Considering pretty much everyone has handled a book at least once, it’s funny that most of us aren’t fully versed in the names for their various parts. While you can probably confidently point out a cover or a page, did you know there’s a word for the blank space between pages? What do you call that doodle on a book’s spine? And how does a book have a spine, anyway? Today we get an lesson on the anatomy of books…
Do you have other words about books to share? Let me know in the comments. Find out more about the history of these words here.
From the start, women writers have had to endure an unending slew of sexist attitudes and commentary. Pick a writer and she’ll tell you about comments claiming women aren’t serious writers, that they don’t write “important” works, and aren’t worthy of awards or acclaim. Women writers can tell you about how there is a constant assumption that they must write romance or “chick lit,” that they don’t write anything a man would want to read, that they can’t write certain genres, or that women’s fiction is fluffy and sentimental. We can tell you about how we’re questioned in a way male authors never are about work-life balance, how we can possibly work and take care of our children and homes and partners. The list goes on. And when we dare complain about any of it, we’re accused of being “whiny” and “privileged.”
Sci-fi author Gérard Klein about Ursula K. Le Guin: ” … her art is the product of ‘a happily resolved childhood, an active feminine genitality, and her intellectual indebtedness to her historian husband.'”
Audience member at a reading, to Julia Fierro: “Who is taking care of your children?”
A reader, commenting about The Gospel of Loki by Joanne Harris: “The novel is ‘capitalising on the fandom of Tom Hiddleston.'”
Author David Gilmour, on not teaching women authors in his class at the University of Toronto: “I’m not interested in teaching books by women. Virginia Woolf is the only writer that interests me as a woman writer, so I do teach one of her short stories. But once again, when I was given this job I said I would only teach the people that I truly, truly love. Unfortunately, none of those happen to be Chinese, or women.”
Author V.S. Naipaul about Diana Athill: “I read a piece of writing and within a paragraph or two I know whether it is by a woman or not… My publisher, who was so good as a taster and editor, when she became a writer, lo and behold, it was all this feminine tosh. I don’t mean this in any unkind way.”
Interviewer to Victoria A. Brownworth: “I don’t think women should be writing about this kind of violence.”
A lecture attendee to Joanne Freeman: “How does your husband handle your wit?”
A one-time boss of hers, about Clarice Lispector: “She was ‘a smart girl, an excellent reporter, and, in contrast to almost all women, actually knows how to write.'”
Random people, to Lis Harris: “Oh, you’re a serious writer? But you’re so pretty!”
N.S. Willis, to his sister, Fanny Fern: “[…he stated that] her writing was ‘too vulgar’ and she should continue with her needlework instead.”
To these I’ll add a quote from Charlotte Brontë, which she wrote in response to harsh reviews. This is (or should be) the unofficial motto of women writers everywhere:
“It would take a great deal to crush me.”
The problem of sexism in publishing is improving–the fact that it’s finally being acknowledged is an important first step. Will it be solved anytime soon? As with other forms of inequality, probably not in my lifetime (although I live in hope). But there are things everyone can do to help get us there:
Read books by women (fiction, nonfiction, poetry, comic books, essays, articles…)
Review books by women (whether on a book site, store site, social media, or your own blog)
Buy books by women (let publishers know what you want to read)
If you want to start right now, you can download my free story Blood Magic. One reviewer wrote about it: “A sign of the times, this short story should be folded up, put inside an envelope, and slid inside the goody bags ready for the male attendees of the next Golden Globe Awards.”
Happy International Women’s Day. Show your support by reading more women.
It’s time for another book tag post! I snagged this one from Dreamland Book Blog. Feel free to give your own answers in the comments. Or, if you decide to post it on your own page, share the link 🙂
1. Find a book for each of your initials.
I haven’t read American Gods yet, but I did read Anansi Boys, which is its sequel. I probably should have used that one instead. Either way, I like the trifecta of gods, vampires, and werewolves.
A: American Gods by Neil Gaiman
S: ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King
B: Bitten by Kelley Armstrong
2. Count your age along your bookshelf: What book is it?
One of my favourites: Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende.
3. Pick a book set in your city/country.
Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood. Not only is it set in my city, but part of it is set close to my neighbourhood.
4. Pick a book that represents a destination you’d love to travel to.
I’m going to have to give two answers for this one. First, a fictional place:
Who wouldn’t want to go to Hogwarts, Hogsmeade, Diagon Alley, and the Burrow? Some of the other wizard places are also intriguing, although definitely not Azkaban.
And secondly, a real place:
Florence, Italy (and Tuscany in general, of which Florence is the capital). Museums, art galleries, cathedrals, history, great food, and beautiful views. I’m kind of wondering why I’m not already there.
5. Pick a book that’s your favourite colour.
Sadly, the cover of my copy of H.G. Wells’s War of the Worlds isn’t this beautifully designed (credit to Kjell Roger Ringstad), but it is red.
6. Which book do you have the fondest memories of?
I had very fond memories indeed of all of Gordon Korman’s books–until I recently re-read them. Most of them don’t stand up. But No Coins Please, the story of an 11-year-old con artist, is still funny. If you can find a copy, I recommend it.
7. Which book did you have the most difficulty reading?
I’m having the worst time getting through a biography of Vladimir Nabokov (I have to read it a few paragraphs at a time in between other books–it’s dry, dense, and long, but at this point I’m too invested to give up). As for fiction, I found James Joyce’s Ulysses tough (I did finish it, though).
8. Which book in your TBR pile will give you the biggest accomplishment when you finish it?
Well, it was Ulysses. I would love to read Shakespeare’s complete works. Or classical lit, like Homer and Sophocles. Guess I’d better get started on that…
I hope you enjoyed this post. What would some of your answers be? Have you read any of these books? If so, what did you think of them? Tell me in the comments…
If I weren’t involved with books or publishing, I’d be a decorator/interior designer (not sure I have the artistic skills for it, but I would try). I love putting a room together and my tastes are highly eclectic–everything from Gothic Revival and Art Nouveau to Amélie’s apartment and the Gryffindor common room. I’m drawn to spaces that are comfortable, warm, colourful, and with some whimsy. In my own home, most rooms need to include books too. Minimalism? No thanks. (The only books for my donate pile are the ones that tell me to get rid of my other books.)
I thought I’d share some pictures of home libraries I find inspiring. I don’t own any of these photos–I saved them all from Pinterest (follow me). If you see your photo here and would like me to credit or remove it, please let me know.
I love the cozy feel of Vita Sackville-West’s library. And you can never go wrong with a tower.
Bookcase art, flowers, and comfy couch inspiration here:
Floor-to-ceiling books and an old-fashioned library ladder–these are my goals. The arched doorway is a nice touch.
So many books…
This is just the definition of cozy. I would never leave.
Happy colours, orchids, and built-in shelves. I’m not a fan of the books being used to prop up the coffee table, though.
Based on the way the shelves are set up, this is probably a bookstore, but I don’t care. I would love a room packed with shelves and featuring a window seat. Great floor too.
This is the perfect reading spot: plenty of books, a comfortable window seat, and a table for working.
Cozy and comfortable.
Everything about this. I need to get a blanket like that for my boring grey couch.
For those of us who can’t afford a Parisian apartment like this one, the look could probably be emulated with wallpaper, paint, and similar furniture. And a whole lot of books ❤
What do you think–do any of these appeal to you? What do you look for in a home library? Minimalism or maximalism? Share in the comments…