Category Archives: Uncategorized

Top Ten Non-Fiction Books

Most of the time, I read non-fiction really just for work. And, honestly, those from my work may not appeal to you. Nonetheless, here’s my list of top ten non-fiction books.

The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir
Product Description: The classic manifesto of the liberated woman, this book explores every facet of a woman’s life.

Buried My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown
Product Description: Documents, personal narratives, and illustrations record the experiences of Native Americans during the nineteenth century.

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
Product Description: First Published in 1962, Silent Spring alerted a large audience to the environmental and human dangers of indiscriminate use of pesticides, spurring revolutionary changes in the laws affecting our air, land, and water. “Silent Spring became a runaway bestseller, with international reverberations … Even if she had not inspired a generation of activists, Carson would prevail as one of the greatest nature writers in American letters” (Peter Matthiessen, for Time’s “100 Most Influential People of the Century”).

Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
Product Description: Discovered in the attic in which she spent the last years of her life, Anne Frank’s remarkable diary has since become a world classic — a powerful reminder of the horrors of war and an eloquent testament to the human spirit. In 1942, with Nazis occupying Holland, a thirteen-year-old Jewish girl and her family fled their home in Amsterdam and went into hiding. For the next two years, until their whereabouts were betrayed to the Gestapo, they and another family lived cloistered in the “Secret Annex” of an old office building. Cut off from the outside world, they faced hunger, boredom, the constant cruelties of living in confined quarters, and the ever-present threat of discovery and death. In her diary Anne Frank recorded vivid impressions of her experiences during this period. By turns thoughtful, moving, and amusing, her account offers a fascinating commentary on human courage and frailty and a compelling self-portrait of a sensitive and spirited young woman whose promise was tragically cut short. Annotation. Discovered in the attic in which she spent the last years of her life, Anne Frank’s remarkable diary has since become a world classic — a powerful reminder of the horrors of war and an eloquent testament to the human spirit. In 1942, with Nazis occupying Holland, a thirteen-year-old Jewish girl and her family fled their home in Amsterdam and went into hiding. For the next two years, until their whereabouts were betrayed to the Gestapo, they and another family lived cloistered in the “Secret Annex” of an old office building. Cut off from the outside world, they faced hunger, boredom, the constant cruelties of living in confined quarters, and the ever-present threat of discovery and death. In her diary Anne Frank recorded vivid impressions of her experiences during this period. By turns thoughtful, moving, and amusing, her account offers a fascinating commentary on human courage and frailty and a compelling self-portrait of a sensitive and spirited young woman whose promise was tragically cut short.

Rhetoric Retold: Regendering the Tradition from Antiquity through the Renaissance by Cheryl Glenn
Product Description: After explaining how and why women have been excluded from the rhetorical tradition from antiquity through the Renaissance, Cheryl Glenn provides the opportunity for Sappho, Aspasia, Diotima, Hortensia, Fulvia, Julian of Norwich, Margery Kempe, Margaret More Roper, Anne Askew, and Elizabeth I to speak with equal authority and as eloquently as Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, and Augustine. Her aim is nothing less than regendering and changing forever the history of rhetoric.

To that end, Glenn locates women’s contributions to and participation in the rhetorical tradition and writes them into an expanded, inclusive tradition. She regenders the tradition by designating those terms of identity that have promoted and supported men’s control of public, persuasive discourse — the culturally constructed social relations between, the appropriate roles for, and the subjective identities of women and men.

Glenn is the first scholar to contextualize, analyze, and follow the migration of women’s rhetorical accomplishments systematically. To locate these women, she follows the migration of the Western intellectual tradition from its inception in classical antiquity and its confrontation with and ultimate appropriation by evangelical Christianity to its force in the medieval Church and in Tudor arts and politics.

Glenn sets the scope of her study from antiquity to the Renaissance for several reasons, not the least of which is that the Enlightenment saw the end of classical rhetoric as the dominant and most influential system of education and communication. Equally important, the Enlightenment brought about the demise of the one-sex model of humanity that centered on the telos of perfect maleness –with women and children being perceived as undeveloped men.

Glenn expands the history of rhetoric by including the contributions of women. She is not writing a compensatory history or a history of rhetoric by women; she is integrating the rhetorical accomplishments of women into the context of the male-dominated and male-documented rhetorical tradition and, in the process, enriching that tradition.

Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott
Product Description: It’s not like she’s the only woman to ever have a baby. At thirty-five. On her own. But Anne Lamott makes it all fresh in her now-classic account of how she and her son and numerous friends and neighbors and some strangers survived and thrived in that all important first year. From finding out that her baby is a boy (and getting used to the idea) to finding out that her best friend and greatest supporter Pam will die of cancer (and not getting used to that idea), with a generous amount of wit and faith (but very little piousness), Lamott narrates the great and small events that make up a woman’s life.

Betsy Ross and the Making of America by Marla Miller
Product Description: A richly woven biography of the beloved patriot Betsy Ross, and an enthralling portrait of everyday life in Revolutionary War-era Philadelphia Betsy Ross and the Making of America is the first comprehensively researched and elegantly written biography of one of America’s most captivating figures of the Revolutionary War. Drawing on new sources and bringing a fresh, keen eye to the fabled creation of “the first flag,” Marla R. Miller thoroughly reconstructs the life behind the legend. This authoritative work provides a close look at the famous seamstress while shedding new light on the lives of the artisan families who peopled the young nation and crafted its tools, ships, and homes. Betsy Ross occupies a sacred place in the American consciousness, and Miller’s winning narrative finally does her justice. This history of the ordinary craftspeople of the Revolutionary War and their most famous representative will be the definitive volume for years to come.

Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff
Product Description: The Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer brings to life the most intriguing woman in the history of the world: Cleopatra, the last queen of Egypt. Her palace shimmered with onyx, garnets, and gold, but was richer still in political and sexual intrigue. Above all else, Cleopatra was a shrewd strategist and an ingenious negotiator. Though her life spanned fewer than forty years, it reshaped the contours of the ancient world. She was married twice, each time to a brother. She waged a brutal civil war against the first when both were teenagers. She poisoned the second. Ultimately she dispensed with an ambitious sister as well; incest and assassination were family specialties. Cleopatra appears to have had sex with only two men. They happen, however, to have been Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, among the most prominent Romans of the day. Both were married to other women. Cleopatra had a child with Caesar and–after his murder–three more later. Already she was the wealthiest ruler in the Mediterranean; the relationship with Antony confirmed her status as the most influential woman of the age. The two would together attempt to forge a new empire, in an alliance that spelled their ends. Cleopatra has lodged herself in our imaginations ever since. Famous long before she was notorious, Cleopatra has gone down in history for all the wrong reasons. Shakespeare and Shaw put words in her mouth. Michelangelo, Tiepolo, and Elizabeth Taylor put a face to her name. Along the way, Cleopatra’s supple personality and the drama of her circumstances have been lost. In a masterly return to the classical sources, Stacy Schiff here boldly separates fact from fiction to rescue the magnetic queen whose death ushered in a new world order. Rich in detail, epic in scope, Schiff ‘s is a luminous, deeply original reconstruction of a dazzling life.

Riding the Bus with My Sister by Rachel Simon
Synopsis (from author’s website): Rachel Simon’s sister Beth is a spirited woman who lives intensely and often joyfully. Beth, who has an intellectual disability, spends her days riding the buses in her Pennsylvania city. The drivers, a lively group, are her mentors; her fellow passengers are her community. One day, Beth asked Rachel to accompany her on the buses for an entire year. This wise, funny, deeply affecting book is the chronicle of that remarkable time. Rachel, a writer and college teacher whose hyperbusy life camouflaged her emotional isolation, had much to learn in her sister’s extraordinary world. These are life lessons from which every reader can profit: how to live in the moment, how to pay attention to what really matters, how to change, how to love—and how to slow down and enjoy the ride.

Elegantly woven throughout the odyssey are riveting memories of terrifying maternal abandonment, fierce sisterly loyalty, and astonishing forgiveness. Rachel Simon brings to light the almost invisible world of developmental disabilities, finds unlikely heroes in everyday life, and, without sentimentality, portrays Beth as the endearing, feisty, independent person she is. This heartwarming book about the unbreakable bond between two very different sisters takes the reader on an inspirational journey at once unique and universal.

A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
Product Description: Describes the domestic obligations, social limitations, and economic factors that impede literary creativity in women, in the story of William Shakespeare’s talented sister, who, because of the mores of her time, never expresses her genius until she dies by her own hand.

This lists will resume on Monday. Until then, Happy Reading!

Advertisements

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Top Ten Women’s Experimental Narratives

I was first introduced to the category / genre “women’s experimental narratives” as an undergraduate at the University of Louisville. I went on to take several courses as an undergrad and graduate student that focused on such works, but my favorites are still mostly ones I was introduced to in that first course with Dr. Beth Boehm. So, here’s my favorite women’s experimental narratives (in alphabetical order by author).

