Highlight : Yearly Reading Goals
BOOKS &THOUGHTS

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“Man is defined as a human being and woman is defined as a female. Whenever she tries to behave as a human being she is accused of trying to emulate the male.”

It all began when I picked up Memoirs of Dutiful Daughter from Shakespeare&Co at rue de la Bûcherie and thought, what else I must take home if it’s not a French writer? Well, the Memoirs had left such a deep dearly mark in my heart. And so when I fall in love with someone (writers), I want to read everything she writes. I read about 5-6 of de Beauvoir’s books already and 2019 is a good year to finally approach her magnum opus, The Second Sex. Took me a year to really go through every line in this book. To talk about the whole book would probably take me another year to illustrate all of the details but I’d like to point out the part that really changed my perspective- History. This part gives such a clear picture of how it began and what went wrong. I was shocked to learn that the very religion institution played a big role that led the fade of the women to the catastrophe. As well as those in high thrones, the respectable men writers and philosophers. These people viewed women as sinful creatures and many other absurd beliefs that became social norms that brought women being to the sole property of the society as the “Other”.
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“The old concept of chronological, orderly, symmetrical development of character died when it was discovered that the unconscious motivations are entirely at odds with fabricated conventions. Human beings do not grow in perfect symmetry. They oscillate, expand, contract, backtrack, arrest themselves, retrogress, mobilize, atrophy in part, proceed erratically according to experience and traumas. Some aspects of the personality mature, others do not. Some live in the past, some in the present. Some people are futuristic characters, some are cubistic, some are hard-edged, some geometric, some abstract, some impressionistic, some surrealistic!”

Anais Nin is divine. She’s a women pioneer. Her writing paved the new way the world thought about women. We are all in great debt to her to be able to read her intimate life though her personal diaries. I started the Diary volume one months ago but decided to paused it and instead read “The Novel of the Future”, a literary essay that I ended up reading twice. As a person who knows nothing about literary and its mechanism, this book enlightens me enormously. I love the ambience of Nin’s writing. I adore her boldness. She broke all those rules and went her own way and created her own style. 

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“I never asked Tolstoy to write for me, a little colored girl in Lorain, Ohio. I never asked Joyce not to mention Catholicism or the world of Dublin. Never. And I don’t know why I should be asked to explain your life to you.”

There is no writer who has such a special place in my heart as Toni Morrison. I am connected to her writings and her talks deeper than I do to any other writers. I am obsessed with her languages. I am enamored by her beautiful soul, I admire her value and most of all, I am inspired by her imagination.
I first read Song of Solomon a few years ago and immediately fell in love with Toni Morrison. In fact, she was the one who sparked my curiosity to read more of literature. I love her so much so in 2018, I decided to read all of her 11 fictions and that was my best reading year, ever. From then on, I continue to keep her words around me so that I feel closer to her… even if she’s gone… I picked Conversation with Toni Morrison to be included in my 2019 reading goal #womenpioneers because, well she is my heroine.
In 1993, Toni Morrison won the Nobel Prize in Literature which made her the first African American to be awarded. Although I didn’t read African American literature enough to judge, but Toni Morrison clearly pioneered the new literary territory. And, I think, no one, can write like Toni Morrison.

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“Education, if it means anything, should not take people away from the land, but instill in them even more respect for it, because educated people are in a position to understand what is being lost. The future of the planet concerns all of us, and all of us should do what we can to protect it. As I told the foresters, and the women, you don’t need a diploma to plant a tree.”

Wow, where do I begin? Unbowed is undoubtedly one of the best readings in my entire life. It’s beautifully written, direct and honest. I might be biased because I didn’t know who she was before but her book made so much impact on me, she changed the way I think completely, precisely to be constructive, about life, being a woman, rights, justice, democracy and environment. I also love watching many of the video about her on youtube, especially when she gave speeches. Inspirational sounded underrated but she’s the woman who earned her own destiny. And for that I admire her so much and can really relate to some of her stories.
Wangari Maathai was born and raised in a small village in the central highlands of Kenya. In this book, she began telling her young life with her family in the time of British Colonization in Kenya. She wrote such striking factual about the history of Kenya in this period of time. She was a responsible young girl helping her family in the farm and, at a young age, left home to study in a Catholic school. She was full of determination and eventually won a scholarship to study in the US, earned her diploma, master and later a doctorate degree in Germany. The first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctorate degree. I especially fond for her in this part of the book.

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Gabriela Mistral
The Nobel Prize in Literature 1945
“for her lyric poetry which, inspired by powerful emotions,
has made her name a symbol of the idealistic aspirations of the entire Latin American world.”
I finished Madwomen last night and still have this lump in my throat… maybe because I can really related to the pain, the bitterness of life and the bravery of Mistral. I am in owe. This book is perfect. The brief biography in the beginning gave me better sense of the poet and that helped me understand and appreciate her interpretation a lot more. Her poems are mainly portrayed womanhood, children, education, religion, life, love and betrayal as it was the reflection from her own life.
 Gabriela Mistral is one of the most remarkable writer and poet I’ve known. Born in the middle of the mountains in Chile, the father abandoned the family before she’s three, raised by three women, her mother, sister and grandmother. She was dismissed from schools from stealing school supply. Homeschooled by her sister. Started to write and supported her family. Became a teacher. Involved in politics. Left her home country. Being a diplomat and activist, traveled and lived in many countries around. Worked for the UN for the Woman’s Rights. Became the first Latin American who won the Nobel Prize in Literature.

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“All my being is a dark verse
that repeats you to the dawn
of unfading flowering and growth.
I conjured you in my poem with a sigh
and grafted you to water, fire, and trees.”

Farrokhzad’s poems pierced in my heart and soul since the very first start reading, as you may witness my frequent post about her. She consumed my thought, mind, spirit and dream. I often think about her poems when the world is quiet, hearing her voice, a whispering. She made me reexamine about how I, as a woman, think, and the freedom to think. The thinking about my feeling, my body, sexuality, love and life, without fear of fallacy norms or status quo. There are hidden mysterious magic in each line of her poems. I wanna talk about her bravery. I wanna talk about her life. But then I’ll weep. Whenever I returned to her poems, those emotions stunned me. She was full of courage. She carried so much despair. She has so much meaning. I am meaningless.
A quick note on a remarkable translation by Sholeh Wolpé, a poet herself, made this reading formidable and tearsome.
Get yourself a copy of Forugh Farrokhzad. Read poems that destroy you and reborn.

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“There is no shortage of good days. It is good lives that are hard to come by. A life of good day lived in the senses is not enough. The life of sensation is the life of greed; it requires more and more. The life of the spirit requires less and less; time is ample and its passage sweet. Who would call a day spent reading a good day? But a life spent reading–that is a good life.”

How to live? Perhaps one would never get a precise answer to this question. As when a similar question asked, how to write? This thought flew over my head while I read The Writing Life. I had such a meditative conversation with Annie Dillard reading about her life led with creativity, the writing life, the life spent with words. I was captured by her eventful life and floated with the simplicity of her writing. It made me imagine of my own small cottage. Spend the day alone doing things that is not only writing but living. Although I don’t plan to be a writer but I do love to listen to (read) my favorite writers talk about their writing life. This book is such a small joy that inspires tremendously about the art of living and writing. For me, it is also a great intro to Dillard and I’m eager to read more of her works.
I can not decide which are my favourite lines because all of them, in fact every pages are just pure charm and delightful.

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All opinion are my own.

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