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Books for Women
- December 2006 -
Volume 2 Number 11
This issue of More Books for Women brings you both new book recommendations
and some timeless favorites that our bookseller reviewers recommend for holiday
(or other) giving. You'll find compelling novels and titles with healing and spiritual themes
as well as several fun books for kids of all ages. Enjoy!
for Books To Watch Out For
Ann Christophersen recommends...
Kate Atkinson is a contemporary British writer who I just love. She is very
inventive, offers fresh characters and voices, and is so clever and witty
I read each page with great pleasure. Her recently published novel,
Good Turn, picks up where her last one left off. In Case Histories
(Little, Brown/Back Bay, $13.95, 9780316010702) her central character, Jackson
Brodie, finished up tying together the three different criminal cases he more
or less found himself in, one of which involved helping - and befriending
- a rather cranky old gal who needed his decent treatment as much as his skills.
In the beginning of One Good Turn, Jackson has left his occupation
as a private eye - it turns out that the old gal left him a million bucks
and he is free to live his dream. But he finds himself rather at loose ends:
he may be playing out his dream, but he's doing it having lost his sense of
self. A private investigator in instinct as well as habit, he can't seem to
help himself from getting involved in another intricate set of crimes, even
though he's no longer technically a P.I. All the characters are engaging,
but Gloria Hatter is my favorite in this one. Oh, and just so I don't leave
you with the idea that the novel is all games and fun, there's a compelling
thematic thread helping to pull all the disparate plot elements together.
The novel is about people who are different from who they used to be, pretend
they are, intend to become - or whose identity is simply unclear or mysterious.
There is a wealth of performing, dissembling, disappearing, and searching
going on, and identity is a slippery thing. But the best of the lot not only
discover the identity of others but also some truths about themselves. Little,
Brown and Company, $24.99, 9780316154840.
There are people in the United States (and Canada, and Mexico, and Europe,
and probably everywhere) who are very disturbed by the rapid growth of national
and international retail corporations that increasingly dominate the landscape
- quite literally - and so, too, the global economy. Everyone knows a handful
of the problems involved: diminishing wages and benefits that are pulling
down the middle class in this country and exploiting cheap labor elsewhere;
the loss of independent businesses and the corresponding damage to local economies;
the strain big boxes put on our physical environment; the demands they place
on public infrastructure; the diversion of local revenues to incentive payments
to companies already making millions (or billions) in profit. But now there's
a book that provides the whole, complex picture of what the level of chain
development really is, where it fits historically, exactly how high the costs
really are, and where we are headed if this development continues unabated.
That book is
Big-Box Swindle by Stacy Mitchell, a senior researcher
with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and advisor to communities on how
to effectively challenge this tide. Along with a wealth of information and
valuable perspective, she also provides a number of success stories, individuals
and communities that have used the available tools to change public policy
and private views. This is a terrific book. I highly recommend it. Beacon,
Linda Bubon is reading...
Ellen Burstyn has always been one of my favorite actors, delivering unforgettable
performances in movies like The Last Picture Show, The Exorcist,
Alice Doesn't Live Here Any More came out when I was in the thick
of my waitress/student career, so I was especially fond of that one and thrilled
when she won the Academy Award for her performance. Imagine my delight in
being able to host a reading for her new memoir,
Lessons in Becoming Myself!
It was a memorable evening: she glowed as she spoke about the long
process of creating the book and patiently and thoughtfully answered many
questions from the audience. And the book is wonderful! Her memory for fascinating
details about the films she worked on and the directors and actors with whom
she worked is amazing. Her life story is inspiring, too, because she grew
up with truly lousy parents, and like most people with childhood wounds, picked
some pretty lousy partners who threatened her career, and, in the case of
her third husband, her life. She is also a deeply spiritual person, and she
shares her search for truth openly and thoughtfully. Lessons in Becoming
Myself is a rich read, full of heart and wisdom. Riverhead, $25.95, 9781594489297.
It was celebrity week at Women & Children First as the actor Meg Tilly
followed Ellen Burstyn. Tilly's
Gemma is a novel, but its heat and
drama come out of Tilly's experience as a child who was physically and sexually
abused. Gemma is a tough read but very brave and compelling.
