Women Unbound Reading Challenge

The Women Unbound Reading Challenge has been calling to me. When it was first announced, I thought it was a terrific idea, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to take on another challenge. However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it’s something I would like to do, for many reasons.

I found myself thinking about what I might like to read and looked on my shelves for books that would fit this challenge. In doing so I realized again that this kind of reading has been an important part of my life for many years now. As so many other women do, I look to the writings of many women to help guide me through different stages of my life. They have been my mentors, and many have become my friends.

So, of course, I am signing up for this new challenge, with the intention of continuing to read the kinds of books that have guided me this far along in my journey.

This challenge starts with a meme — with some very interesting questions to think about…so I share some of my thoughts on the subject with you.

1. What does feminism mean to you? Does it have to do with the work sphere? The social sphere? How you dress? How you act?

2. Do you consider yourself a feminist? Why or why not?

3. What do you consider the biggest obstacle women face in the world today? Has that obstacle changed over time, or does it basically remain the same?

I came of age in the late ’60s, and so the feminist movement of that time period had a great impact on my life.  But even more than that, I think the strongest impact on me came from my gifted and free-thinking parents. My father was a gentle and kind man, who considered himself a feminist. Many of his attitudes, beliefs, and actions were way ahead of his time, and he was always supportive and encouraging of my mother and me, and later my daughter, in becoming strong women.  My mother went back to school and became a teacher, and was a strong role model for me as a working woman who took wonderful care of her family and great pride in her profession.  I know that I have had more freedom and more choices in my life than my mother, and I believe my daughter has more opportunity for growth and self-fulfillment than I did.  But we must keep working on opening minds and opening doors for our daughters, and our sons.

Yes, I have considered myself a feminist for all my adult years. I admire women (and men) who are strong and intelligent, compassionate and courageous.  And I support causes and organizations that give women and families support, encouragement, and help.  As a mother and as a teacher, I try to open children’s minds to possibilities, and try to help them learn how to be caring and supportive of each other, and to appreciate differences instead of fearing them.

And as a grandmother now, my hope for my Grandboy is that he have the freedom to become anything he wants to be, and be able to live in a world of equality and compassion. If he is anything like his grandfather and his own father, he will be a gentle, caring, compassionate human being…and a feminist in the best sense of the word.

Some of the books and authors that have guided me thus far (most of these books are still on my shelves):

The Second Sex, and  Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter, by Simone de Beauvoir;  The Feminine Mystique, by Betty Friedan;  With Child: A Diary of Motherhood, by Phyllis Chesler;  Silences, and  Tell Me a Riddle, by Tilly Olsen;  A Room of One’s Own, by Virginia Woolf;  Of Woman Born, Adrienne Rich;  Outrageous Acts and Every Day Rebellions, Gloria Steinem;  The Awakening, by Kate Chopin;  I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou;  The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath;  In Favor of the Sensitive Man, by Anais Nin;  The Story of my Life, by Helen Keller;  Journal of a Solitude (and other books), by May Sarton;  The Diaries of Anne Morrow Lindbergh;  The Diaries of Anais Nin;  The Diaries and Letters of Virginia Woolf;  Willa Cather’s novels

And for this Challenge, which runs from November 2009-November 2010, I will sign up for the Bluestocking level:  read at least five books, including at least two nonfiction ones. Here are some books and authors I’d like to choose from, and I’ll add to this list as I find others that call to me:

The Complete Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi

The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros

The Joys of Motherhood, by Buchi Emecheta

The Sum of our Days, by Isabel Allende

Sons, by Pearl Buck

My Mortal Enemy, by Willa Cather

The Tale of Beatrix Potter, by Margaret Lane

Growing Pains: The Autobiography of Emily Carr

9 thoughts on “Women Unbound Reading Challenge

  1. Stephany Thompson

    It is wonderful to read about your love for books and especially Cather’s novels. I work for the Willa Cather Foundation and come to work everyday to fulfill the mission of promoting the life and work of Willa Cather. Enjoy your challenge!



  2. Care

    What a wonderful mix of books and authors – I see many that I don’t know very much about so I look forward to your thoughts on these. Thank you for participating.


  3. tamara

    Robin, I wish you all the best in this challenge. I’m going to consider joining too. In the meantime, I will follow your journey – like you have said, we can learn so much from other women on similar journeys. I love the questions in the meme, while they require some thinking, I would like to reflect on these in the next month. Nov 25 is International day for the elimination of violence against women, and Dec 10th is international human rights day – so this is an excellent period to be reflecting on the issues that Feminism seeks to abolish.


  4. Bellezza

    I’m looking forward to this challenge, too, and I loved the diaries of Anais Nin when I was in college. The Awakening? Not so much.


  5. Cath

    I just got O Pioneers! from the library, my first Willa Cather book. So looking forward to reading it.

    For your new challenge can I recommend a YA book I’ve just finished and reviewed? A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly. It would suit the challenge perfectly.


  6. Robin Post author

    Thanks for visiting my blog, Stephany, and also for telling me about the Willa Cather Foundation. I looked at the Foundation’s website and it has a wonderful wealth of information! Thanks for letting me know about it.

    Thanks, Care, and thanks for co-hosting this challenge. I’m going to enjoy it, and it will exciting to read all the reviews.

    Thanks, Tamara. I’ll be very interested in seeing the books you choose, if you decide to join the challenge. You’re right, we learn so much from other women, and I’ve been very interested in your posts about your volunteer experience in India.

    Thanks, Kailana! You compiled a wonderful list of possible reads for this challenge. I’ll be interested to see which ones you choose, and am definitely looking forward to your reviews.

    Thanks, Bellezza. It will be so interesting to read all the reviews during this challenge. I’m really looking forward to it.

    Thanks for the recommendation, Cath. I’m definitely going to pick up Jennifer Donnelly’s book(s) after reading your review. I know I’d like them. And I’ll be so interested in how your like reading Willa Cather. Visit the Willa Cather Foundation website. It’s a wealth of info on her!

    Thanks for co-hosting this challenge, Aarti. It’s a great idea and will create a wonderful collection of reviews. I’ve had Persepolis on my TBR list for too long now. It’s time to read it!

    Bybee, it’s been many years since I read it, and I remember that it was tough in some ways, but de Beauvoir is an incredible writer, so I’ll enjoy hearing your reactions to it when you read it.



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