Archive for Book Promotions

Happy Fiftieth, Feminine Mystique!

Cover of and link to the book, "The Feminine Mystique," by Betty FriedanI came very late to The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan. But I suspect it affected me almost as strongly as it did its first readers–fifty years ago yesterday and ever since.

I grew up in a culture that had most of the attitudes toward women that Ms. Friedan described in her book. Except we had religion tacked onto that. Fortunately, I didn’t exist in the worst of the fundamentalist Christian religions in North America–yet I was taught many of the same things women in those branches of Christianity were taught:

  1. Women’s job was making babies and then staying home to raise them.
  2. Women’s other job was to stay home and clean and make meals, like a “housekeeper with benefits;” the men got a servant and sex too, what a deal! For the men.
  3. Women were to be subordinate to their husbands.
  4. Women’s other job was to do what their husbands told them and to support their husbands in everything they did.
  5. All this subordination (and let’s face it, oppression) was the women’s own fault, because we were all “guilty” for enticing Adam to eat the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. No, really.

Blah blah blah. Is it surprising that so many women were bored out of their minds, both being around children nonstop, all day long, without much adult companionship, and being treated like children themselves? What a terrible waste, restricting women’s lives only to those few things, when the whole world was open to the men! No wonder so many women were on tranquilizers!

When I was in Bible school, I bought into that role for women. I fully expected to marry a preacher or somebody, and to spend my life teaching Sunday school and raising babies. You know, to “support” my husband’s ministry. And for this reason, I did not go into the program to study classical and biblical Greek intensively–which I really wanted to do. Instead, I went into “General Christian Ministries,” and learned all the stuff I wasn’t interested in, like how to make games for children. When all along, I knew that I didn’t really want kids. But THAT WAS MY JOB.

Fortunately, I decided against that sort of life eventually. I decided it before I ever read The Feminine Mystique. But when I finally did read that book, thirty years or so after it was published, it described everything I knew I had dodged, and explained a few more things that I hadn’t thought about yet.

So even though I was late, I finally did read the book, and it was as great for me as it was for the earliest readers. So I’m very glad to hear that there are new editions coming out, in celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of its publication. Given the reams and reams and reams of anti-woman legislation currently being rammed up women’s vaginas by Republican state governments in the United States–it’s very clear that The Feminine Mystique is still very, very needed. We’ve got a whole new couple of generations of women who have been hoodwinked–again–and it’s time to set them free. Again.


Bookifying Your Home

Back in November, Katerina Ortakova at Retreat, the Random House blog, did a post called 20 Ways to Make Your Home More Bookish. I didn’t see it then, but Random House retweeted it today on Twitter.

Some of the ideas were really fun, like this Fables and Feathers duvet cover, with Aesop’s Fables written all over it. (Now sadly unavailable) Then there’s the piece by McSweeney’s founder, Dave Eggers, printed on a shower curtain, so you can read it while you shower. (Though once you’ve read it, do you want to reread the same thing every day? Maybe there should be thirty shower curtains, so you can read a longer story or article in installments?)

I rather liked the book clock. And I love the idea of painting risers on a stairway to look like the spines of one’s favourite books. But I had two special favourites. One is a book stacker (for those who keep piles of books on the floor by their beds), with a ledge for a glass of wine or a cup of tea:


Book stacker

Isn’t that a handy idea? It might not save space beside your bed, but it does make it easier to see thke books and to get one out without the whole stack collapsing across the floor. Meanwhile, my most favourite “bookish” home accessory is this set of dishes:


Set of dishes shaped like open books

“Book” dishes set – bought by the case!

The only problem with those, as you can see from the Book page at American Discount Tableware, is that you apparently have to buy each piece by the case. And one case contains rather a lot of that piece. So you have to spend about a hundred dollars (and sometimes a lot more) for each piece in the above photo, since you have to buy a case for each. And there are eleven different pieces in total…

Still, they do look lovely. Maybe one day I will buy thirty-six open-book saucers and thirty-six square cups, so I can enjoy a bookish cup of tea. Or maybe not. Still, I love all the ideas in the Random House post.

International Book Week: Pick a Quote

Okay, apparently it’s International Book Week, and there’s a meme floating around Facebook. It goes like this: “It’s international book week. The rules: grab the book closest to you, turn to p 52, post the 5th sentence as your status. Don’t mention the title. Post the rules as part of your status.”

So here’s mine:

I heard the word ‘gorgeous’; you must be talking about me,” I joked, realizing how hopeless it was for a forty-year-old to divert attention from a baby, even an unborn one.

I hope to celebrate International Book Week in other ways than just that, though. 🙂 I went to the library on Tuesday, for example. And this coming Sunday, here in Toronto, is the Word on the Street festival. So yeah…all about books, this week, yay!

Helix: Totally Blowing My Own Horn

Final cover of "Helix"

Today I put my first novel —  Helix —  up on the Smashwords online publishing site. I made it available in almost any digital format you can want. I’ve been working on and finishing and polishing and editing and submitting the thing since I started it at a novel-writing workshop in 1998! And at last, at last, it’s out there in a public form. (With its own ISBN and everything!)

Here’s the synopsis:

If we suppress the impulses that inspire religious terrorism, do we also eliminate the spiritual impulses that lead to transcendent acts? Do they stem from the same source in the human soul, intertwining like the helix of our DNA, condemning us to an endless, deadly either/or choice?

Helix puts those questions to Peter Stewart, after the apparent suicide of his twin brother Jon. A century after the world was shaken by global religious wars, a United Nations government has brought peace by taking the teaching of religion out of the hands of families and spiritual institutions, controlling the doctrines taught in school, and not allowing children to declare or practise a religious preference until age 18. But Peter senses that the new peace stems from a deadness of spirit that has infected society, and he finds no inner resources to help him grapple with his twin’s death.

Only when he discovers a “religious underground,” fighting to bring freedom of religion back to the world, does his own spirit seem to revive. But behind this movement looms the prospect of reintroducing the freedom to attack others in the name of one’s own spiritual beliefs. Peter’s exploration of censored history and his struggle with this either/or problem interweave with his ambivalence about the dangerous project of the religious underground throughout the novel.

I thought I was excited two weeks ago, when I actually got my first very own ISBN. Or last Saturday, when I finally finished the very exacting formatting that Smashwords requires. But when my friend Kevin did the cover today, meaning I could finally, finally upload it — oh boy. Unbelievable feeling.

So there it is. My baby.


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