Gemma is only twelve when she is abducted by a pedophile. Her harrowing weeks
with her captor, graphically detailed, are almost unbearable to read except
that you know she will escape and you have to find out how she does it. Most
of the book is written in Gemma's tough, little girl, I'm-not-gonna-let-him-see-me-cry
voice, but some chapters take us into the mind of her predator, and they made
my skin crawl. This is not a book for the delicate, but anyone who works with
abused or at-risk kids must read it. Tilly's first book, Singing Songs,
has also been re-released and is, according to her, more truly autobiographical.
Rosie O'Donnell praised it to the skies on The View, and I'm sure it's
another powerful survivor's story. Gemma: Syren Book Company, $15.95,
9780929636610. Singing Songs: Syren Book Company, $14.95, 9780929636627.
Another tough but very important book I just read is
Cry Rape: The True
Story of One Woman's Harrowing Quest for Justice by Madison, Wisconsin,
journalist Bill Leuders. Leuders spent years following the story of Patti,
a visually-impaired woman who was raped at knife point in her home early one
morning in 1997. The young detective assigned to her case very quickly decided
she was making a false accusation, and with the tunnel vision not uncommon
in law enforcement, proceeded to charge her with a crime. It took seven
years and an heroic amount of perseverance for Patti to be acquitted and for
her rapist to be found and charged. What is truly shocking and makes this
a must-read for anyone working in the law or with rape victims is the extent
to which the detective's fellow (and sister) officers and superiors supported
him, even in the face of irrefutable evidence to the contrary. She still has
not received an apology from the Madison P.D., but Patti triumphs in this
book. Leuders, admirably, steps out of the way while giving us all the details
of the case, and lets this be Patti's story. University of Wisconsin Press,
After all this heavy reading last month, I was fortunate that our book group
had picked Dawn Powell's
The Locusts Have No King for our November
selection. What a wickedly funny delight! Powell perfectly captures the New
York literary scene circa 1946 in the most acerbic prose I've read in a long
time. Mix a cocktail, light an imaginary cigarette, and sit back and enjoy
her skewering of publishers, editors, advertising men, career gals, "pooh
on you" girls, playwrights, and hangers on as they dash from bar to bar,
party to party. Zoland Books, $14.95, 9781883642426.
Catherine Jacquet loves...
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry may well be the best
book I've ever read. The Little Prince himself is widely recognizable; his
image is found on popular greeting cards, postcards, posters, etc. But the
heart and charm of the Little Prince are found only in the book.
This is a story of imagination, creativity, and profound love. When the author
finds himself stranded in the desert, the last person he expected to run into
was the "extraordinary little fellow" we all recognize as the Little
Prince. Out in the middle of nowhere, this little fellow doesn't ask for water
or food but rather a drawing of a sheep. The author obliges and we are then
taken on an incredible journey through the past weeks of the Little Prince's
life. Here we encounter, among others, a Turkish astronomer, baobab trees,
a precious rose, a king, a very vain man, and a businessman, each with their
own lesson to teach us.
The illustrations are beyond comparison. The Little Prince himself is charming
and adorable. The lessons in this book are great for children and even better
for adults. I highly recommend it for all the adults in your life, especially
those who need to be reminded of the most important elements of life: laughter,
friendship, and love. English translation by Richard Howard. Harcourt, $10,
Chelsey Clammer is up all night reading...
Emma Goldman's autobiography,
Living My Life, was originally published
in 1931. With more than 900 pages in two volumes, readers have been a little
intimidated by the massive length of Goldman's retelling of her life. Penguin's
new edition, however, has condensed Goldman's original words almost in half;
but don't worry - Goldman's story does not diminish with the lost pages. Her
fiery spunk is present on every page, and readers will fall in love with her
amazing life, again. From the words of a rebellious exiled woman and birth
control advocate, Goldman's story inspires every reader to get out there and
do something amazing. Penguin Classics, $18 paper, 9780142437858.
Two-time National Book Award Finalist Melissa Fay Greene's newest book uncovers
the lived experience of the AIDS crisis in Africa.
There Is No Me Without
You depicts the life of Haregewoin Teferra, a grieving mother who took
in over 60 children who had lost their parents to AIDS. This is not a tale
of a white woman trying to save Africa's children; instead, Greene shows the
reader how adoption is not the answer to the AIDS crisis, but a starting point
for action. This book is also not specifically about Greene's journeys to
Africa, but rather it is a history of AIDS and a description of the current-day
situation in Ethiopia. Greene gives a voice and a face to the AIDS crisis,
and her telling of Teferra's life is unforgettable. Bloomsbury $25.95, 9781596911161.
Mary Ellen Kavanaugh is enjoying...
