Lydia’s Library Books


A Summer Blog’s Official Retirement Post

Hey there, two or three people who come here every day… and people who come from Brian’s blog.. hello!

Yeah, this blog was enjoyable, but I haven’t read a book for fun since August. Nor have I been able to expel decent thoughts for anything but assignments since the semester commenced. Now that it’s almost over, it’s gotten worse. Maybe I read and write some over winter break? Let’s not count on it.

For now, I would like to announce this blog’s official retirement. Good night and good luck? Maybe see you next summer!

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First World/Third World

Right now I’m reading The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai. It’s wonderful, and it’s accomplishing one of the most important things that I think a book should do: putting theory into story. The theories and ideas at work here are those of globalization, racism, immigration, poverty and more: topics that INTEREST me academically but COMPEL me personally and in reality. 

I’m not done with the book, but so far I’ve been struck by a certain passage so much that I’ve thought about it almost daily. Probably because I’m part-time job hunting. Biju, the person mentioned in the excerpt, is a recent Indian illegal immigrant working in New York City restaurants. 

Biju at the Baby Bistro.

Above, the restaurant was French, but below in the kitchen it was Mexican and Indian.

Biju at Le Colonial for the authentic colonial experience.

On top, rich colonial, and down below, poor native. Colombian, Tunisian, Ecuadorian, Gambian.

On to the Stars and Stripes Diner. All America flag on top, all Guatemalan flag below.

Plus one Indian flag when Biju arrived. 

Continue reading this entry »


I don’t think that blogging is my Personal Legend…

Yes, I know. I rarely blog. Maybe this isn’t the thing for me? The idea of a blog about books means that I have to be reading books, and while I always am, I’ve been a little slow lately with finishing books. My life is a little insane at the moment.

I did, however, just read a really good (and short!) book called The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho. If I had the book on me right now, I’d write about it. (Although I am at work, so maybe I shouldn’t be saying that…). It was a wonderful story about how everyone has their own ‘Personal Legend’ that is intended for them to carry out, and while most people know theirs, they do not seek it out and instead settle for a stable, boring, socially respectable life. It was a great book for me to read because when I think about my future, I do tend to struggle- should I go for the already established (possibly high paying) yet potentially not as exciting job, or should I set out on my own and try to establish something just for me based on what I think is important (a path that wouldn’t pay..)? In The Alchemist, the main character found that when you set out to fulfill your Personal Legend, the world will help you on your path- because what you are doing is what you are supposed to be doing. The book had a lot of very religious elements, which I liked. It was also written in a beautiful, simple style. A perfect book for the metro! 

Huh, looks like I just wrote about it without meaning to! I’ll continue my little housekeeping bit in another post…


The Cult of Thinness

According to research from this book, the ratio of males with eating disorders to females with ED is 1:10.

Why is that? Most literature I’ve read styles male EDs as being vocational (ie they’re wrestlers, so they purposefully gain weight, etc.), even while admitting that there has to be more to it. This book devotes a whole section on male body image through a discussion of body builders who simply cannot stop. Continue reading this entry »


Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture, and the Body

The title of this entry is the name of (one of) the book(s) I’m reading right now (by Susan Bordo), and I’ve got to say… it’s one of those books that makes you feel kind of silly because everything you’ve thought about in moments of revelation is already in there. No matter, I’m glad I found it. I don’t agree with everything I suppose, but that’s for another post (I swear, I’m going to start posting again! I have time off from work now- that gives me some prime thinking time).

Anyway, one of the major points that Bordo makes in this book is that eating disorders are less pathology and more a product of a misogynistic culture. Personally, while I feel like this is a very legitimate and truthful argument, I also think that there is a lot to gain from contemporary psychological theories and explanations- especially those that place eating disorders under the category of coping mechanisms. However, this entry isn’t really going to go into that. I’m just going to start with the very basics of eating disorders and negative body image as a result of Western culture. My starting point is something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately (so much, in fact, that I got a book on Plato out from the library..), and that’s the separation of mind and body into a dualism. Continue reading this entry »


Lydia and the Annual Re-read

Harry Potter is a great series. Yes. Yes it is. It may not be brilliantly written, but it’s imaginative, funny and it has a lot of depth. I’ve decided that the Half-Blood Prince (6) is my favorite. Horcruxes! Voldermort! Pensives! Woo!

…We’ll be back to our regularly scheduled slightly-academic-or-at-least-better-than-this-entry entries as soon as my head gets out of Harry Potter Land and lands back in the real world. Give it a few days.


The Bluest Eye

Today I read The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison.

