Friday, June 8, 2012

The Women Reader by Belinda Jack

This is an interesting book. Obviously I have a bias, since I'm female and obviously a reader (let's not quibble over the quality of what I read). But apart from all that, it's a interesting look at the history of the Western Women Reader.

I say Western because while the book does (briefly) discuss the Easter Women Reader, it only appeared about 2 or 3 times, and was limited to China, Japan and India. The book overwhelming focuses on the Western Women, especially from the second chapter onwards, titled "Reading in the Not-So-Dark Ages".

But even taken primarily as a treatise about the history of women reading in Western civilisation, it's still fascinating. Each chapter uses the biography of several notable women to explain the conditions of that time. So what happens is that apart from general history stuff, I also got to read about several notable women readers that I wouldn't have heard of otherwise and how they managed to change/influence their society.

In fact, from reading this book, I found two books that sound interesting. And since both of them were written quite some time ago, I imagine they're are in public domain. So here they are:

"An Essay on the Art of Ingeniously Tormenting (1753)" a book that "brillantly satirises the conduct book by offering advice on how to be a totally infuriating wife and intolerable employer."


"Advice To My Daugther" by the Marquis de Condorcet.

Have you read either of them? If you have, what did you think of them?

And well, I don't think that there's much I can say. It's a well-written and interesting book, so like normal, I will just share quotes that I found interesting from the book. This time, there are two! (well, there were more but I'm limiting my self) Ironically, both of them are quotes from other books:

"The appeal of reading, she thought, lay in its indifference: there was something underferring about literature. Books did not care who was reading them or whether one read them or not. All readers were equal, herself included. Literature, she thought, is a commonsealth; letters a republic." (from The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett)

and if you don't think you have time to read:

"Time is a gift, but it can be a suspect one, especially in a culture that values frenzy. When I began this book, almost everyone I knew seemed to be busier than I was. I supported myself, contributed my share to the upkeep of the household, and engaged in all the useful wifely and motherly duties and pleasures. But I still had time left to read... I had constructed a life in which I could be energetic but also lazy; I could rush, but I would never be rushed. It was a perfect situation for someone who loved to read." (from Nothing Remains the Same: Rereading and Remembering by Wendy Lesser)

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

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