Women Unbound Challenge (November 2009 – November 2010)

For this challenge, participants are encouraged to read nonfiction and fiction books related to the rather broad idea of “women’s studies.”  According to Merriam-Webster, this is defined as “the multidisciplinary study of the social status and societal contributions of women and the relationship between power and gender.”  Ooh la la, this is right up my street!
Details, including challenge rules, are posted here on a beautifully-designed challenge blog.  There are three levels of participation:

  • Philogynist: read at least two books, including at least one nonfiction one.
  • Bluestocking: read at least five books, including at least two nonfiction ones.
  • Suffragist: read at least eight books, including at least three nonfiction ones.

Eligible fiction books should take “a thoughtful look at the place of women in society.” Right — I have about 100 Virago Modern Classics that I haven’t read yet (and I’m still collecting!).  So this challenge is a nice overlap with my perpetual Virago challenge.  The non-fiction category includes “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.).”  I have been reading far less non-fiction lately so while this initially sounded more difficult, as I wrote this I realized I had qualifying books already sitting right on my shelves!

So, I’ll join the Suffragists.  Here’s my list, which is most definitely subject to change (links to reviews included as books are completed):


  1. The Sugar House, by Antonia White (review)
  2. The Judge, by Rebecca West (review)
  3. Crossriggs, by Jane & Mary Findlater (review)
  4. My Brilliant Career, by Miles Franklin (review)
  5. Mary Olivier: A Life, by May Sinclair (review)


  1. Eleanor of Aquitaine, by Alison Weir  (review)
  2. A History of Their Own: Women in Europe from Prehistory to the Present Vol. I, by Bonnie S. Anderson & Judith P. Zinsser (review)
  3. When Everything Changed, by Gail Collins (review)

Extra Credit (books I’ve read that weren’t on my “official” list, but are great for this challenge)

  1. A Woman, by Sibilla Aleramo (review)