Blog,  From My Bookshelf

From My Bookshelf: Aimee, Audre, Charlotte, and More (Book Haul)

Three more books have recently made their way from a bookstore to my shelves, so I’m sharing them in another edition of From My Bookshelf.

These books don’t have much in common, besides all being paperbacks and being from the same bookstore (Green Hand Books). One is a book I have read before (and loved), two are books I’ve wanted to read and add to my shelves for some time, and the last one is a collection I’m excited to explore.

The Color Master
Aimee Bender

  • First Anchor Books, 2014

I read this book back in the summer of 2018 after the short story for which it’s named was recommended to me on my post about this Grimm’s Fairy Tale. The title story is wonderful, as are many of the other stories in this collection. You can listen to excerpts from two of them here if you’re interested.

A traumatic event unfolds when a girl with hair the color of golden wheat appears in an apple orchard; a woman plays out a fantasy with her husband and finds she cannot go back to her old sex life; an ugly woman marries an ogre and struggles to decide if she should stay with him after he mistakenly eats their children; and two sisters travel deep into Malaysia, where one learns the art of mending tigers who have been ripped to shreds. 

Sister Outsider
Audre Lorde

  • Crossing Press, 2007

A highly recommended and revered collection of essays and speeches; you are likely familiar with the book even if you haven’t read it, and if you aren’t familiar you can be now.

Presenting the essential writings of black lesbian poet and feminist writer Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider celebrates an influential voice in twentieth-century literature. In this charged collection of fifteen essays and speeches, Lorde takes on sexism, racism, ageism, homophobia, and class, and propounds social difference as a vehicle for action and change. Her prose is incisive, unflinching, and lyrical, reflecting struggle but ultimately offering messages of hope. 

This commemorative edition includes a new foreword by Lorde-scholar and poet Cheryl Clarke, who celebrates the ways in which Lorde’s philosophies resonate more than twenty years after they were first published. These landmark writings are, in Lorde’s own words, a call to “never close our eyes to the terror, to the chaos which is Black which is creative which is female which is dark which is rejected which is messy which is…”

Charlotte Brontë

  • Penguin Books, 1974

I see an “older” edition of a book written by a Brontë, and I can’t resist. And in this particular case, this is a Charlotte Brontë novel I did not own up until now. Published shortly after Jane EyreShirley was overshadowed by its predecessor’s success, and as the editors noted in the introduction, “the standard critical view has always been that it represents an ill-considered misdirecting of its author’s talents.” I can’t wait to form my own impression and thoughts on this story.

I have included both the “synopsis” from the back, as well as part of the Penguin Random House synopsis which provides a more general, less contextual synopsis.

From the back: At a time when critical inquiry is being focused on the relationship between literature and society, Shirley (too often overshadowed by Jane Eyre) becomes especially interesting. In it the author charts the forces moulding society in the period of the Napoleonic Wars—from the economic hardship resulting from bad harvests and the British Government’s Orders in Council to the oppression of women and the Luddite riots. But, central to all these concerns, accurately documented though they are, is Charlotte Brontë’s imaginative grasp of what is common to all these forms of oppression, whether of women of of the poor—the denial of the world of feeling. 

From PRH: Set in the industrializing England of the Napoleonic wars and Luddite revolts of 1811-12, Shirley (1849) is the story of two contrasting heroines. One is the shy Caroline Helstone, who is trapped in the oppressive atmosphere of a Yorkshire rectory and whose bare life symbolizes the plight of single women in the nineteenth century. The other is the vivacious Shirley Keeldar, who inherits a local estate and whose wealth liberates her from convention.

The Oxford Book of Gothic Tales
edited by Chris Baldick

  • Oxford University Press, 1992
    • this paperback version I have was released one year later.

The Gothic genre is one of my favorites, so I was overjoyed to see this collection was available. As far as I know (I can be quite forgetful of short story titles that I’ve read in the past), “The Yellow Wall-Paper” by Charlotte Perkins Stetson (Gilman) is the only story I have read out of the 37 total tales.

The first anthology to illustrate the rich variety of Gothic fiction from the eighteenth century to the present day, with authors as diverse as Edgar Allan Poe and Thomas Hardy, Jorge Luis Borges, and Angela Carter.

Are you familiar with any of these books? Have you purchased any gems from a local bookstore lately? Let’s chat in the comments.

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