Nov 15, 2009

The Sunday Salon - A Women Unbound Wishlist

A Women Unbound Wishlist

Book lists - aren't they fun? They're actually the reason why I keep joining reading challenges even though I keep saying I'm more or less over them. And because I want to have my cake and eat it too, I decided to make a list for the Women Unbound challenge that I'm not going to be forced to follow. See, this is more of a book coveting post than anything else. These are all books that I won't yet own, that I think would be perfect for the challenge, and that I want to keep in mind when making the Christmas/birthday wishlist that my family always asks that I make. (And if you're wondering, my book acquiring ban will be temporarily lifted during the holiday season. I'm weak.)

  • Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters - Of course. I've been saving this "Victorian lesbian romp" (to use Waters' own words) for...I don't even know when. But I can only deprive myself for so long, and I know that when I finally do read this, it will be An Event.

  • Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers - another Lord Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane book, and one that is often referred to as the first feminist mystery. Plus it's set in Oxford back when women were just starting to be allowed to get degrees. What's not to love? (I will, of course, read Have His Carcase first.)

  • The Group by Mary McCarthy - This book, about a group of women graduates from Vassar College in 1930s Manhattan, is not only highly recommended by Claire, but it's also one of Sarah Waters' favourite books. I have complete faith that I'll love it.
  • The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart - Why haven't I read this yet?! Awesome feminist YA! Set in a boarding school! Plus it has the Renay Stamp of Approval, which I think of as highly as, say, a Printz Honor Medal. Which, by the way, this book also won. (Along with Tender Morsels! And Nation! Need I say more?)

  • Graceling by Kristin Cashore - as above. Well, except for the boarding school and Printz bits. But it did win the Mythopoeic Award, which is just as awesome in my book.

  • The Robber Bridegroom by Margaret Atwood - "by Margaret Atwood".

  • Alas, Poor Lady by Rachel Ferguson - A Persephone book! I had to include at least one. Originally published in 1937, and by the author of the lovely The Bront√ęs Went to Woolsworth, it's about the fate that awaited unmarried upper-class Victorian women, who were told that it was undignified to work but did not have any way to support themselves without a husband.

  • The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman - because someone ought to smack me for not having read it yet.
  • Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism and the Future by Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards - the title says it all, doesn't it? A look at what feminism means to young women today.

  • Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape edited by Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti - if I end up only reading a book from this list, I want this to be it. This collection of essays sounds incredibly powerful and important. And I hope that Heather won't mind if I link to her brave and very personal review.

  • Woman: An Intimate Geography by Natalie Angie - I first heard of this book via Katha Pollitt, which told me right away that I'd probably love it. Angier is a Pulitzer Prize-winning and awesome-sounding science writer, and here she tackles the female body, as well as the misconceptions and myths that bad science has helped perpetuate.

  • The Case of the Female Orgasm: Bias in the Science of Evolution by Elisabeth A. Lloyd - Writing about the previous book reminded me of this one. I love science, I really do, but I realize that a lot of biased researchers have pushed their agendas or tried to perpetuate their preconceptions in its name. This book, which if I'm not mistaken I first heard of from Debi and Rich, is about how scientists have dealt with female sexuality over time.

  • Mad, Bad and Sad: A History of Women and the Mind Doctors from 1800 to the Present by Lisa Appignanes - And on a similar note, how awesome does this sound? I'd be a perfect follow-up to all the Victorian literature I've been reading, where concepts like "madness" and "hysteria" seem irrevocably linked to femaleness, and where madness is often used as a tool of control.

  • Learning to Drive and Other Life Stories by Katha Pollit - because I love Pollit's essays. J.S. Peyton tells me this collection is more personal than political but still very much concerned with feminism. Sounds great to me.

  • Her Way: Young Women Remake the Sexual Revolution by Paula Kame - apparently based on surveys and interviews with young women about how they deal with their sexuality. As much as the topic interests me, I can see dodgy methodology causing this to go horribly wrong. But I won't know until I try it, will I?

  • Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace by Ayelet Waldman - a collection of essays about motherhood and the feelings of guilt and inadequacy so many women are cornered into feeling when it comes to raising their children.

  • Catching a Wave: Reclaiming Feminism for the 21st Century by Rory Dicker and Alison Piepmeier. Amazon suggested this when I was looking up the details of Manifesta. It sounds sort of similar, but more focused on the question of why so many younger women reject the word "feminism" despite the fact that they embrace its ideals.
Have you read any of these? If so, what did you think? Also, is there anything else you think I absolutely MUST read for this challenge?

The Sunday


  1. You have a wonderful list! I would smack you for not having read The Yellow Wallpaper sooner but I just read it myself a few months ago so you're forgiven!
    Right now I'm reading Pollitt's newest volume of poetry, The Mind-Body Problem so Learning to Drive is next on my list.

    I think you're right about the making-a-book-list part as being the best thing about challenges. I love making them and reading them. Happy reading.

  2. The Yellow Wallpaper is free over at project Gutenberg. And you should read it. I love it! I read it with my seniors last week! Review is here!

    Happy reading

  3. Frankie Landau-Banks is a fun read, although it will give you something to think about, too. It reminds me, a bit, of John Green's Looking for Alaska...mostly for the boarding school setting and the hijinks.

  4. You can also read The yellow Wallpaper at, an awesome way to sneakily read another book when you didn't think you had time for.
    Frankie Landau sounds really good!
    It's all about the lists.

  5. The Disreputable History... is a lot of fun, and would be great for the challenge. Oh, and I just finished listening to Graceling this week, and it was also fantastic.

    I think the two science/evolution books sound amazing, but that's hardly a surprise. :)

  6. There are so many books on this list that I want to read! Thanks for bringing them to my attention, especially Yes Means Yes. I really wish my library had a copy! I can't wait to hear what you think about them.

  7. I love reading your lists. Cool beans.

  8. I too have felt like self-smacking for not having read The Yellow Wallpaper. Good to hear that it's over at Project Gutenberg. Now all I have to do is figure out how to make myself endure an e-book....

  9. Now all I have to do is figure out how to make myself endure an e-book....

    I printed it. It is only 10 pages :)

  10. *smack*

    Of course you should lift your non-acquiring ban for Christmas - I should think so too! I hope you receive some of these as there are some wonderful and wonderful-sounding titles.

    As well as the McCarthy (which I simply cannot praise highly enough - Virago sent me their new copy and I am so excited to have one of my own), I have read Tipping the Velvet and The Yellow Wallpaper, both of which I loved.

    I requested the Angiers book from the library after reading Eva's review and the Appignanesi book has been on my radar for sometime. Reading Wollstonecraft's Mary and Waters' Fingersmith amongst others raised my interest about the ease of Victorian ladies being committed to institutions on the say-so of their husbands.

    I'd add Angela Carter's The Passion of New Eve to the list.

  11. This is an amazing list and I can not wait to hear what you think of whatever books you read. I am adding at least for of the nonfiction titles to my "books to get from the library" notebook. Have a great week, Nymeth.

  12. I love your book coveting lists! TIPPING THE VELVET and GRACELING are such good choices for this challenge. I'm sure you'll find lots of food for thought in both of them.

    And I can't believe you haven't read The Yellow Wallpaper! I'll be even more shocked if you don't love it to death.

  13. Oh, this is such a fun, fun list!!!

    Annie just read Frankie Landau...she told me it was a great feminist book, but she wanted to know why this smart, awesome girl still had to spend so much time obsessing over a boy. we have a smart kid on our hands or will that change as she gets older? ;)

    "...the misconceptions and myths that bad science has helped perpetuate." Is it just me, or do you hate evolutionary psychology even being called science?!! I mean how much of what they put out there is testable...and when it's not, it's not science. Oh, I don't need to say any of this to you...I know you agree. And I'm afraid I can't take any credit for The Case of the Female Orgasm. I haven't read it, but Rich did think it was really good.

