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Reading Women: How the Great Books of Feminism Changed My Life
     

Reading Women: How the Great Books of Feminism Changed My Life

2.7 3
by Stephanie Staal
 

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When Stephanie Staal first read The Feminine Mystique in college, she found it “a mildly interesting relic from another era.” But more than a decade later, as a married stay-at-home mom in the suburbs, Staal rediscovered Betty Friedan's classic work—and was surprised how much she identified with the laments and misgivings of 1950s housewives

Overview

When Stephanie Staal first read The Feminine Mystique in college, she found it “a mildly interesting relic from another era.” But more than a decade later, as a married stay-at-home mom in the suburbs, Staal rediscovered Betty Friedan's classic work—and was surprised how much she identified with the laments and misgivings of 1950s housewives. She set out on a quest: to reenroll at Barnard and re-read the great books she had first encountered as an undergrad.

From the banishment of Eve to Judith Butler's Gender Trouble, Staal explores the significance of each of these classic tales by and of women, highlighting the relevance these ideas still have today. This process leads Staal to find the self she thought she had lost—curious and ambitious, zany and critical—and inspires new understandings of her relationships with her husband, her mother, and her daughter.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
More than a decade after her graduation from Barnard College, journalist Staal (The Love They Lost) revisits feminist literature to conduct "a highly personal investigation" into the "balance between selfhood and womanhood." Her marriage is limping along, and motherhood and housework have intruded on her professional life. Contrasting her new responses to such feminist classics as Friedan's The Feminine Mystique and de Beauvoir's The Second Sex with those of her 19-year-old self and to those of today's students, Staal despairs over the "objectifying" of self she observes in young women today, but discovers that "absolutes that once dominated my thinking had been rubbed down by experience." Staal offers an interesting overview of feminist history and writings; however, her exploration of transformations in her life is superficial (her marriage was healed by "coming closer together through the thousands of tiny moments that make up a day"), and she learns the fairly trite lesson that "life is unpredictable, relationships are complex, and the mind cannot always rule the heart." (Feb.)
From the Publisher
J. Courtney Sullivan
“If you could enroll in your favorite Women’s Studies class again ten years after graduation, armed with everything you know about the complexities and compromises of adult life, what would you make of the feminist ideals you once held dear? That’s exactly what Staal endeavors to find out in this brave and compelling book, which is one part memoir, one part astute literary analysis. As she struggles to make sense of love, life, marriage, and motherhood on her own terms, the author traces the history of women’s words over centuries—from Mary Wollstonecraft and Virginia Woolf to Erica Jong and Katie Roiphe. I cherished every page.”

Debora Spar, president of Barnard College
“A swift, enchanting, and informative sweep through the feminist canon.” 
 
Katie Crouch
Reading Women is terrific. Stephanie Staal’s exploration of the great texts of the women who have walked before us is fresh, funny, and a wise reminder that now, more than ever, we need to feed the feminist within.”
 

Booklist, February 15, 2011
“Intimate in its reflections and keenly perceptive on a larger scale, Staal’s erudite literary memoir refreshingly embraces women’s eternal quest for self-knowledge.”
 

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781586488765
Publisher:
PublicAffairs
Publication date:
02/22/2011
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
288
File size:
537 KB

Meet the Author

Stephanie Staal is a former features reporter for the Newark Star-Ledger, and has written for Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Self, and the Washington Post. She is the author of The Love They Lost, a journalistic memoir about the long-term effects of parental divorce. A graduate of Barnard College and Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, she now lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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Reading Women: How the Great Books of Feminism Changed My Life (Large Print 16pt) 2.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyable and interesting insights.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago