Women Unbound: Start of Challenge Meme

The Women Unbound reading challenge has now begun. The first book I am planning to read for the challenge is Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain, the memoirs of a woman who lived through World War I.

Before I start the challenge, here are my answers to the first Women Unbound Meme.

WOMEN UNBOUND Start of Challenge Meme:

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?

Feminism means a belief that women are in no way inferior to men. It means ensuring that women are not discriminated against because of their gender at work or in society and that they have equal rights and opportunities. Women should have the freedom to express themselves and follow their dreams.

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

While I would not describe myself as an active feminist, I do believe in equal rights for women. Although I’m not a very outspoken person myself, anyone who takes a stand for feminism would have my full support.

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 think that although women faced bigger obstacles in the past and things have improved a lot, there are still many ways in which women are discriminated against today.

There are still some employers who pay women less than men, for example, and there are still some areas of work which are male dominated. I think the biggest problem is changing people’s attitudes – there are too many people, both men and women, who have fixed ideas about what women should and shouldn’t do.

Musing Mondays: Social Reading

This week’s question…

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about social reading…
How much of your reading do you share with others (outside of blogging?) Do you belong to a book or library club? Do you trade books with friends? Do you tell others what you’re reading?

I don’t belong to any book/library clubs. I’m sure it would be fun and interesting, but I just don’t think I would have the time.

My family usually know what I’m reading as it’s not a secret, and sometimes I try to recommend books to them, but they’re not really interested in the type of books I read so I don’t have much success. It would be nice to have somebody to discuss books with, but that’s one of the good things about the internet and the book blogging community!

Women Unbound: A Reading Challenge

I’ve signed up for another reading challenge! This one is called Women Unbound and you can visit the challenge blog here.

The challenge runs from November 1, 2009-November 30, 2010 and the idea is to read nonfiction and fiction books related to ‘women’s studies’.

There are three challenge levels to choose from:

  • Philogynist: read at least two books, including at least one nonfiction one.
  • Bluestocking: read at least five books, including at least two nonfiction ones.
  • Suffragette: read at least eight books, including at least three nonfiction ones.

I am aiming for the Bluestocking level, but will hopefully have time to read enough books to reach Suffragette.


Books read for this challenge (updated February 14 2010)

1. Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain (nonfiction) – see my review

2. The Moonlit Cage by Linda Holeman (fiction) – see my review

3. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte (fiction) – see my review

The Sunday Salon: My First TSS Post

Welcome to my first Sunday Salon post. As it’s the first day of November today, I thought I’d take a look back at October.

In October I finished a re-read of Diana Gabaldon’s A Breath of Snow and Ashes in preparation for beginning An Echo in the Bone. You can read my review of An Echo in the Bone here. Since then, I’ve been reading Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. As it’s such a long book (and I do work full-time too) I haven’t finished it yet – I’m currently on page 627.

So far I really love being part of the book blogging world. I enjoyed last week’s Booking Through Thursday question and I’m going to try to take part in this as often as I can.

I’ve signed up for the Christmas Reading Challenge and am looking for some more challenges to join. Not too many though, as I don’t know how much time I’m going to have!

Christmas Reading Challenge

I have decided to take part in the Christmas Reading Challenge hosted by Michelle of The True Book Addict. The challenge runs from November 26 2009-December 31 2009 and the requirements are to read 1-3 Christmas novels, books of Christmas lore or books of Christmas short stories.

I haven’t decide which books to read yet – I’m going to see if I can find anything interesting at the library, but if not I do already have a few Christmas books on my bookshelf. I’ll definitely try to read at least one, but will aim for two.

The link to the challenge is here.

Books read for this challenge (updated December 30 2009)

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens – see my review
The Christmas Mystery by Jostein Gaarder – see my review

A Poem For Halloween: Ulalume by Edgar Allan Poe

As today is Halloween, I decided to post one of my favourite poems by Edgar Allan Poe. Like a lot of Poe’s work this poem looks at the themes of loss and death. The narrator is walking through the woods on a dark night in October and finds himself at the tomb of Ulalume, whom he had buried there on the same night the year before.

There are several references to mythology throughout the poem and you may need to look up the meanings of any unfamiliar words and phrases. The name Ulalume, for example, is thought to be taken from the Latin verb ululare which means to shriek or wail.

(Note: The following poem is in the public domain)

The skies they were ashen and sober;
The leaves they were crisped and sere–
The leaves they were withering and sere;
It was night in the lonesome October
Of my most immemorial year:
It was hard by the dim lake of Auber,
In the misty mid region of Weir–
It was down by the dank tarn of Auber,
In the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir.

