books and reading · pop culture

What I’m Reading and Thinking About This Week

Here are the things I’ve been reading and thinking about this week.  The topics range from the silly to the serious.

On Reading Your Book Club Book When You’re Not Interested in Your Book Club Book (Book Riot)

I think there are some universal experiences of being in a book club, and this piece from Book Riot hits on many of those things.  There are many reasons people join a book club.  For me, it was to read more broadly outside of my preferred genres and drink wine with other ladies.  But that doesn’t mean that everyone in our book club shares those same values.  This piece hits that:

But what happens when you have people in a book club for different reasons? This, in my opinion, is where the real strife of book clubs is. Not when some love the book and others hate it, but when some read the books religiously and others never finish a book, or even worse: when someone flat out decrees that they aren’t going to read a book club pick because it doesn’t interest them.

Like the author of this piece, I agree that the whole point of a book club is to read the book and discuss it.  You don’t have to love the book, and the discussion doesn’t have to take up the entirety of book club, but the implication of attending book club is that you have at least familiarized yourself with the book and are prepared to discuss it.  You are going to read things you don’t like.  That’s part of life.  And book clubs:

I’m not trying to say you should kick members out of your book club if they neglect to finish a book or two (or that you are a bad book club member if you’re that person—we’ve all been there). Just that being in a book club does come with responsibilities to your fellow members, and even if you aren’t interested in a book, QUIT YOUR WHINING AND AT LEAST TRY IT, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.

Words to live by.

On Ferguson and the Privilege of Looking Away (Amy Dieg)

I certainly hope that you all are following the news of what’s happening in Ferguson, Missouri.  I realize that not everyone is following it with the obsessiveness that I am, but I came across this piece and found it well-written, thoughtful, and resonant.  In it, Dieg talks about her reaction to the news out of Ferguson and her decision to look away when she felt uncomfortable from following the news too closely:

What I suddenly understand, much later than I am proud of, is that looking away is a privilege, one that many of us participate in with overwhelming regularity without even realizing it. I see the proof clearly on my Facebook. My feed has been almost devoid of news or discussion of Ferguson, despite the vast majority of my Facebook friends being people from and in Missouri.

I’ve talked about this in real life, but I also noticed the dearth of information about it on my Facebook.  This is sharply different from my Twitter feed, and it is interesting to think about what that means.  But also to realize that there is a privilege in being able to disengage, and what that means for me.

A Critical Review of Taylor Swift’s New Video for ‘Shake it Off’ (Pajiba)

There’s a lot of buzz surrounding Taylor Swift’s new video for the catchy (totally frothy) single “Shake it Off,” and some of it is negative, which I’m sure Swift was expecting (and probably hoping for, in all honesty).  The big question seems to be: is the video racist?

Let me answer that for you: yes.

This article quotes heavily from Angelina Burnett, who posted this about the new video:

Try to imagine the surface evidence of your cultural identity – your clothes, your physical vernacular, your slang, your music – all things that are in no way indicative of what’s in your heart, despite having been used by those in power frequently and repeatedly, for centuries, to justify your harassment and murder…

Imagine those things being co-opted by a rich, powerful, pop princess on a day when the national guard has been called in to your small, working class suburb to restrict your right to protest that centuries old injustice. Try, just for a second, to imagine how that might make you feel — the double standard shoved so baldly and brazenly in your face. The very same things that get you called a thug or a ho, gets her called “adorable” and “staying true to herself”. Then times that feeling by infinity because it NEVER STOPS.

Cultural gatekeepers make billions of dollars co-opting black culture and then use that same culture against black men and women to prove they’re thugs who deserve to die.

Do I still enjoy Swift’s music?  Yes, but I also recognize things about her I find fundamentally fucked up.  This is one in a log list of problems.

What got you reading and thinking this week?

2 thoughts on “What I’m Reading and Thinking About This Week

  1. Part of the reason for joining a book club is to attempt to push you out of your comfort zone and possibly find a new book you like or a new author, genre or subgenre to explore. I have been part of book clubs where people refused to be pushed outside of their comfort zone and wouldn’t read the book that was being discussed. Or an equal frustration can be when people haven’t finished the book and then ask you not to tell them how it ends because they don’t want to be SPOILED. It’s enough to make you want to pound your head on a table sometimes.

    1. I totally agree. But I guess some people don’t think about that when they join? Or they aren’t really readers to begin with, which begs the question of why they’d want to join a club specifically devoted to that.

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