Book review: My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem

Just finished reading My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem at 70-something. A beautiful testament to her life – from her difficult childhood with a loving but somewhat looney, itinerant father and her lost-soul mother, to her many, many years traveling around the world writing for major outlets and organizing people in pursuit of women’s equality and reproductive freedom.

Beautiful stories of people she met, some of whom she developed very close relationships with, from the amazing Native woman who brought self-reliance and independence back to so many Native tribes that had lost their way, to the cab drivers and poor people and famous people and powerful people – including the then-pope – whose lives intersected with hers in some way, she gives the facts and reflects on their meanings in simple, fluid prose.

Another woman who fights for women's equality

Another woman who fights for women’s equality

My favorite parts are the ones where she speaks gently of her longing for a home when she was little and speaks tenderly about so many of the people she’s met and/or worked with. She has a clear eye and an open heart, and her book lets you know her in a way you never could from reading many of the often-harsh news stories about her battle for feminism and her long struggles to help make Ms. Magazine a force for good.

The book is a reflection on how a single courageous soul can create profound change by listening to people.

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Quicky novel review: One single woman's funny story

It’s a novel, but it has the ring of truth to it–Life’s A Beach, by Claire Cook, bestselling author of Must Love Dogs. Truly funny and entertaining story of woman who is single again at 41 and living above her parents ‘ garage and trying to be an artist and figure out what she wants to do with her life. Depictions of her relationships with her parents, sister and boyfriend are wonderful. Seems she’s always keeping “one foot out the door.”

In a revealing argument with the boyfriend-she-can’t-seem-to-get-settled-with, they appear to be discovering their true feelings about the other’s choice of pets–but are really commenting on each other’s attitudes about their relationship:

“Cats, ” he said slowly and clearly, ” are for people who don’t really want to go out of their way. They’re as close as you can get to not having a pet. ” “Oh, okay ,” she counters, “Dogs, dogs are as close you can get to having a person in your life without really having one.”

This is just one of the many books we list and review for you on our website. We’re building a nice reading list–check out some other book and movie reviews.

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Book review: "Eat. Pray. Love"…and while you're at it laugh

What a story. Gripping true-life story of a woman finding her way out of realizing she doesn’t want a child, then her marriage, then the profound depression she finds herself in. Elizabeth Barrett is a writer (for GQ), and she really knows how to bring you into the story–hook, line, and laughter.

After all this misery the newly single author decides to “find herself” by taking a year off from her job and traveling to three places she’s always wanted to visit: Italy, India, and Indonesia (Bali). Okay, I grant you this is probably not something most of us could easily pull off. But she’s a writer and her editor decides to pay her for this trip if she’ll write a book about it. Whew, what a dream, eh?

Anyway, she eats her way through Italy, practices deep self-discipline in an ashram in India, and learns balance—and falls in love—in Bali. If this type of scenario appeals to you I guarantee you, you will laugh, cry, nod, laugh, and cry some more.

I turned more page corners down in this book than I have in a long time. Here’s is one particularly poignant passage:

“To create a family with a spouse is one of the most fundamental ways a person can find continuity and meaning in American (or any) society. … First you are a child, then you are a teenager, young person, married,parent, retired grandparent. At everry stage you know who you are, you know what your duty is, and you know where to sit at the family reunion” As you sit in the shade watching your progeny, the question “who are you?” is clearly answered–You’re the person who created all this. The satisfaction of this knowledge is immediate, and moreover, it’s universally recognized. “But what if, either by choice or by reluctant necessity, you end up not participating in this comforting cycle…? …You need to find another purpose, another measure by which to judge whether or not you’ve been a successfull human being.”

She says Viriginia Woolf noted that women’s lives have the shadow of a sword across them. On one side is conventionality, on the other confusion. Woolf argues that crossing over to the other side may bring a far more interesting existence to a woman, but it will certainly be a more perilous journey.

What a perfect description for many a single working woman’s life–not easy, definitely not conventional, and often not very comfortable. Remember the line from the movie When Harry Met Sally, when Sally’s best friend lays her head on her fiance’s chest after witnessing Harry and Sally fighting and says, “Promise I’ll never have to be ‘out there’ again.”

Congratulations to all of us single working women for our courage and creativity in passionately living life on the other side of the sword.

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