I'm always influenced by the context of my life when I am reading a book,
The New Single Woman by E. Kay Trimberger (now out in paperback)
fell in at a most interesting time. I started this on a little getaway weekend
I took earlier this month - some friends were indeed puzzled that a single
woman who lives alone needed to "get away" - they sincerely wanted
to know what from. As if getting away is only about that. I finished the book
days after I learned my job had been eliminated. And those same friends, understanding
this piece of my life, have rallied round to support me in my job search.
Currently, in the U.S., there are 42 million single women over the age of
18, and yet seldom do we appear in the media, unless it's a story about desperation
(read: looking for a mate) or struggle (the single mother). Let's just say
this book is a breath of fresh air! Trimberger approaches this work both as
an "ever-single" woman (a phase I love and am about to adopt) and
a sociologist. Her research is well grounded and her explorations deep. The
voices of the women she interviewed are strong and they are presented as evidence
how "(t)urning to one's own account a life not envisioned or chosen is
not passive acceptance but a process of active exploration and change…creating
a single life - like building a good marriage - is a process of development,
self-discovery, and work." What I most appreciate is that she has shined
this light on the well-lived single life but not done so at the cost of bashing
marriage. While she does show statistics that favor the longevity and good
mental health of remaining single, she does a great deal to show alternate
ways of being coupled and does much to expand traditional notions of family
- most eloquently expressed by a lesbian couple who live in Massachusetts
and are not getting married, so as not to be "contributing to the perpetuation
of a norm of coupledness in our society." What I am concerned about is
that only single women will be attracted to this book. And that would be a
shame, since it offers many possibilities for how we can be in relation to
self and others in a way that makes for happy, secure lives. Beacon Press,
One of the things I like best about reading writings by Buddhist teachers
is that, whatever the topics, the exploration is deep and builds slowly from
one point to another - quite in contradiction to our sound bite culture. Pema
Chodron's latest offering,
Practicing Peace in Times of War, exemplifies
this perfectly. Her premise - that the origins of violence, oppression, etc.,
no matter how they are played out, begins in our hearts - leads to an exploration
of how our responses to such experiences contribute to a culture of violence.
It is, of course, an old concept that "peace begins with us," and
can be a hard position to hold in the world today, but it's one that good
thinking people need to be reminded of - regularly. There is such good teaching
here about recognizing when our hearts harden, learning to be patient, and
not attaching to our reactions - this will make a lovely holiday gift as well
as a memorable birthday, graduation, or cheering up present. Shambhala, $12.95,
Linda Bryant suggests...
Alice Walker's newest book,
We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For:
Inner Light in a Time of Darkness, is beautiful. At our Charis Books event
with Alice, author Pearl Cleage said to me: "I needed this book,"
and that was echoed over and over. These meditations call us to find our own
inner light and to live from that place of fierce love and gratitude. It is
a book to be read aloud - most of the pieces were originally talks given to
graduating classes, yoga teachers, midwives, or others fortunate enough to
be in Alice's luminous presence. As is true in Walker's fiction, poetry, and
essays, this book weaves together politics, spiritual practice, connection
to the earth, humor, and beauty. And it is a lovely trim-size hardback perfect
for gift-giving. New Press, $23.95, 9781595581372.
For many years, Mary Oliver has consistently been Charis Books' best-selling
poet. Her new book,
Thirst, is dedicated, like all the others, to Molly
Malone Cook, Oliver's beloved partner for more than forty years, who died
in 2005. Many people I know have long used Oliver's poems as guides for or
glimpses into their own spiritual journeys. Her connections with the earth
and all her creatures are always at the heart of Oliver's work, and her poetry
is incredibly accessible. This collection has more specifically Christian
symbols and experiences than her earlier ones, including references to Jesus
and a meditation on a Psalm, yet most poems speak to anyone open to spirit.
From the epilogue, which is a prayer: "Love for the earth and love for
you are having such a long conversation in my heart." Beacon Press, $22,
Sometimes I just need a good mystery, something that will take me away from
the immediate. Julia Spencer-Fleming is one of my favorite mystery writers
- her main characters are an Episcopal priest (who used to be a helicopter
pilot) and her love interest, the very married police chief in their small
All Mortal Flesh is the fifth in this series and includes deep
moral struggles alongside the investigation into the death of the police chief's
wife. St. Martin's/Minotaur, $22.95, 9780312312640.
From the backlist, I finally picked up Canadian Miriam Toews's novel,
complicated kindness, and was mesmerized from the first chapter.
Sixteen-year-old Nomi Nickel is the voice of this coming-of-age story
that takes place in a Mennonite community. Abandoned by her mother and sister,
Nomi and her father cope as well as they can. He drives around at night for
hours and gives away their furniture piece by piece. Nomi's connections are
all quite fragile, but her insights into Mennonite life are priceless. She
is saving herself, she hopes, by writing this book, not willing to abandon
her father, yet knowing that she is dying, trying to live within the confines
of this (to her) pretend town. Counterpoint, $13.95, 9781582433226.
New in Paperback
Sex Wars: A Novel of Gilded Age New York (reviewed in
Marge Piercy, Harper Perennial, $14.95, 9780060789879.
Freshwater Road, Denise Nichols, Simon and Schuster/Pocket, $14, 9781416524823.
Missing Mom, Joyce Carol Oates, Harper Perennial, $14.95, 9780060816223.
The Story of Chicago May, Nuala O'Faolain,
Riverhead, $14, 9781594482175.
The Woman at the Washington Zoo: Writings on Politics, Family and Fate,
Marjorie Williams, Public Affairs, $14.95, 9781586484576.
By Nan Cinnater
Not that long ago, award-winning mystery writer Val McDermid was named one
of the fifty most influential people in British publishing (number 15, in
fact). Now the influential McDermid and her partner Kelly Smith have launched
Bloody Brits Press, an imprint of Bywater Books, specifically to bring to
the American market British mysteries that have been overlooked in the U.S.
First on their list is
Bleak Water by Danuta Reah (9781932859218),
followed closely by Sarah Diamond's
The Spider's House (9781932859270)
and Joyce Holms's
Payment Deferred (9781932859317). They are
also bringing back into print all six of McDermid's wonderful Kate Brannigan
novels, beginning with
Dead Beat (9781932859188). Kate Brannigan is
a feminist, punk (pre-riot grrl), private eye from Manchester, whose best
friend is a lesbian. If you missed these the first time around, run-don't-walk
to your local feminist, mystery, or general independent bookstore for your
copies. Better yet, put them on your holiday wish list (or gift list)! (All are
Mystery specialty bookstores and mystery small presses have much the same
kind of symbiotic relationship that women's bookstores and feminist presses
(used to) have. In some cases, mystery booksellers have become publishers
in order to fill the demand generated by their customers. Felony & Mayhem
Press, for instance, was established by the owners of the New York City store
Partners and Crime to bring back out-of-print books that they wanted to sell.
One of their prime finds is Elizabeth Ironside, who writes very literary British
mysteries with traditional and non-traditional elements.
Death in the Garden
($14.95, 9781933397177) begins with the sentence: "Today at half past
two in the afternoon I was acquitted of the murder of my husband." At
the birthday party of beautiful, bohemian Diana Pollexfen in 1925, Diana's
husband drank a poisoned cocktail and died. Seventy years later, Diana's grand-niece,
Helena, goes through her aunt's papers to determine who did it. Felony &
Mayhem Press has just published Ironside's
The Accomplice ($14.95,
On the other hand, Poisoned Pen Press, the brainchild of the Poisoned Pen
Bookstore in Albuquerque, publishes mostly new mysteries - small gems that
don't have a chance in a high-stakes industry fixated on blockbusters. In
Witch Cradle ($24.95, 9781590582541) by Kathleen Hills, an ice storm
has immobilized St. Adele, Michigan, but the hard freeze also serves as a
neat metaphor for the tenor of the times: January, 1951. Back in the thirties,
a number of Communist sympathizers in Finnish-American St. Adele had emigrated
to the Soviet Union to help build the workers' utopia. McIntire has suspicions
about what happened to two of these emigrees, and he has an FBI agent asking
questions about Communists in the county. The best thing about Witch Cradle
may be the careful and exquisite writing:
"Frosted silver stillness. Saplings twisted into grotesque sculptures;
spruce trees turned to slender spires, bowing to one another in a graceful
dance, jeweled boughs sweeping the snow; wires transformed into a criss-cross
of swags strung with miniature icicles. Soft white and crystal."
Witch Cradle is the third mystery by Hills featuring John McIntire, following Past
Imperfect and Hunter's Dance (both $14.95).
