Saturday 28 July 2018

Too Fat Too Slutty Too Loud

Image result for too fat too loud too sluttyby Anne Helen Petersen

Written by Anne Helen Petersen, a columnist for Buzzfeed, Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud looks at current women in our society who break the mold of what people consider socially acceptable womanly behaviour.  Using ten women as examples of controversial people who are too much, Petersen analyzes some key characteristics that break the mold of what society accepts in womanhood and why.  Be it too shrill, too fat, too gross, or too loud, each chapter focused on qualities that are up for discussion in today’s societal expectations.  

I found it interesting that the author looked at different types of women from mainstream media so that more than just one generation or type of person could understand her references. From Serena Williams for being too strong, to Madonna for being too old, to Kim Kardashian for being too pregnant,  all the women who are looked at appeal to different people giving the book a wider scope of interest for pop culture enthusiasts.  Beyond the pop culture appeal, there is also strong analysis of our current culture that makes this book a lot more than just a fluffy book about our favourite celebs.  By delving into why we love, hate, or love to hate different faces in our media stream, Petersen gives the reader a chance to reflect on our own biases and opinions on the societal roles people are supposed to play. 

Interesting, humorous, and thought provoking, Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud presents information in a very readable way that manages to provide information and insight without being preachy or forceful.  I enjoyed the book immensely, and was eager to read what the next too characteristic was going to focus on and which prominent female figure would be used as an example for that quality.  

Monday 23 July 2018


Circe by Madeline Miller is a marvellous read. When I saw this book about Circe from the Odyssey, I couldn’t resist. I was one of those kids that grew up reading mythology. Greek mythology was a particular favourite, in part because my name appears in one of those myths and in part because I just found them fascinating.

Miller has a gift for storytelling and is a masterful writer. In the Odyssey, Homer writes Circe as a beautiful evil witch that transforms Odysseus’ men into swine and then she enthralls Odysseus so that he stays with her until his men beg him to continue their journey home.  Miller’s approach is quite different.

When Circe is born, nothing much is expected from her; she is not powerful like her father, the Titan sun god Helios, nor is she dazzlingly beautiful like her mother, an Oceanic nymph. She is told her voice is thin and unpleasant to hear. She grows up mostly ignored by everyone around her, and at times she is noticed, she is bullied and belittled even by those closest to her. When she discovers her powers and dares to question the gods, she is exiled to a small island as punishment.   

It is on this island that Circe gets the chance to grow and to eventually become herself. Visitors came and go, they influence Circe and Circe influences the world outside the island through them. During this exile she experiences the good, the bad and the ugly of mortals, develops her powers, and becomes a mother. Being a mother doesn’t come easy for Circe—nothing ever has—, but a loving mother she does become. To protect her child she will do the unthinkable and confront one of the most powerful Olympian gods. 

This book is a beautifully written character study, perfect for those that enjoy character development over action packed plots. Miller brings characters from myth to life in all their greatness and pettiness. She expertly captures the reader’s attention and doesn’t let go until the last line of the last page. I can’t recommend this book enough as a must read.

Thursday 12 July 2018


By Matthew Desmond

Although Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond introduces us to a number of families living on the edge of poverty in Milwaukee, the stories he tells us can be true of any city. Whether we are reading about Arleen, the single mother, Scott, the caring nurse with a drug addiction, Lamar who looks after the neighbourhood kids or Vanetta, a young woman with an upcoming first offence trial, they are all connected by their housing situation. 

One of their connections is a common landlord, either Sherrena, a
former teacher turned real estate investor or Tobin, owner of a Milwaukee trailer park with a questionable reputation.

Each of these families lives in one of the buildings or trailers owned by Sherrena or Tobin, and each struggles to pay the rent on their meager income. For example, 88 percent of Arleen’s income goes towards rent, leaving little left over for anything else like food, clothing, transportation, heat, or medication for her son’s asthma.  Each of the families we meet is in a similar situation which leaves little wiggle room for anything. 

These individuals live in fear of eviction. A person with an eviction on their rental record can find it difficult to impossible to find other housing of any kind. Despite being evicted for failure to pay rent, any complaint to the housing board, too many calls to 9-1-1, too many people in a unit, can all lead to an eviction.  Each of these reasons serves to perpetuate the unsafe living conditions of the tenancies. Eviction is so common that the landlords plan their vacations to ensure they are back in town by the first of the month, as rent collection is a face to face affair, as most tenants don’t have bank accounts and eviction notices are handed out in person. 

Reading these non-fiction accounts, we can see how a lack of stable, safe housing overshadows the lives of these families, making it near to impossible to find a job, attend school, or care for one’s children. This Pulitzer Prize winner is not necessarily a happy story, but it is one that needs to be told. 

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