    Mad, Bad, and Sad sounds really good! Heck, so many (all!) of these do!!! :D

  14. I love that cover for Tipping the Velvet!

    I'm trying to only join challenges this year that mean something to me, instead of ones that are just fun to make lists for. This one was well worth joining.

  15. I've had The Group on my list for so long. Now that I know that it's on of Sarah Waters's favorites, I must read it! I am also interested in Mad, Bad, and Sad....just sounds fascinating.

    Holidays are not about bans. No. *shakes head* Bans are not at all in the holiday spirit!

  16. Making lists has to be one of the big joys in life, don't you think? What an amazing list of books you've come up with! I have become quite taken with Waters' writing, and have Velvet on my list. She does a respectable job with lesbian romps! Now, I'm off to see if I can find your Kate Morton disaster!

  17. OK, I am one of the few book bloggers not enamored of making lists but I do enjoy reading them, especially ones as good as this. Put me in line to be slapped over The Yellow Wallpaper. Just made it into my "recently acquired"s. But I have read The Group. More than once! Love it!!!! And you have reminded me of how much I have wanted to read Tipping the Velvet. How could your reading be anything but happy with this list?

  18. I love making book lists too! :-)

    I think it is fair to lift your book buying ban during the holidays. Especially if you plan to buy books for others. And receiving books as gifts doesn't count as part of the ban since you didn't acquire them yourself. It has nothing to do with weakness, you see. So, no guilt, okay?

    I am not familiar with most of the books on your list. They all sound good though!

    Have a great week, Nymeth!

  19. Great list! Tipping the Velvet is absolutely wonderful!

  20. I love lists! And yours is amazing. I have already added three books from your list to my wishlist. I got Graceling from my library but did not think of it as one for Women Unbound, so lucky me. The Group, Yes Means Yes and Mad, Bad and Sad look very intriguing.

  21. Just what I need! More books! I will have to look them up after I get through some of my own. :)

  22. Ooh, we can read Graceling together! That would be fun as we may be the only two who haven't read it yet ;-)

    I don't remember now if I have Waters' Fingersmith on my list for Unbound, but that would probably work for me!

  23. Great book list! Yellow Wallpaper is on my list, too.

  24. Whew! When I saw Gaudy Night on your list, I started to panic that you were planning to read Gaudy Night before Nave His Caracase. I'm glad to see you're not. The other books on the list look great!

    I haven't signed up for a challenge (was planning to stay challenge free this year), but I keep thinking Stepford Wives is a natural fit.

  25. Oh, I cannot WAIT to see what you think of Yes Means Yes - I do hope you get a chance to read it!

    Also, you have a seriously awesome list here. I might have to steal a few titles for my own Women Unbound list. :)

  26. What a PHENOMENAL list!! I can't wait to read your review of these books.

  27. Sounds as though you've covered everything. Mad, Bad and Sad sounds specially intriguing, so there's another one you've added to my list. Enough people have smacked you for The Yellow Wallpaper, but someone surely ought to smack me for not having read The Group (oh, the shame)!

  28. I've read Frankie :) And it's oh so freaking good!!! You'll love that one. I really want to read Tipping the Velvet and to be honest with you, I just want to read all of these now ;p

    I don't know why I haven't joined this challenge yet...I really need to. And I think I will soon. It really does look like a fantastic one!!

  29. I love making book lists, but the problem is the titles might be changed after a while due to my reading mood!!! LOL. Perhaps that's why I try to leave them open when reading challenges are concerned, hehe.

    I need to get all the books by Sarah Waters, and Tipping the Velvet is just one of them! You've a lovely haul there, enjoy them all! :)

  30. Mad, Bad, & Sad reminds me of another book by an art historian named Georges Didi-Huberman about photographs of women who were diagnosed with hysteria. And if I remember correctly, the doctor in charge of the hospital where this occurred was Freud's mentor.

  31. I *loved* Atwood's The Robber Bride and have also read The Yellow Wallpaper. The Group and Tipping the Velvet are on my wish list. I love making lists, too!

