The Best Book I Read This Month: Inferior by Angela Saini

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The best book I read this month was one that got me all riled up. Angela Saini’s Inferior is basically about how science has done women wrong.

For years, I’ve heard stories about how medical science has treated women badly, from doctors who dismiss women’s pain as hysterical to FDA studies that only tested medications on men to the lack of research funding for women’s cancers. I expected to find all of that in this book. I was wrong on that count. Saini addresses some of the above, but her discussion of women’s treatment in medicine forms only a very small part of the book.

Saini explores not only how medical science has dismissed, ignored, and mistreated women, but also how scientists across disciplines—neurology, anthropology, and evolutionary biology, to name a few—aren’t quite sure how to account for women in their research. A number of scientists (mostly men, it seems from Saini’s examples) are hell-bent on finding genetic or biological differences between the sexes. Other scientists (mostly women, judging by Saini’s examples) insist that differences do not exist and that any difference between the sexes is cultural or environmental.

Saini convincingly illustrates the extent to which bias has influenced the methodology and conclusions drawn by researchers into sex differences and women’s roles and the extent to which these researchers have been dismissive of cultural and environmental influences—both on themselves and on their subjects.

As a woman, I am frustrated and upset by Saini’s examples, but as a reader, I am grateful that she makes the science so accessible. Her writing is not drowning in jargon, and when she does use scientific terminology, she explains it in terms that any non-scientist could understand. The book is short (about 185 pages without the endnotes and bibliography) and easy to read but packed with information. It was definitely a good reading choice for Women’s History Month.

Women's History Month: My Favorite (So Far) Women's History Books

March is Women’s History Month. I would love to spend the month posting biographies of my favorite historical women, but alas that will have to wait for a year when I’m not drowning in work. For now, though, here are my favorite history books about women (so far).

By next year, I hope to have even more to add to this list! If you have any recommendations of your own, please share them in Comments. I’m always looking for a good historical read.

The Best Book I Read This Month: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

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The best book I read this month was a fantastic read that swept me away. Katherine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale is lush, lyrical, and Romantic. Not hearts-and-flowers romantic, but Beethoven Romantic. Lord Byron Romantic. Mary Shelley Romantic. Full of emotion and passion and nature and imagination.

Set in the early years of Tsarist Russia (roughly the 1300s), The Bear and the Nightingale tells the story of Vasya, the daughter of a Russian nobleman, in a village on the edge of the wilderness. Vasya is a wild child, headstrong and independent, but devoted to her family and her village. She inherits her mother’s gift—a connection to the spirits that inhabit the land and the home. (Russian folklore says that every house is protected by a hearth spirit called a domovoi.)

Vasya’s personality and gift bring her into conflict with her stepmother, the village priest, and eventually the whole village. She becomes caught up in a struggle between supernatural forces, and it is in this struggle that she encounters the bear and the nightingale.

Arden’s narrative reads very much like a fairy tale, which is fitting because the story she tells is very much of that genre, but it’s not the simplistic fairy tales spun by Disney and company. This tale harkens back to the original Grimm’s tales—dark and earthy and violent.

Vasya’s story continues over two more books, but I don’t know if I’m going to read them. This story felt very full and complete and satisfying, just as it is. The idea of reading more feels like ordering a second dinner while being completely stuffed from the first one.

We Survived!

Thank goodness we all have bubble coats. Here’s Duncan in his.

Thank goodness we all have bubble coats. Here’s Duncan in his.

Polar Vortex 2019 has come and gone, and all I can say is “Good riddance!” I never want to be someplace colder than Antarctica (or Mars!) ever again. It was a very long two days.

But I am happy to report:

  • we bundled up and hunkered down.

  • my furnace worked like a champ.

  • my walls are much better insulated than at my last place.

  • we never lost power.

  • two small dogs on a queen-size bed generate a whole lot of body heat.

Penny spent much of Day 2 turtled inside her coat.

Penny spent much of Day 2 turtled inside her coat.

Except for cabin fever and world-record potty times for the dogs, both days went by pretty much like normal.

Today, we were all itching to get out for a walk, but with temps in the teens, we didn’t get farther than the end of the driveway. But even that felt good after the deep freeze.