Source: Library

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Women in Journalism History

August 1, 2022 Uncategorized 4 ★★★★½

Women in Journalism HistoryTitle: To Tell the Truth Freely: The Life of Ida B. Wells
Author: Mia Bay
Source: Library
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:four-half-stars

Summary: A great blend of scholarly rigor and pop history approachability.

This biography of Ida B Wells started slowly for me, but ended up being a great read. I’d obviously heard of Wells before, but pretty much all I knew was that she was a journalist. It turns out that’s only a tiny glimpse of her impressive accomplishments. In her early teens, the death of Ida’s parents forced her to become a school teacher and take on the responsibility of raising her siblings. The author does a great job of showing how this challenging childhood shaped Ida’s later opinions and life choices. The author also highlights that Ida was impressively self-taught, becoming a famous Black female journalist and co-owner of a newspaper in her thirties in the 1800’s. Ida’s achievement of this level of success with very little formal schooling is incredible. However, we also see that her lack of formal credentials may have combined with sexism, classism, and her uncompromising views on injustice to prevent her from achieving the leadership roles and recognition she deserved in her own life time. Read more »

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Women in Journalism: Silicon Valley

July 27, 2022 Uncategorized 2 ★★★★

Women in Journalism: Silicon ValleyTitle: Special Characters: My Adventures with Tech's Titans and Misfits
Author: Laurie Segall
Source: Library
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:four-stars

Summary: A gossipy, but thoughtful look at Silicon Valley through the memoir of a tech journalist.

This was a delightful memoir from one of the first reporters to pay attention to companies that are big names in tech now. After all the reading I’ve been doing about war journalists, this felt like a nice break, even though it does touch on some tough topics. The bulk of the story is about the author’s career. It also includes a lot about her personal life and a close-up view of the way perception of Silicon Valley has changed over time. Read more »

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Women in Journalism: The Middle East

July 25, 2022 Uncategorized 5 ★★★★½

Women in Journalism: The Middle EastTitle: I Was Told to Come Alone: My Journey Behind the Lines of Jihad
Author: Souad Mekhennet
Source: Library
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:four-half-stars

Summary: Of the three memoirs I’ve read by female journalists in the Middle East, this was by far the best, in part because it had the most cohesive framework for understanding the region.

I wanted to review this with the two other books I read about female journalists in the Middle East, but I’m glad I didn’t finish it in time. It was less similar than the other two books. It was also by far the best book of the three and I’m happy to devote a post to it. Author Souad Mekhennet is a Muslim German woman who has experienced the bigoted behavior that many of the terrorists that she interviews say started them down that path. She’s able to leverage her identity to make contacts and enter spaces not available to other journalists. She does this bravely and at incredible personal risk. Her mother is a Shia Muslim and her father a Sunni Muslim. The author is able to talk to them to give a more personal perspective as she covers sectarian conflict in the Middle East. Read more »

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Review: How To Read Nonfiction Like a Professor

July 18, 2022 Uncategorized 2 ★★

Review: How To Read Nonfiction Like a ProfessorTitle: How to Read Nonfiction Like a Professor: Critical Thinking in the Age of Bias, Contested Truth, and Disinformation
Author: Thomas C. Foster
Source: Library
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:two-stars

Summary: Basic, more political than necessary, and full of long, extraneous examples from specific books.

I found this book about how to read nonfiction disappointing in a variety of ways. The information included was fairly basic. The elements the author recommended considering – biases from the author, sources, structure of the story, etc – are largely things I already consider automatically. Having written out the advice from this book will allow me to be more explicit about considering these points, which is of some small value. However, I was hoping for something more like the equivalent of college-level literary criticism. Instead, I thought this book would be appropriate for high school freshman. Read more »

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Memoirs By Female Journalists in Review

July 11, 2022 Uncategorized 3 ★★★★

Memoirs By Female Journalists in ReviewTitle: On All Fronts: The Education of a Journalist
Author: Clarissa Ward
Source: Library
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:four-stars

The writing in this book was good, but what made it really enjoyable was the author’s interesting life experiences. She spends only a chapter on her childhood, highlighting experiences that influenced her choice to be a journalist. The rest of the book included just enough about the author’s life outside her work to help me get to know her. She also shared a lot about what it felt like to be a war journalist, which I really enjoyed. It made for a great intro to the topic of war journalism. The author shared scenes from many different conflicts and tragedies. She also included brief introductions to world conflicts, with helpful historical context. This was a great look at an incredibly interesting career path.

Memoirs By Female Journalists in ReviewTitle: It's What I Do: A Photographer's Life of Love and War
Author: Lynsey Addario
Source: Library
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:four-stars

This was very similar to the previous book. The author started her career a little earlier but was also drawn into covering war stories post-9/11. She’s a photographer, not a reporter, but works in very similar circumstances. Again, the writing was good, but the exciting events were the real star. This book included a little more about the author’s life, but even her personal life felt unique enough that it was enjoyable to learn about. Some of her language around trans people she worked with earlier in her life felt disrespectful to me. She might have been using language based on the time of the events, but I think should have been doing better by the time of writing. One big difference between this book and the previous one was the inclusion of the author’s photos. I loved the detail of the captions that were included, but I feel strongly that every picture should have had one. Because the events this author lived through were a little scarier, I found this the slightly more gripping and enjoyable of the two books, but both were fascinating reads.

