Lately I have been interested in how the news influences what people read. Media of all types has always steered public curiosity. News, being a part of the media umbrella that deals in (most of the time) facts about what is going on in the world, can’t help but spike people’s fancy. Being someone who worked in a bookstore for years, I can recall books on the Vatican flying off the shelf when they were in between Popes. Or books and magazines on the royal family selling out when Prince William got married. It is this that has had my attention lately, as what I’ve been reading in the news has influenced me to read my latest book.
I follow HuffPost/HuffPost Women on Facebook to stay up-to-date on interesting things going on in this world. A recent article caught my attention. The article (which I post below) is about Columbia student Emma Sulkowicz’s thesis project. Sulkowicz is a visual arts major and plans to drag the mattress she was raped on everywhere she goes until the male student that raped her is expelled or leaves school. The title of her thesis is “Mattress Performance” or “Carry that Weight”. Adding to that, we now have the full video of football player Ray Rice punching his wife unconscious, and a hacker threatening to release nude photos of Emma Watson because of her speech on feminism.
These stories inspired me to pick up a book that has been sitting on my self for a while: “Tess of the d’Urbervilles” by Thomas Hardy. As much as I love reading the strong female heroine YA books and intellectually witty female characters from adult novels, those kind of real life women are not what dominates the news.
I first bought ‘Tess’ when it was described to me like such: “She gets raped and everyone thinks she is a whore because of it.” Now, months later, after reading it, I can say that is a terrible description of the book. The story is so much more than that from all angles. Tess suffers a great at the hands of other people, by both male and female alike. Her own parents are even guilty of wronging her. It is her will to go on that is inspiring. Without giving too much away, she does in fact get raped, lose a child to fever, and receives the blame for all of it. However, Tess never stops doing what she has to do to survive and go on. Even though she wants to give up so many times, she never does.
The book is a classic made of darker things, but is worth the read. Whether Tess or Emma, fact or fiction, it is amazing to see people who were victimized but chose not to become victims. Here’s my two cents: be influenced by the world around you, it might lead you to some amazing literature. And knowledge is the best tool for making a better world.