Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés
I had heard about this book when it first appeared on the New York Times bestseller list back in the Nineties, then added it to my TBR list a few years ago when one of my therapists recommended it, and then finally, finally started reading it when I was looking for alternative, feminist interpretations of fairy tales to help me shape themes for my WIP. I sure did find them. What a treasure trove. It took me a while to actually finish it because it is so chock full of complex and meaningful anecdotes that not only apply to storytelling but –eep!—one’s own life. Here’s what Dr. Estés had to say about the instinctual wild woman spirit:
“Once women have lost her and then found her again, they will contend to keep her for good. Once they have regained her, they will fight and fight hard to keep her, for with her their creative lives blossom; their relationships gain meaning and depth and health; their cycles of sexuality, creativity, work, and play are re-established; they are no longer marks for the predations of others; they are entitled equally under the laws of nature to grow and to thrive.”
BTW, Emma Watson recently hosted a Q&A with Dr. Estés for her Goodreads Book club. Check it out here.
Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman by Anne Helen Petersen
I was at a book signing with a friend of mine about a month ago and as she looked around at the walls of books she said “I’m trying to think of what I want to buy.” I said I was looking for the above mentioned and she said “I want to support that based on the title alone.” That’s pretty much what I said the minute I first read about it on Bustle. When it finally became available on Libby, I listened to the audiobook in a week and then went out and bought my own copy.
In the book’s introduction, the author describes the horror of being asked by her editor to write about the 2016 election results:
“I had expected a relaxing, joyful rest of the week. I was exhausted from weeks reporting on the road. I could have cried. But instead, I opened up a new document, typing: This Is How Much America Hates Women.”
In the following ten chapters, Petersen illustrates this in an examination of the careers, and public response, to, celebrity women who pushed the societal boundaries of “acceptable female behavior.” If you are someone who has ever felt, or been told, your authentic self is “too something” (hmm, let’s see, you’re too quiet, too intense, too emotional, you laugh too loud, your hair’s too big, you’re too direct, you’re too boyish, oh, the list goes on and on) this book is at once infuriating, affirming, and inspiring.
Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own by Kate Bolick
The word spinster is basically the female version of bachelor, meaning, unmarried. But boy, does it carry negative connotations and reactions not associated with the masculine counterpart. Think about it. You hear “bachelor” and think hot wealthy playboy who is being chased after by loads of women but just can’t bring himself to settle for one. You hear “spinster” and think pathetic ugly hag that no man wants.
I mean, when I read the book review in Shelf Awareness I was like “Yep. This book is for me.” But when I went to add it to Goodreads I was like “Really? Do I want to share with the whole universe that I want to read a book called Spinster?”
Then I came to my senses and was like, fuck it. I clicked the button.
The funny thing, though, is that when I went to special order this from my local indie bookstore, no one could bring themselves to say the title. The voicemail letting me know my order had arrived went like this: “The Kate Bolick book came in.” I went to pick it up and the woman behind the counter looked at it, did a double take, then held it up to me so I could read the cover and said, “Is this what you want?”
A lit-gasmic book arguing for the pleasures of an unconventional life? Yes, that is what I want.
Bolick writes on one of her five awakeners, Edna St. Vincent Millay:
“I suspect she’d have told us that if there is a point to all of this, it’s to take life very, very seriously, and to love whomever you want, as abundantly as you can.”