Double Review | Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic / Are You My Mother? A Comic Drama by Alison Bechdel

Alison Bechdel is an iconic cartoonist well-known for her comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For.  Her two graphic memoirs apply a psychoanalytical lens to her stranger-than-fiction childhood to paint an intricate portrait of her parents.  Considering how the characters and themes link the two narratives, they are better when read together!  These memoirs will fascinate lovers of literature with references to great writers, and engross readers who enjoy beautifully structured family biographies.  Her perceptiveness left me in awe.

Bechdel’s art is always worth taking the time to appreciate.  She uses only one colour (greyish green in Fun Home and red in Are You My Mother?) as a wash over her greyscale illustrations.  I was fixated admiring the detail in every frame, and how text and art support each other to articulate meaning more powerfully than either could alone.

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Graphic Memoir Review | Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me by Ellen Forney

Marbles by Ellen Forney Review Paige's pagesTITLE: Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me
AUTHOR & ARTIST
: Ellen Forney
PUBLISHER
: Avery
RELEASE DATE
: November 6, 2012
GENRE
: Adult Graphic Memoir
PAGE COUNT
: 256


In this intimate and informative graphic memoir, comic artist Ellen Forney tells her story of battling bipolar disorder.  Along the way, she delves into the origins and issues of the “crazy artist” stereotype, and rewrites her own identity as a creator with mental illness.  Most of all, Marbles is for readers who want insight into the long-term challenges of living with bipolar disorder.  
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Book Review | The Camera My Mother Gave Me by Susanna Kaysen

the-camera-my-mother-gave-me-review-paiges-pagesTITLE: The Camera My Mother Gave Me
AUTHOR: Susanna Kaysen
PUBLISHER: Knopf
RELEASE DATE: October 2, 2001
GENRE: Nonfiction, Memoir
PAGE COUNT: 149


In this soul-bearing memoir by the author of Girl, Interrupted, Susanna Kaysen chronicles her relationship with her vagina.  When this under-appreciated part of her anatomy starts to hurt, destroying her sex life, her vagina suddenly becomes the centre of her universe.  Susanna is forced to analyse her new relationships with emotional abuse and chronic pain, and how all this impacts her identity as a woman… in a nutshell, everything you’re not supposed to talk about in public.
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Graphic Memoir Review | Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi

persepolis-review-paiges-pagesTITLE: Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood
AUTHOR: Marjane Satrapi
PUBLISHER: Pantheon
RELEASE DATE: 2000
GENRE: Graphic Memoir
PAGE COUNT: 153


Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi’s first person account of growing up as a politically active girl in Iran during the Islamic Revolution.  While giving readers insight into life during that time, what stood out to me most was how coming of age goes hand-in-hand with developing new ways of seeing the world.

In Persepolis, Marjane is a hotheaded young girl.  With the unfiltered honesty of a child, she is outspoken with her political opinions.  She is never afraid to stand up for what she believes, even to the point of putting herself in harm’s way – she’s no stranger to death, having witnessed bombings, stabbings, and executions of political refugees.   Continue reading

#IWD2017 Double Review | The Fictional Woman / Speaking Out: A 21st-Century Handbook for Women and Girls by Tara Moss

Using her wealth of experience as an international model, bestselling crime novelist, human rights activist, and mother, Tara Moss equips readers to confront gender inequality in every aspect of society.  If The Fictional Woman is the ultimate “beginner’s guide” to gender inequality, then Speaking Out is your “travelling companion”.  Through immersive research and intimate wisdom, this dynamic duo will educate and empower.  

I listened to The Fictional Woman and Speaking Out as audio books, and now have a HUGE crush on Tara Moss’s voice.  As a strong and confident speaker, her warmth and wisdom bursts through her rich tone.  Hearing the author read her own work is intimate, and sometimes unearthed my own pain.  Although I plan to buy all my female friends and family members these books for Christmas, I know I’ll be returning to the audio versions.

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Book Review | Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out edited by Susan Kuklin

beyond-magenta-book-review-paiges-pagesTITLE: Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out
EDITOR & PHOTOGRAPHER: Susan Kuklin
PUBLISHER: Candlewick Press
RELEASE DATE: February 11, 2014
GENRE: Young Adult Nonfiction, LGBTQIA
PAGE COUNT: 192


Through six short memoirs transcribed from interviews, Beyond Magenta explores what it’s like to come of age as a trans-spectrum teen.  A crucial lesson this book teaches is to see gender and sexuality as something with infinite colourful shades.  To really know someone’s story, you have to be humble and open-hearted enough to listen to them tell it in their own words.
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Book Review | Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation edited by Kate Bornstein & S. Bear Bergman

gender-outlaws-the-next-generation-review-paiges-pagesTITLE: Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation
EDITORS: Kate Bornstein & S. Bear Bergman
PUBLISHER: Seal Press
RELEASE DATE: August 21, 2010
GENRE: Nonfiction, Memoir, LGBTQI+
PAGE COUNT: 304


The second gender-bending anthology edited by Kate Bornstein brings together an extraordinary range of trans-spectrum creators.  This book celebrates diverse LGBTQI+ experiences, while encouraging readers to take a long, hard look at their society’s gender laws.  

Instead of looking to the binaries for answers – male/female, femininity/masculinity, sex/gender – I’ve decided to take my body back for myself – for me to shape, show off, love and dress and play.  But above all, for me to name – Transliteration by Francisco Fernández

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Book Review | Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East by Benjamin Law

gaysia-review-paiges-pageTITLE: Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East
AUTHOR: Benjamin Law
PUBLISHER: Black Inc.
RELEASE DATE: January 1, 2012
GENRE: Nonfiction, LGBTQI+, Own Voices
PAGE COUNT: 288


Who better to talk about LGBTQI+ life in Asia than Benjamin Law?  Openly gay and born in Australia to Chinese immigrant parents, he approaches Gaysia with concern and respect… not to mention the perfect dose of comedy.  

Gaysia is a journalistic adventure into the LGBTQI+ nerve centre of Asia, from “clothing optional” gay resorts in Bali, to the homes of Chinese gays and lesbians who fake heternormative marriages to keep their identities secret.  Law opened my eyes to a diverse range of socio-political landscapes, all posing unique challenges to the LGBTQI+ community.

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Audio Book Review | Smiling Mind: Mindfulness for Everyone, Everyday by Jane Martino and James Tutton

smiling-mind-audio-book-review-paiges-pagesTITLE: Smiling Mind: Mindfulness for Everyone, Everyday
AUTHORS: Jane Martino and James Tutton
PUBLISHER: Bolinda Audio
RELEASE DATE: August 15, 2016
GENRE: Nonfiction; Mind, Body, Spirit
DURATION: 1 hour 56 minutes


Smiling Mind is the perfect starting place for anyone interested in incorporating mindfulness meditation in their daily life.  I also strongly recommend this audio book to anyone who’s never understood what mindfulness is all about.  It strips away the mumbo jumbo and explains the scientific and socio-cultural foundation of meditation.  It also engages listeners in short exercises that help you start your own mindfulness journey. Continue reading