Women’s History Month March 2019: Mid-Month Check-in

s part of ‘Women’s History Month’ celebrations, I decided to read only books written by women – and, if possible, about women. We have reached the middle of the month and I have been absolutely blown away by the women’s stories that I have had the pleasure to dive into.

I started the month with ‘Americanah’ by Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie, and as I have already explained on the Instagram post about the book, I feel like all has been said about this modern classic, which is why I limited my commentary to the way the book made me feel and how it impacted me.

Next up was Sisonge Msimang’s memoir ‘Always Another Country’, a book which, according to the poll on my Instagram stories, not many people have read yet. It is, however, very much worth picking it up since it touches upon important aspects such as the political and social emancipation of Africans, what it means to be a refugee, what ‘home’ means to people, what it means to belong or not to belong,  all of which are issues that remain prevalent in our time. I was sucked into the vibrant and fast-paced prose from the very first page, and her almost conversational tone made Msimang’s story come alive on the page. It almost felt as if I was sitting in my living with her, listening to her incredible life story.

After finishing Msimang’s memoir, I knew I had to read something great and gripping, so I thought Adichie would be a good bet and I picked up ‘The Thing Around Your Neck’. If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I am not a big short story lover – I usually end up liking at most one or two stories in a collection but feel disappointed overall. Let me tell you, though, that I sat down and devoured the entire collection by Adichie in one afternoon and that there was not one story that I disliked. While the first two ones were definitely my favourites, the others were amazing as well.

After Adichie’s mind-blowing short story collection I opted for a novella by Chloe Caldwell, called ‘Women’. I had not read anything by Caldwell before but was gifted the book by the publisher (4thEstate) at an event so I thought I’d go out of my comfort zone a little and try something new. Needless to say, I was sucked into the book and finished it within a coupe of hours (it only has about 120 pages, which are not always full, just saying). The story revolves around a young woman who is straight and who falls in love with another woman, Finn, who is much older than her. Through their relationship, the protagonist discovers different facets about herself, her sexuality, her relationship with women more generally. It’s an engrossing read that explores the meaning and impact of female relationships. I went to bed after reading the book feeling puzzled, yet emotionally richer.

Right now I am reading Carmen Maria Machado’s ‘Her Body and Other Parties’, which was kindly gifted to me by the publisher (Serpent’s Tail). I am not done reading the book, but it fits right into this month’s focus on women’s stories, their experiences, and their voices. The book blurs the lines between reality and fantasy, it’s pushing its emotions and feelings onto you as a reader, it urges you to relate to the women in the various stories, it takes up space in your life and your mind. It’s quite brilliant, especially if you think of the stories and their effects on you as a metaphor for women and their experiences in society.

I’m not certain what books I’ll be reading next, since, as some of you may know already, I am quite volatile when it comes to choosing my next read, but if my lucky streak continues, this month will be an epic reading month.