It is a truth universally acknowledged that most authors who attempt to write
in the style of Jane Austen should be peremptorily shot. Not, however, Stephanie
Barron, whose "Jane" series actually comes close to reproducing
Austen's own dry, delightful voice. (Apparently Barron does this by borrowing
liberally from Austen's letters and other writing. I don't care. I think it's
magic.) Now we have the eagerly awaited new hardcover,
Jane and the Barque
of Frailty, ninth in the series. Everything about the period is right,
and Barron's plots dovetail neatly with the known facts of Austen's real life,
but the mysteries themselves are almost inconsequential. This one involves
the death of a Russian princess in London. Bantam, $24.95, 9780553802269.
Truth being famously stranger than fiction, Barron is actually a former CIA
analyst who has written contemporary espionage thrillers and historical intrigue
under the name Francine Mathews. In The Cut Out and Blown
(both Bantam, $7.99), Mathews follows the fate of CIA analyst Cathleen Carmichael
in her struggles against a neo-Nazi terrorist organization known as 30 April.
The Alibi Club, is set in Paris in 1939, featuring
lawyers, physicists, Baroness Von Rothschild, and a character based on Josephine
Baker. Bantam, $24, 9780553803310.
Even those of us who despise imitation Austen sometimes long for the guilty
pleasures of the drawing room and the London season. I've become addicted
to historical mysteries, especially those set in 18th and 19th century London.
Tasha Alexander's Victorian debut novel,
And Only To Deceive, introduces
a wonderful heroine in Emily Ashton. A widowed Viscountess, Emily relishes
the great freedom of her unencumbered state. She increasingly flaunts convention
- learning Greek, studying art, and befriending bluestockings - as she solves
the mystery of her late husband's legacy and discovers her true self. Alexander
walks a thin line between mystery and romance, but her heroine is such a proto-feminist
that it's hard to object. Harper, $13.95, 9780061148446.
At first glance,
What Angels Fear by C.S. Harris (Signet, $6.99, 9780451219718),
set in 1811, appears even more traditionally romantic. The pistol-dueling
hero, Sebastian St. Cyr, is a classic Byron wannabe. But it turns out to be
a sturdily plotted whodunit about the murder of a prostitute in a church,
with a worthy heroine, a smart and successful actress named Kat Boleyn. In
When Gods Die, Sebastian and Kat are reunited to solve the mystery
surrounding the death of Sebastian's own mother. NAL, $23.95, 9780451219688.
In Murder Never Forgets (Berkley, $6.99, 9780425209035), Pulitzer
Prize-nominated novelist and poet Diana O'Hehir introduced twenty-something
Carla Day and her much older father, a renowned Egyptologist suffering from
Erased from Memory the two are back, involved in a
series of murders at a private museum. The mystery is fairly predictable,
but the characters are not. From the bipolar scholar in residence to the Southern
femme fatale lawyer, they behave like real people with all their quirks and
contradictions. Carla is a spunky sleuth, but it is her father Edward, with
his fragmentary memories and telling wisdom, who is totally endearing. Berkley,
For the Kids
Recommendations from Linda Bubon
We are always being asked for "alternative" or strong princess
stories, and I thought it might be time again to list some of my favorites.
The titles listed below are all in paperback or hardcover, although we sell
them much better in paper, so I'll give you those ISBN's and prices. I'd recommend
them for bright 3's and 4's up to age 7 or 8. These princesses are all the
heroes of their own stories, and they are very good problem-solvers. That
doesn't mean that they don't have pretty dress/sparkly shoes appeal!
Chickerella by Herm and Mary Jane Auch features fabulous costuming
of chickens who play the traditional roles in this story that has a very modern
ending: The gal, the prince, and the "fairy goosemother" open their
own fashion business. Holiday House, $6.95, 9780823420155.
The Princess and the Pizza by the same authors features a busy princess
who really doesn’t have time to do all this cooking to impress the queen,
but throws together some classic ingredients to not only win the prince but
create the first pizza. Holiday House, $6.95, 9780823417988.
Princess Furball by Charlotte Huck and Anita Lobel, the princess
uses her wits to escape a greedy king's destiny for her. HarperTrophy, $6.99,
Princesses Are Not Quitters by Kate Lum and Sue Hellard presents a
not-so-subtle lesson in labor relations in this story of three bored princesses
who trade places with their servant girls for the day. Bloomsbury, $6.95,
Trapped in a tower for her own protection, the resourceful princess in
Red Wolf by Margaret Shannon makes herself a wolf suit out of magic red
wool to escape her overbearing father. Exuberant with a very clever ending.
Houghton-Mifflin, $6.95, 9780618737444.
