#BacklistBinge Giveaway

#BacklistBinge Giveaway

To celebrate the #BacklistBinge we’re doing a giveaway! Each of us picked one of our favorite backlist titles and two lucky subscribers will get to win the book of their choice. The giveaway starts now and runs to June 21st 6pm EST!

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Katie’s pick

Ladies, I have to admit that I’m a total sucker when it comes to a good book that focuses on food or what I’ve lovingly termed “foodie fic.” There is something deliciously feel-good when it comes to reading about bubbling pots of stews and glowing bouquets of asparagus. That’s why I want to share my quintessential foodie fic read, Kitchens of the Great Midwest, with you.


The story centers around Eva Thorvald, a culinary wunderkind who “finds solace and salvation in the flavors of her native Minnesota.” You will watch Eva grow from a precocious home cook to the famous chef behind the nationally acclaimed pop up dinner club.Told in a series of vignettes that will make you feel as though you’re watching a more decadent version of He’s Just Not That Into You with the flare of Top Chef, Kitchens will have you savoring each morsel of the story till the very last bite. It’s the kind of book that pairs well with food, especially if you’re willing to make Pat Pragar’s award-winning peanut butter bars.

Kait’s pick

I may have a slight obsession with Caitlin Moran and I think you will to after you read How to Build Girl. Moran captures the brilliant inner voice of a teen girl trying to find herself. I love a good teen coming of age story.

As a former angsty teen, I couldn’t help but relate to Johanna Morrigan, our 14-year-old main character. After publicly shaming herself, Johanna creates a persona known as Dolly Wilde which allows her to let down her inhibitions. By sixteen she is smoking cigarettes, getting drunk with rock stars, and has proclaimed herself a Lady Sex Adventurer. This is not your squeaky clean YA novel. I fell in love with Johanna’s struggle on her journey of self-discovery where she finds out sometimes the person you’re born as is often the best version of yourself.

Want to win a copy of one of these books? Be subscribed to the blog and leave a comment on this post with the name of the book you’d like to win.

For extra entries head on over to our Instagram @littressblog for more chances to win!

Disclosure: You must be 18 years or older or have the permission of a parent or guardian to enter. The giveaway is for U.S. Residents only. This giveaway is not affiliated with WordPress or any other companies.

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Is This Classic Lit? LIVE STREAM!

Is This Classic Lit? LIVE STREAM!

Hey, Littresses! We’re excited to announce the soft launch of a new monthly live stream called Is This Classic Lit? Each Month, we’ll be reading a book from the classic literature canon and giving you our no-nonsense opinion about whether we think this classic is lit (or not so lit). This is no academic lecture – we’re just here to talk about great books in literature and give you our take on them.

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For our first live steam, we will be reading Daphne Du Maurier’s REBECCA, a nail-biting romance suspense novel and a favorite among our book readers over on Instagram. Our live steam will be on June 21st at 7:30 pm. To access the steam, visit http://bit.ly/classiclitlive.

We’d love to get your feedback during the session to talk ideas as we work on polishing our format. Make sure to chat with us in the live steam, or send us a DM on our Instagram!

#BacklistBinge Recommendations from @oxfordjanebooks

#BacklistBinge Recommendations from @oxfordjanebooks

For #backlistbinge! Here are some books that Monica from @oxfordjanebooks recommends:

A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean is one of my favorite books of all time! Set in Montana in the 1920’s Norman writes about fly fishing and about the beautiful Montana landscape, but mostly he writes about those we love and fail miserably to help. It is a beautiful, sometimes funny, heartbreaking story. (published in 1976)

Idaho by Emily Ruskovich is told through the voice of Wade’s second wife. We come to understand how Wade’s first family shattered into pieces. The center of this story is the tragedy, yet the story is also about human memory–what we hold onto, what is taken from us, what we try to construct, and, maybe most importantly, what we let fall away. This book will keep you thinking for days after you finish it. It is different and really good. (published in 2017)

Piece of Mind by Michelle Adelman is a well-crafted, thought-provoking and, in the end, uplifting story with a lead character that we almost never read about. Lucy suffered a traumatic brain injury as a young child. For those of you that want to hear different voices in literature, put this on your list! Lucy is a marvelous character. You will be rooting for her. And her voice may nudge you to see others in a gentler, more accurate light. (published in 2016)

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Happy Reading!

Have you completed any of the #BacklistBinge Challenges? Tell us in the comment below. Don’t forget to tag @littressblog on Instagram with #BacklistBinge so we can see all your posts!

Books to Read During #BacklistBinge

Books to Read During #BacklistBinge

Last week, we excitedly announced our #BacklistBinge reading challenge for the month of June! If you missed last week’s post (you can read the whole thing here), Backlist Binge is a reading challenge dedicated to readers grabbing pre-2018 titles off the shelf of the library, bookstore, or home library and checking it off your TBR. This challenge is meant to inspire book discovery in the way many of us remember growing up and sharing some hidden gems that get lost in the midst of amazing new titles.

However, if you’re a little unsure what to pick up this month, Kait and I are sharing some books we’ve read over the past few years and absolutely loved! They are all, obviously, pre-2018 and books we are passionate about.

Backlist Binge

Kait’s Picks

The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin – Holy fantasy, Batman! This is book one of the Broken Earth trilogy that doesn’t get enough love on social media. If you are a lover of fantasy, you will love N.K. Jemisin’s masterful world building. The book opens with Essun, a woman living an ordinary life, mourning the death of her son, who was murdered by her husband, and her daughter who was kidnapped by him. Essun sets off in a dying landscape that is plagued with seismic activity to find her daughter. She is one badass lady who you will keep you engaged.

How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran – As a former angsty teen, I couldn’t help but relate to Johanna Morrigan, our 14-year-old main character. After publicly shaming herself, Johanna creates a persona known as Dolly Wilde which allows her to let down her inhibitions. By sixteen she is smoking cigarettes, getting drunk with rock stars, and has proclaimed herself a Lady Sex Adventurer. This is not your squeaky clean YA novel. I fell in love with Johanna’s struggle on her journey of self-discovery where she finds out sometimes the person you’re born as is often the best version of yourself.

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne – This book wrecked me. If you missed picking this up last year, there is no time like the present. Born out of wedlock in the 1940s, Cyril Avery is put up for adoption and finds himself in a family that meets his basic needs but not much else. The book follows Cyril over his lifetime trying to live in a society that will not accept his sexuality. It’s a book that will make you both laugh and cry but mostly cry. A lot.


Katie’s Picks

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy – This would not be a book recommendation list from me it if it didn’t have at least on YA title on it. Part romance, part bramance, and a whole hell of a lot of fantastic discussion surrounding fat culture, Dumplin’ is literally like eating a dumpling – delicious till the last bite. Our starlet is Willowdean Dickson, chunky teen that works at a greasy fast food joint while salivating over fry cook (and ever so delicious) Private School Bo. The daughter of the beauty queen of the county, Willowdean feels like she can never make her mother happy and is tired of not feeling confident in her own skin. With a Dolly Parton tune as her call to arms, Willowdean decides to enter the local beauty pageant and prove once and for all that Freddy Mercury was right in saying “big girls you are beautiful.”

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan – There is something about summer that just screams for books that are a bit more lighthearted and with a new movie adaptation coming out in August (cue my audible screams of excitement), there is no better time to pick up the first book in the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy. Reading this series is as close to that $1,000 gold sundae as you’ll ever get (unless, you know, you have one-thousand bucks to spend on that kind of insanity). Filled with lots of romance and family relationships, this book is ultimately an intimate look at the gaudy lifestyles of Singapore’s insanely rich. This book is absolutely crazy.

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey – While a book about the rugged and cold terrain of Alaska might not seem an obvious choice amidst the summer heat, one might argue this is the perfect book to cool you down. A stunning retelling of a popular fairy tale, the snow child is quiet in its beauty and brimming with beautiful imagery. Centered around a barren middle-aged couple who transplant to the Alaskan wilderness, we see the pair of lovers decide to build a small child made of snow as they yearn for one of their own. Their wish come true when they find their small snow child has come alive the next day. The book moves swiftly, creating a full cast of enthralling characters. This is the kind of book you long to linger with – just make sure to enjoy it before it melts.

Have some recommendations you’d like to share? Tell us in the comment below. Don’t forget to tag @littressblog on Instagram with #BacklistBinge so we can see all your posts!

Littress #BacklistBinge Reading Challenge

Littress #BacklistBinge Reading Challenge

It’s almost June and, as promised, we are back, baby! Not only do we have the summer months jammed packed with great posts about reading culture, but we’re excited to announce that we’re making the month of June all about reading those forgotten pre-2018 titles with our #BacklistBinge challenge!

For the month of June, we making it a challenge to set down our trendy reads for the month and go back to our roots of discovering timeless classics, connecting with readers, booksellers, and librarians about books they loved (and we might love too), and reconnect with the joy that comes from perusing books in the stacks in hopes of finding serendipity. That means from June 1st to June 30th, we’re going to try to read as many pre-2018 titles as possible. Plan your month to exclusively read backlist titles or vow to incorporate more into your monthly #TBR. You’re #BacklistBinge plan is up to you. Just make sure to share your backlist reads by tagging @littressblog or #BacklistBinge on Instagram so we’re sure to see those posts (and share them with our readers, too)!

To help kick things off right, we’ve put together our #BacklistBinge challenge to help inspire you. Think of these as prompts to get you thinking outside the frontlist catalogs. There’s no pressure to finish them all. Just have fun with getting lots of backlist reading accomplished!

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Want to print off our challenge list so you can keep track of which challenges you’ve accomplished? Click here for the printable version of the #BacklistBinge reading challenges.

If you decide to join us make sure you tag us @littressblog and use #BacklistBinge on all your social media posts so we can see what you read! Make sure to sign up to get our weekly posts sent straight to your inbox by signing up here.

Ask Me About My Chronic Ilness: How Female Authors  are Tackling Gender Disparity in Medicine

Ask Me About My Chronic Ilness: How Female Authors  are Tackling Gender Disparity in Medicine

By Molly Thibault

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Do you know someone who identifies as a woman who also has a chronic illness? Maybe your mother, or your sister, or your friend? Perhaps an aunt or a colleague? What about yourself? Statistically speaking, you answered ‘yes’ at least once because many, though not all, chronic illnesses affect women disproportionately more than men. For instance, three-fourths of the approximately 37 million people with autoimmune disorders in the U.S. are women, 1 in 10 women have endometriosis, and three out of every four people with migraine are women. Despite the fact that so many women experience chronic health conditions, the gender gap in medicine and society at large results in the constant dismissal and mistreatment of women’s pain and illness.

I have been a woman with chronic illness since I was 15. Through high school, college, and now into my twenties, I have learned to navigate spaces and institutions that fail to accept, understand, or accommodate people whose bodies function in an ‘abnormal’ way. This experience has been both emotionally and physically challenging, and has resulted in feelings of isolation and otherness. However, I am grateful to have found understanding and community in a variety of places, including in books.

2018 has brought a diverse selection of narratives written about chronic illness. Four particular books, all works of nonfiction written by women living with chronic illness, provide a variety of perspectives on the dynamic between women, illness, and society. While I sometimes find it difficult to see aspects of my own experiences with illness in the stories of others, I have also found it comforting to read such narratives and know that I am not alone. These stories serve to educate and connect, and I believe it is vital to share them both with those who can relate to them, as well as with those who can learn from them.

If you are interested in a memoir about one young woman’s relentless fight to make doctors believe in her pain, read Ask Me About My Uterus: A Quest to Make Doctors Believe in Women’s Pain by Abby Norman. Norman’s debut delves into her experience of being diagnosed with endometriosis as a student at Sarah Lawrence College and then spending the remainder of her 20s fighting for adequate treatment and understanding despite her worsening health. The story also discusses Norman’s traumatic childhood, for which I would give a content warning for disordered eating and child neglect, which some readers may find upsetting. Both aspects of Norman’s personal story – the physical trauma and the emotional trauma – are complemented by a discussion of the social and historical context of how women and their pain have been dismissed by society and medicine for centuries. Though at times grim, Ask Me About My Uterus is an encouraging and admiral story of strength and resilience.

Another chronic illness memoir is Sick by Porochista Khakpour, which will be released in June 2018. Though I’ve yet to finish this book, what I’ve read thus far has been a beautifully written and painfully honest telling of Khakpour’s experience of life-long illness, which was eventually identified as late-stage Lyme disease. Khakpour discusses the traumas of her past, including fleeing Tehran as a child during the Iranian Revolution, experiencing drug use, sexual assault, and abusive relationships as a college and graduate student, and beginning the long and difficult journey of finally having her severe health problems diagnosed. Though not an easy read, Sick is a raw and eloquent telling of one woman’s attempt to survive in a body that has “never felt at east.”