The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter
Product Description: From familiar fairy tales and legends – Red Riding Hood, Bluebeard, Puss-in-Boots, Beauty and the Beast, vampires, werewolves – Angela Carter has created an absorbing collection of dark, sensual, fantastic stories.

No Telephone to Heaven by Michelle Cliff
Product Description:  A brilliant Jamaican-American writer takes on the themes of colonialism, race, myth, and political awakening through the experiences of a light-skinned woman named Clare Savage. The story is one of discovery as Clare moves through a variety of settings – Jamaica, England, America – and encounters people who affect her search for place and self. The structure of No Telephone to Heaven combines naturalism and lyricism, and traverses space and time, dream and reality, myth and history, reflecting the fragmentation of the protagonist, who nonetheless seeks wholeness and connection. In this deply poetic novel there exist several levels: the world Clare encounters, and a world of which she only gradually becomes aware – a world of extreme poverty, the real Jamaica, not the Jamaica of the middle class, not the Jamaica of the tourist. And Jamaica – almost a character in the book – is described in terms of extraordinary beauty, coexisting with deep human tragedy.  The violence that rises out of extreme oppression, the divided loyalties of a colonized person, sexual dividedness, and the dividedness of a person neither white nor black – all of these are truths that Clare must face. Overarching all the themes in this exceptionally fine novel is the need to become whole, and the decisions and the courage demanded to achieve that wholeness.

Nights by H. D.
Product Description: A woman struggles to understand her bisexuality and the failure of her marriage and becomes involved in a heterosexual affair.

Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts by Maxine Hong Kingston
Product Description: A Chinese American woman tells of the Chinese myths, family stories and events of her California childhood that have shaped her identity. *This book has had the biggest impact on me as reader—ever. I will blog about it more fully soon.

Zami: A New Spelling of My Name by Audre Lorde
Product Description: The poet, Audre Lorde, depicts her life and examines the influence of various women on her development in her biomythography.

Beloved by Toni Morrison
Product Description: Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Toni Morrison’s Beloved is a spellbinding and dazzlingly innovative portrait of a woman haunted by the past.

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
Product Description: Jean Rhys’s reputation was made upon the publication of this passionate and heartbreaking novel, in which she brings into the light one of fiction’s most mysterious characters: the madwoman in the attic from Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. A sensual and protected young woman, Antoinette Cosway grows up in the lush natural world of the Caribbean. She is sold into marriage to the coldhearted and prideful Rochester, who succumbs to his need for money and his lust. Yet he will make her pay for her ancestors’ sins of slaveholding, excessive drinking, and nihilistic despair by enslaving her as a prisoner in his bleak English home. In this best-selling novel Rhys portrays a society so driven by hatred, so skewed in its sexual relations, that it can literally drive a woman out of her mind.

The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein
Product Description: Stein’s most famous work; one of the richest and most irreverent biographies ever written.

Oranges are not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
Product Description: Winner of the Whitbread Prize for best first fiction, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit is a coming-out novel from Winterson, the acclaimed author of The Passion and Sexing the Cherry. The narrator, Jeanette, cuts her teeth on the knowledge that she is one of God’s elect, but as this budding evangelical comes of age, and comes to terms with her preference for her own sex, the peculiar balance of her God-fearing household crumbles.

Orlando by Virginia Woolf
Product Description: Begun as a “joke,” Orlando is Virginia Woolf’s fantastical biography of a poet who first appears as a sixteen-year-old boy at the court of Elizabeth I, and is left at the novel’s end a married woman in the year 1928. Part love letter to Vita Sackville-West, part exploration of the art of biography, Orlando is one of Woolf’s most popular and entertaining works.

Happy Reading!

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Merry Christmas & Happy Yule

Merry Christmas & Happy Yule. I will return on January 3 with a review of a Sheila Connolly’s A Killer Crop. Please be safe and enjoy the holidays with friends and family.

XOXOXO, Stacy

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Where did this year go?

Well, though it would not appear to be true here, I have been reading like crazy. What I have not been doing is writing at all. My last post here was in July. Since that time, I have read more than 50 books for fun, most of them under the category / genre of “cozy mystery.” Because this genre is mostly short and very easy to read, I can sometimes read 5-6 a week. And, since I use them to de-stress, and life has been full of stress lately, I have been reading like crazy. I haven’t taken the time to write about them, though, unfortunately.

However, that is about to change. Regular posts to this blog will begin again Monday, December 6. That post will focus on Joanna Campbell Slan’s Photo, Snap, Shot. I hope you will return then to read about this great cozy mystery.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized