Review Shorts: All About Love and How to Be a Woman

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Every once in a while there’s a book you read and no matter how much you might love it, it’s just hard to find enough to say about it to write a full review. Therefore, I’ve been toying with the idea of a “Review Shorts” category for a long time. The idea is to combine reviews of one or two books that would otherwise be really short posts on their own. I’m thinking I’d like a somewhat more clever title for this category, but I haven’t come up with anything better yet. (If you have any suggestions feel free to share in the comments!)

My first Review Shorts post includes the two most recent reading selections for Our Shared Shelf. For those of you who may not know, this is the book club Emma Watson started at the beginning of the year. So far I’ve really been enjoying the opportunity to discover new books and read things I may not have chosen on my own.

All About Love: New Visions by bell hooks

All About LoveTitle: All About Love: New Visions
Author: bell hooks
Publication Date: December 22, 1999
Format: Paperback
Rating: 4.25 stars

All About Love offers radical new ways to think about love by showing its interconnectedness in our private and public lives. In eleven concise chapters, hooks explains how our everyday notions of what it means to give and receive love often fail us, and how these ideals are established in early childhood. She offers a rethinking of self-love (without narcissism) that will bring peace and compassion to our personal and professional lives, and asserts the place of love to end struggles between individuals, in communities, and among societies. Moving from the cultural to the intimate, hooks notes the ties between love and loss and challenges the prevailing notion that romantic love is the most important love of all. (Goodreads)

This book was the March selection for Our Shared Shelf. Though I am familiar with bell hooks, I’ve never had a chance to read anything she has published. Also, this book just sounded interesting, so I was really excited to read it.

I really enjoyed hooks’ simple and straightforward writing style. This book ended up being a fairly quick read and one that I can already tell may become one of those that I read and reread over the years, taking something new away from it every time I read it. While I was reading it through I always had a pen and highlighter near me because there were frequently passages that I wanted to mark.

As hooks points out, a lot of the popular books on relationships and dating tend to be written by men, and from a male perspective. Books like Steve Harvey’s Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man and the popular Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus by John Gray, give women advice on relationships but also subtly promote gender roles.

I really enjoyed this book and think it may be my favorite selection for the book club so far.

How to Be a Woman by Caitlyn Moran

How to be a Woman

Title: How to Be a Woman
Author: Caitlyn Moran
Publication Date: January 1, 2011
Format: Paperback
Rating: 3 stars

Though they have the vote and the Pill and haven’t been burned as witches since 1727, life isn’t exactly a stroll down the catwalk for modern women. They are beset by uncertainties and questions: Why are they supposed to get Brazilians? Why do bras hurt? Why the incessant talk about babies? And do men secretly hate them? Caitlin Moran interweaves provocative observations on women’s lives with laugh-out-loud funny scenes from her own, from adolescence to her development as a writer, wife, and mother. (Goodreads)

How to Be a Woman was the April selection for Our Shared Shelf, and it’s the first one that I’ve actually managed to read during the month of it’s selection. I was really looking forward to this book, as it seemed like it would be a fun and interesting read but I ended up having really mixed feelings about it by the time I was finished.

Each chapter of How to Be a Woman is broken up into something Moran learns about being a woman at various stages in her life, beginning with her young teenaged days. Each chapter starts with an anecdote from Moran’s life, then goes on to take what she learns from that incident and apply it to women (and being a woman) in general.

Moran’s style is bold, honest, straightforward and humorous. She pulls no punches and says exactly what she thinks. At times this makes for some great humor – more than once she had me actually laughing out loud – but occasionally some of the things she said could be a little bit of a turn off. Sometimes it was just cultural differences in humor (she could often be very brash and blunt) and other times it was just that I completely disagreed with her.

I wouldn’t discourage anyone from reading this book, because it is humorous and Moran does make a lot of good points. Just don’t be surprised if you discover some of her comments to be slightly offensive or controversial. It was interesting, and I’m glad I read it but I just didn’t love it.

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