Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tuesday Review: Strong Women


To spare you from yet another YA novel--I'll save that for next week--I read something a little different, just to reassure you all that I'm capable of reviewing books that don't feature teenagers and some paranormal creatures. (Again, I'm saving that for next week.)

Another type of book I'm fascinated with are books about other cultures, mostly Asian or Muslim settings. All that family and duty and rules.

THE BUDDHA IN THE ATTIC by Julie Otsuka is a book about the Japanese immigrants in America in the 1920s to 1940s. It's broken into eight sections, talking about the women immigrating to America to become wives to men here. It talks about their lives in America, the children they bear, and the terrible hardscrabble lives they lead in the land of opportunity and how they are treated by their husbands as well as Americans who treat them like vermin. The final section is about the Japanese being moved to confinement camps during World War II.

So it's a cheerful book.

Well, yes, it's painful in parts, but yet, it's interesting how these women make the best of their lives, the friendships they make, their strength and their survival. Maybe that's why I read these books about other cultures, to read about the strength of women and how they prevail in strict circumstances.

What books do you like read when you don't read romances? Do you still seek out books about strong women? What's your favorite "strong woman" book?

26 comments:

Maureen said...

I read mystery and usually, featuring strong women protagonists. I did read a book a local chaptermate wrote, based on her grandmother's experience as a new bride following her husband to South America as a cattle rancher... She used excerpts from her grandmother's diary...fascinating!

Years ago, I read a fictional account of the life of President Jackson's wife...that was impressive. Strong woman? No shit.

quantum said...

Some years ago I remember visiting some old friends who had just returned from Japan, where their son had married a Japanese. They were amazed at the way their son was treated. "she even polishes his shoes!".

I'm sure there must be a down side as well. A book about men finding wives in modern Japan would interest me more. LOL

I read many fiction genres, fantasy being a favourite. Outside my own science specialisation I also occasionally read books about mind, paranormal and healing.

TerriOsburn said...

I don't get to read much at all so my trips outside Romance are few and far between these days. I used to read Literary Fiction (Commercial Fiction?) like DaVinci Code, Beach Music (Conroy), The Secret Life of Bees (LOVE this book & movie), Lovely Bones. You can probably tell by this list when I was reading more.

Now if it's not Romance or a craft book, it's probably memoir or essays. Eat, Pray, Love; Paris In Love; and stuff by Nora Ephron. Oh, and I loved Erma Bombeck. Hilarious and always the brutal truth.

MsHellion said...

Mo, that sounds like the sort of book I need to read for my book!--and yes, I imagine Rachel Jackson had a very tough life. If I remember correctly, she was divorced (all but unheard of at the time) and then married Andrew, and then during his presidential campaign, they attacked her, calling her a whore and whatnot. Awful, evil stuff. Poor woman. She died right after he won the election, or right before...I know it tainted his victory. He hated those people after that. (But then, he didn't like a whole of people to begin with.)

Am I thinking of the right Jackson?

MsHellion said...

Q, I doubt you'd want to read about modern men finding Japanese wives. They're still women; there's still a catch and a downside. *LOL* She may be polishing your shoes, but no telling what else she's doing when you're not watching. *LOL* If you read about it, you'd want the romanticized brochure version, not the reality. *LOL*

Fantasy is good. I've been reading/listening to many science/healing type books, but I'm not sure they're in the same league as what you listen to. I love the Hays House offerings. I think Louise Hays' books are very uplifting and the affirmations are great for repeating and help in keeping an upbeat mood. :) If you have any specific recommendations, I'd love to hear it!

MsHellion said...

Terri, your comments always make me feel guilty, like I should be writing instead of reading as much as I do. *LOL* Then I go back to reading.

I'm fond of memoirs too. I pick up a lot of those when I go to the library. I'm rereading one now (on CD) called THE DIRTY LIFE. I love it. It's really like slipping on another pair of shoes and walking around in a life you would never do in your right mind. *LOL* But you still enjoy going on the journey with this person anyway. You envy them, but at the same time you think, Nope, I could never have done that. *LOL* (That's how I felt about Eat, Pray, Love--pack up and hit three countries? Two of which don't really have running toilets or showers? No. Same with the Dirty Life. I think they use an outhouse. No thanks.)

Marnee Bailey said...

This is not a book I would ever pick up. LOL!!

I can't read stuff that's destined to bum me out. Not these days. Someone wanted me to read that ROOM book, the one where the little boy is trapped in a room with his mom and they can't escape. Um, yeah. No thanks. Stuff about people getting abducted and raped? I'll just pass on that big giant downer.

So, I usually stay with happy stuff. Romance. Even thrillers I know have happy endings.

MsHellion said...

If it's any reassurance, it's only about 100 pages long. *LOL* You can read it in about an hour or two, I think--I think the author tries to balance it a little--but my neurotic brain likes to focus on the Debbie Downer side. Again, I think I was struck by how strong and brave these women were.

I think of these books as palette cleansers. I read a LOT so I can get burnt out on HAPPYHAPPYHAPPY that makes me go, "Yeah, right." So I read one literary fiction (usually a light one, not an Anna Karenina one) and I'm good for another round of HAPPYHAPPYHAPPY.

Wouldn't touch the ROOM book either. Didn't like the movie Panic Room even...

Marnee Bailey said...

I think that ROOM book was inspired by that Fritzl case. You know, the creepy dude who trapped his daughter in a cellar and had babies with her?

Right. No thanks.

Marnee Bailey said...

I killed the blog with this book.

Sorry folks.

quantum said...

If you have any specific recommendations, I'd love to hear it!

