5 Stars · Book Reviews · non-fiction · Reading

Review | Wordslut

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Wordslut by Amanda Montell
Harper Wave, 2019
Non-Fiction
304 pages
5/5 Stars

GoodReads Synopsis:

The word “bitch” conjures many images for many people but is most often meant to describe an unpleasant woman. Even before its usage to mean a female canine, bitch didn’t refer to gender at all—it originated as a gender-neutral word meaning genitalia. A perfectly innocuous word devolving into a female insult is the case for tons more terms, including hussy, which simply meant “housewife,” or slut, which meant “untidy” and was also used to describe men. These words are just a few among history’s many English slurs hurled at women. 

Amanda Montell, feminist linguist and staff features editor at online beauty and health magazine Byrdie.com, deconstructs language—from insults and cursing to grammar and pronunciation patterns—to reveal the ways it has been used for centuries to keep women form gaining equality. Ever wonder why so many people are annoyed when women use the word “like” as a filler? Or why certain gender neutral terms stick and others don’t? Or even how linguists have historically discussed women’s speech patterns? Wordslut is no stuffy academic study; Montell’s irresistible humor shines through, making linguistics not only approachable but both downright hilarious and profound.

Review:

I have no idea how I found this book, but I am so glad that I did.

A really big part of my personality are the facts that I’m a raging feminist, and also that I majored in English in college. This book perfectly married two of my maybe four personality traits.

Montell uses humor to explain the history of the English language and the patriarchal background behind many of the words we use.

One of the most interesting parts for me was when she debunked myths behind women’s speech patterns. Different speech patterns that are commonly used by women are often looked at as being ‘unprofessional’, but Montell explains why this isn’t necessarily true. It reminded me of the time a former coworker told me that she didn’t get a promotion because our male manager told her she used the word ‘like’ too much. I now know that using ‘like’ a lot in speech has nothing to do with the speaker’s intelligence, or ability to communicate effectively, and more to do with what exactly they are trying to communicate.

Another part I loved was the part about the history of swearing. I swear like a pirate. My favorite word starts with an ‘f’ and has four letters, and I use it more than is socially appropriate. I also really don’t care. It’s the only word that can properly express my excitement, frustration, sadness, etc. Thank God for the ‘f’ word.

But. Did you know. There is a HUGE difference behind why women swear and why men swear? For men, it’s a normal part of speech, and is rarely given a second thought. When women swear, they are doing so to express a personality, their individuality, humor, and/or a negotiation of their femininity.

I could honestly go on forever about this book. It was so interesting, and I learned so much. I guess I have to put every feminist book about language on my waiting list at the library.

Perfect for Feminist Word Nerds and Washed Up English Majors.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

5 Stars · Book Reviews · Reading · romance

Book Review: “Red, White, & Royal Blue”

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Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
St. Martin’s Griffin, 2019
Romance
448 pages
5/5 Stars

Trigger Warnings: Sex, drunkenness, talk of drug addiction

GoodReads Synopsis:

What happens when America’s First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales?

When his mother became President of the United States, Alex Claremont-Diaz was promptly cast as the American equivalent of a young royal. Handsome, charismatic, genius—his image is pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House. There’s only one problem: Alex has a beef with an actual prince, Henry, across the pond. And when the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an Alex/Henry altercation, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse.

Heads of the family and state and other handlers devise a plan for damage control: Stage a truce between the two rivals. What at first begins as a fake, Instagrammable friendship grows deeper, and more dangerous, than either Alex or Henry could have imagined. Soon Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret romance with a surprisingly unstuffy Henry that could derail the presidential campaign and upend two nations. It raises the question: Can love save the world after all? Where do we find the courage, and the power, to be the people we are meant to be? And how can we learn to let our true colors shine through?

Review:

I’d been hearing about this book for literal years, but I’d always hesitated to read it, because I usually think of my ideal genre as “badass women. That’s it.” I also sort of feel like gay relationships can be idealized and gay characters can easily be caricatures or stereotypes instead of well-rounded characters. So, for a while, I stayed away from it.

And then, I received a copy in the mail as a random act of kindness, started a book club with a few friends from home, and we decided to read it.

And ya’ll… I’m so mad at myself for staying away for so long. The story is heartfelt, the characters are lovable and fully rounded out, the banter is unbeatable, the romance is steamy… and yes, even though the love story didn’t include any badass women, there were still some very badass women featured as characters.

As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, it also felt so good to be represented, not in a tragic, sad coming out story, (I’m looking at you, The Happiest Season.) but in a joyful romantic comedy. I’ve devoured rom-coms since I was a kid, and for the first time, I really saw a LGBTQ+ couple represented. This book felt like a love letter to the LGBTQ+ community.

One of my favorite parts of reading is when you get so engrossed in a book, you really are absorbed into the story. You stay up late reading, when you’re not reading, you can’t stop thinking about the book, you tell everyone to read it, you laugh out loud at the funny parts, cry at the sad parts, etc. That’s how it felt with this book. I was so enamored with everything about it, and it felt like I couldn’t stop singing its praises.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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