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Medieval Women by Eileen Power: The medieval ages weren't a great time to be a woman

I've been eyeing the extremely short Medieval Women by Eileen Power for a few years, and lo, it is finally finished. Eileen Power has her own Wikipedia page and was a general badass who went to Cambridge AND the Sorbonne (in like the 1910s, so, damn), then became Professor of Economic History at the London School of Economics and THEN took that same job at Cambridge. Wikipedia has even MORE awesome information about her, but let's talk about Medieval Women, which is a collection of her lectures published after her death (and aw, was edited by her husband).

Medieval Women clocks in at a scant 99 pages, and has a plethora of medieval ladypics, so you can easily read it in an afternoon. It's split into five chapters, which are:

1. Medieval ideas about women
2. The lady
3. The working woman in town and country
4. The education of women
5. Nunneries

WHY should you care about this? Because first, "the position of women is often considered as a test by which the civilisation of a c…

Christmas is a time for sitting with your family in a library and not talking

Christmastime is past! The New Year approaches! I got one book on makeup (not a hint, I requested it) and The World of Ice & Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and the Game of Thrones. So exciting. So much backstory.

My entire family, complete with four kids, two partners and two tiny kids (plus my parents, obvs) stayed in Chicago for three days, and I have just left them, after spending part of the evening alternately yelling at my little brother for making a whizzing sound with his nose all night, and calling his cell phone to wake him up.

As is usually the case when I'm around my family for any period longer than a day, I got a lot of reading done, so I've now finished up some books I was preeeetty close to being done with, but hadn't quite made it. So #3 in The Edge Chronicles! Done! Feast for Crows the fourth in the Game of Thrones series! Done! And then I started like three other books because LOOK WHAT THE PLACE WHERE WE WERE STAYING HAD:


We were at the Univers…

Bad Feminist: I Feel Like I Should Like This More Than I Do

I'm unclear about how to feel about Bad Feminist. "How to" here meaning I don't know which angle I'm supposed to take when talking about it. As a book, did it impress me? Not really. Am I comparing it with some of the only other feminist literature I've read, namely bell hooks and is that unfair to Roxane Gay? Probably.

I went into Bad Feminist feeling like I should read it. I pretty reluctantly put it on my to-read list, so my opinion should be taken with, at the very least, that particular grain of salt. Throughout it I rarely liked Roxane Gay as the person she presents herself as in her writings, but I don't know if that even matters. She has written a collection of essays that mostly deal with pervasive social justice issues in our culture, and overall I'm glad I read it.

Honestly, I think other people would have done it better, but she covers many possible faults of the book in the introduction where she labels herself the titular "bad feminis…

Stuff You Missed in History Class Should Not Be Missed. Or Something Like That.

I've been caroling pretty much nonstop, as is the usual case with my Decembers, and listening to a LOT of episodes of Stuff You Missed in History Class, which is a podcast recommended by my excellent friend Kathleen. It is the bee's knees. I started as far back as my phone would let me, which is 2012, and I think we should all harass Deblina Chakraborty and Sarah Dowdey into hanging out with us. They are super-nerds and I don't want to leave 2012 because I want them to host the show forever.

The main website for the show lets you go back to the beginning when it was stupid and had episodes like "How the Berlin Wall Worked" and one of the hosts says the only news resource she reads is "the Times of New York."



Unlike now, when they do episodes about Queen Nzinga and Beryl Markham and George Arents. All fascinating people! None of whom I knew about! I have some basic details on Belle Starr now and Bessie Coleman and Evliya Çelebi and damnit, I am not ready…

Barbara Stanwyck, i.e. Old Hollywood Had Actresses Besides Katharine Hepburn and Ingrid Bergman

I'm in one of those moods lately where I'm falling in love with EVERYTHING, including things I used to be in love with. So maybe this is some weird subconscious wriggling in of the Christmas spirit. Maybe? Or maybe I don't know how Christmas works.

I mostly want to watch a bunch of Barbara Stanwyck movies.

LET ME TELL YOU A TALE. When I was 17, it was Easter morning. I did not want to go to church (I actually rarely go that day, despite being totes into God and stuff; it is a blatantly hipster move of that being the day EVERYBODY goes). I climbed into my parents' bed while they got ready and put on Turner Classic Movies, where The Strange Love of Martha Ivers was playing.


'That woman looks like Celeste Holm, I'll bet it is totally Celeste Holm,' I said, full of HUBRIS about my classic movie knowledge. But upon pressing the info button I learned no! It was not Celeste Holm at all! It was someone named Barbara Stanwyck, and she was playing a total nutbar in this…

How Am I Supposed to Read With All These Episodes of Modern Family to Watch? (and also there's Christmas)

The end of December approaches and I've got to get serious about books I want to finish this year. Feast for Crows? In the bag. And since I was warned I might not like it, I had low low expectations, and I DO like it. Not as much as the others, but you can't have slashy slashy conquery things happening 24/7. What you CAN do though is talk about crows all the time. LIKE IN THE TITLE. Crows eat dead things. Did you know? George R.R. Martin certainly does.



