Exploring the Labyrinth - Melissa Gayle West
I loved this book, and plan to buy my own copy one of these days (I checked this one out of the library). The author shares lots of great information, ideas for walking the labyrinth, making walking and finger labyrinths, creating rituals, using the labyrinth for inspiration and healing. I especially recommend this book to kvratties, fyxx, gail_b, happy_potterer and heathwitch, because I thought of each of you at some point while I was reading this, and I think you'd enjoy and appreciate it. (Library book; have purchased for PC)
Mr. Maybe - by Jane Green
This was an enjoyable, easy read; definitely chicklit. It's told by a woman who has to decide whether or not she will settle for a comfortable marriage with someone who she doesn't really even like. or hold out for someone she can really love. I had a few moments of annoyance with the narrator - she had a few issues with her priorities, but overall I enjoyed it. I've now read all of Green's books except the latest one, and I'm on the library hold list for that one. (Library book)
The Mommy Myth - Susan Douglas and Meredith Michaels
Subtitled "The Idealization of Motherhood and How it Undermines Women." I found this to be an interesting and eye-opening book, although I did have a bit of trouble getting into it, and it took me a couple of months to finish. Mostly it's about how the media (advertising, commercial television and news media) and the government have "spun" things to manipulate women (mothers, primarily) into turning against the ideals of feminism, as they were originally put forth in the 60s. and how this has allowed American society to maintain a system with fewer (and less attractive) opportunities and resources for women (particularly working mothers). It discusses the ways that the media has created a seeming conflict between working mothers and stay-at-home-moms - plus lots of guilt-inducing stuff on both sides; about the dichotemy between celebrity moms showcased in magazine articles versus the much-maligned "welfare mother;" how advertising has changed its strategies towards adults *and* children. Day care and health care (or rather the lack thereof) are discussed, as is the way the media has taken a few exceptional incidents and turned them into full-blown societal scares.
One of the most shocking discussions (and yet still unsurprising, when I stopped to think about it) was the way the media manipulates (and in some cases entirely misrepresents) statistics to create more "sellable" stories (yes, even the news media is in the drama business). For example, statistically, a higher percentage of white women are on welfare, a fact which is rarely reported. And even when it is, almost all television news reports feature black women, or images of black women and children, when covering stories about welfare, creating the image in the minds of many Americans that all women on welfare are black.
The authors lost some points with me in their treatment of celebrity moms; while I agree that it is ludricrous for magazines to present multi-millionaire actresses and such as "regular" moms, whom the rest of us should try to emulate, in spite of the fact that these women are "doing it all" with the help of nannies, housekeeping staff, and personal assistants, I felt that the authors were very rude about some of the individual women they mentioned, and I thought this cheapened some of their arguments. The book uses a lot of statistics, some of which were very disturbing, and it's all very well documented (although the authors still said at the beginning that we shouldn't just take their word for it; we should check the validity of their data ourselves). Like I said, this was an interesting read, which points out a lot of the ways in which women in this country really aren't better off than "we" were back in the 1950s. I felt it was definitely worth the effort to read. (Library book)
The Awakening - Kate Chopin (with Spoilers)
A very short novel, I read this in a single day, and enjoyed it. It was beautifully written; a portrait of what I'd call the interior landscape of a woman in the Victorian era who discovers that her life is not what she wants it to be, and that she is not the person she thought herself to be. She's in what seems a "typical" situation for someone of her "station" at the time - married to a successful but wholly self-centered man who treats her like a child, rather than as any sort of equal.
I understand that this book was very shocking at the time, because of its treatment of her marital infidelity. Certainly in our society we're used to that as subject matter by now, so it wasn't shocking, except when considered from the perspective of the time. I was not happy about the ending, but also realised its inevitability fairly early on. I'm not sure what made me sadder - that there was no choice (in terms of the story) but for her to die, or the fact that I completely disagreed with the reason, ultimately, that her life ended. I don't want to say too terribly much more here, for fear of ruining it for anyone who ignored the spoiler warning, but I'd be happy to discuss further with anyone who's read it. (Library book)
Me Talk Pretty One Day - David Sedaris
An easy, humorous read; basically a series of anecdotes about the author's life - his sometimes quirky family, his own trials and tribulations, drug habits, career moves, and particularly some things that happens while he's living as an expat in France. I wasn't entranced by the book, but there were a few spots where I laughed out loud (which is rare these days in the books I've been reading). I'd recommend. (Library book)