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Your recommendations for 2022
This week, we’re discussing what we plan to read (or wish someone would write). Next week, baby permitting, I’ll share highlights from your discussion of the gift economy and being stewards, not owners.
I shared my reading list for 2022, which has been shaped by writing Other Feminisms and the conversations we’ve had over the past year or so. And I asked you about what you planned to read this year or what books you wished existed to add to your list.
Claire asked for recommendations:
The topic I wish I could find (or write) a book on would be what I think of as “mother media”—where does it come from, who writes it, who funds it, who consumes it, how has it shifted? I’m thinking of everything here from generalist sites like Romper and Scary Mommy to niche-r sites like Working Mother and Screen Free Parenting to mother and mother-adjacent essays in publications like NYT Magazine to mom-related social media.
I don’t have a book to offer, but Mothers Under the Influence is a substack run by Kathryn Jezer-Morton, who is working on a dissertation in this area. It’s also a running theme in Meg Conley’s Home Culture newsletter.
Magdalen asked for books on marriage:
As in, marriage preparation, how to be a good spouse, etc. I'm definitely open to books on this topic from any religion (though maybe not a book about, say, the importance of praying with your spouse)
I did put together a bibliography of the books my now-husband and I read together prior to our engagement, if that’s any help. Of those, the two I’d recommend to the broadest audience would be A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken and the collection compiled by Leon and Amy Kass: Wing to Wing, Oar to Oar.
A Severe Mercy is a memoir of Vanauken’s courtship and his life with his wife. They were the kind of people who took all their philosophy seriously, which meant they had a tendency to ping between different kinds of extremism. That might not sound like you need a hanky close to hand, but you do, trust me.
Wing to Wing is a collection of readings on courtship and marriage, some of which are definitely wrong, which makes it a wonderful book to read with a partner, so you can kibitz over Austen, the Bible, Miss Manners, etc.
And you all had a lot of good reads to recommend! Here’s what I compiled from the comments (with links to people’s longer pitches for the books):
Our Revolution: A Mother and Daughter at Midcentury by Honor Moore (a memoir that was Catherine’s favorite read of 2021)
Women & the Common Life: Love, Marriage, and Feminism by Christopher Lasch (Katy said the essay collection was about “the need for a feminism that opts out of—or at least substantively and powerfully critiques—the capitalist, consumerist, classist economic consensus of educated and privileged America”)
Martha shared several recommendations, and a number of people jumped in to corroborate Braiding Sweetgrass in particular. The book, by Robin Wall Kimmerer, melds her botany expertise and her Potawatomi heritage in a meditation on stewardship and ecology.
And one final 2022 reading list. My husband has written up his, and he’s already one book in (more than I can say for my own list).