True to recent years, it doesn't feel like Christmas AT ALL yet, even though it's only 17 days away. Maybe because I'm 29 and Christmas has gone from me making paper chains that count down the days until my brothers and I wake up at 4 AM and shake my parents to me feverishly shopping online to make sure I get something for people on my list that they MAYBE won't hate but ahhhh who knows. 

So why not add this reading stress on top of that? I'm not even reading anything Christmasy. Game of Thrones has ZERO AMOUN…

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?: I am now emotionally attached to Mindy Kaling's book for now and evermore

Thanksgiving is over, where my cousins and I categorically aged ourselves by having an earnest discussion about how superior Clueless is to Mean Girls, and scorning the youth of today and their choices.



I spent my time before sleep on Thanksgiving Day curled up in my married cousin's former room, reading Mindy Kaling's Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?. I ended up reading past 1 AM, always thinking 'one more chapter,' and finally identifying that I was having such a great time with the book because it felt like I was chatting with a friend. I UNDERSTAND that that is the worst and immensely cliché, so it should mean more that I felt compelled to say it anyway. I love this book.

As a huge fan of the comic essay collection (that genre! so hot right now! lucky us), I've read...a lot of them. I wasn't that into Bossypants. I preferred Samantha Bee's I Know I Am, But What Are You and Sara Benincasa's Agorafabulous. It's hard when relating tales from you…

Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi: This Review is Very Spoilery DANGER DANGER

I can't even talk about the rest of the book apart from the ending right now, because what??? What?? I knew the end was going to be weird/discussiony because you all TOLD ME it was, but I didn't realize it was so right off the boat This Would Make Shit Go Down on Tumblr maybe-not-okayish.


So if you want a basic rundown of Boy, Snow, Bird with pretty much no spoilers, it's about a young woman who abandons her abusive rat catcher father, escapes to Massachusetts or Connecticut or something, and creates a life for herself in the small town in which she winds up. Her name is Boy. The daughter of the man she marries is named Snow. Her next daughter is Bird.

There is SO MUCH about race in here, but I feel like it's one of those situations where Oyeyemi has buried most of the book ten inches underground, and you have to dig to figure it out, but quite frankly, I don't want to dig. This book would be fantastic to write a college essay about, but I'm 29 and my only scho…

Minithon: Nooooooo don't let it be over!

I actually did weirdly better in this readathon than I have in most others. I'm over halfway done with Boy, Snow, Bird, halfway through Medieval Women, and I read a chapter of 2 Kings, meaning I have two left and then BAM! 1 Chronicles ahoy.

I also ate Chipotle, grilled cheese, mini muffins, hummus, carrots, and copious amounts of Mr Pibb. Oh, and one of the mini pies my girlfriend baked because she is awesome.


So much eaten! A relatively okay amount read! Boy, Snow, Bird is starting to get weird and I was somehow not expecting that. WHAT'S YOUR GAME, OYEYEMI. 

Medieval Women is fantastic. It's this book of essays published in 1975 and based on lectures by Eileen Power, who had died by then. Our culture's ideas about women are at least partially based on ideas formulated during the medieval period! We cannot understand our present without looking to our past! History is important! Etc!

I love the minithon. I wish we could do it more often, but frankly, we're all too la…

THE MINITHON HAS COMMENCED

So I woke up 20 minutes late for the minithon (which starts at 10 CST, so NO EXCUSE), but I promptly ate a bag of mini muffins and read the first essay in Eileen Power's STELLAR collection, Medieval Women. I have now read excellent things like:
Just as in the nineteenth century the Romantic movement followed on the 'age of reason' and the Revolution it inspired, so in the Middle Ages the turbulence of the Dark Ages was succeeded by the age of chivalry and of the Virgin.
GOOD STUFF.  I also have an assortment of snack things, because that's why we do this.



Quorn is made out of like, soy and dirt. So healthy. Mm.

I'm probably going to read more of Medieval Women, because I think I took it from the home of one of my grandparents and have been meaning to read it for yeeeears, and also I've just been reading a lot of medieval stuff lately. Anyone been noticing that? I certainly have. And yes, I'm counting Game of Thrones. 

I also have Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi…

The Queen of Attolia: "Nothing mortals make lasts; nothing the gods make endures forever."

Our journey through the Megan Whalen Turner series continues! With The Queen of Attolia. I was assured by certain parties that this would be much better than The Thief, despite me liking The Thief muchly. I HAVE SOME THOUGHTS.


So The Thief was pretty much a big road trip book, and this is more a sitting around, plotting & scheming book. THE SCHEMES ARE COOL, but I do like me some road tripping, so that was a lost element IMO. Along with the road trips came the made up mythology stories (more made up than normal since they came from Megan Whalen Turner's mind and not the zeitgeist of an entire nation), and in this book there is only ONE made up mythology story. It's a really good one. But still. One.

