Tag - book review

How to be a Woman book review

How to Be a WomanHow to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really freaking liked this book, which is a light commentary on feminism framed around events in Moran’s life as she ages from 13 to 35 years old. It’s cheeky and borderline rude in parts, but the observations are so wise. There are gut-punch parts and laugh-out-loud on the train parts.

I’m infertile, so the “Why You Should Have Children” chapter stung. But that’s my own hangup. The next chapter “Why You Should Not Have Children” helped, but it’s obvious what side Moran’s on. And that’s okay. Again, my own hangup. Sometimes good writing stings.

If you’re a capital-A Academic, you’ll probably prefer other books on the subject. If you’re easily offended, this isn’t your book. But if you’re a GenX woman who wasn’t a Women’s History major, this book is like listening to one of your crazy best friends talk passionately about feminism.

Somewhat relatedly, out of the 11 books I’ve read so far in 2015, 8 of them were written by women!

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Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald book review

Z: A Novel of Zelda FitzgeraldZ: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a fictionalized account of the life of Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, covering her life from the night she meets F. Scott Fitzgerald until she leaves him, with a bit of end-story to tie up loose ends.

Their relationship is … difficult … compounded by how absurdly women were treated at the time.

It’s beautifully written and has a quick pace that keeps you turning the page even though you keep muttering, “Zelda, don’t. No, Zelda. Oh Zelda. Zel-da.” The author acknowledges in the endnotes that in the Fitzgerald fandom, there are definitive Team Zelda and Team Scott factions. I think it’s safe to say our author is Team Zelda.

Upon finishing this book, I realized that I have a searing hate toward F. Scott Fitzgerald and I’m glad he’s dead.

(I also hated The Great Gatsby. So eat that, Scott. Jerk.)

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Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman book review

Catherine the Great: Portrait of a WomanCatherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What I knew about Catherine going into this book: She was a man-hungry woman who died while having sex with a horse.

This book was 100% effective in disproving all of my Catherine knowledge. She was a wise, witty, and educated leader who used every awful experience delivered by her AWFUL childhood/teen-hood/20s-hood to get what she wanted. She loved philosophy and the arts. She was just as progressively minded — if not more so — than her peers at the time. And her lovers gained attention not because of existence or number, but because they were younger.

Massie’s extensive research is evident. You read about how things officially happened, and then he uses letters and accounts from Catherine and others to learn about how things probably happened.

The war history passages were hard for me to get through, because that isn’t my thing. And it’s not really necessary to understand all of it in depth in order to see what the victory/defeat delivered. So don’t feel bad about not committing it all to memory. The number of other characters is overwhelming, but you eventually remember the major players.

Massie ends his acknowledgements in this touching fashion: “Finally, I must acknowledge the extraordinary pleasure I have had in the company of the remarkable woman who has been my subject. After eight years of having her a constant presence in my life, I shall miss her.”

This was an “I *should* read this” book rather than an “I *want* to read this” book. I’m very glad I read it anyway, because even at over 500 pages, it was a treat.

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