Part 2: SWAN Week

For the next installment of SWAN Week, I’m going to talk about books that I have read recently that are by female writers.

1. Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy by Karen Abbott

Karen Abbot is one of my favorite historians. She writes about incredible women in American history. She made me realize that Chicago history was interesting; she introduced me to the Everleigh sisters. This new work of nonfiction is about four women acting as spies, etc during the Civil War. Two support the Union while two support the confederacy.  One woman dressed as a man and fought as a solider. One woman, a true Southern Belle, raced across the battlefield to give a general a message. Impressive women!

2. Phoebe and her Unicorn by Dana Simpson
It’s a comic about a girl and her unicorn, nicknamed Heavenly Nostrils. I think there’s a webcomic and two trade editions. The comic isn’t not cutesy. It’s being described as like Calvin and Hobbes. It all starts with Phoebe finding her unicorn staring at her own reflection. Unicorns are so narcissistic that they can get caught by their own reflection. The girl snaps the unicorn out of it and the unicorn grants Phoebe a wish Mischief and fun proceed from there.
3. Department of Speculation by Jenny Offill
This book hurt to read but in a good way. It’s about a woman struggling to deal with being an adult. She’s trying to figure out how she hasn’t written her second book, deal with her child and husband. Ultimately, she’s trying to figure out where her life went wrong. But it’s more than that. It’s composed of short poetry like paragraphs that contemplate life. She talks about Greek philosophers, Rilke, and more. My heart was beating at the end.
4. The Ouija Interviews by Sarah Becan
This comic is based on a series of encounters on a Ouija board in 2006. It’s short but a true gem, even if you don’t believe in the afterworld. So much about people’s lives is explored in very short, poignant bursts.
5. The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
It won the Man Booker in 2013. The book focuses on the New Zealand gold mining country. The plot centers around an incident that happens one night. All the characters are impacted by it. The narrative flows in and out of different view points. A strangely compelling book.
6. Chicken with Plums by Marjane Satrapi
I love Marjane Satrapi. Perspeolis still remains one of my favorite books. At the Chicago Humanities Festival in Fall 2014, she said that Chicken with Plums was her favorite work. So naturally, I had to read it. It’s about her uncle who decides to lie down and die. It’s an interesting tale about love, art, and life. Beautiful and heartbreaking.
That’s all for now!

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