Summer Reads 2016: Kira

Here's a peek of the books I have been been enjoying, or will imminently be enjoying, as I head into two weeks of vacation!

Double Teenage (Joni Murphy)

It's safe to say I thoroughly enjoyed this book, as I read it in one sitting! The narrative follows two childhood best friends from their adolescence in a small desert town close the the USA-Mexico border. As they grow up (and apart) the story traces their respective romantic, political and academic trajectories into adulthood. Their personal narratives are presented in the context of an undercurrent of violence against women, a pervasive and global phenomenon. Murphy seamlessly weaves in bits of theory, with the last chapter also incorporating poetry in a more experimental format than the prose of the first chapters. 

The Girls (Emma Cline)

I guess I've been on a real "girls coming of age" kick this summer, as I read The Girls and Double Teenage back to back. Though both books are indeed coming of age stories focused on teenage girls, they are not all that similar in other respects. The Girls takes place in the late '60s and follows protagonist Evie as she is drawn into a Manson-like cult. Cline’s crackling, evocative prose is a delight to read, and she has a real knack for capturing that particular brand of summertime teenage longing - the type of longing that can get a young person into all kinds of trouble! Though it's firmly grounded in the '60s setting, the story feels resonant to contemporary experiences of girlhood and womanhood in many ways.

Chainmail Bikini: The Anthology of Women Gamers (Various Authors, ed. Hazel Newlevant)

It’s taken me an inordinately long time to get around to reading this collection, but summer seems the perfect time to remedy that! After a childhood devoid of video games, it’s been an adventure getting into gaming in my 30s, and I’m hoping to find some common ground with the cool gamer ladies who contributed to Chainmail Bikini. I’m also lowkey obsessed with Hellen Jo’s illustrations, so I love the cover art she did for this!

What is Obscenity?: The Story of a Good For Nothing Artist and her Pussy (Rokudenashiko)

I picked up this graphic novel memoir largely on the glowing recommendation of my colleague Marcela, whose taste is impeccable. (See her delightful review of it here on our May office reads blog!) Working to challenge the taboo and double standards surrounding the vagina in Japanese culture, Japanese artist Rokudenashiko (“good for nothing girl”) has for several years been creating manko (slang for vagina, roughly translating to “pussy”) art in various forms, ranging from phone cases and dioramas to a crowd-funded 3D printed kayak made from a mold of her own vulva in which she traversed the Tama River! In 2014, without warning, her home was raided by 10 police officers, who seized her manko art, charged her with obscenity, and took her straight to jail. What is Obscenity is an absolutely charming, funny, and brilliant chronicle of her experiences in this bizarre situation, and her ongoing struggle to bring pussy-positivity to the masses.

Saga Volume Six (Fiona Staples and Brian K. Vaughan)

Very excited to get my Saga fix! It feels like eons since Saga Volume 5 hit the shelves, and I (along with a legion of equally impatient fans) have been waiting for the latest installment very eagerly. It's far and away my favourite sci-fi comic series of the last few years. In case you're not up to speed, a brief plot summary: lovers from warring planets defy their respective governments by getting together and starting a family, forcing them to live on the lam and raise their baby as fugitives while half the galaxy tries to hunt them down for the hefty bounty on their heads. It's an extremely fun, smart, and adventure-packed story with a cast of characters you won't soon forget.

Greatest of Marlys (Lynda Barry)

One of the many wonderful perks of working at D+Q is getting my mitts on advance copies of D+Q books. (The brand new D+Q-published edition of Lynda Barry's classic Greatest of Marlys hits shelves on August 16th.) I'm very much looking forward to delving into these comics which showcase preteen Marlys Mullen, her teenage sister Maybonne, her little brother Freddie, as well as their family and neighbours from the trailer park where they live. Looks like my binge on coming of age teen dramas is set to continue well into the rest of the summer!

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (Haruki Murakami)

When I'm not reading about teenage girls, or lady gamers, or interstellar hijinks, I also intend to go on a Murakami bender in the near future, with both The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and What I Talk About When I Talk About Running on the docket. Wind-Up Bird comes highly recommended by many people whose taste I admire, but I also need some non-fiction in the mix, so Murakami's memoir about getting heavily into running fits the bill. Though my own recent increased interest in running has been largely motivated by Pokemon Go (and I'm not even a little ashamed, dammit!) I'm very interested to read about a more serious athlete's running trajectory.

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