Tag «feminism»

Single Sundays: How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for How to Be a Woman (from Goodreads):
Though they have the vote and the Pill and haven’t been burned as witches since 1727, life isn’t exactly a stroll down the catwalk for modern women. They are beset by uncertainties and questions: Why are they supposed to get Brazilians? Why do bras hurt? Why the incessant talk about babies? And do men secretly hate them? Caitlin Moran interweaves provocative observations on women’s lives with laugh-out-loud funny scenes from her own, from adolescence to her development as a writer, wife, and mother.

breakdown

Author: Caitlin Moran
Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir, Feminism, Humour
Heat Rating: N/A
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: June 16, 2011
Source & Format: Public Library–Audio Book

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

After successfully listening to my first audiobook (Stephen Colbert’s America Again: Re-becoming the Greatness We Never Weren’t), I quickly went out to find another one to listen to while I ran errands at school. I remember seeing this book everywhere when it first came out and I heard it was a pretty funny read. I was also interested in how it approached feminism. I had tried earlier to read Spinster, a book that I thought focused on the modern view of a women but instead focused on one woman’s discovery of notable female poets…at least, that was all I got from the first two chapters before I DNF’d it.

So while How to be a Woman is essentially a memoir, the promise of humour made this book way more appealing to me and so I was excited to read it.

The Concept:

The book is essentially Moran describing her growth into womanhood from her youth to now. What makes it fun is Moran’s witty and often cynical approach to the various topics, like getting her period for the first time or shaving her legs. Things every woman has essentially had to go through or every girl will go through–making it very relatable for the female reader and enticing a laugh from her simultaneously.

The Writing / The Narration:

She reminds me a lot of a Georgia Nicolson from Confessions of Georgia Nicolson, only if she was 35+ years old and lacked a filter. And I mean no filter. There really isn’t a thing that Moran does’t touch in this book and while I admire and respect that, it didn’t make it any easier to read/listen to.

Case and point: her lengthy chapter on the discovery of masturbation and pornography. First, I commend her for discussing a somewhat taboo topic in society but that didn’t make it easier to listen to while I was grocery shopping in public…

One thing I think this book struggled with was maintaining the balance between Caitlin Moran’s personal life and her observations of what it means to be a woman. I had no idea who Caitlin Moran was before I picked up this book and so I had very little interest in hearing her long-winded stories about her personal life. I understand that this book is a memoir and a lot of her stories were completely relevant to the topic at hand–but it made me feel as though this book was 20x longer than it really needed to be.

And I’m upset that I feel that way because when she actually does get to the observations of society and what it means to be a woman, I was thoroughly engrossed. Her reflections are spot on and it makes me wish she spent more time talking about them with little tidbits of her life thrown in here and there instead of having the first 5 or so chapters retelling her life story.

Did it Impact My Life?

Yes, in a way. It reminded me that it shouldn’t be awkward to talk about some of the things she does in the book and I think it shows some of the double standards we have in society with respect the men and women. There is a time and a place for everything of course, but I think my reaction to some of the topics she addresses goes to show how conditioned I am about certain things. So in that sense, I found this book to be enlightening.

It also reassured me that I am not alone in my observations of how females act or why they feel pressured to do something a certain way. As I was listening to some of the things she was saying, it was absurd to me that some of these positions/standards haven’t been challenged.

concSLOW

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

While I think some of the humour would have been lost if I was reading the actual text, I think I might have preferred to read this one instead. The audio book clocks in at approximately 8 hours and I know it would have taken me only 5 to read it. I felt like it was slower at times and I think reading would have let me move past those parts at a better pace. But once I got used to Caitlin’s approach and she started to delve deeper into the feminist issues, I found it much easier to listen to.

