Friday, October 26, 2007

Revolution from Within

Truthfully, I picked up Revolution from Within: A Book of Self-Esteem by Gloria Steinem at the library because I had this brilliant idea that Gloria Steinem, like my fantasy, feminist Godmother, would help me solve all my problems. While it is something of a self-help book, with small exercises and guided meditations, it's more of an analysis of self esteem, and why women in particular suffer from low self esteem (and the high price they pay for it's lack). Written in 1992, this book didn't contain a lot of a surprises for me, as I'm pretty well versed in the subject (hey, *I* wrote the book on low self esteem!) I think the book would be helpful to people with children (especially girls) who are interested in defying traditional gendered upbringings (Steinem presents multiple compelling cases as to why such upbringings can be so harmful).

I was quite interested in her feminist analyses of the books by the Bronte sisters (and the women themselves). Obviously very familiar with the subject matter, she discusses how Jane Eyre breaks away from the traditional romance (of the 19th century and today).

Full of inspiring quotes and poems from feminists, Steinem also references lots of other sources, and I made quite a little list of books to read from her recommendations.

Now on my to-read list:
Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy
Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
Naomi Wolff
The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan
Jane Eyre (again)

I love this quote of N. Wolf:
A woman wins by giving herself and other women permission: to eat, to be sexual, to age, to wear a boiler suit or a paste tiara or a Balenciaga gown or a secondhand opera cloak or combat boots, to cover up or go practically naked; to do whatever she chooses in following - or ignoring - her own aesthetic. A woman wins when she feels that what each woman does with her own body is her own business.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Mill on the Floss

I didn't enjoy George Eliot's (Mary Ann Evans) The Mill on the Floss (1860) as much as other books she's written - this one was decidedly more Victorian, and what with watching Friday Night Lights and reading this (and living in the world), I've just about had it with patriarchal societies.

The Mill on the Floss has an incredible beginning - it's sharp and funny and sarcastic, and I found myself laughing and snorting through the first 200 or so pages. It's the story of the Tulliver family - the father is the obstinate owner of a mill, litigant, and intent on educating his son.
"I want him to know figures, and write like print, and see into things quick, and know what folks mean, and how to wrap things up in words as aren't actionable. It's an uncommon fine thing, that is," concluded Mr Tulliver, shaking his head, "When you can let a man know what you think without paying for it."

His wife is more concerned with appearances than anything else; the son, Tom, is proud and harsh; and the daughter, Maggie, by far the brightest of the bunch, is a clever, sensitive young woman who is continually criticized and ignored for being merely a "gell" and a "little wench."

The Tullivers lose everything when the father loses an ill-considered court case, leaving Tom with some unreasonable demands to win back the family property, uphold the family name, and bear the old grudges of his father. Maggie, limited by the constrains of her position as a woman, is mostly at the mercy of her family, and lives a miserable life, and all hopes of happiness are, for various reasons, tragically out of her reach.

It's a very frustrating look at how debilitating the maintenance of grudges can be, especially ones that could be solved fairly easily. Eliot often returns to the theme of generosity of spirit and forgiveness (which I've noticed usually spring from a female character) but here the young woman in question succumbs rather than overcomes adversity, and despite her fine qualities suffers nearly continually.

So, it was depressing. And I never figured out what "floss" is. Anyone?

Monday, October 15, 2007

What kind of reader ARE you?

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Dedicated Reader

You are always trying to find the time to get back to your book. You are convinced that the world would be a much better place if only everyone read more.

Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
Book Snob
Literate Good Citizen
Fad Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz

Why, yes, I do think the world would be a better place if everyone read more!

Oooh - this was embarrassing - I had to answer the first one (I haven't read Moby Dick, War and Peace, Madame Bovary or The Age of Innocence, or, Carrie and the Stand, for that matter...):
6. Which set of books have you read ALL of?
Bridges of Madison Country, The Da Vinci Code, The Name of the Rose, and at least two Harry Potter books

Moby Dick, Huckleberry Finn, Wuthering Heights, Great Expectations, The Great Gatsby

War and Peace, Silas Marner, Madame Bovary, The Age of Innocence, To the Lighthouse

Carrie, The Stand, and a couple other books in high school that I don't remember.

via DeBordian Perruque

Sunday, October 07, 2007


This year I'm going to do NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) - you're supposed to write 1000 words a day (that's about 2 typed pages, single spaced) in November, and at the end of the month, ta da! You've got a novel!

After signing up, I got this funny email from the folks at NaNoWriMo with the following tips:
1) It's okay to not know what you're doing. Really. [...]

2) Do not edit as you go. Editing is for December. [...] In November, embrace imperfection and see where it takes you.

3) Tell everyone you know that you're writing a novel in November. This will pay big dividends in Week Two, when the only thing keeping you from quitting is the fear of looking pathetic in front of all the people who've had to hear about your novel for the past month. Seriously. Email them now about your awesome new book. The looming specter of personal humiliation is a very reliable muse.

3.5) There will be times you'll want to quit during November. This is okay. Everyone who wins NaNoWriMo wanted to quit at some point in November. Stick it out. See it through. Week Two can be hard. Week Three is much better. Week Four will make you want to hug the world.

Hugging the world sound good, right? I had this idea that instead of saying, "2007 was a pretty crappy year for me," I could say, "I wrote a book in 2007!" Who's with me?

Thursday, October 04, 2007


I really love poetry, although I don't read it very often... Some of my favorite poets are Maya Angelou, Dorothy Parker, Emily Dickinson. One of my favorite poems is that lovely, short William Carlos Williams, which I first read in middle school or high school:

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

Been checking out the Poetry Foundations website and podcast, which is really great. They also have an extensive poetry library, and poems organized by topic.

What poems/poets do you love?