Feminism / Literature

If You Go Home With Somebody & They Don’t Have Books – Don’t F**k Them!

literature-fine-not-so-fineIt’s a quote that’s very famous at this point. It’s been repeated many times, in many different contexts and I hope that it will continue to be repeated just as often.

“If you go home with somebody and they don’t have books, don’t fuck them.”

Amen to that and thank you John Waters for putting it so beautifully.

I’ve been a voracious reader all of my life. I go through at least two books a month and I will happily devour anything from the classics, to crime fiction, to fantasy, to non-fiction and, of course, erotica. I am an avowed book nerd and an extremely proud one. There are books on science, books on religion, books on relationships and books on dragons and magic dotted all about my house. I read Lady Chatterley’s Lover at thirteen and Simone De Beauvoir’s The Second Sex two years later. When it comes to literature, I’ve always managed to be one step ahead of where I’m expected to be.

Throughout high school I’d get in trouble for reading books under the table during lessons. I’d read whilst waiting for lessons to start and I’d read whilst waiting for them to end. Over the five years I spent in high school, I never got away from that one strange and mysterious question.

Why are you reading?

I didn’t know how to answer it then and I still don’t know how to answer it now. What do you mean why am I reading? I read for a million and one different reasons. I read because there’s nothing better than a good book. I read because books are way fucking cool and anybody who doesn’t agree has a little bit of something missing from their soul.*

I don’t know when a love for books stopped being natural and became something unusual. Sure, we’ve got movies and television shows and video games and Kindles, but have you ever stopped and thought about the nature of a book? How about the notion that there are FICTIONAL characters in the world that are more famous than a lot of real people? How absolutely mental is that?

Just think about Heathcliff or Oliver Twist. Think about Harry Potter for Christ’s sake! There are people in the world who don’t know who Nelson Mandela is but they can tell you every little detail about the birth, childhood and adventures of a fictional teenager who lives in a magic castle. To me, that is insane – that is the perfect example of just how much power a book can wield.0a4181885355c2b18f90330848cbdab5

So, don’t even get me started on the Kindle. I loathe the Kindle. I mean, I get it. I understand why a person would buy one but no matter how much hype I hear and no matter how many friends flip and end up buying one – it’s not for me. And it’s not because I want to be this literary purist that’s trying to out-retro everybody else in the world. It’s just because books are great.

They look great. They feel great to handle and to hold. They even smell nice. There is more beauty in a book than in twenty years worth of The Only Way Is Essex or Geordie Shore. There are more life lessons in a book than in a decade’s worth of television.

Books have taught me everything that I know. I am a liberal, generous, free thinking human being because I’ve been exposed to every possible facet of life through literature. When I was wee’ my parents imposed television and film limits on me just like everybody else’s parents did. But they were never readers themselves and they never understood the nature of the things that I chose to read.

That’s why I read One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest at thirteen and learned about society’s perceptions of mental health. I read The Handmaid’s Tale and learned about society’s treatment of women. I read Death Of A Salesman and learned about the horrors of old age. I read Tipping The Velvet and learned about the delights of girl-on-girl affection. And I read The God Delusion and became a much better person for it.

Books made me.

 

*This does not apply to the Twilight series or Fifty Shades Of Grey. Sorry.

 

 

These are my top five favourite books. What’s your favourite?

  1. Katherine Dunn – Geek Love
  2. Stephen King – It
  3. Simone De Beauvoir – The Second Sex
  4. Inga Musico – Cunt
  5. George Orwell – 1984

 

 

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16 thoughts on “If You Go Home With Somebody & They Don’t Have Books – Don’t F**k Them!

    • That would be a good point if I were one of those people who likes to treat books as if they’re made out of pure gold. When I talk about loving books, I’m talking about the life of a book – both inside and out. That’s why I love to buy books from charity shops. I know you think I’m strange, but I appreciate every tiny curl, tear or fold in my favourite books. They’re worn because I read the shit out of them. There’s nothing wrong with that. I could drop them in the bath less though, that’s true. It is a small price to pay for the pleasure of getting to read and vegetate in a hot, bubble bath. One of the greatest pleasures in life! That and cheese. And lesbians.

  1. I’m in the middle of The Second Sex, myself. It’s a strange reading experience, because at times Simone and I are in perfect agreement and then at other times our conclusions are widely divergent. At any rate I think she put forth a fascinating theoretical account of the development of patriarchy.

