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To find out more about my Summer Reading Challenge, Click here

So the reading challenge has been going really well. I touched base with some of the other participants and so far we have read 8,385 pages and 24 books! That’s a ton! I bet that we can get over 10,000 by the end of the summer! The current winner is Jasmine at 2856 pages and 9 books!

I read one and a half books this week: Lorna Crozier’s The Garden Going on Without Us and Geek Girls Unite by Leslie Simon.  I’m going to briefly talk about both.

Lorna Crozier is my favourite Canadian Poet.  Her poetry is smart and funny and tragic and gorgeous. The Garden Going on Without Us is a collection of poems, some of which had already been published in other volumes and some newly published that focus on life in the prairies.  She writes about the people around her, people she loves, and the natural world, both wild and cultivated.   My two favourite sections were “The Morning of the Sad Women” and “The Garden Going on Without Us” the section from which the collection gets its name. The second section includes selections from my favourite collection of poems “The Sex Lives of Vegetables” which is exactly what it sounds like.  The poems are cheeky, sensual, and clever. They also sometimes make you hungry.  If you need some more Canadian poetry in your life, I definitely recommend The Garden Going On Without Us

The second book I read this week was Geek Girls Unite.  At least I tried to read it. When I don’t like a book, I try my best to stick out to the end so I can create a fully formed opinion. I couldn’t do it with this one.  I picked up the book on sale and had high hopes for it.  Anyone who’s spent any time on the internet knows that it can be hard to be a geek and a girl at the same time.  Because geek culture is so male dominated, many women who participate in geek culture are viewed as frauds who crave male attention and prey on helpless nerd boys by pretending to be genuinely interested things that are generally considered “nerdy.” I hoped that Geek Girls Unite would be a feminist call to action that tore down or satirized the “Fake Geek Girl” trope, but it wasn’t that at all.

The concept of the book didn’t seem that bad at first; it outlines several different categories of geek girl (the fangirl, the literary geek, the film geek, etc) and offers a short history of notable women in the genre as well as a list of resources and recommendations of popular media made by women in each category.  However, there is a considerable amount of girl-hate and gatekeeping (the idea that you have to meet a certain number of high standards before you can qualify as a member of a group) written into the book.  Each section starts off with a quiz so you can see if you qualify as that particular kind of geek.  This seems like classic gatekeeping at first, but you quickly realize that the right answer is always C, always obvious, and the other answers are generally pretty funny.  The “quiz” is meant to educate and entertain rather than categorize, but my problem with it is the way that the results are delivered.  Of the three possible results, “mostly C’s” indicates a full-fledged geek girl, “mostly A’s” is an enthusiastic newcomer and “mostly B’s” is a vapid, clueless girl.  The beginning of the “mostly B’s” description in each chapter always starts with “Sorry Lauren Conrad” (or Megan Fox, or Heidi Spencer or any other popular celebrity with a reputation for being valued for their looks rather than talent) and goes on to insult them and their intelligence for a paragraph.  It’s blatant girl-on-girl hate that is destructive and divisive. Even worse than that, each chapter has a section called “Frenemies” that explains how to identify a “fake geek” that will harm the cause rather than help it.  This includes people who love twilight (which is considered an “acceptable” fandom) but think that it is well written, girls who are declare they are “really into film” after seeing a Wes Anderson movie for the first time, people who like Channing Tatum and watch his movies, People who listen to Miley Cyrus or PHISH, girls who wear leggings as pants and people who wear eccentric or “Cosby” sweaters unironically.  It seems that Leslie Simon wants geek girls to unite, but only if you fit her narrow definition of what a geek girl is.  (I apparently don’t count, I am a proud member of the leggings as pants club and I love patterned sweaters)

Geek Girls Unite is a great concept for a book, but is full of gatekeeping and misogynistic rhetoric that only reinforces the “fake geek girl” trope and make it harder for women of all kinds to be accepted into geek spaces.  I got 81 pages in before I couldn’t take it anymore.  I’m going to count those 81 pages in my reading challenge because I can’t get that 30 minutes of my life back.  Hopefully my next book will be better.

Challenge Update:

Pages: 854

Books: 2 ½

Currently Reading: Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz

There is always still time to join the summer reading challenge.  Tell me in the comments, or tweet me with #SoubretteReads2015 and tell me what you’re reading right now!


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