Reading While Female

Reading while female

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Women need to trust that they know what’s good, what’s bad, and what serves them intellectually in order to reject or reclaim the books in their lives, Sady Doyle reports In These Times.

Alienated by sexism in ‘Great Books’ (cough, Kerouac), some women create a secret canon, she says in a discussion of the book ‘No Regrets: Three Discussions’.

The book is built around three conversations among three different groups of female writers about reading: what they read when they were younger, what they didn’t read, why it mattered or didn’t. Stories about reading supposedly “great” dudelit only to feel hurt or repulsed come up repeatedly.

No Regrets editor Dayna Tortorici says she will “never forget reading Bukowski’s Post Office and feeling so horrible, the way that the narrator describes the thickness of ugly women’s legs.”

Elsewhere, the conversation turns to Henry Miller (Elif Batuman: “he compared women to soup” ), Portnoy’s Complaint (Emily Witt: “I cannot read another passage about masturbation. I can’t.”) and On the Road (Sara Marcus: “I remember putting [it] down the first time a woman was mentioned”).

Reading while female

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E.B. White’s letter about why he wrote “Charlotte’s Web”

The letter reveals just how much of White himself is in the book, Brian Galindo tells us at BuzzFeed.

In 1952, just a few weeks prior to the publication of his classic children’s book Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White was asked by his editor at Harper & Row to explain why he wrote the book. He responded with a beautiful anecdote about the bond between humans and animals.

Charlotte's Web “As for Charlotte herself, I had never paid much attention to spiders until a few years ago. Once you begin watching spiders, you haven’t time for much else—-the world is really loaded with them. I do not find them repulsive or revolting, any more than I find anything in nature repulsive or revolting, and I think it is too bad that children are often corrupted by their elders in this hate campaign. Spiders are skilful, amusing and useful. and only in rare instances has anybody ever come to grief because of a spider.”

The why of a book

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11 Ridiculously Overdue Library Books

Have you ever had to bring back a library book two or three days past its due date? Well, Mark Mancini, says at Mental Floss, at least you can take some comfort in the fact that it wasn’t nearly as tardy as the books on this list that range from 21 years late to … OMG!

overdueLOANED FROM: The Lawrence Public Library in Lawrence, Kansas

YEARS OVERDUE: 21

Long overdueLOANED FROM: The New Bedford Public Library in Massachusetts

YEARS OVERDUE: 99

Just a little late

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Really? You’re Not in a Book Club?

By some estimates, James Atlas reports in the NYT, five million Americans gather every few weeks in someone’s living room or in a bar or bookstore or local library to discuss the finer points of “Middlemarch” or “The Brothers Karamazov.”

Book clubA book club meets in Fall River, Wis., at the home of Sara Uttech. Credit Darren Hauck for The New York Times

The book-club boom is nationwide. Should you live in the Miami area, you can hang with “Book Babes”; in San Francisco, drop in at “The Mind-Benders Book Club.” In Waco, Tex., check out “A Good Book and a Glass of Wine,” which has 21 members (women only) and is always looking for new ones. All you have to do is go online.

You can find book clubs that appeal to gender- and sexual-preference constituencies (“The Queer Lady and Lesbian Book Club”); African-Americans (“Sassy Sistahs Book Club”); the young (“The Stamford 20s/30s Book Club”) and the old (every town seems to have a senior citizens club); proponents of porn (“The Smutty Book Club”); and fans of a single author (“The Roberto Bolaño Book Club”).

The ubiquitous book club

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Quote of the Day

I haven’t told why I wrote the book, but I haven’t told you why I sneeze, either. A book is a sneeze.” ~ E.B. White

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Alma Alexander

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