Women Who Rock

Veterinarian. Astronaut. Paleontologist. Actress. President. Everyone dreams up at least one career for themselves when they’re a kid or a teenager and the future stretches out in front of them like a vast, unending ocean. Me? You couldn’t tell from the basic Gap jeans and the guitars that lived mostly in the darkness of their cases, but I wanted to be a rock star.
I never ended up getting a record deal (big surprise), but I still enjoy music immensely. And lately, I find myself reading about music and thinking about the culture around music. It’s got me wondering where all the women are. Why are we so severely underrepresented in rock bands, and when we’re there, why are we only lead vocals or playing bass? Why do we often dress up in skirts and heels, but guys can throw on a black t-shirt and call it a day? Why aren’t more of us in the wake of #MeToo taking our anger to microphones and drum kits, screaming louder than those floppy-haired skinny emo boys whose photos plastered our bedroom walls before their predatory conduct towards underage female fans plastered the news? Or, perhaps more disturbingly, are we already screaming out to be heard, but the world just isn’t listening because a man hasn’t come along and validated our efforts yet?
On that distortion-pedaled, dropped-down-a-half-step note, here’s some titles to stoke your inner riot grrrl:
Girl in a Band by Kim Gordon
Noise rockers Sonic Youth might be a tough listen for some folks (coughs, averts eyes), but this memoir by bassist Kim Gordon is not. She details her time in the band, her life as an artist in New York, and her marriage to frontman Thurston Moore.
Did you know that the title for Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” came from Bikini Kill’s lead singer, Kathleen Hanna? Never heard of Bikini Kill? Then give a listen to this history of riot grrrl, the radical feminist punk uprising in the 1990s, the waves of which can still be felt today.
You might go, “Oh, that’s the woman from Portlandia,” but before her foray into comedy, Carrie Brownstein was best known as the lead guitarist for punk band Sleater-Kinney. (IMHO, their 2005 album The Woods is one of the best rock albums of the oughts.) Her memoir presents a candid and deeply personal assessment of life in the rock-and-roll industry that reveals her struggles with rock’s double standards.
If you don’t know Amanda Palmer from the dark cabaret duo the Dresden Dolls, or her solo albums, or as a crowdfunding pioneer, you’ll know her as the wife of Neil Gaiman. (How I wish I could eavesdrop and hear the bedtime stories they tell their child!) Part manifesto, part revelation, this is the story of an artist struggling with the new rules of exchange in the twenty-first century, both on and off the Internet, meant to inspire readers to rethink their own ideas about asking, giving, art, and love. Available from us in print and audiobook formats.

 

Happy Birthday to Neil Gaiman! (November 10)

gaimanhimselfAs of November 10, 2015 Neil Gaiman is 55 years old. He is a supporter of libraries, the arts, and is everything that this librarian could want in an author. Neil is the author of books from a wide range of genre’s, and for every age group. His body of work is extensive, and includes many groundbreaking volumes. He is also the father of three children from his first marriage, now grown adults, and a new baby just born on September 16 with his wife Amanda Palmer who is a singer, song writer, performance artist, and author. To make him even cooler in my eyes, he is also good friends with singer/songwriter Tori Amos and godfather of her daughter. I am admittedly a bit of a fangirl.

gaiman5Gaiman began his writing career in England as a journalist. His first book was a Duran Duran biography that took him three months to write, and his second was a biography of Douglas Adams, Don’t Panic: The Official Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Companion. Soon afterward he collaborated or creating in graphic novels such as Violent Cases, Black Orchid, and Sandman. Over the years he has added picturebooks, children’s fiction, adult fiction, television, film, and theater to his body of work. This includes writing for one of my favorite shows, Doctor Who. He also does the narration for most, if not all, of the audiobook versions of his work.

Neil and his works have won many nominations and awards over the year. A few of the awards include: Kurt Vonnegut Jr Award For Literature, Boston Public Library Literary Lights For Children, CBLDF Defender of Liberty, The “Galaxy” Award (China) for Most Popular Foreign Author, Horn Book Honors, Kirkus Reviews Best Children’s Books, ALA Booklist Editors’ Choice: Books for Youth, Hugo Award, IndieBound Award, and many, many more.

gaiman1Here is a sampling of his works, though far from comprehensive. They are in no particular order.
Picturebooks:
Chu’s Day
Chu’s First Day of School
Chu’s Day at the Beach
The Wolves in the Walls
Blueberry Girl
Crazy Hairgaiman2
Instructions: Everything you’ll Need to Know on your Journey

Children’s and Young Adult Books:
Fortunately, the Milk
M is for Magic
The Graveyard Book
Coraline
Hansel & Gretel: a Toon Graphic
Odd and the Frost Giants
Interworld
The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountainsgaiman3
The Books of Magic
Marvel 1602

Adult Books:
The Ocean at the End of the Lane
The Make Good Art Speech
Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbancesgaiman4
Anansi Boys
American Gods
Stardust
Good Omens
Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions
Neil Gaiman’s Lady Justice. Vol. 1