5 Books With Natasha

Natasha is one of P-Mag’s newer writers, joining our ranks during the great Persephone Staff Writers search. You can find her writing about feminism in Bollywood, quizzing us during Lunchtime Polls, and eventually covering the new season of Community (airing in 2014). For now she’s taking on the 5 Books challenge:

1. Which book would you give to a potential significant other?

Cover of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are DeadThis is a book I have actually given to significant others: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, by Tom Stoppard. Technically it’s a play.

This play is incredibly important to me; I read it as a senior in high school, right after my dad died. It helped me cope, and also helped inform my adult humor and thinking.

Plus it’s really funny and helps get the conversation going on the big topics, like death, or that England is a conspiracy of cartographers.

So this is a sort of “Introduction to Me” and, “If you can’t handle me at my Guildenstern, you can’t handle me at my Rosencrantz.”


2. Which book would you give to a high school senior?

Cover for You Just Don't UnderstandI didn’t learn about Deborah Tannen until I was in grad school, but her writing really changed how I think about communications. I’m an adjunct professor, and thinking about different communication styles has helped me better interact with my students. I should hope, then, that a book like You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation by Deborah Tannen would make life easier for a high school senior.

3. Which book would you give to your political representatives?

Cover for Assassination VacationI live in Portland, Oregon, so my elected officials are pretty cool. I might give them Portlandia: A Guide for Visitors as something fun to read.
More seriously, I’d probably give an elected official Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell. I might hesitate, because of the title, and I don’t mean any threats. But Vowell draws parallels between the past and present, and I’m fascinated by how we keep repeating history. Hopefully, the book would help my elected officials keep that in mind, too.

4. Which book would you give to a former teacher?

Cover of Time Traverl's Guide to Medieval EnglandThis was the hardest question. I was an English major, so my teachers and professors gave me so many wonderful books! Anything I can think of, they’d have read already.

Regardless, I’m choosing a book that she’s probably already read: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England by Ian Mortimer would go to Kelli Griffis. Griffis was my teacher for only a short amount of time: a few months at a summer program I participated in between junior and senior of high school. Her classes changed my life.
I learned about Chaucer and Middle English from her, and that has set the rest of my academic career. Mortimer’s book is fun and easy to read and really compliments what she taught me.

5. Which book would you give to your best friend?

Yellow cover of Women's Work the First 20,000 YearsThis is a book I’ve mentioned in conversation at least once with every one of my friends: Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years by Elizabeth Wayland Barber. This book is about textile production and it’s fascinating. It’s about all this women’s history that’s routinely ignored!
Most (all?) of my friends are feminists, and are as annoyed/outraged as I am that so much about women’s work, history, and culture gets hidden or left behind. I’m always recommending this book for insight into what our ancestors did.

By [E] Slay Belle

Slay Belle is an editor and the new writer mentor here at Persephone Magazine, where she writes about pop culture, Buffy, and her extreme love of Lifetime movies. She is also the editor of You can follow her on Twitter, @SlayBelle or email her at

She is awfully fond of unicorns and zombies, and will usually respond to any conversational volley that includes those topics.

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