A couple of Books on Healing that you might like:

Donna Eden .... 'Energy Medicine' + lots of videos.
This is really a manual for keeping your meridians and chakras tuned up.
Seems to work. I attended a workshop where I was the only male participant. In the practical sessions tracing meridians with a hand a few inches from the body, it felt very strange, but my lady partner said that she definitely felt the energy moving. Most gratifying! LOL

Carolyn Myss .... Numerous videos + e-book 'The Creation of Health'.
Myss is a medical intuitive who can see the energy flows and the constrictions associated with illness. Very impressive

There are various guides to observing auras. In my first attempts I can manage to see a greyish layer surrounding the body. When this turns into a rainbow I will know that I am there!

Colin Ross ..... Human Energy Fields
This is a more scientific analysis of the electromagnetic fields associated with meridians etc. Very good book.

The big challenge for me is to explain the powers of medical intuitives and healers in scientific terms. I am currently exploring the idea that the body is a massive fractal antenna which certain highly gifted people can tune to the electromagnetic emissions from the body.

Well you did ask! LOL

P. Kirby said...

A lot of the stuff I read features female protagonists who are strong in some way. Currently reading Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instrument's which is...okay. It's oddly, bland, but the the female characters are capable enough.

I like to think my taste spans genres, but looking at my Goodreads profile, it's obvious that nearly 90% of what I read has a F/SF/ or Horror element.

For insights into other cultures, I like National Geographic magazine. Great photography and good writing.

Maureen said...

Yup, Hels, right Jackson. It was by Irving Stone and called The President's Lady.

I remember selling a lot of Carolyn Myss when I worked at the metaphysical bookstore... People swore by her methods.

MsHellion said...

Marn, I think we'll return. After our therapy session. Thanks! I wasn't sure what I was going to share this week, now I know it's going to be about claustrophobia. *LOL*

MsHellion said...

Q, I'm intrigued by chakras but have no skill at seeing them. Very impressed you're able to see the gray aura now--I'm sure you'll be seeing it in color soon instead of black and white. :)

At your recommendation (and Mo's), I found some Myss' CDs at my library and will be trying them. They're the sort of thing I've been listening to lately and benefiting from. :)

MsHellion said...

Pat, I commend you--I haven't been able to get into the Clockwork series yet, mostly because of your initial reaction. *LOL* I just haven't found it at the right time, I think.

I will have to flip through more National Geographic. Good call!

TerriOsburn said...

Way to go, Marn. (Actually, I've been working and I had to leave the building...err...ship for a while.

I think Q brought some of this stuff up back when I blogged on Feng Shui. Which I still don't know enough about. Since Kiddo is back and plowing through books, we'll be visiting the library soon. I'll see what they have!

Any of this stuff tell you how to channel your energy/chakras for good?

MsHellion said...

Mo, the book sounds intriguing but I'll have to find it another way. My public library doesn't carry it. (I see he's a writer from a while back.)

Maureen said...

Yup, Irving Stone is an way-back author, who specialized in historical biographies, for lack of a better word. I'll always consider The Agony and The Ecstacy one of the best books I ever read. You might find him in a good used book store.

Wrote a superb book about Charles Darwin and about the wife of Fremont.

Maureen said...

Not that Charles Darwin was involved with Fremont's wife...

Janga said...

I haven't thought about Irving Stone in ages. My mother loved his books, and so I read most of them as a kid. The President's Lady was Mother's favorite, but she also liked Love Is Eternal (Mary Todd and Abraham Lincoln) and Those Who Love (Abigail and John Adams). My favorite was the Jessie Fremont one Maureen mentioned, Immortal Wife.

These days I prefer my historical fiction to cover earlier periods. I enjoyed Anne O'Brien's The King's Concubine, which has several strong women in it. The protagonist, Alice Perrers, fights her way from near nothingness to become one of the most powerful women of the period--and she wasn't a great beauty either. My favorite line in the novel is from Joan of Kent, truly a royal bitch, who says, "“It is important for a woman to have the duplicity to make good use of whatever gifts she might have, however valueless they might seem.”

Also, I'm sure you didn't mean to suggest otherwise, Hellie, but romance has its share of strong heroines. That's one of the things I really liked in Caroline Linden's The Way to a Duke's Heart.

MsHellion said...

Oh, I certainly didn't want to imply that romance didn't have its share of strong women. *LOL* That's the reason so many of us read romances. To read about women like us. *winks*

But romance is central around the love story; and I have a shallow nature and tend to focus more on the hero's story and root for the HEA. The women I admire, but I almost admire the heroes more for being smart enough to love women like that and show it.

This book--and others of its nature--are women centric. It's more about ALL the relationships of the woman and not the love story. I think it's why I was so drawn to the Eloisa James' series because she's always focusing on women's relationships with each other, in the good ways. Barbara O'Neal is excellent at this; and I love Marsha Moyer as we know. But those are the only ones I can really snap off my head. (It's about quality rather than quantity, right? *LOL*)

I have a feeling with Caroline's book I'm going to go shallow and be about the hero. *LOL*

And I totally need to find The King's Concubine. Women thriving in those political intrigue endeavors--more power to them!

Maureen said...

Aha! Another one you might like, Hels. Imperial Woman by Pearl S. Buck. About the last Empress of China.

I was visiting Mom last week and perusing her bookshelves, all books she has and read!

Sin said...

I consume a lot of fan fiction when I'm not reading romance novels. Most of the fan fiction I like to read is adventure. Even better when it's romantic adventure. And of course, everyone knows I love paranormal and urban fantasy novels.

Though, I've still not read Kim Harrison's latest Hollows book even though it came out in February. I've just not been in the mood to be absorbed into someone else's world lately. I consider Rachel Morgan (The Hollows) and her partner, Ivy Tamwood, to be strong "women".

Maureen said...

Goes to show how up on things I am. I didn't realize there was another Hollows book out...

Sin said...

Every February, last Tuesday of the month.