3 New Books by Badass Women You *Need* to Read RN
It’s tough to go against the grain. Society has any number of unwritten rules, and it takes a lot of courage to break them. This week’s book club features collections of personal stories and essays that buck the trend and show what it means to stand up for your convictions. One woman writes a brutally honest takedown of cancer clichés, mental illness and her unconventional relationship with her sort-of adoptive mother (who just happens to be a Nobel Prize-winning author herself). Another woman refuses to follow the traditional reality show (or life) narrative, that all a woman needs is to find a handsome prince. A third insists that you can love yourself (and the way you look) no matter what the world says about your size.
1. In Gratitude by Jenny Diski ($19): When Jenny Diski was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer in 2014, she decided to write about it. Diski, who sadly died in April shortly after her book’s completion, is perhaps best known for her thoughtful and spare fiction, as well as her regular contributions to the London Review of Books, which formed the basis for essay collections and memoirs. She’s also known for a long history of not flinching away from the difficult subjects; her books cover depression, drugs, sadomasochism and rape in their own ruthless prose. “I am and have always been embarrassed by all social rituals that require me to participate in a predetermined script,” writes Diski.
In this vein, and unwilling to focus solely on the cancer or end-of-life platitudes, she instead found she had a different, untold story to explore: the years she spent with author Doris Lessing, who took her in at age 15. Lessing would shape the rest of her life, particularly as a writer, and introduced her to a fascinating literary world. “When she died last November at the age of 94, I’d known Doris for fifty years. In all that time, I’ve never managed to figure out a designation for her that properly and succinctly describes her role in my life, let alone my role in hers.” Diski explores that role, and her lifelong relationship with the brilliant writer and unabashed feminist, while facing the last few months of her life.
2. It’s Not Okay: Turning Heartbreak into Happily Never After by Andi Dorfman ($15): Reality TV might be a little less literary than Doris Lessing, but it’s impossible to deny the impact it’s made on our culture, promoting the “virtues” of scheming, quick fixes and instant gratification. Most of us are guilty of dipping into the Reality TV well once in a while, even if we know the “reality” is often scripted and manufactured to create the highest amount of drama. One of the most addictive shows out there is The Bachelor, and its sister show, The Bachelorette, which put forward the idea that true love can be found simply by weeding down a slate of suitably attractive applicants. Real reality, however, is a little more complicated.
“Seriously, you have nothing to lose.” “Um… except my dignity.” Lawyer Andi Dorfman became famous on season 18 of The Bachelor when she did the unthinkable: As a contestant for bachelor Juan Pablo’s love, she instead rejected him, highlighting his poor behavior and leaving the competition on her own terms. The unexpected nature and popularity of this action resulted in her being offered the lead role on the 10th season of The Bachelorette. This time, she chose contestant Josh Murray, but eventually rejected another “fairy tale” romance, later calling off the engagement. In It’s Not Okay, Dorfman dishes about her time on both shows and her fellow contestants, some of whom remain her good friends (another surprise in the cutthroat reality world).
Dorfman hopes her story will help her readers with their own trials and breakups, as well as providing juicy gossip. “I couldn’t believe they even watched these crappy dating shows, let alone think that I would be the type of cray-cray who would actually go on one,” she says of her friends’ advice. Little did she know she’d be on two. Let’s hope her advice is better.
3. Shrill: Notes From a Loud Woman by Lindy West ($17): Lindy West is a fabulous woman who lets the haters know she’s not going to deal with any of their body-shaming garbage. She’s a passionate advocate for social justice, a pop culture maven and an outspoken writer with an acid wit. You may have seen her work published in Jezebel, GQ or The Guardian, or heard her on This American Life.
Shrill: Notes From a Loud Woman is a collection of essays on topics of great personal meaning to West, the title pushing back at a common insult levied at women who dare to speak their minds (particularly women who aren’t rail-thin or economically or racially privileged).
In a world where so many women have been silenced, threatened or “doxxed,” Shrill is a refreshing clarion call from a woman who learned to wear her ideals on her sleeve, and to bravely fly her own flag. Even Lena Dunham says that “her talent and bravery have made the Internet a place where I actually want to be.” Essays leave few targets unscathed, and include “Are You There, Margaret? It’s Me, a Person Who Is Not a Complete Freak,” “You’re So Brave for Wearing Clothes and Not Hating Yourself!” and “It’s About Free Speech, It’s Not About Hating Women.” Caitlin Moran calls it “literally the new Bible,” and Ira Glass admires West as “a totally entertaining and original writer.” Considering West once had to view a cross-dressing male cartoon bear as her only positive fat “female” role model, it’s about time to listen to her voice, shrill or not.
