What To Read on the Subway This Week: 10/17
In the words of my cousin, who inspired a couple of my picks this week, it's a cool week for pieces about women. Check out these inspiring girl-power pieces on your way to work this week, and mix things up with some small-town storytelling, too.
On your kindle
After reading Blueprints for Building Better Girls, my mom and I, over cups of cocoa and coffee, discussed how much we had liked it. My mother loves stories that are unexpectedly interwoven, where characters silently overlap and the author makes readers pay attention, looking for clues and connections and searching for further opportunities to understand the different characters. And that inspired my pick for this week (another book my mom and I read together): Elizabeth’s Strout’s Pulitzer-prize winning Olive Kitteridge.
In this collection of tales, set in a sleepy town on the coast of Maine, Strout expertly connects the town’s inhabitants, focusing time and again on one pivotal character: the town’s flawed, sometimes curmudgeonly, but ultimately good-hearted math teacher, Olive Kitteredge. We struggle with Olive as she watches her town, her neighbors, and her family grow and change. Strout’s depiction of small-town New England life and her mastery of voice (evidenced particularly in her title character) will make these pages race by.
On your smartphone
In just under 12,000 words, Bolick addresses the condition of the modern American single woman, raising issues ranging from ticking biological clocks to the disproportionate number of working women holding executive positions to the idea of single-sex housing for adults. I spent last week reading this Atlantic article at lunch and between worktime tasks, captivated by the friendly, personal tone of Bolick’s exquisitely-researched piece. This is a must-read for all the ladies—single or otherwise.
On a podcast
This video, first brought to my attention by my cousin last week, has been steadily gaining popularity since its Facebook debut on September 21. The video opens with a list of media-centered statistics, which delineate just how much time American youths spend watching TV, using the Internet, and reading magazines. Cut to a provocative scene from Gossip Girl, followed by a montage of young women in highly-sexualized positions.
Take eight minutes to listen to experts and everyday people weigh in on the pressures and expectations the media has placed on our young women—and learn what other women can do to help change the harmful imagery and messages.
In keeping with this week’s girl-power theme, I turn to the famous essay of a classic feminist: Virginia Woolf. As an English major, admitting that I do not care for Woolf’s fiction is tantamount to blasphemy—nearly half my college courses featured To The Lighthouse on their syllabi—but I happen to love her critical writing.
If you, like I, have not picked up A Room of One’s Own since high school, invest the time on your commute this week: the extended essay, based on a series of lectures Woolf gave regarding women’s education, women’s writing, and other female-centered topics, is still fascinating—and even applicable—today.
Photo courtesy of Francisco Osorio.
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