Like I said I am starting as a Philogynist in the Women Unbound challenge.  That means I need to read at least two books, including (again at least) one nonfiction one. What exactly is the purpose of this challenge?

Participants are encouraged to read nonfiction and fiction books related to the rather broad idea of ‘women’s studies.’ [..]

For nonfiction, this would include books on feminism, history books focused on women, biographies of women, memoirs (or travelogues) by women, essays by women and cultural books focused on women (body image, motherhood, etc.). [..]

It’s trickier to say what is applicable as fiction. Obviously, any classic fiction written by a feminist is applicable. But where do we go from there? To speak generally, if the book takes a thoughtful look at the place of women in society, it will probably count. At the end of the day, it’s up to you to explain in your review why you chose this for the challenge and its connection to women’s studies.

For now, my books for this challenge are:

  • The Old Capital by Yasunari Kawabata (read in November),
  • Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (autobiographical graphic novel),
  • The Pillow Book by Sei Shōnagon, a book of observations and musings recorded during her time as court lady to Empress Teishi (my nonfiction entry for this challenge).

The Old Capital & The Pillow Book are both written by Japanese authors, so it will be interesting to look for differences and similarities in Kawabata’s male, and Shōnagon’s female view on the role of women in Japanese society. Of course the social strata in these books are very different: Chieko the merchant’s daughter in The Old Capital vs. a court lady in The Pillow Book. Well, at least I hope there will have been progress in almost a 1000 years from the year 990 (Heian Period) and the 1960’s… Let’s read and see!