Wednesday Wise Woman

Frida Kahlo

1907 – 1954 | Mexico | Painter

At the age of fifteen, Frida was accepted into Mexico’s prestigious prep school where she was one of thirty-five girls out of 2000 students. At eighteen she was involved in a terrible accident that would leave her with pain and physical disabilities for the rest of her life.

DK Books: Women

In 1929, she married Mexico’s famous writer Diego Rivera, and theirs was passionate and stormy relationship.

Without any formal art training, her work was exceptional. She painted mostly self-portraits and her pieces explored sexuality, feminism and identity.

In the 1940s she began showing her work internationally and in 1953 she held her first major solo exhibition.

Although she became bedridden, she continued to work and could be found in bed with her easel on her lap, painting away.

Frida Kahlo

Source: Girls Who Rocked The World – Michelle Roehm McCann & Amelie Welden; Women – DK Books

My Book Wish List

Since my focus has been on reading more books by women, for women and about women, I’ve noticed how lacking my bookshelf is. It’s really not supporting my mission, so my collection is about to change. Some of the authors I’m adding to my wish list are popular and some I discovered through research.

Here are some of the books I want to add to my reading list.

Sojourner Truth

She was a women’s rights activist and abolitionist, who was born into slavery but managed to escape. The book I’m adding is The Book of Life.

“You may hiss as much as you please, but women will get their rights anyway”
― Sojourner Truth

Audre Lorde

Audre Lorde was a civil rights activist, feminist, poet and essayist. Some of her titles that I wish to read are; Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches, Zami: A New Spelling of My Name, Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power, and The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde.

“I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood.”
― Audre Lorde

Alice Walker

Alice Walker is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, poet, essayist and activist. I want to read her famous book The Color Purple and some of her other works, Possessing the Secret of Joy and In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens: Womanist Prose.

“Resistance is the secret of joy!”
― Alice Walker

Octavia E. Butler

Octavia Butler was a science fiction author and from her list I’m adding, Kindred, Parable of the Sower and Bloodchild.

“I found that I couldn’t muster any belief in a literal heaven or hell, anyway. I thought the best we could all do was to look after one another and clean up the various hells we’ve made right here on earth.”
― Octavia E. Butler, Parable of the Talents

Nawal al Saadawi

She is an Egyptian writer, feminist and psychiatrist. I want to read God Dies by the Nile, Woman at Point Zero and The Hidden Face of Eve.

“She is free to do what she wants, and free not to do it.”
— Nawal El Saadawi (Woman at Point Zero)

Roxane Gay

She’s a feminist, social commentator, editor, professor and writer. I am adding Bad Feminist, Difficult Women, Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body and Ayiti.

“I believe women not just in the United States but throughout the world deserve equality and freedom but know I am in no position to tell women of other cultures what that equality and freedom should look like.”
— Roxane Gay (Bad Feminist: Essays)

Betty Friedan 

Betty Friedan was a women’s rights activist, feminist and writer. I have always wanted to read her book, The Feminine Mystique and I am definitely adding it to my wish list.

“Who knows what women can be when they are finally free to become themselves? Who knows what women’s intelligence will contribute when it can be nourished without denying love?”
— Betty Friedan (The Feminine Mystique)

Ama Ata Aidoo

She is a playwright, poet and author. I’m adding The Girl Who Can and Other Stories, Changes: A Love Story and An Angry Letter in January and Other Poems.

“Humans, not places, make memories.”
— Ama Ata Aidoo

bell hooks

bell hooks is a feminist, social activist, professor and author. I want to read Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics, Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism, and Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood.

“No black woman writer in this culture can write “too much”. Indeed, no woman writer can write “too much”…No woman has ever written enough.”
— bell hooks (remembered rapture: the writer at work)

Virginia Woolf

Woolf was an English 20th-century author and I’m adding A Room of One’s Own to my list.

“As long as she thinks of a man, nobody objects to a woman thinking.”
— Virginia Woolf 

Janet Mock

Janet Mock is a transgender rights activist, director, producer and writer. I want to read her book Redefining Realness.

“I believe that telling our stories, first to ourselves and then to one another and the world, is a revolutionary act. It is an act that can be met with hostility, exclusion, and violence. It can also lead to love, understanding, transcendence, and community. – Janet Mock

Zora Neale Hurston

She was a writer and anthropologist, and it’s definitely time for me to read her book Their Eyes Were Watching God.

“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.”
— Zora Neale Hurston

Margaret Atwood

She is a literary critic, essayist, novelist, poet and activist. I also want to hop onto that The Handmaid’s Tale train, and add The Testaments while I’m at it.

“I would like to be the air that inhabits you for a moment only. I would like to be that unnoticed and that necessary.”
— Margaret Atwood

There are more authors I want to add, but as I keep reading and learning, I’ll keep adding more to my shelf. One can never read too many books. I’m excited and can’t wait.

What are you adding to your wish list?

A Girl From The South Side – Reading ‘Becoming’ by Michelle Obama

And the Best Spoken Word Album | 2020 GRAMMYs goes to…

A toast to Michelle Obama for her win. We’re adding this celebration to the collage of all the iconic women who are allowing other women and girls of colour to see themselves in places they couldn’t have otherwise imagined.

Since the award is for the audiobook version of her memoir Becoming, I just had to write a review of the book.

In Becoming, the former first lady of the United States takes us through a personal journey – from her childhood in the South Side of Chicago, all the way to the walls of the White House. In between these two points is a young girl in Princeton who experiences what it’s like to be the only black face in a room, there’s the diligent student in Harvard, a high-powered lawyer, a young woman who falls in love, a wife and a mother. The shifting in all these stages make this an aptly titled book where Michelle reveals so much about her life, doing it so with candour and much appreciated humour.

Michelle grew up in a nuclear family of four – her, her parents and brother. We later see how she was raised, the roles her parents played, their approach to life and how she and her brother were treated, shape the person she becomes. Her life as a student shows us a young woman who has a clear idea of who and what she wants to be, an overachiever and “box-checker” who later learns that she has to adjust to life’s circumstances.

When it comes to her love story with former president Barack Obama, and her role as a wife and a mother to her daughters, it’s refreshing to read her honest admission to moments of fear, anxiety, self-doubt and a search for balance between work, family life, Barack’s political career and self.

“If you don’t get out there and define yourself, you’ll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others.”

― Michelle Obama, Becoming

Michelle admits to never being a fan of politics and was not the kind of spouse who immediately ran with her husband’s decision to run for president. As an achieved, successful and strong woman, she had to take on a role that was centred on the career of her spouse. She is also a black woman, which carries more weight than it is a simple description of her ethnicity. She takes us behind the scenes of what it’s like to stare at the ugly face of politics, to have her and her family under public scrutiny and being treated or seen as a public accessory. However, she neither whines nor begs for pity, but rather shows us how she navigated her way through these challenges.

As much of a celebrity as she is, and as prominent and iconic as she is, in Becoming we get to sit down with a normal woman who tells us her story. Simple.

My friend read, loved and wouldn’t shut up about this book until I read it. I also cannot shut up about it and I recommend it for all women, more especially women who have gone through or are going through the journey of BECOMING. Becoming yourself, becoming whatever role it is you’re taking up or have just taken up, becoming with the love of your life, or becoming a mother.

Becoming offers a wealth of inspiration as well as a delightful insight into the life of one of the most admirable figures in the world.

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Enjoy!