If you are looking for a book that utilizes personal narrative and social science research to discusses the unique challenges of being a young, chronically ill woman, try Michele Lent Hirsch’s Invisible: How Young Women With Serious Health Issues Navigate Work, Relationships, and the Pressure to Seem Just Fine. In this debut, Lent Hirsch uses narratives of her own and others’ experiences with several medical conditions to open a dialogue about how many ‘typical’ aspects of being a woman are often complicated by life-altering health issues. Though this book is less personal than the previous two memoirs and is informed by sociological research, it remains very accessible to audiences of all kinds. Additionally, this book covers an array of diagnoses, from cancer to HIV to autoimmune disorders and beyond. I am incredibly appreciative of this book and felt both empowered and comforted to see a number of my own experiences and anxieties about being a young woman with chronic illness reflected back at me in the stories Lent Hirsch shares.

Finally, Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick by Maya Dusenbery is perhaps the least personal but most comprehensive and hard-hitting of these four books. Dusenbery examines how gender bias is embedded in every level of modern medicine and healthcare, and how this widespread and festering bias results in the mistreatment and misdiagnosis of women. Whereas the previous books rely heavily on the personal narratives, Dusenbery’s is full of ethnographic, scientific and sociological research. Though dense, this book is groundbreakingly insightful and informative and provides readers – chronically ill and otherwise – a lense through which to understand the treatment of women in modern medicine.

Thank you to Beacon Press, Nation Books, and Harper Perennial for providing copies of Invisible, Ask Me About My Uterus, and Sick for review.

Want to see what else Molly is reading? Make sure to follow her on Instagram @readmollyread! Have you read any books about gender disparity in medicine that you’d like to tell us about leave us a comment below or tag us @littressblog on instagram and twitter or by using the #littressblog!

Brazen Blazes into New Territories

Brazen Blazes into New Territories

by Katie Male

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When I think back to the feminist icons of my childhood, I quickly recall the days admiring women like Austen, Alcott, and Montgomery. While I (and many others) acknowledge them as advocates for the feminist movement, we do not think of them as being exactly loud about it (although I’m sure Austen would have given a cutting glare to any misogynist standing in her midst).

Brazen is exactly what the titles says it is: a bold compilation of stories about badass ladies who lived their lives shamelessly. This is the kind of book I needed as a teenager, a book that explored the complexity of feminist issues while telling it in a simple, accessible manner that would have made me swoon. Topics move between the artistic, political, and social spaces, and while they might be considered boring to the iGeneration, Penelope Bagieu finds a way to make these international women relatable and compelling.  

Using limited color palettes and simple line drawings, our Brazen women span from the Las Mariposas sisters of the Dominican Republic to Tove Jansson, the creator of the Moomin trolls, to (my personal favorite) Annette Kellerman. The true beauty of this work is that Bagieu decides to pick outside-of-the-box choices for her subjects, women that might be overlooked by mainstream media, giving the reader the chance to meet women that have been kicking butts and taking names since before baby Jesus.

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Bagieu doesn’t shy away from dealing with some of the more difficult aspects of some of these women’s stories. Many face sexual abuse, assault, rape or domestic violence, but Bagieu treats the topics with respect while considering the age of her intended audience.

The book also does well at selecting Brazen women comes from different backgrounds including their race, sexual orientation, ethnicity. If there was one fault with Brazen, it was that while the book tackles a variety of topics very well, there was no discussion about brazen women of spirituality (like Mata Amritanandamayi or Mother Teresa). I would have like to see a least one female from any spiritual background included in the work to fully fill it out, but at the end of the day, it’s a small complaint.

While authors of my favorite fictional characters will always have a special place in my heart, there’s something about having a book that possesses stories about real women that accomplished some crazy cool stuff. Congrats to Elizabeth for wooing Darcy and Anne-with-an-e for slapping that chalkboard over Gilbert Blythe’s head, but it’s nice to know, at the end of the day, that we can look up to ladies who blazed a path for us to make our own incredible stories.  

Enjoyed this review? Comment below with other titles you would like to see reviewed on the Littress blog or share it on Instagram or Twitter using #littressblog!