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Book Recommendation: Girls & Sex by Peggy Orenstein


Book: Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape
Author: Peggy Orenstein
Genre: Nonfiction

Why You Should Read It (In My Humble Opinion): You may have recognized the name Peggy Orenstein from a previous book review (read the Cinderella Ate My Daughter review here) and she may now be one of my favorite nonfiction authors. She's a journalist who has dedicated her writing to girls' issues and while Cinderella Ate My Daughter was a book delving into the Disney princess phenomenon, Girls & Sex is Orenstein's ode to understanding girls and their thoughts, views, and practices about sex in this digital age. Orenstein interviewed dozens of girls about their ideas about sex, sexuality, relationships, all in their day to day life. Their responses are varied and bring to light new questions and a myriad of answers. We learn that each girl has their own definition of what sex really is, and Orenstein questions them on their thoughts about virginity, their own sexuality and understanding their bodies, dating, the hooking up culture, sexual harassment, body image, the media, and rape.

The answers and stories can be hard to read, because the girls Orenstein interviewed (all names have been changed for privacy) answered truthfully and with an emotional honesty that only teen girls can give. Orenstein writes with a swift, humorous, and intelligent hand, never judging the girls' activities and thoughts. You can tell that she has bonded with her young interviewees, and they trust her, which makes the material much more insightful.

The end of the book focuses on sexual education/sexuality classes that includes both girls and boys, which adds another important point to the book: both girls and boys should be educated together about sexuality, and most importantly, consent. The group discussions and commentary from the teacher of one of the classes that Orenstein transcribes is incredibly enlightening and shows a possible, better way method for teaching kids about sex and their own (and others') well being.

Even though I have left my teen years almost ten years ago (dear god, I'm old), I can sympathize and empathize with all of these girls, with their confusion during this hyper-sexual age. Your morals, your choices are always being judged. You're either a prude or a slut, and while you may think you're in the middle, no one else thinks that. Orenstein wrote the ultimate book about girls and their sexuality, one that every woman, girl, mother, and teen should read. In her writing she urges girls to understand and discover their sexuality, not to be ashamed, but celebrate it and find out what feels good for the girl. That sex and relationships aren't just about giving, but receiving, and that consent and safety is key to healthy relationships and life in general.

I wish that I had had a book like this to read when I was younger, but after reading Girls & Sex, I had one question I want to ask Orenstein: Can you please write a sexual education book for girls, with your witty and engaging writing, your understanding and patient compassion, and honesty? Because that's the kind of thing our young (and older) girls need to hear and be reminded of. But for now, I'm just happy that you wrote this book and will continue to sing its praises.

Stay Weird,

9 Reasons Why Libraries Are Magical And Deserve More Love!

Photo by Nong Vang on Unsplash
Now that it is officially summer (at least when I wrote this!), library reading programs have started! Summer reading programs always make me nostalgic and happy. They remind me of when my sisters and I were little and my mom would load us into the minivan on a blistering hot summer day and we would head off to the book-filled, icy cold air conditioned library. Keeping track of your books/reading hours was super exciting when you had a fun piece of paper styled like a board game (with prizes after you read a certain amount!) and you'd get to go home with a huge stack of books (the book limit at our old library was twenty-five books and you bet I took full advantage of that on every single trip I took to the library during those summers). We were young, out of school, with a long, hot summer stretching out in front of us. There was nothing to do but read and I absolutely loved it. I got lost in so many stories and discovered so many characters and their worlds in those days. The smell of sizzling asphalt in the library parking lot will always remind me of 110+ degrees summers.

But thankfully, reading programs just aren't for kids. A lot of libraries now have an adult summer reading program and I, of course, always sign up. Sure, the prizes aren't as cool as the kid prizes (I think adults would still appreciate a good sticker pack or a cute eraser shaped like food, but that's just me) but at my library you get a free book of your choice (I decided on Outlander by Diana Gabaldon to see what all of the fuss is about!) and you're entered into different drawings! I also entered a "one sentence book review" contest and won a $20 gift card!

Summer reading programs are great and promote fun and reading (though I love reading so I didn't need much motivation. Besides winning prizes. I love winning prizes) to those who may have gotten off of that habit due to everyday busy life. And it's because of all of these fond memories I have for the summer reading program that has inspired me to write this post.

As you can see, I've been going to the library for years and years. My mom always encouraged my sisters and myself to read and I cannot thank her enough for that. There's nothing I love more than disappearing into a good book. And the one place she took us to the most was the library, a magical, magical place filled with endless books, and I have to thank her again for that because any library is my safe haven. I never want libraries to become obsolete, despite the take over of everything digital. E-books are great, but nothing will beat that paper and glue smell of a book. The turning of the pages, the crack of the book's spine as you first open it...nothing can beat that feeling and sound (and smell!). I know people (especially kids) are getting too busy to read and are just in general losing interest in reading (despite a growing book lover communities have risen up lately, on Youtube, Instagram and blogs like this one), but I hope that my reminder of why libraries are awesome and will forever be of benefit to the community will help people see why we need to keep our libraries active and funded! Enjoy my list! (I love lists!)

