Congratulations to readers Leslie, Sarah, Kay, and Leire! Each of them have won a copy of Erin Blakemore’s The Heroine’s Bookshelf: Life Lessions, From Jane Austen to Laura Ingalls Wilder our November Book of the Month! I, like some literary nerds, love reading books about other books. I love me some academic “lit crit” just like a mathematician may read the latest in complex equations. While reading the ‘Introduction’ of Erin Blakemore’s The Heroine’s Bookshelf, I wasn’t sure if I could really appreciate the short, personal essays on authors and their most famous characters, in light of reading and writing more formal pieces on books. However, it wasn’t far into the book that set formal traditions aside and immersed myself in the lives of amazing writers and characters.
While I read it from beginning to end, this book is best read in no particular order, but according to your mood. Feeling like you need to smile? Go straight to the chapter on “Happiness,” and read all about the positivity of Anne of Green Gables. Had a disagreement with a parent? Seek out the “Family Ties” chapter for advice from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. But even if you’re just looking for a good read, read this at your leisure. It has many functions, and what it does best is draw the reader into a community of amazing women who wrote amazing characters.
What I enjoyed most in reading Heroine’s was learning about the authors’ lives in relation to their most famous heroines. In most literary criticism, blending the author and character together is a big ‘no-no,’ but the audience here is intended to be women like you and I who love being inspired by role models, not academics searching for a new theory. While I never even read some of the mentioned novels, (though now I’ve got The Color Purple and Claudine novels on my list) I was enthralled by both the authors and their respective characters intense and often difficult experiences. Blakemore’s informal critiques of Austen’s Liz Bennet, Montgomery’s Anne Shirley, Alcott’s Jo March, and more, bring the reader closer to these fictional woman and their real authors.
This book freely celebrates the love of reading with no pretensions. It’s a book about books, but the sake of it, and it definitely succeeds.
Pick up your own copy in our bookstore, or become our friend on GoodReads! Don’t know about GoodReads? It’s a social networking site that allows book lovers to share their favorite finds, and the place to enter our Book of the Month contest. So, tell us — if you haven’t already on GoodReads — who’s your favorite literary heroine?