What books make you speak up? Tag us in your next powerful read @BritandCo.
(Featured image via Andi Dorfman)
Your relationship with your finances is one of the most important relationships you'll ever have, and you can't avoid it. That said, for many of us, the pandemic only added to our financial stress. If you find yourself feeling frazzled, just remember that financial insecurity isn't a net-worth issue — it's a mindset issue. And, we happen to have plenty of advice on how to turn your money mindset around so you can take charge of your funds once and for all.
To start, feeling secure begins with a strong foundation, and there's no better time than now to get started stacking the bricks. It's easy to get swept up in the January "new year, new me" mentality, but really? Any time is the right time to get yourself in order. You don't need to wait for a new year, a new moon, the right moment, or a sign from above. You don't even have to start on the first day of the month — you just need to start.
Introducing NerdWallet: A Safe and Reliable Money App
To help with that, we've put together a list of the just-right-for-you ways that NerdWallet can help you monitor your financial outlook. Haven't heard of them yet? NerdWallet is a personal finance company that helps consumers make smarter financial decisions. Their website and app let you compare different financial products, find articles and tools to make financial decisions with confidence, and keep tabs on your finances (hey there, credit score, I see you!) all in one place. Plus, NerdWallet has over 75,000 glowing reviews in the App Store (and a 4.8 star rating) if you want to read up on any more testimonials.
Tim Chen, NerdWallet's CEO and co-founder, started this financial journey in 2009 after his sister needed help finding a credit card. Even with an economics degree and a Wall Street background, it took awhile for Tim to find the right recommendation (so don't feel too bad when it takes you a while, too). Their mission is to bring clarity to all of life's financial decisions.
So it's safe to say that NerdWallet is a pretty good sherpa for your journey, too.
Get the most from your money
Did you know that the money you park in a savings account can lose value? Harsh, but true. If your money isn't earning interest that's on pace with inflation it will actually be worth less to you in the future. And if the bank charges fees? Forget about it. Make sure you're earning the interest you deserve and come out on top. NerdWallet has researched dozens of financial institutions to help consumers find the best options. The hard work has already been done for you, so you can just select the account that works best for you and your nest egg.
Keep an eye on everything, securely
Once everything is set up, tracking and managing your finances is what will keep the money machine running smoothly. You can create an account either through the site or the app and link your bank accounts, then keep tabs on all your finances in one place. Get a clear picture of your saving and spending, get insights into how to master your money, and even build your credit score all in one place.
Get extra credit points
Do you have the best credit card for your lifestyle? Some cards give cash back on every purchase, ones with travel perks, and ones that charge way less interest than you're paying now. NerdWallet takes the guesswork out of choosing the right credit card with simple side-by-side comparisons of different credit cards so that you feel confident choosing the right one. Whatever you want to do, NerdWallet can help you find the best credit card to get it done.
Know your options for settling down
Mortgage rates are pretty low and it looks like they're going to stay that way for awhile, so buying a home might be the move sooner than you think. But there's so much more to a mortgage than just the interest rate! To help you choose a mortgage lender, NerdWallet has in-depth reviews on multiple lenders in a mixture of categories so you get the home loan with the mortgage rate, term, and fees that's right for you.
Settle an old score
NerdWallet helps you monitor your credit score for free and helps you see how little things (like raising the limit on your credit card or paying your bills on time) can increase your score. NerdWallet partners with TransUnion® to provide your VantageScore® 3.0, based on information in your TransUnion® credit report. Your score and credit report information are updated weekly. But that's not even close to all:
- They provide you with tips from experts on how you could build or optimize your credit score
- You'll get a detailed look at your credit score and all the factors that go into it—your payment history, credit utilization, the age and type of accounts, balances, and any recent inquiries
- The credit simulator tool gives you an idea of how your credit score would change if you applied for a new credit card, closed your oldest credit card, or got a new auto loan
- You also get free, unlimited access to your credit report
When it comes to managing your money, safe and reliable is where it's at. Establishing a healthy relationship with your finances begins when you take control and practice habits that build wealth. Signing up just takes a few minutes. Set your intentions to build a solid financial foundation, it will only strengthen your relationship with your finances. And don't be afraid to get a little nerdy while you're at it.