A new challenge popped up this year – Women Unbound.  Not necessarily a challenge about reading books written by women (too easy) but a challenge about reading books that examine women’s place in society, gender, sexual and reproductive rights, power.  In short, “women’s studies” as defined by Merriam-Webster: the multidisciplinary study of the social status and societal contributions of women and the relationship between power and gender.  Interesting…I signed up knowing that I have enough books in my overflowing bookshelves to make my “Suffragette” level reading easy-to-find.


The first two books I chose were easy (The Help and Little Women) but the next two selections might be a bit of a challenge.  The first, A Jury of Her Peers by Elaine Showalter, was an as-yet unread book I acquired after some discussion with other users on THE BOOK NOOK thread of “Literature by Women.”  Showalter gathered a chronology of well-known and obscure women authors from America to create a framework for a female literary tradition. I’m reading this one in bits because, let’s face it, I find it very difficult to read what is essentially a series of mini-biographies of obscure North American women writers, one right after the other.  I was hoping it would be more like an anthology with mini-biographies and examples of the writers’ best work – mostly so I could find even more authors to discuss at “Literature by Women” – but no.  Still, it is the information Showalter provides showing how many women have similar backgrounds, or that they all use George Eliot as a model or anti-model, etc., that makes the book interesting even though it will take me the better part of a year to read it (I’m just up to the turn of the twentieth-century with 300 pages to go).



So I press on.


Do you try to direct your reading?  Do you use a book club or challenge list? Does it work?


Melissa W. has degrees in biology and epidemiology from the University of Iowa.  She is a research assistant in hospital epidemiology, Barnes and Noble bookseller, dancer, knitter, and just happens to inhale books, too.  She lives with two spoiled cats, Chaucer and Dante.

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