#1: All the Books You Can Read! 
Yep, books are the main attraction at the library. You can go in so many different directions when you walk in. Thinking of a romance novel? Head on over to the fiction section. Feel like reading about a grisly murder? That would be over in nonfiction. The possibilities are literally endless. Can't find the exact book you want in your local library? Ask a librarian about interlibrary loans (it'll change your life, I swear). I know actual book shopping at a bookstore is incredibly fun (there's nothing I like better than losing a few hours in a bookstore and discovering new books to read) but how do you know the book you buy will be great? Better to check it out of the library and read it first. You can't waste money if you didn't spend it in the first place! Your inner bookworm and very real wallet will thank you.

#2: New Release Movies and Old Classics! 
Did you know the library has movies? As in DVDs and Blu-rays of current releases and old favorites and everything in between. I have saved so much money by reserving my place for newly released to video DVDs and Blu-rays. Sure, you may be 56 of 203 on the wait list, but with all of the counties copies of that movie, you'll get it in no time. Okay, all of the nominated Oscar movies will most likely come in after the Oscars, but again, you're going to save a LOT of money on some less than stellar movies (all that you're wasting is your time, not the price of multiple movies tickets, plus overpriced drinks, food, and popcorn. Think about that next time you're on the fence about seeing the latest dumb blockbuster).

#3: All the Latest Hits in Music! 
Not only do they get the latest movies, but they get the latest albums. You want the latest tunes? They got 'em. And other artists from A to Z? They got 'em, too!

#4: No Need For a Magazine Subscription Because the Library's Got 'Em All! 
Seriously. The library still has magazines. And newspapers. It's kind of awesome. Print isn't dead, people!

#5: Free Wifi and Computers for All! 
Do you have a library card? Congrats, you can use one of the library's many computers to surf the web! Did you bring your phone, laptop, or tablet with you? The library has free Wifi. You're set!

#6: Classes, Lectures, Free Programs and Much More! 
There are way too many to list here, but like the aforementioned summer reading program (and some library have winter reading programs, too!), libraries also hold classes on just about everything- both educational and fun, like how to apply for Social Security, or even a special history exhibit about the clothes of Downton Abbey. Or story-time for kids and even special movie events for teens. Sometimes guest speakers or local politicians also make an appearance. There are so many special (and free) events offered at your library that you don't even know about, so check them out! Back in the day my old library used to hold Harry Potter themed trivia nights, in the style of the Triwizard Tournament. It was the event and you had to reserve your spot it was so popular. (Remember when the Harry Potter series wasn't over? Me too. *sobs*)

#7: Super Helpful Librarians Who Love Reading and Books As Much As You Do! 
Librarians are there to help you with whatever you need while you're at the library. They've got the Dewey Decimal system down pat (even though it's becoming obsolete due to technology. Poor Dewey) and they know exactly what keywords to use when searching for your item. Need a book recommendation? They'll have one for you. They also are excellent at finding lost books and are incredibly organized. And I bet when they re-shelve books they don't even sing the alphabet to finally shelve The Book Thief onto the teen fiction "Z" shelf (for Markus Zusak, duh). Librarians love reading, books, and helping people in general, which makes them library superheroes in my book! (See what I did there? Book? I'll stop)

#8: Your Overdue Charges are Pretty Much Just a Donation to Your Library!
I know, I know, everyone hates overdue charges. I mean, paying 20 cents for an overdue book? Or even worse: at my library, if a DVD/Blu-ray/CD is late, it's $2 a day. Yikes! As crappy as overdue fees are, think about your local library. It gets its funding from the government. You're pretty much getting access to all of this material for FREE. So in a way, your overdue charges (which I hope that you do pay or else you can't check out books) are actually a donation to the library (when you pay them, that is. C'mon, it's only like 20 cents. Just pay your charges, people!). It's such a small price to pay for getting books, movies. CDS, and MORE for free. Pay your overdue charges and try to think of it as a small donation to buy copies of the new James Patterson book. Plus, a lot of libraries now do a canned food drive where they'll take off some money from your outstanding late fees for every can of food you donated. How cool is that??

#9: Check Out Your Library's Website- Yeah, Your Library Has a Pretty Cool Website! 
Okay, so pretty much everyone and everything has a website. Heck, Space Jam still has their website up and functioning. But your library's website is even cooler than Space Jam's website (sorry, Bugs). Because if you have a library card, you also now have access to free e-books, movies, and music all through various web streaming services through the website or you can even download free apps to use on your phone, tablet, or TV! Also, emphasis on the word free.

I love my local library (and all libraries in general) and everything it stands for and offers, so I hope my list has reminded you all of just how useful and fun libraries are. If you haven't already, go out and visit your local library! Explore all of the cool material, programs, and classes that they offer. And if you don't have one yet, sign up and get a library card! Because remember:

Thanks, Arthur and friends!

Who else loves their local library?? The library I used to go to even let you check out different cake pans so you could bake a cake in a fancy shaped pan! The library is full of fun and free things! Let me know what you love about your local library in the comments!

Stay Weird,

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