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Climate Nonfiction: Under a White Sky

July 9, 2022 Uncategorized 6 ★★★★

Climate Nonfiction: Under a White SkyTitle: Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future
Author: Elizabeth Kolbert
Source: Library
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:four-stars

Summary: This book raises some fascinating questions and made for a great book club read.

This book about potential ways to use technology to counter climate change was a good book to read by myself and a great book to discuss with a group. Something that many of us in my book club observed is that this felt like a collection of essays or of long form journalism pieces. It wasn’t quite as cohesive as the author’s previous book, The Sixth Extinction. It was also shorter and didn’t dive into a single topic in as much depth. It was equally well written though. I learned a lot and I was fascinated by every topic the author covered. I particularly enjoyed hearing about the author’s experiences as she learned the info she shared with us in this book. Read more »

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Women in Film Fiction Review: The Animators

June 24, 2022 Uncategorized 0 ★★½

Women in Film Fiction Review: The AnimatorsTitle: The Animators
Author: Kayla Rae Whitaker, Alex McKenna
Source: Library
|Goodreads
Rating:two-half-stars

Summary: I was trying something new with this one and it didn’t work for me, but I think it would be a great fit for people who like messy, contemporary fiction about creating art.

I picked this book up because I’m reading about women in film and journalism. I was hoping it would relate to the themes in the nonfiction I’ve been reading. It did a little bit. It’s about two women who produce indie animated films and make it big with an award, while seeming well on their way to becoming cult classics. I thought I got more out of the descriptions of their animation because of the technical details I learned in The Queens of Animation. And it made sense to me that these two women were working in indie films based on what I learned in The Wrong Kind of Women. This reflects both the sexism of the big companies in the industry and increasing accessibility of technology and crowdfunding for indie films. Read more »

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Women in Film Nonfiction Review: The Queens of Animation

June 21, 2022 Uncategorized 3 ★★★★

Women in Film Nonfiction Review: The Queens of AnimationTitle: The Queens of Animation: The Untold Story of the Women Who Transformed the World of Disney and Made Cinematic History
Author: Nathalia Holt
Source: Library
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:four-stars

Summary: This was a great read, full of engaging stories that taught me a lot of about animation and the role women have played at Disney.

This story about the female animators who shaped Disney movies is by the same author who published Rise of the Rocket Girls several years before. I noted that the previous book didn’t include many technical details and I thought this book was much better in that regard. It could be because I know less about animation, but I learned so much about how movies are made. There are aspects of animation that I took completely for granted that seem almost miraculous now that I understand the effort and technological innovation required. Read more »

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Investigative Journalism in Review: She Said

June 9, 2022 Uncategorized 6 ★★★★½

Investigative Journalism in Review: She SaidTitle: She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement
Author: Jodi Kantor, Megan Twohey
Source: Library
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:four-half-stars

Summary: Fantastic investigative journalism telling an important story.

As you’ll probably notice over the next month or so, I’ve decided to do a bit of a deep dive on the topic of women in media. I’ve already reviewed two books about women in film and I have a number of memoirs by female journalists in the queue. I certainly hope the whole list won’t be focused on sexual harassment. It’s depressing we live in a world where that’s even a possible way of approaching this and its not my favorite topic to read about. However, She Said is such a well known book on the topic, I had to at least consider picking it up. Then both of the books I read about women in film highlighted what a turning point Weinstein facing criminal charges was in their industry. I knew I needed to read this account by the two journalists who broke the story about Weinstein next. Read more »

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Women in Cinema Nonfiction Reviews

June 7, 2022 Uncategorized 5 ★★★

Women in Cinema Nonfiction ReviewsTitle: The Lady from the Black Lagoon: Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Milicent Patrick
Author: Mallory O'Meara
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:three-stars

This is the story of Milicent Patrick, the designer of the monster in The Creature from the Black Lagoon. Few people have heard of her, because of credit-stealing efforts of her jealous boss. Author Mallory O’Meara unearths Milicent’s story and shares some of her own experiences with sexism in her work in the horror film industry. While memoir plus a topic is a type of nonfiction that often works for me, the blending here was a little rough. In a few places, Mallory’s personal experiences gave me a deeper understanding of what Milicent experienced. In others, the story of doing research lined up well with what was being shared about Milicent. However, in most cases, the jumps weren’t between points of obvious connection in the two stories, which was jarring.

The footnotes were also hit-or-miss for me. Some were quite successful – really funny or adding extra information I was excited to have. At other times, they were a little too into present-day politics, which pulled me out of the story (despite my general agreement with the author) and unnecessarily dated the book. I enjoyed Milicent’s story. The author did some incredible detective work to be able to share with us Milicent’s vivid personality. The mesh between that story and her own was simply a bit rough around the edges. Read more »

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