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Tag Archives: books

Jane Austen’s Principles of Good Conversation

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Jane Austen as painted by her sister, Cassandra

Jane Austen as painted by her sister, Cassandra

In the novels of Jane Austen, being able to carry on a pleasant conversation is a mark of a virtuous character. (Although not a sufficient one—the villainous Misters Willoughby and Wickham are enchanting conversationalists.) But most of the best conversations in her novels—and in our own, twenty-first century lives—assume the same six principles, all of which stem from intelligence and thoughtfulness. By following these principles we not only make conversations more enjoyable, we can also become better, wiser people. Read the rest of this entry

Twelve Months to a Better Woman: A Month of Self-Giving

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givingI spent January thinking about taking care of myself and February rediscovering who I am. I’m ready to turn my attention away from myself and toward others.  It’s all part of my Twelve Months to a Better Woman project.

In my experience, generosity isn’t nearly so hard as knowing when, where, and what to give. I’m often willing to share my time, resources, or wisdom, but if others don’t need what I have to offer, I’m not really giving them a gift at all. So this month I’ll focus as much on on seeing others’ true needs as on meeting them with a positive attitude and open heart.

You can look forward to posts about giving yourself to your partner, different ways to make giving a habit, and people who have found their own unique ways to give to others. Read the rest of this entry

Zombies, Hope, and Living with Depression

Death and the Maiden by Adolf HeringI recently finished reading Warm Bodies, the 2011 “zombie romance” novel that inspired the recent number one box office hit.

R, the first-person narrator and protagonist, is one of the Dead, victim of a mysterious curse plaguing most of the world. He’s happy with his brain-and-essence-eating self until he meets and rescues Julie, a rosy-eyed, Living human. Their budding friendship—and romance—slowly returns R’s desire to live, his conscience, and his empathy. Other zombies take notice, wondering whether the same can happen to them, too.

Great literature it is not. But this story about the things that separate the dead from the living did have something to teach me about myself, my life, and my depression. Read the rest of this entry

Winner of the Bringing Up Bébé Giveaway

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Last week, I wrote about Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman, a heartfelt memoir about the experiences of an American parent raising her children in France. I was deeply touched by the story and I wanted to share that vision of parenting with others, too.

That’s why I’m happy to announce that Lady of Quality is the winner of our competition. Send me an e-mail to claim your copy.

Read more about Bringing Up Bébé…

Lessons in Wifery from Anna Karenina

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The Unequal Marriage by Vasili PukirevLeo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina famously begins, “Happy families are all alike. Every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Tolstoy weaves together the storyline of one happy family and one unhappy family through the protagonists Constantine Levine and Anna Karenina. Through Levine (and his eventual wife Kitty) and Anna, Tolstoy shows us what love can add to—and take away from—an ordinary, human life. And through both Kitty and Anna, we see how each choice a woman makes leads to her eventual happiness or downfall. Read the rest of this entry

Experimental Wifery’s Guide to Gifts for the Women on Your List

Buying something for everyone on your list is easy. But buying something truly thoughtful, something the women on your list will cherish and use?–that’s tricky. Experimental Wifery brings you a list of gift ideas for the women in your lives who are trying to be better women and wives. Read the rest of this entry

10 Great Books for Girls Written During Their Lifetimes

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I’m too young to have adolescent or teenage girls, but I do teach them. And I know that, for some of them, a “classic” book is just too old to be appealing. Just because they won’t pick up Little Women or The Secret Garden doesn’t mean they have to miss out on beautiful, well-written, and affirmational books. These ten great novels written during the last ten years are timeless stories for you and your daughter to enjoy together. Read the rest of this entry

Lessons in Wifery from The Age of Innocence

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Newland Archer is proud of his beautiful, accomplished fiancée—at least until he meets the notorious and exciting Countess Ellen Olenska. After he convinces her not to divorce her husband for propriety’s sake, Newland and Ellen fall deeply in love with each other. As they contemplate an affair, they struggle to reconcile their feelings with the expectations of the deeply conservative society of New York during the Gilded Age.

The Age of Innocence is a novel about the conflict between love and duty—and what we lose when we have to choose. Her realistic portrayal of upper class life during the 1870s won author Edith Wharton the first Pulitzer Prize ever awarded to a woman. And that same realistic portrayal teaches us valuable lessons about what it is to be a wife in any age. Read the rest of this entry

What It Means to Be a Woman: Teenage Girls and Role Models

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I teach ninth- and tenth-grade English class at the Brookewood School. For the final project, I asked each girl to define for herself what is it to be a woman and design a website to share her ideas with the world. While I’m proud of each and every site I’m blown away with the realization they all reached: a woman cannot be a better woman and wife by herself. We need to look for role models to become good women. And the girls came up with some ingenious places to look.
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The Best Kind of Friend: Aristotle on Friendship

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Being a woman can be a lonely business. Young women have to strike out on their own and make lives for themselves—often far from home. Most moms must make the painful choice between missing their children from work or missing adult companionship while home with their kids. Older women cope with many different kinds of loss when their children move away from home or a spouse or beloved friend dies.

Friendship is what carries most women through these difficult transitions in their lives. In fact, the great philosopher Aristotle describes friendship as “most necessary with a view to living.” Read the rest of this entry