✿Ring Around the Prose✿



Review: Feminist Fight Club by Jessica Bennett

The book in two sentences:  An “official survival manual for a sexist workplace”, this guide aims to help young professionals check both obvious and not-so-obvious sexist behavior at work. It proposes strategies for managing interpersonal relationships to promote equality and create a space that is welcoming for everyone.

Rating: 🏡  Left behind

Long story short: “If your feminism isn’t intersectional, who is it even for?” Jessica Bennett should have repeated this to herself like a mantra and maybe we would have a book that was anti-racist, trans-inclusive, fighting ableism and against classism. Alas, this book is none of those things. While it includes some useful actions, overall it is a poor excuse for feminism.

Continue reading “Review: Feminist Fight Club by Jessica Bennett”


Civil disobedience, art, and exile

I had to run a bunch of errands on Monday, which meant having to hunt down an elusive parking spot in the city. Luckily for me, I found a place that validated parking. All I had to do was…buy some books! What a wonderful win-win!

I only noticed after I got to the checkout counter that all my picks were non-fiction/memoirs. Maybe my mind is trying to tell me something…

  1. You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson

    A hilarious and affecting essay collection about race, gender, and pop culture from celebrated stand-up comedian and WNYC podcaster Phoebe Robinson…As personal as it is political, You Can’t Touch My Hair examines our cultural climate and skewers our biases with humor and heart, announcing Robinson as a writer on the rise.*

  2. Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein

    Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl is the deeply personal and revealing narrative of Brownstein’s life in music, from ardent fan to pioneering female guitarist to comedic performer and luminary in the independent rock world. This book intimately captures what it feels like to be a young woman in a rock-and-roll band, from her days at the dawn of the underground feminist punk-rock movement that would define music and pop culture in the 1990s through today.*

  3. The Accidental Asian by Eric Liu


    Beyond black and white, native and alien, lies a vast and fertile field of human experience. It is here that Eric Liu, former speechwriter for President Clinton and noted political commentator, invites us to explore. In these compellingly candid essays, Liu reflects on his life as a second-generation Chinese American and reveals the shifting frames of ethnic identity. Finding himself unable to read a Chinese memorial book about his father’s life, he looks critically at the cost of his own assimilation. But he casts an equally questioning eye on the effort to sustain vast racial categories like “Asian American.” And as he surveys the rising anxiety about China’s influence, Liu illuminates the space that Asians have always occupied in the American imagination. Reminiscent of the work of James Baldwin and its unwavering honesty, The Accidental Asian introduces a powerful and elegant voice into the discussion of what it means to be an American.

  4. Original Zinn: Conversations on History and Politics by Howard Zinn

    Touching on such diverse topics as the American war machine, civil disobedience, the importance of memory and remembering history, and the role of artists—from Langston Hughes to Dalton Trumbo to Bob Dylan—in relation to social change, Original Zinn is Zinn at his irrepressible best, the acute perception of a scholar whose impressive knowledge and probing intellect make history immediate and relevant for us all.*

  5. Create Dangerously by Edwidge Danticat

    In this deeply personal book, the celebrated Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat reflects on art and exile, examining what it means to be an immigrant artist from a country in crisis…Combining memoir and essay, Danticat tells the stories of artists, including herself, who create despite, or because of, the horrors that drove them from their homelands and that continue to haunt them. [She] also suggests that the aftermaths of natural disasters in Haiti and the United States reveal that the countries are not as different as many Americans might like to believe.*

I’m making my way through a couple of reading challenge books at the moment, but I’m hoping to sneak one of these in soon! Have you read any of them? What did you think?

*Descriptions taken from Goodreads

Review: A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas

Brief synopsis (Goodreads)With her inquisitive mind, Charlotte Holmes has never felt comfortable with the demureness expected of the fairer sex in upper class society.  But even she never thought that she would become a social pariah, an outcast fending for herself on the mean streets of London.