What was the secret? What did we lack? Why was it important? And so what? Guileless and without vanity, we were still in love with ourselves then. We felt comfortable in our skins, enjoyed the news that our senses released to us, admired our dirt, cultivated our scars, and could not comprehend this unworthiness. Jealousy we understood and thought natural- a desireto have what somebody else had; but envy was a strange, new feeling for us. And all the time we knew that Maureen Peal was not the Enemy and not worthy of such intense hatred. The Thing to fear was the Thing that made her beautiful, and not us. (Pg 74)

This was a book about “racial self-loathing” and “how one learns that.” (Quote from Toni Morrison’s afterward). That’s something that white privilege prevents me from understanding truthfully, though I do hope and try to be an ally in solidarity. This book was sad and beautiful. The way I see it, negative body image is a powerfully harmful force that we inflict upon ourselves willingly, and this book showed me that it’s a far more destructive, lively and complicated force than I ever imagined, like a mass of poisonous and beating flesh inside of ourselves that we take care of. The Bluest Eye really sought to find these complications, and more importantly, find the humanity that nourishes them.

In equating physical beauty with virtue, she stripped her mind, bound it, and collected self contempt by the heap. (Pg. 122)

Read this book.


Further Reading

I like theory… but I fully recognize how boring it is to read! It can be so damn boring sometimes! However, when it comes down to it, I’m stuck reading theory all the time. Historic and sociological works are more interesting to me because they can really get down into how theory impacts reality and people, which is more of my cup of tea. Anyway, this post doesn’t really have anything to do with that, other than within the realm of indigenous feminist criticism there are some really smart people writing really interesting stuff that might be dry and boring to some, but to me, feels alive and energetic. This post is going to be a list of related books that I haven’t yet read, but sound good!

Also, here’s an article:

http://aboriginalrights.suite101.com/article.cfm/feminism_vs_native_rights

However, while well intended, feminist activism can sometimes be disempowering and even racist towards Aboriginal people, resulting in the same kind of dispossession as that inflicted by colonial governments.


Indigenization

CoverMaking Space for Indigenous Feminism is a collection of writings by Indigenous scholars who employ a feminist analysis in a very critical way to analyze inequities in power relations (native and non). It’s a short book, with sixteen contributions. Joyce Green, in Taking Account of Aboriginal Feminism, explains why this may be.

Even where contemporary social relations are understood to be shaped by colonial and patriarchal practices, Aboriginal women are reluctant to use a gendered analysis to criticize Aboriginal men. Indeed, feminist analysis is widely considered to be divisive, corrosive of family and community, culturally inappropriate and even colonialist. A number of prominent Aboriginal intellectuals have dismissed feminism’s relevance for Aboriginal women while others have celebrated Aboriginal women’s traditional and maternalist roles to the exclusion of analysis of gendered power relations.

Considering feminism’s historic disregard for the racial identities of women of color (while assuming that all women can unite under some sort of ‘sisterhood,’ putting their womanness first), this makes sense. Feminism alone is not ‘for everybody,’ but “aboriginal feminism,” as outlined by Green and others,

“brings together the two critiques, feminism and anti-colonialism, to show how Aboriginal peoples, and in particular Aboriginal women, are affected by colonialism and patriarchy.”

This seems to me to be pretty necessary: native women have had to put up with a lot of bullshit. Colonialism and land theft, sexist legislation (this piece talked a lot about Canada’s Indian Act in this regard, and off the top of my head I’m reminded of the Hyde Amendment), forced sterilization (esp. in the US in the 70s, in the years between Roe and Hyde), economic oppression, and more. As a non-native woman, I’m really not one to talk. But historically, this is a group that has been given the least and taken from the most, and now it’s been reported that one in three American Indian women will be raped in her lifetime. That’s not just sexism.

Continue reading this entry »


Summertime Blogging

I read blogs. All the time. Generally while I should be writing papers. I’ve always held off on the idea of doing my own, maybe because I don’t think that I have anything new to add to the very nuanced and critical conversations that are happening every day in the blogosphere (which is a very stupid word, by the way). But today, while reading, I realized that if I could start a blog for myself, about the books that I’m reading, maybe it’ll get me more used to putting my thoughts out there! And it’s the summer, so I actually have some time on my hands (at least until my job starts in two weeks)!!! That gives this blog two purposes: to write about how the readings I want to do/am doing this summer are influencing and teaching me, and to get me used to writing about important topics in a public way. Enough with talk about me- time to talk about books!

Here is a list of what I’m reading right now

  • Making Space for Indigenous Feminism, ed. Joyce Green
  • Empire Falls, Richard Russo
  • The Lathe of Heaven, Ursula Le Guin (okay, I actually finished this a few days ago)

My plan for further reading is about the same as this: half academic, half fiction. While at this point I’m planning to write about everything, that might change. Expect a post on the first chapter of Making Space for Indigenous Feminism sometime soon. If you (oh imaginary reader) have any thoughts, suggestions, or anything feel free to comment- it’s unmoderated at this point because this is such a new blog.