great books in general. I have a mix of nonfiction, essay collections, classic literature, etc. Please feel free to leave any book recommendations you may have in the comments!
Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay. Bad Feminist is one of the legendary Roxanne Gay’s most well-known and appreciated essay collections. The essays in this collection are funny, insightful, emotional, provocative, and beautiful. If you have been debating reading this collection, this is your sign to read it. I always felt like I would eventually pick up this book and read it, but never felt the urge to do it. My aunt got it for me as a gift, so I knew I HAD to read (she was the one that introduced me to Betty Friedan, initiating my feminist awakening). The only thing is that this book covers some very emotional topics that are difficult for some to read, so I think it would be worth it to look up the trigger warnings. However, one of the essays is actually about Gay’s own views on how trigger warnings may not always be the most constructive tool.
Thick: And Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom. Although some essays in this collection are much better than others, this is another essay collection that has permanently reconfigured the way I think about feminism and America. This black feminism collection covers topics from education and tenure to consumerism’ construct of body positivity. If there is one essay you are going to read from this collection, it must be “In the Name of Beauty”. Intersectional Feminism demands that feminists be well informed of the experiences of all women (not just white, western women). This book will challenge your understanding of feminism and America, and help you develop a more informed and well-rounded perspective.
A World in Disarray by Richard Haass. This is a great book if you want to learn more about American foreign policy and foreign relations, but don’t know where to start. Haass first details American foreign policy in the past, from the world wars to the cold war, and the concept of World Order. He then gives a rundown of the state of the world at the moment (spoiler alert, not so great) and where he thinks American foreign policy is heading and should go. I think this is a great book for broadening your worldview because Haass very clearly outlines when he is discussing fact vs. opinion and I think his value as an author is heightened by his ability to admit when he has been wrong and when someone with a different political affiliation disagrees. This was a particularly interesting read for me, not only because of how much I learned but because Haas and I have different political affiliations. Upon learning this (halfway through reading the book) and the fact that we disagree on numerous political issues, I had to check myself to make sure that I was evaluating this book, and his vision for American foreign policy, not on a partisan basis, but on what I genuinely believe in and on his actual proposals. I found that although I disagree with a lot of his views on public policy, I found his foreign policy evaluations fascinating and believed in a lot of them. This little story just goes to explain why I included the book on my list as one that helped me grow and develop.
The Theory of the Leisure Class by Thorstein Veblen. Before I praise this book, let me preface the fact that while reading, you will fluctuate between being in awe of Veblen’s mind and wanting to throw a dictionary at him. This is a social critique of the “Leisure Class” as well as an economic treatise. It is a quintessential social economics book, in my opinion, and as proof, let me say that multiple books I’ve read this summer have made illusions to Veblen’s theory or draw inspiration from it. The general idea explored is how man’s pursuit and possession of wealth affects social behavior and society. From ideas like Conspicuous Consumption (see Great Gatsby) to Pecuniary Emulation, this book will make you reconsider seemingly ordinary aspects of life and show it to you in a new light. It’s a difficult read, and Veblen definetley likes the word “invidious”, but I think the takeaways and knowledge gained are worth it.
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë. I had this book on my shelf for a good year before I decided to read it. I was intimidated by the size and although I found the plot interesting, was worried that the language would be tedious. However, this is now my new favorite Brontë novel. It is believed to be one of the first feminist novels. It is about a mysterious widow who moves into Wildfell Hall and is the subject of the town gossip due to her being a single mother living alone, supporting herself. As a man in the village falls in love with her, she shares her journal with him detailing her past. (that’s all I’m going to say about the plot because I don’t want to spoil anything) This novel discusses topics such as gender roles, alcoholism, marriage, the contaminants of society, etc.
Please let me know if you enjoy this type of post (in addition to my more informative articles) and please feel free to share any additional book recommendations. You can also click here to see some of my other book related posts!
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