Today on twitter, the bookworm nerd in me geeked out to see #3BooksThatChangedMyLife was a trending topic! Asking me to narrow my favorites down to THREE (what?) seemed silly and I thought about doing multiple posts, but I eventually decided on:
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
P&P is a novel that follows the Bennet family’s five unmarried daughters as they navigate society (with a special focus on Elizabeth and Jane and their developing romances with Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy). I have always loved this story and its commentary on women’s issues during the turn of the 18th century, particularly the value assigned to women based on who they married and the limited power women actually had over their own lives.
- The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Never have I had a novel instill in me greater fear than The Handmaid’s Tale. Atwood’s dystopian vision on what could happen to women (not to mention that some things are happening to women in other parts of the world) is a frightening look at how women’s bodies and value are controlled through the pursuit of political order, the diluted interpretation of religion and its impact on social control, and the frank violation of anything considered feminist or empowering to women.
- Unbearable Weight (Feminism, Western Culture and the Body) by Susan Bordo
I encountered Bordo’s work in my first semester of graduate school and gobbled up her words and feverishly cited this book in many of my projects. For the first time, feminist theory and the process of analysis was accessible. Not to mention, she touches on women’s issues that are so personal and fascinating to me. Her critical discussion of popular culture’s powerful effect on the everyday woman’s view of weight, exercise, food, eating disorders, and beauty.
Why these three?
- You can see my passion grow through my selections.
The choices began in adolescence where the seeds of interest in women’s issues really began to take root (Pride and Prejudice). During my undergraduate career, I began to perceive my place as a woman in a woman dominated profession sometimes positioned me as a second-class human regardless of merit or accomplishment (The Handmaid’s Tale). Finally, graduate school allowed me the space and time to immerse and explore my passion of working with women and analyzing how women’s stories fit into a cultural context (Unbearable Weight).
- The focus inspires and informs from what was, what is, and what could be for women.
Through Austen’s inspiration of how life was for women with no means and no status, to Bordo’s criticism of how our patriarchal society currently impacts the mental health of women, to Atwood’s exploration of imagined atrocities that could snuff out the freedoms women experience in the western world, there is a common thread. Each writer places women at the forefront of discussion and analyses when society often shoves them to the rear. They inform. They instruct. They persuade. They warn. In their own vein and with their own power, they provide works that left me incensed.