Book Review: The Feminine Mystique

We’re less than a month into 2018, and I already have a contender for best nonfiction book of the year: The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan.  And it will probably bring back my end of the year category, “I can’t believe I waited until this year to read this book.”  I have, after all, been hearing about it for…well, ever since I was old enough for my mom to start talking about it, so I’d have to guess early teens.  I probably should have read it sooner–or maybe now was the perfect time, for it to feel scarily relevant.

In 1963, fifty-five years ago, Betty Friedan wrote her ground-breaking book about “the problem that has no name,” why so many educated, intelligent housewives with good husbands and beloved children still felt deeply unhappy.  She explores the cultural pressures forcing women to stay in the home–convincing them that’s the best and most noble place to be–and why this is having terrible outcomes.  She looks at relevant history, from the suffragettes to Freud, and gets in-depth about the cultural norms of her time and how we got there.

It’s hard to believe that most of it is anything I didn’t know on some level before–and yet it still felt mind-blowing.  It’s like a painting you’ve been looking at forever, then moving two steps to the right and seeing a whole new pattern emerge from the changed angle.  Friedan really did bring new ideas (for me, anyway) about the pattern of women’s place in society, from the suffragettes of the twenties, to the “working girl” of the thirties, to Rosie the Riveter in WWII, and then, somehow, swinging backwards to June Cleaver in the home in the fifties.  Those were dots I’m not sure I ever put together, and it puts a different shape on the twentieth century for me. Continue reading

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Blog Hop: Coming Up in 2018

book-blogger-hop-finalToday’s Book Blogger Hop question is: What upcoming titles are looking forward to reading in 2018?

Well, I wrote about this in my end of the year review, and I’m excited about a lot of books coming out from my writer friends.  And just the other day, I heard about another very exciting book coming out…Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce, the long (looooong) awaited first book of the Numair Chronicles, which has been delayed so many times I gave up hoping about it!

Seriously, this has been pushed back year by year since 2013.  But Goodreads has a very near date, and I hear substantiated rumors that review copies are being sent out.  We finally, finally, finally get another Tortall story!  Super exciting book to look forward to–and I am #6 in line on the library’s hold list. 😀

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2018 Goals and Reading Challenges

Happy 2018!  Starting into a brand new year makes it time to look at plans for the months to come.  I’m doing this a little differently this year…because I have kind of a lot going on.  So this is a bit more of a goals post than strictly (only) a Reading Challenges one.

Firstly–I don’t usually write hardly anything at all about my personal life on here, outside of reading and sometimes travel (usually with a literary bent).  But the beginning of the year, especially this year, seems like the right time to share some personal news.  Mainly, I got engaged this past summer! 😀 We’re getting married in May, so I am (and have been) deep into wedding planning, as you might imagine.  This is one reason I got a little distracted from reading challenges in the last few months…

So my biggest goal for 2018 is…to get married! ❤

Secondly, I’m obviously still going to be doing some reading (hopefully plenty of it).  I want to be more relaxed about it, though.  I’ve been reading the Newbery Medal winners for the past two years, and I want to finish out that goal.  I have 21 books left, which is about the same I’ve done each of the last two years.  Newbery Medals are usually pretty quick (though sometimes depressing!) reads, so that’s very do-able.  I also want to do the Diversity challenge again because it still feels tragically important, but I’m going to broaden my definition beyond just race. Continue reading

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2017 Reading Challenges: Finale!

We’re into 2018 so it’s time to look at how my reading challenges turned out.  I frankly got very distracted from them this year in the last few months.  When NaNo finished I decided to look at them again, and did a bit of a scramble to finish two during December!  Well, you’ll see…

PictureNewbery Medal Winners
Goal: 20 Newbery Medal Winners, halving the number remaining
Host: Smiling Shelves

I did well with this most of the year, and threw in two more in December to reach my target.  My first read of the year, Kira-Kira, and my last read, Sounder, tie for most depressing Newbery to date!  Good Masters, Sweet Ladies was my favorite this year, which was entirely a surprise!

  1. Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata
  2. The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman
  3. Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena
  4. Good Masters, Sweet Ladies by Laura Amy Schlitz
  5. Crispin: The Cross of Lead by AVI
  6. King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry
  7. Joyful Noise by Paul Fleischman
  8. The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron
  9. Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorenson
  10. The Wheel on the School by Meindert De Jong
  11. A Visit to William Blake’s Inn by Nancy Willard
  12. The Cat Who Went to Heaven by Elizabeth Coatsworth
  13. I, Juan de Pareja by Elizabeth Borton de Trevino
  14. MC Higgins the Great by Virginia Hamilton
  15. The Dark Frigate by Charles Boahman Hawes
  16. The Summer of the Swans by Betsy Byars
  17. Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze by Elizabeth Lewis
  18. The High King by Lloyd Alexander
  19. …And Now Miguel by Joseph Krumgold
  20. Sounder by William H. Armstrong

Continue reading

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2017 Reading Round-Up

We’re almost the end of 2017, and I think it’s a good time to look at the good, the bad and the weird of my 2017 reading.  I read 162 books in the year, similar to last year, although I feel like I’ve read far more nonfiction and audiobooks than my usual paper fiction from past years.  As reading evolves, here’s what stood out…

1) Best of…
I’ve been splitting my “Best of” books for the past few years, so that I can highlight the ones that were best in very specific ways.

1A) Best Premise: All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai
We’re the dystopia, and the ‘50s visions of the idyllic future really happened in another universe that’s supposed to be the real world.  The book was good, but that premise is just brilliant.

1B) Best World Building: Read My Mind by Kelly Haworth
I loved the religion-building especially, but this entire alternate world with a pantheon of gods and generally accepted magical abilities was so interesting and so vividly, clearly brought to life.  Wonderful.

1C) Best Romance(s): The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon and Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven
Surprisingly enough, two of my three favorite romances this year were in contemporary YA books.  In the first, Natasha and Daniel have a Before Sunrise like experience, spending one day together and falling in love (I hate instaromance, except in the rare case when it’s done really, really well).  In the second, Libby and Jack are two struggling characters who find out they can accept and complement each other.  Very fun romances both.  And that third book I mentioned?  Makes the list elsewhere…

1D) Best Hero(ine): Notorious RBG by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik
I’m reading so much more nonfiction that I think it fits to choose a real person as my favorite heroine of the year.  A very inspiring book, and Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s existence in a troubled world is deeply reassuring. Continue reading

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