ladies’ literature


“There is nothing gutsier to me than a person announcing that their story is one that deserves to be told, especially if that person is a woman. As hard as we have worked and as far as we have come, there are still so many forces conspiring to tell women that our concerns are petty, our opinions aren’t needed, that we lack the gravitas necessary for our stories to matter. That personal writing by women is no more than an exercise in vanity and that we should appreciate this new world for women, sit down, and shut up.” –Lena Dunham, “Not That Kind of Girl”

So I inadvertently ended up consecutively checking out three books that all fall under the same genre; personal nonfiction by women. I’ve been going out of my YA comfort zone lately, and I’m glad that doing so introduced me to the works of these talented women.

Hyperbole and a Half, based on the web comic of the same name, is a series of comics about cartoonist Allie Brosh’s life. Some of her comics are endearing, and others are flat-out hilarious. (Her childhood struggle with the letter R had me laughing so hard I was convulsing and sobbing at the same time.) Check out her web comic here.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed surprised me; I wasn’t sure how much I would actually like the story of a woman trying to “find herself” by hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, but I found myself getting really involved in Strayed’s emotional journey. (And wincing at some of the stuff she went through on her physical journey—too-small boots and an overly heavy backpack? Yikes.)

Lena Dunham’s book of autobiographical essays was mildly entertaining, but I wasn’t really able to relate to most of it. I briefly skimmed the (mostly bad) reviews of Not That Kind of Girl on Goodreads, and one of the big complaints seemed to be about Dunham’s privilege. Yes, Lena Dunham is extremely privileged (evidenced by her casual mentioning of her family’s summer house and her sister’s $200 jeans), but does that mean she isn’t allowed to tell her stories? Silencing one voice does not make other voices heard.

Have you read any of the above books? Or any other good autobiographies?

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