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Showing posts from December, 2014

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…