Here once, through an alley Titanic,
Of cypress, I roamed with my Soul–
Of cypress, with Psyche, my Soul.
These were days when my heart was volcanic
As the scoriac rivers that roll–
As the lavas that restlessly roll
Their sulphurous currents down Yaanek
In the ultimate climes of the pole–
That groan as they roll down Mount Yaanek
In the realms of the boreal pole.

Our talk had been serious and sober,
But our thoughts they were palsied and sere–
Our memories were treacherous and sere,–
For we knew not the month was October,
And we marked not the night of the year
(Ah, night of all nights in the year!)–
We noted not the dim lake of Auber
(Though once we had journeyed down here)–
Remembered not the dank tarn of Auber,
Nor the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir.

And now, as the night was senescent
And star-dials pointed to morn–
As the star-dials hinted of morn–
At the end of our path a liquescent
And nebulous lustre was born,
Out of which a miraculous crescent
Arose with a duplicate horn–
Astarte’s bediamonded crescent
Distinct with its duplicate horn.

And I said: “She is warmer than Dian;
She rolls through an ether of sighs–
She revels in a region of sighs:
She has seen that the tears are not dry on
These cheeks, where the worm never dies,
And has come past the stars of the Lion
To point us the path to the skies–
To the Lethean peace of the skies–
Come up, in despite of the Lion,
To shine on us with her bright eyes–
Come up through the lair of the Lion,
With love in her luminous eyes.”

But Psyche, uplifting her finger,
Said: “Sadly this star I mistrust–
Her pallor I strangely mistrust:
Ah, hasten! -ah, let us not linger!
Ah, fly! -let us fly! -for we must.”
In terror she spoke, letting sink her
Wings until they trailed in the dust–
In agony sobbed, letting sink her
Plumes till they trailed in the dust–
Till they sorrowfully trailed in the dust.

I replied: “This is nothing but dreaming:
Let us on by this tremulous light!
Let us bathe in this crystalline light!
Its Sybilic splendour is beaming
With Hope and in Beauty tonight!–
See! -it flickers up the sky through the night!
Ah, we safely may trust to its gleaming,
And be sure it will lead us aright–
We safely may trust to a gleaming,
That cannot but guide us aright,
Since it flickers up to Heaven through the night.”

Thus I pacified Psyche and kissed her,
And tempted her out of her gloom–
And conquered her scruples and gloom;
And we passed to the end of the vista,
But were stopped by the door of a tomb–
By the door of a legended tomb;
And I said: “What is written, sweet sister,
On the door of this legended tomb?”
She replied: “Ulalume -Ulalume–
‘Tis the vault of thy lost Ulalume!”

Then my heart it grew ashen and sober
As the leaves that were crisped and sere–
As the leaves that were withering and sere;
And I cried: “It was surely October
On this very night of last year
That I journeyed -I journeyed down here!–
That I brought a dread burden down here–
On this night of all nights in the year,
Ah, what demon hath tempted me here?
Well I know, now, this dim lake of Auber–
This misty mid region of Weir–
Well I know, now, this dank tarn of Auber,
This ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir.”

[Ulalume – Edgar Allan Poe]

Booking Through Thursday: Blurb

Suggested by Jennysbooks:

Something I’ve been thinking about lately: “What words/phrases in a blurb make a book irresistible? What words/phrases will make you put the book back down immediately?”

Before I buy a new book I usually do some research first to make sure I’m not going to be wasting my money, therefore I make my decision based on reviews and recommendations rather than what the blurb says. Some of my all-time favourite books have the most boring blurbs you could ever imagine!

Where the blurb becomes more important is when I pick up an unfamiliar book in the library or a book shop. As I’m a big fan of historical fiction, phrases such as “historical epic”, “in the 19th century”, “Victorian London”, “brings history to life” etc would interest me, as well as words like “mysterious”, “secrets”, “exciting” and “fast-paced”. I also enjoy Gothic fiction so “castles”, “ghosts”, “haunting” etc would interest me too – maybe not “vampires” though.

Any mention of “politics”, “spies” or “legal thrillers” would probably make me put the book down immediately, as would any references to sports, serial killers, fantasy realms, self-help, or true stories. Of course, if a book was written by an author whose work I’d previously enjoyed, or if it had been specifically recommended to me, I’d be prepared to give it a chance regardless of what the blurb said.

Do you agree or disagree? What do you look for in a blurb?