From 'The Woman in the Window' to 'Their Eyes Were Watching God,' Bookstr is outfitting you with the best beach reads for summer fun in the sun!
Before 1919, when women were given the right to vote, women weren’t respected as apart of mankind. Black women had it worse as many were assaulted by white slaveowners, and were less than deserving of anything but to bear children. This, however, did not stop the aspiring black authors to write in a time when blacks were forbidden to read or write. Our Nig by Harriet E. Wilson, written in 1859, become the first book to be published by an African American woman. This book gave women the opportunity to have the courage to continue to have a voice and publish their own books. These are five books that have continued to be a highlight in the world today.
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Published in 1961, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl is among the few existing slave narratives written by a woman. This autobiography is an account that follows the life of Harriet Jacobs and how she managed to escape from servitude in North Carolina, to freedom in the North. Jacobs writes about her life as a slave and the trials she endured through her escape.
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Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God is a must-read as it deals with the life of Janie Crawford as she sets out to be her own person. Independence was a huge feat for a black woman in the 30s. This leads her through three marriages and, as the blurb states, “into a journey back to her roots.”
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Lorraine Hansberry’s, A Raisin in the Sun, is an award-winning drama that speaks on the hopes and dreams of a working-class family in the South Side of Chicago. The title originates from Langston Hughes’ poem Harlem, with a line that reads “dry up/like a raisin in the sun.”
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Sent to live with her grandmother in the South, Maya and her brother Bailey are faced to endure prejudice and abandonment from their mother. When she is eight years old, Maya is abused by her mother’s boyfriend, a man who is many years her senior. Many years later, Maya learns to love herself and to be free from the horrors of the past.
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Toni Morrison’s, Song of Solomon, is a coming of age story that follows the life of Milkman Dead, who attempts to fly off a rooftop. Milkman lives the rest of his life trying to fly as he hurdles through his family’s origins.
For more books written by Black female authors, check out The Zora Canon.
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What exactly is hot girl summer? I’m so glad you asked.
Hot girl summer is a term coined by fans of Megan Thee Stallion.
Image via Billboard
The rapper explained the movement to The Root:
“It’s about women and men being unapologetically them, just having a good-ass time, hyping up their friends, doing you.”
And that’s really all there is to it. Hot girl summer is about exuding confidence, and helping those around you love themselves in turn.
Now, which literary heroines deserve to strut their stuff and throw it in a circle all night this summer?
Wow, I’m so glad you asked.
1. Fleur Delacour
Image via Pottermore
Fleur deserved better. There I said it.
By the end of all the Harry Potter books, Fleur is married to Bill Weasley and the couple have three children together. That’s all well and good, but I feel like Fleur never got the chance to reach her full potential as the enchanting siren of temptation that her introduction in Goblet of Fire makes her out to be.
Plus, Ginny calls her ‘Phlegm.’ And that’s just not very nice at all.
2. Bella Swan
Image via Fanpop
Bella Swan is easily one of the most hated characters in literary history. But if you look past the painful internalized misogyny, and the general blandness, what’s left to hate?
The fact that she has a hot vampire boyfriend, and you don’t?
Jealousy is a disease, sweetie, get well soon!
3. Helen of Troy
Image via Entity Mag
Helen of Troy is a very well known facet of Greek mythology, and has been written about thousands of times. However, in pretty much anything you read about her, she’s a boss.
She caused a 10 year war, and the deaths of over ten thousand men, just by being the hottest hottie in all of ancient Greece. That’s some real hot girl stuff (I’m, sadly, not allowed to swear).
4. Janie Crawford
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Janie Crawford is the main character in Zora Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God and, as a black woman living in North America during the early 1900’s, she suffers at the hands of almost every person she meets.
But, as we witness her life story, we see Janie’s liberation from the dictations of society. She bravely opposes those who try to limit her identity to her sex or race, and comes out the other side with the sense of self that had once been taken from her.
