Our Shared Shelf

I took a literary criticism course in college, back in the previous century, and I was the only girl in the class.  The teacher had us read the introduction to The Madwoman in the Attic by Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar.

It blew my mind.

I thought in all-caps for days.  “IT’S TRUE! WOMEN HAVE ONLY EVER HAD THE CHOICE OF PURE ANGEL OR WANTON SEDUCTRESS WHEN IT COMES TO STORIES! MY LITERARY HERITAGE IS LESS THAN 2 CENTURIES OLD!”

None of the boys, nor the rather stuffy professor, understood my epiphany, and I have looked for the words to properly express it ever since.  Every book with a feminist take, every memoir that speaks plainly about equal rights, every collection celebrating amazing female figures across the ages helps me find those words.

I have read along with Emma Watson’s Our Shared Shelf feminist book club since she announced it and so far I have found all her choices thought-provoking, even though I haven’t particularly enjoyed the reading of all of them.

I organize a local meet-up of Our Shared Shelf at my bookstore.  For each meet-up I think up discussion questions.  Feel free to use them for your own discussion group if you think they are useful.

My Life on the Road – Gloria Steinem

The Color Purple – Alice Walker

All About Love – bell hooks

How To Be a Woman – Caitlin Moran

The Argonauts – Maggie Nelson

Persepolis – Marjane Satrapi

Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl – Carrie Brownstein

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide – Nicholas D. Kirstof & Sheryl WuDunn

Mom & Me & Mom – Maya Angelou

The Vagina Monologues – Eve Ensler

Women Who Run With the Wolves – Clarissa Pinkola Estés

The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

The Beauty Myth – Naomi Wolf

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body – Roxane Gay

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