Read if You Like: cynical humour, British humour, books about female views
Avoid if You: want a short audiobook

similarreads

  • Yes Please by Amy Pohler
  • Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling

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DNF Review: Spinster by Kate Bolick

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own (from Goodreads): “Whom to marry, and when will it happen—these two questions define every woman’s existence.” So begins Spinster, a revelatory and slyly erudite look at the pleasures and possibilities of remaining single. Using her own experiences as a starting point, journalist and cultural critic Kate Bolick invites us into her carefully considered, passionately lived life, weaving together the past and present to examine why­ she—along with over 100 million American women, whose ranks keep growing—remains unmarried. This unprecedented demographic shift, Bolick explains, is the logical outcome of hundreds of years of change that has neither been fully understood, nor appreciated. Spinster introduces a cast of pioneering women from the last century whose genius, tenacity, and flair for drama have emboldened Bolick to fashion her life on her own terms: columnist Neith Boyce, essayist Maeve Brennan, social visionary Charlotte Perkins Gilman, poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, and novelist Edith Wharton. By animating their unconventional ideas and choices, Bolick shows us that contemporary debates about settling down, and having it all, are timeless—the crucible upon which all thoughtful women have tried for centuries to forge a good life. Intellectually substantial and deeply personal, Spinster is both an unreservedly inquisitive memoir and a broader cultural exploration that asks us to acknowledge the opportunities within ourselves to live authentically. Bolick offers us a way back into our own lives—a chance to see those splendid years when we were young and unencumbered, or middle-aged and finally left to our own devices, for what they really are: unbounded and our own to savor.

breakdown

Author: Kate Bolick

Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir, Feminism, Sociology

Heat Rating: N/A

Point of View: First Person, Single

Publication Date: April 21, 2015

Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I don’t know how I found this book. Normally, I find out about my nonfiction reads from The Daily Show or because the author is a celebrity I like. I think I found Spinster after reading So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed via Goodreads but who knows! Anyways, I wanted to read it because I wanted to explore the topic of marriage expectations for women in today’s culture.

It’s going to get a bit personal and so I apologize. But I wanted to have this discussion because it helps explain what I wanted from this book and why I picked it up.

I’m 23 and I always thought that I would be in a serious relationship, if not possibly married by this age. But I am still single and have no romantic prospects in sight. Prior to starting university, I had a plan to find my husband, go to graduate school and then have kids before I was 30. But the more I thought about my post-post-secondary, I realized I didn’t want to spend another 4 years in school (a total of 8 years of post-secondary education) and then have kids before taking off time to have children. And so, I made the decision to pursue a different post-graduate degree and just let my romantic relationships go with the flow. I want to be clear that I have never felt pressured to be married and have kids. It’s just something that I want to have in my life when the time is right. As of right now, I know I’m not ready for kids and I’m OK with that. Out of my close group of friends, only one is engaged to be married but isn’t getting married for a while; only a few are in serious relationships and the rest are single like me. So I don’t feel like I am behind or missing something from my life. Why do young people, especially young girls, feel like they can’t remain single. It drives me crazy when I watch Say Yes to the Dress and I hear the girls say “This is the most important day of my life”. Is it really? I don’t deny that marriage isn’t an important event in someone’s life. But what about the day you graduated from university? What about the day you started your first job; or accomplished a big goal? Why is marriage SO IMPORTANT? And why is is especially for females?

That was what I was hoping this book was going to explore.

Why I DNF’d:

This book was not what I was expecting! I thought it was going to be an insightful look into the way society has viewed single women throughout the decades. Why I thought that when I reread the synopsis now is beyond me–because what the synopsis says is what you get! This book is really just a memoir of Kate Bolick and her explaining how these 4-5 women made her into the woman she is totally. Which is great and all, but I honestly don’t care! It doesn’t interest me! I’m not one to read memoirs–even if it is someone who I admire or am interested in. I also had a hard time with the writing. It was way too academic for me, making it read more like a college essay than a story. I also had a hard time with the flow. Reading the first entry lost me in terms of why this little blurb was relevant to this little blurb. I found myself getting bored and when I wasn’t bored, I was frustrated and so, I decided to DNF this book.

My Rating: N/A

overall

This book just wasn’t what I wanted it to be. I wanted a book that explored cultural expectations of single women and instead, I got a memoir about a girl who became a woman. Perhaps if I had stuck it out, I would have read the parts that I wanted but my perusal of the pages ahead didn’t look very promising

Read if You Like: memoirs Avoid if You: want an investigative look into popular cultural

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