Maybe hot girl summer is when the pear trees blossom…
5. Lisbeth Salander
Image via Los Angeles Times
Lisbeth Salander is similar to Janie Crawford in terms of the abuse she has suffered. And like Janie Crawford, Lisbeth seeks to defy those who have hurt her.
Hot girl summer is about loving yourself, and I think exposing a serial murderer and rapist after suffering through sexual assault yourself certainly falls under the proverbial self-love umbrella.
6. Wendy Torrance
Image via Twitter
Wendy had a bad winter, there’s no denying that.
But now it’s summer, baby! Time to shed that cowboy cardigan, make your way down the mountainside, and dip your toes in the warm sand!
Wendy is newly single and ready to mingle with a man who loves kids and HATES wielding axes.
7. Katniss Everdeen
Image via Forbes
Katniss is one of the first characters to come to mind when thinking of badass heroines, and that alone gets her a spot on this list.
Plus, if you’ve read Mocking Jay, you know that things get -erm- literally hot for Katniss… She’s earned a little time to relax and let her braid down.
8. daenerys targaryen
Image via The Hollywood Reporter
Okay, I’ll confess. I’ve never read or seen Game of Thrones. Sue me. I’ve included Daenerys based on the research I’ve done about her character, but I won’t pretend to be an expert.
Instead of making an argument that might fall flat on the ears of dedicated fans, I’ll turn to this quote (I also don’t really know if this quote is a spoiler, proceed with caution):
“Do you know what kept me standing through all those years in exile? Faith. Not in any gods. Not in myths and legends. In myself. In Daenerys Targaryen. The world hadn’t seen a dragon in centuries until my children were born. The Dothraki hadn’t crossed the sea. Any sea. They did for me. I was born to rule the Seven Kingdoms, and I will.”
9. Nancy Drew
Image via TVLine
“Figure it out like Nancy Drew/Catch up quick like, Halleloo!/Who gon’ check me boo?/Not you!/I’m a pro!”
She’s smart and she knows it, and that is some real hot girl crap (is ‘crap’ any better than ‘stuff’?)
10. Elizabeth Bennet
Image via 8Tracks
Okay, now it’s real hot girl hours. Possibly the most iconic hot girl of them all. Maybe the hottest of all the girls.
Elizabeth Bennet has all the men around town tripping over their heels in a rush to propose. She gets to turn down two proposals, and when someone asks her to refuse the next one she decides to say yes.
Having emotional depth, a complex psyche, and enough self respect to listen to your heart and do things on your own terms? That’s some real hot girl-ness (I’m sorry).
Featured image via Pinterest
Sometimes, we look to our friends to be better people. Since you probably just rang in the New Year watching all of your friends sing badly and injure themselves while intoxicated, maybe you’re looking for a role model who’s a little more respectable. Here’s a list of ten literary characters who can inspire us to be better people in the year 2019—as long as we emulate only their positive qualities. (Katniss Everdeen did kill dozens of people.)
1. Atticus Finch
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A more inspirational lawyer than most actual lawyers, Harper Lee‘s beloved character Atticus Finch is a role model in the poor Southern town of Maycomb during the Great Depression. He’s empathetic, forgiving, respectful, an excellent parent… and he puts everything on the line to defend a black man in court in the 1930s, even when the racists in town don’t understand why. His rigid commitment to what’s right has served as an inspiration for many practicing lawyers, and his commitment to his beliefs is particularly relevant in times of division, violence, and injustice. (Yes, we’re ignoring the fact that he becomes a crotchety old racist in Go Set a Watchman—as are all of the parents who named their kids after him.)
