Genre: Nonfiction

Book Review: The Purity Myth by Jessica Valenti

Posted January 5, 2017 // 2 Comments
Book Review: The Purity Myth by Jessica Valenti

When I was twelve years old, my mother gave me the “purity talk” (which is different from the “sex talk”). I was like a water balloon, she told me, and everything I did with a man outside of marriage—holding hands, kissing, sex—would drain a little of the water out of me. And I didn’t want to be nothing more than an empty balloon for my husband, did I? Of course […]

Book Review: Unmentionable by Therese Oneill

Posted December 18, 2016 // 0 Comments
Book Review: Unmentionable by Therese Oneill

Nostalgia is, I think, not uncommon, and honestly understandable at some levels. We tend to romanticize the past, remember the so-called “good old days.” Many of us would like to make things “great again” somehow (yes, I’m looking at those folks sitting to my right). Missing, however, is the undeniably true knowledge that the past was only ever good for some people, people who had privilege and power. Enter Unmentionable: […]

Book Review: The Exchange of Princesses by Chantal Thomas

Posted August 11, 2016 // 1 Comment
Book Review: The Exchange of Princesses by Chantal Thomas

Exploring the initially optimistic (but ultimately dismal) marriages of two 18th century princesses, Chantal Thomas’s The Exchange of Princesses is a well-researched investigation of royal marriages and their consequences. Alternating chapters tell of Infanta Marianna of Spain and Princess Louise Élisabeth d’Orléans, two prepubescent girls who are sent abroad to marry young kings, sight unseen. Neither marriage ends happily, and the author explores why, and additionally attempts to shed light […]

Book Review: Isabella: The Warrior Queen by Kirstin Downey

Posted August 9, 2016 // 0 Comments
Book Review: Isabella: The Warrior Queen by Kirstin Downey

For the modern reader, Isabel the Catholic is a difficult figure. She stands out for being a truly powerful female monarch in a time when women had little agency or freedom; she also stands out for being the figurehead of some truly horrific actions—the religious persecution of the Inquisition and the all-out genocide of the Americas. I had hoped that Kirstin Downey would find some measure of fair representation in […]

Book Review: Nicholas and Alexandra by Robert Massie

Posted August 8, 2016 // 2 Comments
Book Review: Nicholas and Alexandra by Robert Massie

Robert Massie’s biography of the final days of the Romanov dynasty is full of detail, atmosphere, and evident research. I wouldn’t say that Nicholas and Alexandra covers one of my favorite historical eras or explores the lives of my favorite historical figures, but I absolutely cannot fault the author’s work here. There is a reason Massie won a Pulitzer, and his vast talent is on display in this book. What […]

Book Review: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Posted April 20, 2016 // 0 Comments
Book Review: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me is an intimate and honest letter from a man to his son, discussing race and the concerns a father has for how race in the United States will affect his son’s life. Though the book discusses many things, some central topics are literal and figurative “disembodiment” experienced by black people, the concept of race as a false construct, and the ways in which […]

Book Review: Girls & Sex by Peggy Orenstein

Posted April 2, 2016 // 0 Comments
Book Review: Girls & Sex by Peggy Orenstein

In her latest book, Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape, author Peggy Orenstein discusses, well…girls and sex—young women and how they are affected by society and its attitudes towards sex and female sexuality. Backed up by statistics, research, and personal interviews (mostly with white, heterosexual, middle-class girls), this book offers a good overview of the subject from a variety of angles, without every becoming too academic or too commercialized. […]

Book Review: Spinster by Kate Bolick

Posted May 10, 2015 // 1 Comment
Book Review: Spinster by Kate Bolick

Very much like Kate Bolick, I have a “spinster wish”—a yearning for solitude, freedom, independence, the option of spending my afternoons alone in bed or out with friends without having to seek anyone’s approval but my own. I’m not saying that I’m the same woman as Bolick, or even very similar to her (far from it), but I am saying that Spinster, in its exploration of what it is to […]

Book Review: Romantic Outlaws by Charlotte Gordon

Posted April 27, 2015 // 0 Comments
Book Review: Romantic Outlaws by Charlotte Gordon

Mary Wollstonecraft is one of the most important, defining figures of my (admittedly short) life. I first encountered her writing when I was in my early teens, and it very much helped me to come to terms with my own beliefs and my sense of place in society. Reading a biography about Wollstonecraft was very much on my To Do ASAP list. But Romantic Outlaws is not only about Mary […]

Book Review: The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson

Posted March 24, 2015 // 0 Comments
Book Review: The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson

In The Warmth of Other Suns, Isabel Wilkerson sets out to document an important yet little-recognized migration that occurred in the 20th century United States. Between 1915 and 1970, some 6 million black Americans moved from the South to the North or West, feeling Jim Crow and intolerance. With this book, Wilkerson sets out to prove how important this “Great Migration” was upon the culture of the United States, and […]

Book Review: Queen Anne by Anne Somerset

Posted March 10, 2015 // 0 Comments
Book Review: Queen Anne by Anne Somerset

It’s only in the past few years that I’ve really delved into England’s Stuart monarchs and their history, but it’s still surprising to me that until a few months ago, when I read Susan Holloway Scott’s Duchess, I had absolutely no idea that Queen Anne Stuart was a person. Absolutely none. But as the author of this biography, Anne Somerset explains, Queen Anne’s reign has been more or less written […]

Book Review: Sylvia, Queen of the Headhunters by Philip Eade

Posted March 8, 2015 // 0 Comments
Book Review: Sylvia, Queen of the Headhunters by Philip Eade

Because Sylvia, Queen of the Headhunters got off to such a rough start, it was perhaps 100 pages before I really began to get into the hang of things. While Philip Eade has evidently done copious amounts of research, he included far too many irrelevant details in the beginning of it—“setting the groundwork” I’m sure, but not in a way that was especially necessary. This biography, then, was interesting some […]