UofG Sociology Reads: Andreea Bocioaga, Sociology PhD Candidate

Introducing UofG Sociology Reads, a new feature on the UofG Sociology blog that highlights what those of us in Sociology are reading. Whether it’s purely work related, just for fun, or somewhere in the middle, we want to explore what books are shaping the research and perspectives that are so unique to the University of Glasgow Sociology community.  

This week we’ll be introducing ourselves, Meg Lambert and Andreea Bocioaga, the new caretakers of the Sociology blog. Andreea is a PhD candidate in the Adam Smith Business School. Her research focuses on sustainable food practices and learning as it happens in community gardens in Glasgow.

What are you reading right now?

Actually I’ve just finished a book called Nevada by Imogen Binnie. 516G4OoBR2L._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_

What’s it about?

Gosh, I don’t even know what Imogen would say it’s about. Well I guess it’s about the experience of being a transgender woman. The main character, Maria, is trying to make sense of herself and those around her. It’s a hard hitting story of what it means to be transgender and also a woman, constantly feeling the double weight of that identity. Her reality is shaped by discrimination, job insecurity, financial hardship and difficulties in creating long lasting relationships. The book brings that together with mental illness and beautifully uncovers how individuals are created by the expectations around them and also how they try to resist and create themselves in this dynamic. The result is a messy, gritty and ultimately believable story that doesn’t really have an ending and is just a snippet out of someone’s journey.

Why did you pick it up? 

I saw it recommended by a friend on social media and I found out it was actually free to download so I got it on my e-reader.

Is this book directly related to your research?

Nowhere near.

Cool beans! Is it inspiring your work, challenging your perspective, or affecting your identity as a researcher anyway?

It was definitely challenging in so many ways. Apart from being hugely educational on what it’s actually like to be a transgender woman it also touches on mental health, self-confidence and integrity of the self. Maria’s battle to assert herself as an individual in society happens firstly with her own self and then with the rest of the world. As a starting academic my identity is slightly in a crisis as I try to assert myself in my field. I’m in a process of recalibrating I guess where I adapt to this new position and that comes with a lot of self-doubt and second guessing and a strong impostor syndrome feeling. Also, how the author talks about mental health is honest and almost too raw. It can be and it definitely was at times very emotionally taxing which made me reflect on my own experiences. Although I felt really upset reading it at times, it did remind me that our realities are very messy and that we don’t always have to have everything figured out. That was something that I really struggled with in my academic work for a while as I become really consumed by having all the pieces put together.

The book is ultimately about a car journey the main character takes to find some magical answers. There is really no dramatic answer for her, just a journey through which you learn a little bit about yourself and the others. I guess it’s a very simple but effective metaphor. For me it was a useful reminder that learning and change is a process not an event.

Would you recommend it to other people?

Definitely! It’s quite a short read and it can be infuriating at times but it ends being memorable in a very personal way.

What else is on your bookshelf right now? 

I’m really into dystopian novels at the moment so a bunch of those like Station 11, The Bees and a lot of Margaret Wood.