  32. I swear, one of the best parts about joining challenges are putting the lists together and sharing them :)

    I have read Tipping the Velvet and it is indeed quite a romp. Wonderful book. Enjoy the challenge, Nymeth!

  33. shame shame shame upon you for not having read gilman before. :P

    After you read Yellow Wallpaper, read Herland. You'll love it.

  34. Have fun with the challenge, Ana! Your list is amazing!

  35. Your list is amazing! Looking forward to your thoughts on the books, especially Yellow Wallpaper. Enjoy the challenge!

  36. The last one sounds fantastically relevant right now and your whole list looks wonderful. Thanks for reminding me about Mad, Bad, Sad, been meaning to get there for ages.

  37. What a great list! You will love Gaudy Night.
    By the way, we're hosting a group read of the Greengage Summer. Do you want to join? Check my site.

  38. So glad you are finally reading The Robber Bride. I loved it and hope you do too. I hope to read Tipping the Velvet this year but definitely next year if I don't find time. Enjoy your challenge :)

  39. Oh no! Another list of yours that I can pretty much paste into my own blog and read from! There's not enough time!!!!! ;-)

  40. The Robber Bride!!!! I love that book. It's my very favorite Atwood novel to date, and I hope you love it as much as I did.

  41. I've read both "Graceling" and "The Disreputable History" and they are both absolutely wonderful. I'm pretty sure you'll absolutely love them both. I haven't read "Woman" by Natalie Angier, but after reading Eva's review from last week, it's at the top of my list. Besides, I read "The Canon" by Angier earlier this year and loved it. I also absolutely loved "Learning to Drive" by Katha Pollitt, so if it has her stamp of approval I know it will be great. You have a lot of great reading ahead of you, Nymeth!

  42. So glad you posted this! I hadn't heard of this challenge, and I'd love to join. Also enjoyed your list here... I've only read Graceling, which was wonderful, and The Yellow Wallpaper (in college) which I would love to revisit. Thanks for the post!

  43. As The Yellow Wallpaper is a short story in the public domain, you should be able to find it online and read it less than half an hour!

    Great list!

  44. You will really enjoy The Group. I read it when I was a student and loved it to bits. So much so that I'm tempted to dig it out and re-read. Must resist....

  45. of course, I've said 100 times I love Tipping the velvet, but I didn't have any kind of expectations when I read it. Hope the long wait and the high hopes won't make the book underwhelming for you!

    I loved The group when I read at it at 15 or so. it's something I've always meant to read, I didn't know it was one of sarah waters's fav. talk about lesbian subtexts...

    Frankie Landau-Banks has been on my wishlist foreeeever! it's still not published here, that's why!

    have fun with the wishlists making, I love them too:)

  46. * meant to say "I've always meant to RE-read the Group" sorry

  47. Both Tipping the Velvet and Disreputable History look so good!

  48. A very nice list indeed! You got me thinking about what fun I have making lists of books for challenges. I'm not as good at finishing challenges as I am at making lists of books! I'm currently reading Tender Morsels ... very good book. Lanagan has really done a great job giving it the fairy tale style. I must add The Group to one of my lists. Sigh.

  49. Vasilly: Thank you for not smacking me :P I've yet to read any of Pollitt's poetry, but I love her and her essays so much I can't imagine not enjoying it.

    Zee: Thank you! I knew that, but had sort of forgotten :P

    softdrink: You know, you're not the first to say that! Another sign that I'll love it.

    raidergirl3: I haven't read a book via dailylit in ages. Good tip!

    Fyrefly: Not much of a surprise, no :P

    Lu: It would be PERFECT for you, considering your work. And it sounds like such an amazing book.

    Susan: Glad you liked the list :D

    Jill: I've actually been growing more and more used to e-books. For example, even though I have an actual copy of The Phantom of the Opera, I read most of it on my computer!

    Claire: Ouch :P I hope I receive many of them too - I think I'd love them all! My boyfriend may have been shown this post :P I've read The Passion of New Eve, but it's been so long that it's time for a re-read.