The Storytelling Princess by Rafe Martin and Kimberly Root, an
adventurous princess travels around the world and has quite a story to tell
that wins over a reluctant prince. Penguin, $6.99, 9780142500859.
The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch and Michael Martchenko is
an oldie-but-a-goodie. This 1980 story about a determined princess who confronts
a haughty dragon to get her prince back continues to delight new audiences.
Young enough for 2- to 5-year olds. Annick Press, $5.99, 9780920236161.
Also for younger ones, the three (hardcover) books from Rising Moon Press
by Carmela Lavigna Coyle are a big hit with our staff and remind little girls
that princesses can do anything, wear anything, and bring their own magic
Do Princesses Really Kiss Frogs?, $15.95, 9780873588805
Do Princesses Scrape Their Knees?, $15.95, 9780873589093
Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots?, $15.95, 9780873588287
Recommendations from Angelique Grandone
The run up to the holiday season always brings a wealth of amazing new specialty
books for young readers. In recent years, the art of the pop-up book has been
elevated to incredible new vistas, particularly by "paper engineers"
such as David Carter, Robert Sabuda, and Matthew Reinhart. This year brings
a particularly spectacular collection, and I'd like to share a few of my favorites,
which are great for 4- to 7-year-olds:
The endlessly talented Maurice Sendak has been a much loved children's author
and illustrator for decades with favorites such as Where the Wild Things
Are, In the Night Kitchen and, more recently, Bears!. His
Mommy!, co-created with Arthur Yorick and paper engineer
Matthew Reinhart, is an incredible collaboration that began as a piece for
the stage. They saw potential in Yorick's quirky, disarmingly charming story
about a young boy looking for his mother in a house full of monsters and ghoulies.
Sendak's playfully spooky sets create the backdrop for Reinhart's clever paper
tricks including an ingenious spinning mummy, a werewolf depants-ing, and
a sweet surprise ending featuring the bride of Frankenstein! Scholastic, $24.95,
In a follow-up to his clever abstract pop-up One Red Dot, David Carter
has returned with
Blue 2: A Pop-Up Book for All Ages. This particular
creation is sophisticated, artful, and way fun! Spurred on by clues in the
text, readers search Carter's elaborate structures for the elusive blue 2:
Suspended? Reflective? Twirling? Where could it be?? The inventive design
integrates the alphabet into the text as well, adding an element of rhythm
to the hunt. Simon and Schuster, $19.95, 9781416917816.
With her strong feminist and humanist themes and starkly beautiful images,
Nikki McClure has long been one of my favorite artists and now she is branching
out into books! Her newest endeavors, both released this month from Sasquatch
Books, convey her characteristic charm and simplicity through cut paper images
featuring the maternal-child bond.
Awake to Nap is a "beginning" alphabet
book written while her newborn son, Finn, napped. Both a calming meditation
and a perfect bedtime book, the narrative gently winds down midway through
the alphabet, as if the author has nodded off to sleep while writing. It is
my new favorite gift for new babies. Sasquatch, $8.95, 9781570615078.
Its companion book,
The First 1000 Days: A Baby Journal, is even more
beautiful for its unique take on what is memorable about a baby's first experiences.
In addition to pages devoted to each of the first 24 months, the book asks
for details about baby's first adventures: first puddle, first rainbow, first
laugh, and first blueberry to name a few. I'm particularly fond of a section
entitled "How You Communicate and Tell Your Stories" with subsections
of "Signs You Use," "First Words," and "First Drawings."
Though the book is petite, there is plenty of room for recording all the special
firsts in a new child's life. Additionally, the book is blessedly vague about
gender and family themes, making it appropriate for many kinds of families,
especially those that value McClure's strong connection to nature, community
and, of course, the adventure of being a baby. Sasquatch, $12.95, 9781570615085.
I got so excited when
On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman
came in because it is the perfect new baby book. Featuring birds, ladybugs,
and dancing bears, Tillman's illustrations are lush and gorgeous, with a moon
on every page. The sweetly lolling text affirms a new child's unique place
in the world, and reminds them where to look in the world should they forget
that "you are the one and only ever you…" I imagine this becoming
a bedtime favorite for generations of children. Feiwel & Friends, $16.95,
Calendars and Datebooks
Mother Tongue Ink brings back their popular We'Moon: Gaia Rhythms
for Womyn line. This year the theme is "On Purpose." The datebook,
again available in layflat, spiral bound, and unbound (so you can use it in
your DayRunner-type binder) formats, features colorful art, inspiring poems
and prose, sun and moon signs and transits, a planetary ephemeris, and much
more. The 12"x12" wall calendar has larger versions of twelve of
the beautiful art pieces and shows the phase of the moon each day. The 5.25"x8"
datebooks are each $17.95 (layflat: 189093139X, spiral: 1890931381, unbound:
1890931403), and We'Moon on the Wall is $13.95 (1890931411).