2. Hermione Granger
Gif Via Huffingtonpost.com
Listen-Harry might be brave and bold, but he’s no Ravenclaw. We all know Hermione is smart and loyal, constantly staying all night in the library to get the goods for her friends. And we would never forget how socially aware she can be, standing up for the rights of house elves and shutting down slurs left and right. But you might’ve forgotten how she deals with snitches and bitches: when Cho Chang’s friend leaks the details of Dumbledore’s Army, Hermoine finds out it was her via the sign-up sheet’s enchanted paper. Anyone who betrays the trust of the group will have the word SNEAK appear across their face in boils—which honestly would leave a pretty gross scar. This 2019, let’s all learn from Hermione not to mess around.
3. Nancy Drew
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Some people never land their dream jobs. Some people do it when they’re sixteen years old. Nancy Drew is big time goals for a number of reasons, not the least of which the fact that she’s a female detective originally from the 1930s—not a time big on respecting girls or children. She also graduated high school at the age of sixteen, meaning she must have remained pretty focused despite catching criminals. She also had more hobbies than books written about her, which is pretty impressive given her multi-decade run. Nancy is hardly the only genius detective out there, but she’s never been accused of blazing it 24/7 (Shaggy from Scooby Doo) or injecting cocaine (Sherlock Holmes).
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So maybe Eloise is just a wildly overprivileged six-year-old who roller-skates down the hallways of the Plaza Hotel. Eloise is at once extremely wealthy and a child, meaning she doesn’t have to pay for anything and has no responsibilities. While it’s unlikely we’ll shirk off all debt in the year 2019 and eat solely hotel room service, there’s nothing wrong with childlike enthusiasm in adult circumstances. (But there is something wrong with pouring champagne down mail chutes.)
5. Lady Macbeth
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2019 should definitely not be the year you kill someone. (2018 also should not have been the year you killed someone, though we’d understand if you considered it.) But this is a year for going after your dreams will all the wrath of this Shakespearean heroine. Want a better job? Get one! Want a healthier relationship? You go! Want the King of Scotland dead? You know what to do.
6. Jay Gatsby
Gif Via Gfycat.com
Maybe he does end up dead in a swimming pool. But listen—have you ever wanted something so badly you moved across the country, changed your name, broke the law, and became a mysterious billionaire celebrity to almost get it? This year, go after your goals with all the obsession and straight-up panache of Jay Gatsby. Just do your best not to be an accomplice to a hit-and-run.
7. Samwise Gamgee
Gif Via Giphy.com
Following a year of political unpleasantness (and likely entering another year of political unpleasantness), let’s all take inspiration from a loyal friend who has never done anything wrong. If Lord of the Rings‘ Samwise Gamgee can become the only person to ever willingly give up the Ring, you can probably, like, eat a salad every now and then.
8. Janie Crawford
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Zora Neale Hurston‘s Their Eyes Were Watching God details the life story of Janie Crawford, who escapes abusive and unsatisfying relationships to find love, respect, freedom, and financial independence. (Goals!) Janie Crawford rejects her role as the trophy wife of a violent husband to run far away with a kindhearted drifter. (Oh, and when her abusive husband dies, she gets all his money.) Enduring onslaughts of both nature and man, Janie survives a hurricane to become a stronger person and returns to her hometown in possession of a fascinating, well-lived life. While it would be best not to almost drown, be put on trial for murder, and have multiple of your loved ones die this 2019, we can (probably) become better versions of ourselves without the terrible bits.
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In Alice Walker‘s The Color Purple, Sofia defies gender roles and existing power struggles with her physical and mental strength. Is your goal for 2019 to work out? Maybe you’ll get so jacked you can punch abusers. Sofia’s physical strength allows her to take over as the head of the household, performing labor traditionally reserved for men, and negate her husband’s attempts at physical control. Not only can Sofia defy those in her life who want to hurt her, but she can also leave them. It’s never too early in the year to cut toxic people from your life—just don’t get arrested while doing it.
10. Katniss Everdeen
Image Via Giphy.com
If you’ve ever wanted to change the world, then guess what? Real life is a dystopia, and what you do in your day-to-day existence is probably exactly what you’d do as a fictional character. If you’d rather be a hero, try considering the ways in which you can better the world without killing dozens of children.