I've been an admirer of Rebecca Solnit for several years now - I'm continually impressed by her way with words and ability to dig to the core of things, even when they are multifaceted and complex. It's no surprise I found this book brilliant. What is a surprise is just how badly I want to press this text into the hands of all the women in my life, especially the younger ones.
This book is comprised of a collection of essays centered around a woman's experience living in this world (and to a lesser extent, a man's). Most of the essays center around an American experience, but not all - Solnit spans both the globe and time in her pieces, casting a wide net and dredging some very dark waters. The essays range from the subtle, like how women are erased over time due to how names are recorded through history, to the striking and grotesque, like how many women are killed at the hands of their lovers. These are subjects that are hard to read, but vitally important we face. And Solnit expresses herself with eloquence and fire.
This isn't a fun book to breeze your way through. I had to put it down many times, for weeks at a time, because it made me so angry and depressed. However, if you dig into the material there is power and inspiration to be found. Exploring these things, identifying the issues and recognizing them for what they are, help us fight back and recover our voices and our safety. Books like this are important, because women are important, as are our men. In a system of misogyny all genders suffer. If I could encourage you to read one non-fiction book this year it would be this one. These issues affect us all, and Solnit is adept at explaining precisely how and why.