How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran — Imogen Kandel, Online Editor
I have to admit books were not high on my list of priorities over the holiday break. In fact books sat somewhere between sipping wine and cleaning the bathroom. Let’s be honest, they were on the same level as cleaning the bathroom. Yet despite my complete and utter lack of brain power, I did manage to lazily pick up a copy of Caitlin Moran’s How to Be a Woman.
How to Be a Woman is full of Germaine Greer-level feminist enthusiasm without the prerequisite of having to sample your own menstrual blood. Moran covers all the big topics with a heavy dose of humour and sass: puberty, boyfriends, work, weddings, births, motherhood, abortions, Lady Gaga. Drawn from her own life experience, Moran’s pearls of hard-won wisdom make reading this book like travelling back in time to read Dolly Doctor: entirely illuminating and at times, downright terrifying. While Moran does let her temptation to rant get the better of her at times, I can hardly fault the woman for sounding a bit pissy about the cards dealt to the ‘fairer’ sex.
A pee-your-pants funny look at the highs and lows of having a vagina, I can confirm that reading How to Be a Woman is definitely a better way to spend your time than cleaning the bathroom.
The Lawrence/Julie & Julia Project by Lawrence Dai — Stephanie Van Schilt, Online Editorial Assistant
I’m a pretty punctual person in life, but when it comes to pop culture I don’t mind getting to the party late. Bands, movies, books – I don’t care if they’re no longer ‘cool’, so long as I’m charmed when I encounter them. So I am hereby declaring, in an insanely ‘uncool’ move, that my latest magnificent obsession is a three-year old blog. Yep, in Internet years that’s got to be older than the collective ages of the Golden Girls, and more dated than that reference.
Anyway, I’ve recently been mass consuming, chortling, choking and cry-laughing at The Lawrence/Julie & Julia Project. In 2010, college student Lawrence Dai adapted the premise of Julie & Julia – the Nora Ephron film based on Julie Powell’s 365-day challenge to cook 524 of Julia Child’s recipes and blog about it – by watching the film every day for a year…and blogging about it.
This is meta-magnificence at its best. Beyond the feat of viewing the film 365 times, Lawrence’s reflections are both relevant and irreverent as he finds various inventive ways to approach (or reproach) the film, and rapidly goes a little crazy.
His comical depiction of this monomaniacal fixation – which, commenced in 2010 gained him some press and internet fame – is a cackle-inducing fun-fest. It is a cannily written intimate affair that charts the ups and downs of one man and his love/hate relationship with a movie. And I love it.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn — Emily Laidlaw, Marketing Co-ordinator
It’s almost impossible to write about Gone Girl in any meaningful way without giving away any spoilers. So if you haven’t read it yet and still want to maintain the element of surprise, avert your eyes now.
Gone Girl was continually recommended to me over the holiday break as light summer fun and I wasn’t disappointed. Gillian Flynn must have had a ball writing this high quality potboiler about married couple Amy and Nick, whose outwardly picture perfect marriage implodes when Amy goes missing on their fifth wedding anniversary.
I was alerted to the fact there was a major plot twist (which in itself is a bit of a spoiler, right?), leaving me to second guess a lot of the action. So when it was revealed Amy had faked her own disappearance and was masterminding the whole police investigation, I wasn’t too shocked. What did shock me, however, was the level of sympathy I still felt towards this – to phrase it nicely –‘psychopath’. While there’s something endearing about Amy’s naive, sweet-as-pie diary entries which make up the first half of the book (a technique I usually despise but here works well) there’s something more appealing about her crazy revenge fantasies which spew forth in the second half. Angry at her philandering husband, Amy rallies against a culture which pits women against other women in the pursuit of men, which teaches girls to be nothing short of perfect, to resign to a life of ‘cleaning and bleeding’, to always standing by their man.
For the most part, Gone Girl is schlocky entertainment but these feminist undercurrents turn this page-turner into something more. Gone Girl has also given me a taste for exciting, sharply written detective fiction – something I hope to read more of in 2013.