Luna Press also returns with their '07 Lunar Calendar: Dedicated to the
Goddess in Her Many Guises. Their pages show the moon's phases in a unique
spiral format - beautiful, but not much room for writing, so it is best viewed
as a piece of art rather than a place to jot down appointments. In addition
to full astronomical and astrological data, it also includes an excellent
bibliography. $23, 1877920177.
The Women Artists Datebook from Syracuse Cultural Workers is also
back, featuring art and poetry by Susan Davitti Darling, Ellen Bass, and Rachel
Guido deVries, among others. Spiral bound in a 5"x7" size, it also
includes a menstrual calendar, the lunar cycles, and a list of women's resources.
Pomegranate brings back its Reading Woman Calendar and hardcover
engagement calendar, each with reproductions of paintings showing women with
a book and featuring quotations by women about reading. The engagement book
contains both weekly and monthly grids. Engagement calendar: 6 5/8" x
8", $14.95, 076493564X. Wall calendar: 12"x13", $13.99, 0764935682.
Thirty Years of CALYX
CALYX: A Journal of Art and Literature by
Women recently published their 30th anniversary issue. CALYX uses a
collective to decide what is published in each issue. The all-volunteer Journal Editorial
Collective is comprised of writers, editors, teachers, and artists. As Margarita Donnelly, one
of the founders, said in her essay in this anniversary
issue, "CALYX has provided the public with a conversation by over
3,500 women authors and artists that is a collective expression of the different
realities of women's lives, visions, and dreams." For more information
about CALYX and how they're celebrating this important milestone, check
If you're interested in media coverage of women, check out WIMN's Voices,
a women's media monitoring group blog. About fifty women contribute to this
blog with commentary on social, cultural, and political issues about women
and the media. Below are two interesting recent entries.
Gender and media ownership:
Women journalists at prominent magazines:
Books To Watch Out For
There hasn't been a new Lisa Alther (Kinflicks) book since 1995's
Five Minutes in Heaven. So I'm pleased to share the news that 2007
will bring the publication of Kinfolks: Falling Off the Family Tree, In
Search of My Melungeon Ancestors, a humorous travelogue memoir. For more
information about Lisa, check out her website, www.lisaalther.com.
It's also been awhile since we've had a new book from Ursula Hegi (Stones
From the River) - last was Sacred Time in 2003. Simon and Schuster
imprint Touchstone Fireside will publish The Worst Thing I've Ever Done
in October 2007. It's about a friendship between three childhood friends which
becomes too close - and the impact of that friendship once they are adults.
Sigrid Nunez, whose The Last of Her Kind we reviewed in
MBW #7, will
have a new novel out from Riverhead next year called Salvation City.
In it, "a viral epidemic has killed off large numbers of people, including
the liberal, intellectual parents of the 13-year-old protagonist and his sister,
who are then sent to live with a charismatic Christian fundamentalist pastor
and his wife, preparing for the Rapture."
We'll have to wait until Summer 2008 for Ape House from Sara Gruen, author of Water for Elephants (reviewed in
The forthcoming book is about "a family of apes
who are thrust into the limelight and irrevocably alter the lives of the people
The Washington Center for the Book in Seattle recently named Ursula K. LeGuin
recipient of its annual Maxine Cushing Gray Award, which recognizes a "a
writer of serious intent and noteworthy talent" who is a resident of
the Northwest. LeGuin accepted the award on behalf of Literature, who was
"too busy to come collect her prize." In her acceptance speech,
LeGuin remarked that "(a) government can silence writers easily, yet
Literature always escapes its control. Literature cannot control a government;
poets, as poets, do not legislate. What they can do is set minds free of the
control of any tyrant or demagogue and his lies and disinformation."
And: "Because literary skill is the rigorous use of language in the pursuit
of truth, the habit of literature, of serious reading, is the best defense
against believing the half-truths of ideologues and the lies of demagogues."
