Tag Archives: virginia woolf

Books for Feminists – Big and Small, Part 4: Classics

This is the final installment of our Books for Feminists series. If you missed it, there are three other parts: feminist books for children, feminist books for teens, and contemporary feminist books for adults. Now we’re going to talk about classic feminist literature.

Feminism has been around for a long time in the United States. From Abigail Adams’ letters to her husband, John Quincy Adams, asking him to “remember the ladies” when he worked with the constitutional congress on the establishment of this new nation to Sybil Ludington, the woman rider who rode twice the distances as Paul Revere on the same night to warn the Americans that the British were coming.

Feminism isn’t a movement restricted to one geographic location, indeed, it spreads across landmasses, nations, color, and gender. The books included on this list come from around the world and are all essential to any feminist’s reading.

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A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

This book by Mary Wollstonecraft was first published in 1792. It is considered one of the first manifestos of women’s rights. Wollstonecraft’s classic book makes an argument for women to be educating, noting that “Tyrants and sensualists are in the right when they endeavor to keep women in the dark, because the former want only slaves, and the later a plaything.” Her assertion that women should be educated to enable their independence was radical at the time it was made, despite women’s education not being questioned in current times. This book shows the evolution of thought and how it sometimes takes a radical to get an idea started that later becomes part of the common practices of a culture.


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Madame Bovary

Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary is a French classic, first released in 1857. While the link above is to a translated version of the text, I hear reading it in its original language is an absolute-must for people who are able because a lot of nuances can be lost in translation. Emma Bovary is bored. She’s a housewife and life couldn’t be duller for her, so instead of being an obedient wife, she pursues an affair with Rodolphe. This novel is often credited with being one of the first modern realism in addition to being celebrated for its poetic craftsmanship.


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The Yellow Wallpaper

Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote this short story based off of her own experiences with depression (from the semi-autobiographic story, it can be asserted that she had postpartum depression) and her lack of power over her own treatment for her ailment. When the woman in the novel asserts that she would really feel better if she was able to get up, move, write, and see her baby, her husband, a doctor, banishes her thoughts on her own medical treatment and insists that she ascribes to his prescribed rest cure. Being locked up in an old nursery, unable to write, interact with people, or exercise her own will and judgement, the narrator slowly goes mad and starts seeing a woman in the yellow wallpaper of the room.


The Bookstores of Berkeley: Shakespeare & Co.

As stated in an earlier post, I spent some time up in Berkeley, California, at a conference. I took a short flight up the coast of California and lugged my stuff into the dorm I’d be sharing for my stay and then I was free until the conference started the next day.

On our cab ride in from the airport, I saw something magical. I saw a book store. I wanted to go there, so after grabbing some pizza, I did. It was called Shakespeare & Co.

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Of course it was the name that first drew me to this bookstore, but once inside, it was the books that drew me to this book store.

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This store had a great collection of used books to choose from, including a section of rare books that I just wanted to touch. So I did.

Other Writers Are The Best Motivation

Sometimes it’s hard to write. Most of the time, it’s hard to write. Or at least to just get started. For me, motivation comes from many places. I may spend a year revising a poem, but that initial draft generally comes in one fell swoop.

I’m on the bus or walking around the city and an image plants itself in my brain and refuses to let go. It can be anything. The woman tying one end of a tarp to a light pole and the other to a grocery cart so she can sleep at night without the rain soaking her. Something a friend says in passing. The man on the street corner passing out miniature versions of the old testament.

But Neil Gaiman once said “If you only write when inspired, you may be a fairly decent poet, but you’ll never be a novelist.” His words are blunt, but there’s a certain truth to that. With short stories or novels, one image isn’t enough—in the way it might be for a poem. Sure, one image might get the gears turning, but it’s not enough to sustain the piece or your own motivation for that matter.

During down time, I sometimes go on Goodreads. Not to stare at the pitiful amount of books I’ve read this year in between my full-time course load, but to read what other writers have to say about the act of writing. Some of these quotes are plain beautiful, while others are plain honest—making me realize that the only thing stopping me from becoming the writer I hope to be someday is myself. Here is a sampling of some of my favorite quotes about writing that I’ve come across over the years. I hope they provide you with as much motivation as they have for me.