When the city is struck by a trio of unexpected deaths and suspicion falls on her sister and her father, Charlotte is desperate to find the true culprits and clear the family name. She’ll have help from friends new and old—a kind-hearted widow, a police inspector, and a man who has long loved her. But in the end, it will be up to Charlotte, under the assumed name Sherlock Holmes, to challenge society’s expectations and match wits against an unseen mastermind.

Rating🏡  Left behind

Long story short (no spoilers): When I thought of a gender-bend Sherlock Holmes story, I assumed that the only thing that would change would be his gender, and that at her core, this reimagined character would still be Sherlock in her mannerisms and eccentricities. Sadly, A Study in Scarlet Women is not that kind of story, and that was disappointing.

Instead Sherlock—or rather Charlotte—is intelligent and extremely observant, yet lacks the traditional characteristics that make Sherlock Sherlock. She demonstrates empathy and a mastery of social skills, she isn’t narcissistic, she isn’t really stubborn, she doesn’t disregard authority, and she more or less conforms to social norms.

I understand that the author wanted to highlight the difficulties of a woman doing what Sherlock did in his time, however the tradeoff was that Charlotte became less like Sherlock. The book would have made more sense had Charlotte been a new character altogether—a woman detective working under an assumed name—instead of a watered-down version of Sherlock Holmes.

In addition, there are several instances where Charlotte makes decisions that don’t make sense given how smart she is. Some show a lack of common sense, which fits with the traditional Sherlock character, but others seem like their only purpose is to move the (slow) plot along.

Ultimately I won’t be reading the rest of the series, though I’m determined to find a good Sherlock gender-bend story. The next one on my list is A Study in Charlotte (man, everybody loves that name…), which is the first book in a trilogy.

Have any of you read either of those? Or have suggestions for other Sherlock spin-offs? Let me know! You can also keep reading for a spoiler review of A Study in Scarlet Women. Continue reading “Review: A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas”

June and July Book Haul!

It’s been a while, but in honor of National Book Lovers Day, I thought I’d share my June and July book haul!

June was especially fun because I got a chance to spend a couple of hours at the Bay Area Book Festival in Berkeley (one of the perks of living in such a fun city!). There were so many tables hosted by small businesses and local publishers, and I was happy for an opportunity to support Asian and Asian-American authors.

They had a printing press so I made a small notebook!

July was a little slower because I was traveling. However, to prep for my trip I bought a couple of things for my Kindle. I finally finished A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings on plane and train rides, so that was exciting!

Let me know if you’ve read or are planning to read any of these!

Continue reading “June and July Book Haul!”

New TRLs are up!

I’ve added a handful of new TRLs to my page, so check them out if you’re stuck in a reading rut and don’t know which book to devour next.

New additions include:

  1. Lady Adventurers—women traveling the world and overcoming all sorts of obstacles
  2. Books and travel
  3. South East Asian authors—writers originating from and writing about Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, East Timor, Brunei, Christmas Island, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam.
  4. Enchanting—for people who have read Harry Potter a billion times
  5. Books every feminist should read

The lists can be found at the top of my page, under the “Reading Lists” tab. If there’s a book you think should be on one (or more) of those lists, let me know!

Review: We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Brief synopsis: This essay is a modified version of a TEDxEuston talk author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie gave in December 2012. In it she asserts that sticking to traditional gender roles that no longer contribute to our survival as a species perpetuates dangerous stereotypes about men and women that disadvantage them both in different ways. While Adichie briefly speaks about feminism in general, TEDxEuston is a forum dedicated to inspiring ideas on developing the African continent, so she chooses to focus on her home country of Nigeria. Despite cultural variations, many will recognize similarities in the struggles men and women face in the anecdotes Adichie shares with her audience.

Rating🌴  Island collection

Long story shortWe Should All Be Feminists is an eloquent introduction to a conversation that has been systematically avoided by our society at large. Though the essay is short, Adichie touches on the different facets of feminism and how the movement actually benefits all genders. She dispels the notion that being a feminist is problematic and limiting, and proudly bears the title once given to her by a friend who, in the heat of an argument, accused her of being a feminist in “the same tone with which a person would say, ‘You’re a supporter of terrorism'” (8).

Continue reading “Review: We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie”

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