    Gavin: I hope your library does have them, and that we both enjoy them!

    Memory: I'm sure I will love The Yellow Wallpaper. I should download the e-book, actually, as I've been sneaking in a few minutes of e-reading while resting my wrists at work. (Well, it HAS to be done :P)

    Debi: I've seen such diverse opinions on that particular aspect of Frankie! I can't wait to see what I think. And YES! You have no idea how many times Mathie and I have had that conversation. Actually, you probably do :P Seriously folks: no fossils of psychological processes, not testable, no go. Just give it up already and stop messing with two things that ARE in themselves interesting and serious - evolution and psychology.

    Amanda: Me too - LOVE the Virago covers.

    Priscilla: I know you guys would encourage me :P

    Sandy: I REALLY love her writing. I can't believe I only discovered her this year. Where had she been all my life? Or where had *I* been?

    Frances: I think it will be very happy indeed :D

    Wendy: lol! I love your reasoning :D I hope you have a great week too!

    Lola: Sigh, I'm sure it is. I'm SO looking forward to reading it it's not even funny :P

  50. Sakura: From what I hear, Graceling would fit very well indeed. I hope we both enjoy it!

    Kelly: Don't we all need more books? :P

    Aarti: It would! And you should definitely add Fingersmith to you list :D

    Amanda: I hope we both enjoy it!

    Teresa: Don't worry - Jenny at Jenny's Books plus a group of bloggers on Twitter made sure I understood the importance of reading them in order :P Sigh, I was planing on having a challengeless year too, but people keep coming up with such great ones! I guess I'll join but try not too worry too much if my reading whims take me elsewhere.

    Heather: Can't wait to see your list!

    Stephanie: Glad you like it :D

    ds: Someone ought to smack us both, really :P

    Chris: I'm sure I will! And I want to read them all NOW too *head explodes*

    Melody: Yep, that does happen :P But it's okay! As I keep telling myself, there's no challenge police to force us to stick to them :P

    Heidenkind: You know, I think Mortal Love by Elizabeth Hand mentioned that book! Either that or something else I read more or less recently did. Not surprised about the Freud connection...

    JoAnn: I think I'll love it too - it's Atwood, after all!

    Iliana: I know - lists are such fun :D

    Lena: *hides* I promise to read them both soon. Or soonish at least :P

    Alice: Thank you! :D

    Hazra: I will!

    Jodie: I know! Doesn't it? It's a very common stance. And it was my own a few years back, actually. I was exposed to tons of misinformation in my teens :\

  51. This looks like a great list and one I might be stealing a few titles from! I am really interested in what you'll think about Tipping the Velvet. I have had that one on my shelf for quite awhile and have never read a review of it. Here's hoping that you are gifted some of these this holiday season!

  52. I haven't read any of these! I hope you get a chance to though :)

  53. The Literary Stew: Will drop by for the details in a moment - thanks for letting me know!

    Rhinoa: I think I will!

    Joanna: lol, feel free to :P

    Andi: I'm REALLY looking forward to it :D

    J.S. Peyton: I need to get my hands on The Canon too. Both sound wonderful, and besides, can't go wrong with Katha Pollitt's recommendation!

    Cam: I'm glad to hear you'll be joining the challenge!

    Rebecca: Already downloaded the e-version :)

    brideofthebookgod: I think I definitely will, yes :)

    Valentina: That's possible, but what with this being Sarah Waters, I really don't think it'll happen! She's yet to disappoint me at all, and besides this one's a big fan favourite!

    Melissa: They do!

    Terri B: lol, same here. Lists: yay; sticking to them: nay. I can't wait to hear your final thoughts on Tender Morsels.

    Zibilee: I'm sure Tipping the Velvet will be awesome - I just know it :D

    Ladytink: I hope so too!

  54. I want every one of the books in the NF list! Also, I looked for Yellow Wallpaper at Border and they didn't have it. Either a bunch of people just bought it for this challenge or ... darn. Anyway, I did just get Herland in the house - it looks so fun!


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