In Queen of Attolia, we're still in the place that is basically Ancient Greece, with the kingdoms of Eddis, Attolia, and Sounis. This book obviously has a pretty big focus on Attolia, but the series overall focuses on the dynamics between these countries (kingdoms? places? …

Minithons: The Readathon for the Unmotivated

MINITHONS FOREVER.

Tika at Reading the Bricks is hosting another minithon this Saturday. Minithons are for the lazy. Minithons are for the uncommitted. Minithons are for us.



But honestly, reading for 24 hours would make me want to stab books with a letter opener (it'd be better if they were all epistolary novels. ahahaha). But eight hours? GOT IT. I can work that into my day. Plus by 'read for eight hours' what's really meant in the minithon is 'read a little bit and eat a lot of snacks and post pictures of your books and your snacks. But mostly your snacks.'

My current plans for the minithon consist of sitting in Wisconsin with a cat constantly headbutting me while I eat things and attempt to read currently the following books (we'll see how many make it up there):

Catherine de' Medici, Leonie Frieda.  I'm at the point where Catherine's husband Henri II (king of France) is about to die in a joust. Then his mistress is getting shipped out and oh, h…

CW's Reign: Blood sacrifices! Castle abductions! Sexy Nostradamus!

Reign. What a great show.

Do you like ridiculous levels of drama? Do you have a penchant for young people standing on cliffs looking windswept? Do you casually enjoy references to a dark wood next to a castle that no one should enter because PAGANS? Well then journey on over to the CW, my friends, and examine their 16th century offerings. (and by 'to the CW' I mean Netflix, 'cause no one has regular TV anymore)

When Reign premiered, they had some kind of viral marketing campaign all over Chicago, and I said "NO. I will not watch a show about Sexy Mary, Queen of Scots and support more revisionist bullshit about her. NEIN." Because I have highly disliked Mary, Queen of Scots ever since I started loving Elizabeth I (around age 15) because how could you NOT? My feelings are best summed up by this graphic I made back in the day to illustrate their differences:


But Reign focuses on Mary's early life, i.e. when she lived in France and was betrothed to the Dauphin (Fr…

Lady Parts by Andrea Martin: I know she probably gets sick of hearing about Aunt Voula but I really loved her as Aunt Voula

When I saw that Andrea Martin -- SCTV alum and, more importantly, Aunt Voula in My Big Fat Greek Wedding -- had written a book, I immediately badgered HarperCollins about getting a copy to review and they very GRACIOUSLY responded yes. So I read her book Lady Parts, and y'know what, I'm glad I did.

SCTV was an early sketch comedy show in Canada. The cast included awesome people you've laughed at like Eugene Levy, Martin Short, Catherine O'Hara, Rick Moranis, and John Candy. Andrea Martin was part of this cast, and while I, y'know, haven't really watched SCTV, I am GRATEFUL to it for all the people it bestowed unto my television.


Andrea Martin's a character actress, and a hilarious one. Aunt Voula is CLEARLY the best part of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and has the only lines anyone quotes from it anymore ("What do you mean he don't eat meat?...oh, that's okay. I make lamb!"), including the amazing monologue about her twin. When they announced a…

Game of Thrones, Ancient Christian Women, and Old Ministers

I have been READING, and I was reading a variety of things, but then Storm of Swords, the third in the George R.R. Martin Game of Thrones series, grabbed me and now I can read nothing else. And I know -- I KNOW it's called A Song of Ice and Fire, but I'm not doing that. Everyone calls it GoT because of the TV show, and the culture has adapted accordingly.

I'm gonna be pretty unspoilery, but everyone knows the Red Wedding is a thing that exists, and I will argue it is WAY WORSE when you know it's coming. Any mention of a wedding and I cringed, and then finally they were all going there, none the wiser and I was having panic attacks. MY BABIES how could this happen to you. Ugh. Those people better get theirs. THEY BETTER GET THEIRS.


Someone told me they thought Danaerys was boring in this book, but I am TOTES INTO HER. I didn't think I would be, but she's awesome. And I am currently supporting her as eventual winner. Her or Margaery Tyrell, because who doesn'…

Adam by Ariel Schrag: How did I end up liking the straight white boy the most?

A few months back, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt asked if I wanted to review Ariel Schrag's Adam, which I'm assuming I was asked about because lesbians. Tumblr had worried me about this novel because someone there said (NB: I do not think they read the novel) "this is essentially a book about straight white privileged entitled people who want what they want, and appropriate the shit out of queer culture to get it."

After reading it, I have decided:



This book is the Rule of Three for me that made me realize insecure teenage boys are my literary jam. Catcher in the Rye; Will Grayson, Will Grayson; and Adam. I will have almost no sympathy for you as a character if you're a 40-year-old white male having a midlife crisis (that totally hasn't been covered enough, white male authors; I think you need to write another one of those), but if you're a 16-year-old boy who just doesn't know what you're doing in life, awwww.

Adam is the main character of Adam. Off to …