Some Things Have Declined….New Moon Bookworming


01/31/2014 by syrbal-labrys

image copyI love to read. And although I do applaud the idea of not cutting trees and going to electronic theory? I love actual books the best and consider a screen; computer, reader or phone completely inadequate. But then, of course, perhaps that is elitist of me and in spite of haughty Apple ads and price tags I am not buying the snob appeal? Books used to be the domain of the very well off, and some of them from that time are most spectacularly beautiful. Like the book at that link with six metal clasps on the cover: it opens six different ways to different volumes! (By the way, I DO want to spell that volumN…it is the first way I was taught to spell the word meaning a book and to differentiate between the word that means “how much of something is in a given space” — volume.) I am told by all American sources (tho’ fuck you Yahoo answers…you just made the point of where YOUR name came from, you illiterate twerps!) that my spelling is “archaic” or “British.” Yes, I prefer colour, as well. No, I am not infected with Downton Abbeyness, thank you. I want to send that white weasel up there on a “shopping” trip to Sweden’s library!

Now that I have exercised my spleen a bit, on to what reading I have accomplished. Last year I got terribly behind at updating my reading efforts and I will try to do it at least twice a month to avoid that. I think at New and Full moons will be good memory markers to set me to my lists and brief reviews and possible snark about my reading. Since last time, I’ve read a mere four books:

#4 “Princesses Behaving Badly” by Linda Rodriguez-McRobbie – This title rather annoyed me; the author seems to say she is writing this to deter little girls wanting the lives of “Disney” princesses by showing what the lives of some actual princesses were like. And yet, to define all these historical women as “behaving badly” kind of defaults back to being defined as behaving “well” only if one IS Disney-esque! So, somehow her own idea came back to bite her in the ass, if you ask me. My favorite is a still politically-incorrect German “punk princess” of a place called Thurn und Taxis, in Bavaria. The penniless princess married into the wildly decadent Thurn & Taxis family and partied hardily through the 80’s. Then her aged husband died and she had death taxes and debt to pay. She got to work with real German efficiency and put the family books back in the black! She isn’t the most correct person, but she is very real and ‘take care of business’…and I don’t think she behaved badly at all. And her family brewery produces my favorite ever RYE beer!

#5 “Salt, Lemons, Vinegar & Baking Soda” by Shea Zukowski (of Rodale Books) – This is a simple reference to some chemical free cleaning solutions for house, garden, and body. I am intending to add these old-style regimens to out new simpler life style as we use up most of the heavy duty cleaners under the sink. And some of these remedies appeared in my next reading venture, too!

#6 “Little Heathens” by Mildred Kalish – My favorite book thus far! I was thoroughly delighted at this look back with a close up lens to my mother’s generation! Mildred was born in the Great Depression and grew up on her Grandfather’s farm(s) in an extended rural family buckling down to survive, pay taxes, and support themselves through the rough times. It is not a grim book, as you might expect — farms that were not lost for taxes and debt were the BEST places to be because they produced almost all their own food. So farmers did not suffer so much as city people did. The things said to this child were said by my own Depression Era mother to me! I did many of the same tasks in the same ways when I lived on a farm that had no plumbing and only an outhouse. Recipes used on that Iowa farm were virtually identical to those I learned as a Midwestern child, and I may have been the last of a generation to take “May Baskets” to neighbors and friends — tho’ mine had only flowers and no home-made sweets such as Mildred’s baskets had. The book is a wonder of description of self-sufficiency in a time with no refrigeration, much less air conditioning!

#7 “4000 Year of Uppity Women” by Vicki Leon – Hmmm, again with a title meant to make someone pick this up and buy it! Like the first book, it is snappily written, and like the first book, a Yule gift to me. But again, I take issue with the title. The historical women of this book were certainly ill-described as “uppity” if you ask me. They were of all classes, not just princesses. Some were declared saints, for pity’s sake —all were matter of fact, get-it-done sorts, even if some were quite literally criminals. It seems sadly the case to me that both women authors defined their ‘badly behaved’ or ‘uppity’ women by the very limited criteria of men with rather stupid limiting ideas about the nature of femininity and womanhood! So while I enjoyed the short word photographs of all these women, I dislike labeling them “uppity” for their strengths at getting through difficult lives. My favorite quote was one from Claude-Jeanne des Armoises, who, when chided for having children out of wedlock replied, “My value is not dependent on virginity.”

And that is it for January!


7 thoughts on “Some Things Have Declined….New Moon Bookworming

  1. julesagray says:

    THANK YOU! I’m gonna buy these tomes this weekend. Anything about the Punk Princess is worth reading.

  2. Some of the feminist tinged work seems to have disappointed you. May I suggest History Matters: Patriarchy and the Challenge of Feminism by Judith M Bennett. I’ve been chewing my way through it and once it gets going, it really rocks the house.

    • I do tend to get cranky when feminists seem to fall for the patriarchal bit themselves! I will make a note of that book for my next semi-binge at B & N. All binges are on short strings presently as I must re-do my kitchen in the next few months; no appliances thank goodness —but cabinet rebuilds, sink and countertops and some other room repair. Broke will be my middle name.

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The name of this blog, and my Dreamwidth blog, Herlander Refugee, is taken from a 1915 feminist novel "Herland". It makes my heart sing that modern women are experimenting with creation of a new "Herland"! Yes, comments are closed. Anyone who just MUST reach me can do so at syrbal6 at gmail dot com.

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