    My favorite book is definitely The Virtue of Selfishness by Ayn Rand. I don’t know if I could pin down a top five – but here are a couple of interesting ones I’ve read:

    That Takes Ovaries!: Bold Females and Their Brazen Acts by Rivka Solomo
    http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_11?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=that%20takes%20ovaries&sprefix=that+takes+%2Caps%2C339&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Athat%20takes%20ovaries
    -Collection of anecdotes of awesome women doing courageous things

    Masculine / Feminine – Readings In Sexual Mythology And the Liberation Of Women, by Betty Roszak (Editor) , Theodore Roszak (Editor)
    http://www.amazon.com/Masculine-Feminine-Readings-Mythology-Liberation/dp/006131952X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1376225676&sr=8-1&keywords=masculine+feminine+readings+in+sexual+mythology
    -Collection of essays about gender and sexuality, featuring writers like Shaw and de Beauvoir

    By the way, I recently finished Cherrie Moraga’s book Lo Que Nunca Paso Por Sus Labios – Loving in the War Years. I highly recommend it – the poetry alone is so captivating! It’s a fascinating read for anyone interested in race and gender.

    I also highly recommend Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s autobiography for a gritty account of growing up as a woman in the Muslim world.

    Oh, and lest we forget I also have a love-hate relationship with the ever-so-verbose Judith Butler. I love her deconstructions of gender and sex, and I adore her cerebral, over-intellectual style in general (yes, I admit it usually takes me multiple readings to comprehend her, though!). But her post-modern vagueness and anti-individualism, as well as her obnoxious habit of citing people I’m never going to read (of course we’re all just so well versed in Sartre and Wittig etc. [sarcasm]) drive me up the effing wall!

    By the way, high-five for 1984. I also recommend Orwell’s account of the Spanish Civil War – Homage to Catalonia:
    http://www.amazon.com/Homage-Catalonia-George-Orwell/dp/0156421178/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1376227220&sr=8-1&keywords=homage+to+catalonia

    I especially like his description of the sensation of being shot. I read it years ago but I don’t think I will ever shake it.

    Cheers and happy reading.

    • I love the honesty of The Second Sex. I find her frankness wonderfully appealing. I can’t really hack the type of feminism that doesn’t make space for the notion that women have issues, they’ve got problems, they struggle and they’re not perfect. For me, feminism is about coming to terms with EVERYTHING involved with womanhood – the struggles included. And Beauvoir just lays it all out there. She’s never afraid to confess to her own selfishness, jealousy or ego. There’s a passage towards the beginning that describes how it feels to be a teenage girl and get leered at by a man. Every pore of your being screams out to be noticed when you’re thirteen/fourteen – you yearn to be older and to be filled with sex appeal. Until some guy wolf whistles at you or makes an obscene comment and you realise that the way that a lot of men ‘appreciate’ women is harsh and rather brutal. That passage struck a real chord with me when I was younger.

      ‘Readings In Sexual Mythology And the Liberation Of Women’ sounds wonderful. I think I’m going to check that out so thank you!

      I had a similar problem with Helene Cixous, it just didn’t work for me at all. I know she’s trying to bring feminism away from the body and deconstruct it on an intellectual level but it just made me tear my hair out in frustration. I just remember a tutor at university saying well ‘If you understand it, you don’t really understand it. Get it?’ It was either bad teaching or my brain is too tiny, but I just can’t get on board with something that you’ve got to not understand, in order to understand it. Her queer theory stuff I’m very much with though – that makes sense to me.

  2. I agree…. kind of. But you don’t leave a lot of room for people who can’t easily have books. My lifestyle is too mobile to have books anymore – I got tired of storing and carting around hundreds of books. And what if someone is too poor to afford books, but reads voraciously from the library?

    I read – ALOT – but I live in a tiny cabin in Denali National Park in interior Alaska. So my Nook (similar to Kindle) is a lifesaver.

    BTW – The Handmaid’s Tale is one of my favorite books. I’ve read it multiple times. Though I think I like Oryx & Crake better.

    • You get to cheat the system! 🙂

      I think anybody’s who has read both Oryx and Crake and The Handmaid’s Tale gets to cheat John Waters’ system. And I agree actually, Oryx and Crake is better, in my opinion. Have you read the prequel book ‘The Year Of The Flood?’

      • I haven’t – thanks for the heads-up! I haven’t even heard of it. Time to go search for it in my library’s online catalog…. 🙂

        Since I get to cheat the system, I just need another good reader up here with me!

    • Kudos to you! I think I’d do the same actually. Although, I have been asked what would happen if it was a gent who travelled a lot and couldn’t afford to keep a large amount of books. And in that case I reckon it’d have to come down to an in depth literary discussion. If he was TRUE book fan, I’d like to think he wouldn’t mind. I mean, the Handmaid’s Tale is a sexy book – if you erm…like that sort of thing, haha.

  3. Reblogged this on tcopelandfilm and commented:
    I have a lot of books.
    But seriously, I just like collecting books and having my own personalised bookshelves. My student room at Uni is tiny. I have a bed, a small cupboard thing and shelves. Which host, apart from my speakers, rows of books. They are a part of me, quite literally. The stories and facts and opinions inside those books are part of my brain processes; I think back to things I have read and they help define my opinions and thoughts. Or I could throw the shelves away, buy a kindle and pop it on the small cupboard thing. But what would be the fun in that? And no-one would want to f**k me.

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