“Imagination is like a muscle. I found out that the more I wrote, the bigger it got.” — Philip José Farmer

“If you are not afraid of the voices inside you, you will not fear the critics outside you.” — Natalie Goldberg

“So long as you write what you wish to write, that is all that matters; and whether it matters for ages or only for hours, nobody can say.” — Virginia Woolf

“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.” — Madeleine L’Engle

“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” — Sylvia Plath

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” — Anais Nin

“Start writing no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” — Louis L’Amour

“I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.” — Anne Frank

“I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I’m afraid of.” — Joss Whedon

“Write about the emotions you fear the most.” — Laurie Halse Anderson

“To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it’s about, but the music the words make.” — Truman Capote

“The beautiful part of writing is that you don’t have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon.” — Robert Cormier

“So okay—there you are in your room with the shade down and the door shut and the plug pulled out of the base of the telephone. You’ve blown up your TV and committed yourself to a thousand words a day, come hell or high water. Now comes the big question: What are you going to write about? And the equally big answer: Anything you damn well want.” — Stephen King

“If you want to change the world, pick up your pen and write.” — Martin Luther

“Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.” — Gloria Steinem

“There is something delicious about writing the first words of a story. You never quite know where they’ll take you.” — Beatrix Potter

“You see, in my view a writer is a writer not because she writes well and easily, because she has amazing talent, because everything she does is golden. In my view a writer is a writer because even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise, you keep writing anyway.” — Junot Diaz

“Half of what I write is garbage, but if I don’t write it down it decomposes in my head.” — Jarod Kintz

“Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything good.” — William Faulkner

“I have forced myself to begin writing when I’ve been utterly exhausted, when I’ve felt my soul as thin as a playing card…and somehow the activity of writing changes everything.” — Joyce Carol Oates

Literary Paraphernalia: 10 Bookish Items for Home

In this week’s Literary Paraphernalia, I scoured the internet for ten bookish items for the home. Here’s what I found:

Get it here.

 

Food and literature? Sounds like perfection to me. This Hobbit quote reads, “If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”

Get it here.

 

These coasters are handmade with collages from the pages of books. If you’re crafty, you could probably make them yourself.

Get it here.

 

I will admit this made the list because elephants happen to be my favorite animal, but the print is adorable and is placed on top of a dictionary page. Words and elephants (like food and literature) are a match made in my heaven. The two prints below are equally amazing.

Get it here.

 

Get it here.

 

Get it here.

 

So, I’m not entirely sure what a mockingjay smells like? Possibly revolution and coal. But I suppose I’ll find out when this candle arrives at my doorstep.

Get it here.

 

These pillows are each designed to look like scrabble tiles. They’d be perfect for a reading nook.

Get it here.

 

This Pride and Prejudice pillow would also be perfect for a reading nook, or, you know, your bed so you can always sleep close to Mr. Darcy.

Get it here.

 

I love the design on this Virginia Woolf mug and can already picture it filled to the brim with some hot tea, while I read a book.

Get it here.

Again, these paper roses are something that you could make yourself if you know how to work an x acto blade. They also make a great alternative to real roses, which I tend to forget to water.

Check back next week for more Literary Paraphernalia, and be sure to follow us on Pinterest!

The Workspaces of Famous Authors

Being able to write well takes more than just skill. In order to write well, you have to find a space that allows you to do just that. For me, my bedroom has always been the place I go to find solitude. And in that solitude, I have always found I am able to sit down and write.

Yet sometimes, my bedroom can be a trap. There are unread books on the shelf and worn books, like old friends, waiting to be cracked open again. There’s my laptop, where the Internet can suck up hours. And there’s my inviting, comfy bed. Still, it’s the best place I’ve yet to find.

To be honest, though, most of the pieces I’ve written that I’ve enjoyed the most began with one or two lines thought of while driving to work, shopping at the grocery store, or taking a walk. The only item that I generally always carry on me (besides maybe Chapstick) is my cell phone, so I usually jot these lines down as a note. I come back to them later and expand on them. Or as is sometimes the case, I delete them and try to remember what I was thinking when I decided that was worth writing down.

Still, I think the idea of having a workspace seems quaint to me. When I’m older and have finally defeated those student loans, I hope to have a room, lined with bookshelves, where I can write in my house. Below are the workspaces that allow a few famous writers to do just that:

Mark Twain
Mark Twain (Author of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn)
E.B. White
E.B. White (Author of Charlotte’s Webb)

Kerouac’s Stamp Addiction and McCarthy in Drag: Literary Gossip at its Best

Did you know…

Jack Kerouac was addicted to licking stamps.

Cormac McCarthy dresses up as “sexy Betsy Ross” on Halloween every year.

The above  rumors were found on Vice.com‘s list of one hundred literary rumors. While reading them, I, of course, laughed, but I also wondered how these rumors began and whether or not there was any truth to them, because for the life of me, I can’t get the image of Kerouac, hair a mess and eyes blood shot, writing On The Road on a stamp-induced high out of my mind. Below are some more interesting, literary rumors from Vice’s list:

Gertrude Stein was on the payroll of the New York Mets.

Virginia Woolf passed the bar exam in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Maine.

J. K. Rowling lost all the money she earned from the first four books of Harry Potter due to slot-machine addiction.

Image from Collider.com
J.K. Rowling (image from Collider.com)