#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
PUBLISHER: Candlewick Press
RELEASE DATE: February 11, 2014
GENRE: Young Adult Nonfiction, LGBTQIA

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
RELEASE DATE: August 21, 2010
GENRE: Nonfiction, Memoir, LGBTQI+

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
RELEASE DATE: January 1, 2012
GENRE: Nonfiction, LGBTQI+, Own Voices

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

Book Review | Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

big-magic-book-review-paiges-pagesTITLE: Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear
AUTHOR: Elizabeth Gilbert
PUBLISHER: Bloomsbury
RELEASE DATE: September 22, 2015
GENRE: Nonfiction, Self Help

Ever since reading Eat, Pray, Love, I’ve been in love with Liz Gilbert’s warm and wise voice.  This exciting little book teaches the bravery to commit to a creative life.

Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you? – page 8

Have you ever been too afraid of failure to embark on a creative journey?  Have you ever viewed your creativity as a burden or curse that tortures you?  I’m guilty of both these things plus countless others I indulge.  Surrendering to fear and having a martyr’s mindset towards creativity prevents you from ever having a playful, joy-filled creative life.  Big Magic is a guide to changing your attitude, facing fear, and following the clues that lead you to inspiration. Continue reading

Book Review | Coming of Age: Growing Up Muslim in Australia Edited by Amra Pajalic & Demet Divaroren

coming-of-age-book-review-paiges-pagesTITLE: Coming of Age: Growing Up Muslim in Australia
EDITORS: Amra Pajalic and Demet Divaroren
PUBLISHER: Allen & Unwin
RELEASE DATE: February 2014
GENRE: Junior Nonfiction, Religion

This collection of short memoirs shares the challenges of growing up Muslim in Australia.  I love that the focus of Coming of Age is on the struggles of being a young person, irrespective of religion.  This makes the authors relatable to junior readers everywhere.  

I wondered if there were going to be girls like me from the Middle East.  Would there be any Muslim students in my class?  And how many of them would have just arrived in Australia as I had?  Would they speak Arabic like me?  Would I be able to keep up with the schoolwork?  Would I make friends? – Muslim Footprint by Arwa El Masri page 84 Continue reading

Book Review | Walking Towards Ourselves: Indian Women Tell Their Stories edited by Catriona Mitchell

walking-towards-ourselves-book-review-paiges-pagesTITLE: Walking Towards Ourselves: Indian Women Tell Their Stories
EDITOR: Catriona Mitchell
PUBLISHER: Hardie Grant Publishing
RELEASE DATE: April 16, 2016
GENRE: Nonfiction, Memoir, Politics

In one of the world’s most patriarchal societies, Indian women break their silence by sharing their most intimate stories.  This powerful collection features diverse experiences of womanhood and motherhood in India, to educate and empower with raw honesty.  Walking Towards Ourselves is the most moving and enriching book I’ve had the privilege to read this year.

India is a land where women are worshipped as goddesses … But the real strength of Indian women, those unsung heroines who hold up more than half the sky, comes from the disadvantaged, the indigent and marginalised, the often-silenced majority who till the soil, graze their cattle, work in menial domestic jobs, and look after and sustain their immediate and extended families – Foreword by Namita Gokhale page 4 Continue reading

Book Review | Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen

girl-interrupted-review-paiges-pagesTITLE: Girl, Interrupted
AUTHOR: Susanna Kaysen
GENRE: Nonfiction, Memoir

On the surface, Girl, Interrupted is a witty memoir about being human.  Deeper down, this book confronts the stigmatisation of mental illness.  

The year is 1967.  18-year-old Susanna Kaysen is struggling with her slipping grasp on reality and suicidal impulses.  Misinformed and arguably misdiagnosed, she is incarcerated at McLean, a psychiatric hospital famous for its celebrity patients including Sylvia Plath and Ray Charles.  There she meets a diverse cast of female characters, all of whom have hit rock bottom.  Susanna’s journey to recovery revolves around rejecting society’s attitude towards mental illness to validate her experience. Continue reading