Read the entire speech here:
Marisha Pessl has won the Mercantile Library Center for Fiction's inaugural
John Sargent Sr. First Novel Prize for Special Topics in Calamity Physics.
The Sargent Prize was created by the Center (based in New York City) as part
of its mission to promote the art of fiction in the United States. The prize
was named for John Sargent Sr., lifelong reader and President and CEO of Doubleday
and Company for many years.
Cancer has claimed far too many of us, including these wonderful book women:
Bebe Moore Campbell
Novelist and NPR commentator Bebe Moore Campbell died recently due to complications from brain
cancer. Her novels, including Your Blues Ain't Like Mine, Brothers
and Sisters, Singing in the Comeback Choir, and What You Owe
Me, skillfully and poignantly explored issues of race and gender as played
out in friendships, romantic relationships, and families. Recently she began
writing about mental illness, with her novel 72 Hour Hold, a play titled
Even With the Madness, and children's book Sometimes My Mommy Gets
Angry. Her most recent book, released earlier this year, was also for
kids - Stompin’ at the Savoy.
New York Times obituary:
San Francisco Chronicle story:
Links to some of her NPR commentaries:
Former Charis Books co-owner Sherry Emory passed away in November. From the
note Charis sent to the community: "Sherry was a warrior, living for
over two years with stage 4 breast cancer. For many years, Sherry was at the
heart of Charis Books, offering a warm smile along with insightful book guidance
to so many people. She did so much for Charis, staffing almost all of the
programs in the early years, doing all the bookkeeping, and doing her share
of book-ordering and all the other things that it takes to not only keep a
business going, but also to serve the community in unspoken ways day after
day." After leaving Charis in 2001, she served as a librarian in a Jewish
school and later moved to Florida, where her twin sister lives. An education
fund has been set up for Sherry's 16-year-old daughter, Rivka, in Sherry's
memory. Donation checks should be made payable to Sherry's sister, Susan Garlock,
with “Rivka” on the subject line and mailed to 1737 NE 26th Dr., Wilton Manors,
Southern Voice obituary:
For more on Charis Books:
Pro-sex feminist, founding member of Redstockings, writer, and editor Ellen
Willis recently died of lung cancer. She was the first pop music-critic at
the New Yorker and served as writer and/or editor at the Village
Voice, the Nation, Dissent, and Rolling Stone, among
others. Her pieces were collected in the books Beginning to See the Light,
No More Nice Girls: Countercultural Essays, and Don't Think, Smile!:
Notes on a Decade of Denial.
The New York Times obituary:
The Nation's collection of rembrances:
"Lust Horizons: The 'Voice' and the Women's Movement," an essay
written for the Village Voice's 50th anniversary:
Articles by Ellen Willis published in Dissent:
Her 1976 article on Janis Joplin:
Calls for Submissions
Editors Hanne Blank and Moira Russell are seeking essays and creative nonfiction
for their forthcoming anthology Breakthrough Bleeding: Essays on the Thing
Women Spend A Quarter Of Their Time Doing, But No One's Supposed To Talk About,
to be published by She Devil Press, an imprint of Suspect Thoughts Press,
in Fall 2008. They're not looking for coming-of-age or "first time"
stories, but rather work that will "analyze, question, and explore all
aspects of menstruation and menstruation culture." Submissions should
be 1500-5000 words in length, and the deadline is March 20, 2007.
FemTAP: A Journal of Feminist Theory and Practice has announced the call
for papers for its Summer 2007 issue, Feminist Pedagogy: New Paradigms, New
and Old Places. Questions they'd like to address include: "How does the
theory of transformative pedagogy relate to the practice of teaching and
communal and/or social change? What theories and strategies are being developed
and utilized outside of the classroom and the academic institutional paradigm?"
They welcome essays from both academic and non-academic scholars and will
accept both traditional and experimental essays as well as creative work.
Deadline is March 12, 2007.
Additional information can be found at:
We hope you've enjoyed this issue of More Books for Women. We'll be back next month with
our reviewers' picks for their favorite books of 2006.
If you exchange gifts during the winter holidays - or any time for that matter - please consider a gift subscription
to More Books for Women (and our other publications, The Lesbian Edition and The Gay Men's Edition).
Your literature loving friends will appreciate it!
And as always, we appreciate your assistance in spreading the word about Books To Watch Out For. It's helpful when you add us to your list
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for Books To Watch Out For
© 2006 Books To Watch Out For
Graphics © Judy Horacek
Books To Watch Out For
PO Box 882554
San Francisco, CA 94188