grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
I just finished reading "Nappy: Growing Up Black and Female in America" by Aliona Gibson. I needed a book on female experiences of prejudice for my fem Naruto story I'm writing, and I figured that since I'm American and have taken classes in African American culture and become involved in African American civil rights, this was the kind of prejudice I knew the most about. I'm here to write a review of the book.

First, I would like to say that this book is surprisingly unique. I say "surprisingly" because it's the only book I could find that just straight-out talks specifically about black female experiences of prejudice. There are no other autobiographical details, it's not a fiction book or a book of poetry. It's a book specifically about one black woman's memories on what it's like to be a black woman. And in this area, it excels.

She goes through everything: the pain of prejudices based on appearance, experiences with men, and experiences of various places and cultures. She talks about how she's noticed black communities differ from area to area: East Coast, West Coast, and even Africa. There was a lot of invaluable information in there, if you were looking for it, about female experiences of prejudice in general. Fears of sexual assault, for example, or ridicule based on appearances that do not fit the "ideal."

It was not a very professionally done book and was obviously self published. That would be my only major criticism. There were a lot of weird spaces where there shouldn't be spaces, spelling and grammatical errors, etc. The book was also rather short, but I think it covered everything it needed to cover.

Overall, a good read, and I would recommend it. The book should be more famous than it is.
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
I read this book in particular for a writing project I'm doing. I've read one book on astrology, one on personality psychology, and this one. I still have -- wait for it -- NINE more books to read for research before I even start the writing project I have in mind. It's a fanfic, which I contend can be just as cool and meaningful as regular fiction books. I will keep you updated on which books I read for the fanfic I'm researching. See the "fem Naruto story" tag at the bottom.

Anyway, I'm reviewing this book on yokai. It's called "The Book of Yokai: Mysterious Creatures of Japanese Folklore" by Michael Dylan Foster. I read all 244 pages in less than two weeks. It's a really great read. I recommend it.

What is a yokai?

It's a Japanese demon of sorts -- more broadly, a Japanese mythical creature that can perform dark acts. I began my fascination with Japan through watching manga and anime as a kid. From there, I branched off into learning more about the culture behind these fictions I loved so much -- I read up on Japan and took on several Japanese pen pals at one point or another, read and watched blogs and vlogs on Japanese travel, tried cooking Japanese meals, researched various aspects of ancient Japanese culture, read interviews of famous Japanese artists, watched Japanese films and sampled Japanese music. I know at least something of typical Japanese religions and philosophies. I plan on starting Japanese language classes this summer. The more I learn about Japan, the more I love.

Especially given my love of fantasy in Japanese anime, it only made sense for me to buy a book on yokai.

It was a fascinating read. A lot of elements from modern Japanese stories that I had always thought were random or made up -- it turns out? They were actually deliberately referencing ancient Japanese folklore! And I've probably only just scratched the surface. Isn't that great?

Even for people who are skeptical of why ancient Japanese folklore is important should read this book, however. Foster really gets at the importance behind yokai -- their various meanings, their cultural relevance (both ancient and modern, national and international), and how they help us see the world differently. He talks about yokai history and philosophical categorization, and only then does he actually go on to discuss the yokai themselves. He gives you good background reading before diving into the various yokai there are. I really liked that part of the book.

I think this would be a good textbook for a class on Japanese culture. That was one thing that really struck me as I was reading. And it was written in 2012, so it's pretty recent. He references a lot of Japanese scholars and has a native Japanese artist render his yokai drawings, has lived and studied in Japan for a time, yet is Western himself and so can explain Japanese culture to us in a way we would understand it.

That ends the "personality research" section of my writing project. I know how this female Naruto is going to be and how being (spoiler alert) part kitsune fox demon would affect her. Now comes the "experiences research" section. More fun times ahead!

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Hopeless Dreamer

March 2016

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