Books We Read: January
What if abortion was illegal once more? In the world of Red Clocks, the Personhood Amendment to the U.S. Constitution has nullified Roe v. Wade and criminalized abortion, and we follow four different women in a country where their bodies aren't truly their own. Leni Zumas's Red Clocks has been compared to the 21st Century The Handmaid's Tale, but Zumas doesn't need fucked up mating rituals to unnerve her reader. In fact, Zumas said that she found her story's most chilling details from "actual proposals" by men who are currently in control of our government. Surprised? Yeah, we're not so surprised either. The future of this novel no longer seems distant; it is the future Mike Pence can see as he sits behind our country's very stable genius, waiting for his turn at the presidency. This book is incredibly important and a must read, in our opinion. In the wake of #MeToo and Time's Up - we couldn't recommend a better novel.
Laurel Thatcher Ulrich (the woman who coined the phrase "well-behaved women seldom make history") weaves an intricate quilt detailing the lives of early Mormon women, stitching together more than two dozen nineteenth-century diaries, albums, letters, minute-books, and quilts left by first-generation Mormons. A House Full of Females is so much more than just women's rights and plural marriage, although you will definitely learn a lot about that here. Hearing the history of plural marriage in Mormonism from the women who were a part of it is remarkable. Get your pen, post-its, and highlighter ready - because this book is one to obsess over if you're one for learning, women's rights, and history. Absolutely remarkable.
This might be one of the most important books you'll read this year. How Democracies Die draws on decades of research and a large range of historical examples from contemporary Hungary to Venezuela and shows how the current state of the United States is not historically unique (or normal, or safe). Do yourself a favor and read this as soon as you can.
If you're a woman with periods and hormones and your relationship with your body has been a constantly confusing battlefield...this one's for you. Hormonal author Martie Haselton is the world’s leading researcher on sexuality and the ovulation cycle. In her thoroughly researched book, she takes a revealing look at how women's bodies, minds, and sexual behaviors are influenced by the hormone changes in our cycles. For example, did you know that women walk more, eat less, socialize more, meet more men, dance more, and flirt more when they’re ovulating? Or that PMS may have evolved to get rid of boyfriends with unfit sperm? Reading this book has made us here at The Opal Club feel a little less crazy about our bodies and a little more understanding of why we suddenly get the urge to go out that one night a month and show a lot more cleavage. Get this book as soon as it's out (February 13th) and stop getting info on your own body from random clickbait Cosmo articles.
If you want to get close to the moneyed elite of the Upper West Side but you don't really want to get too close (if you get my drift), Susan Reiger has your back. The Heirs is about a very wealthy Manhattan family and it's rapid coming undone after the death of their patriarch. After Rupert Falkes dies, a strange woman sues his estate, claiming she had two sons by him. The Heirs is written in a composed and clean voice: it is as if the words themselves graduated from an Ivy League college and spent their summers boating in very flamboyant plaid shorts. A beautiful study of a family and a family's place in their society - The Heirs is definitely one worth reading.
Sometimes somewhere along the path of being an English major, you have that one class where your professor tells you that writing in similies crammed into paragraphs that do not go into the flow of the narrative is a sign of bad writing. Mr. McIlvain seems to have missed that class. That is not to say he didn't try hard - this book screams of trying hard to be lyrical, beautiful...and perhaps one to go into the group of angsty fight-against-the-system radical novels. You know, the kind of book a boy obsessed with Catcher In The Rye would grow up to write. We at TOC love to read books by female authors but every once in a while we throw it back to some intelligent white men writing things about other intelligent white men (not often though, because most of high school and college and grad school is reading writing by white men, do you not agree?). Which is not to say those books can't be great, hell, most of literature is that exactly and it's wonderful. A lot of the time, that white man writing about white men book is great! Tolerable! No problemo. This was not that time. Notice how we haven't even said anything about the plot? Because it's that forgettable. Something about New York City, socialism, poetry, men. Don't waste your time or money on this one, basically.