The Heroine’s Bookshelf by Erin Blakemore

I have a delightful little book to share with you today! I mightily enjoyed Erin Blakemore’s The Heroine’s Bookshelf: Life Lessons, from Jane Austen to Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Blakemore’s message is this: we are all heroines in our daily lives, or at least we can and should be; and we have a wealth of heroines to learn from. These are the women of our favorite books. She organizes her book by chapters which each deal with one lesson or attribute (including dignity, happiness, and simplicity), represented by one author (all are women) and one female character, from one book or series. I would love to list them all here for you but feel I should leave you something to discover when (not if!) you pick this book up yourself; so I shall tease you with Alice Walker and Margaret Mitchell, on top of the two authors Blakemore names in her subtitle.

It’s a very sweet, comforting, and comfortable little book. Twelve chapters explore twelve women’s literary impact on our world. Eleven of them I definitely call classics; one I’d never heard of! but of course I don’t know everything. Blakemore’s approach is intimate and loving and a touch incisive. It’s not an academic or intellectual book, but it’s not what you might call “fluffy”, either. She did do some research, I’m sure, as she discusses not only what’s between the pages of the books in question, but also notes biographical details about the authors and draws some conclusions. For instance, I didn’t know about the 2008 revelation by the descendants of Lucy Maud Montgomery about her death. This book is not too serious – a light read – but an important one, at the same time.

I am absolutely inspired to read, and re-read, the books examined here. I share Blakemore’s love for Jo March, and I wonder at her selection of Jane Eyre over Wuthering Heights, but we’re all unique, individual heroines, aren’t we. I marvel at her call to compare Frances Hodgson Burnett to Britney Spears and Amy Winehouse! but I admire her for it, too. Again, the adjectives that come to mind are comfortable, almost warm-n-fuzzy.

I need to own this book; the library’s copy will not suffice. And I think YOU should own it, too. Who am I talking to here? Well, I readily accept that many of these books are “girls’ books” (or women’s). But some are absolutely essential to us all: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, for example, is an important book all around. This book is directed at women, but is not necessarily to be enjoyed by them exclusively. I’m sure you know who you are.

I can almost see a book club (or reading blog) project coming out of this. I would be very happy to shelve this book, in my home library, next to its twelve objects of study, and read them all in a streak of thirteen, with a mind to discussion. This would be a lovely thing to share with other women – and a willing man or two if they could be located. I don’t have the energy to put this together at this time, but do invite me if you decide to. 🙂

I’m so glad I found this little jewel. I hope you’ll find it, and enjoy it, too.

Edit: My mother asked who this author is, and I had to go looking for the answer, so here it is, Mom: she calls herself “a writer, entrepreneur, and inveterate bookworm” on her website, and I was immediately drawn in to her blog and have added it to the list of blogs I follow.

9 Responses

  1. […] The Heroine's Bookshelf by Erin Blakemore « Pagesofjulia's Blog I mightily enjoyed Erin Blakemore's The Heroine's Bookshelf Life Lessons, from Jane Austen to Laura Ingalls Wilder. Blakemore's message is this: we are all heroines in our daily lives, or at least we can and should be; and we have a . […]

  2. […] Heroine’s Bookshelf, Erin Blakemore. Nonfiction. Blakemore praises 12 classic works by and about women, and discusses their impact on our lives as women today. A celebration of the literature of Austen, Alice Walker, Louisa May Alcott, and more. […]

  3. […] Also, as a librarian, part of my life’s work seems to be providing other people with reading material. I work in a library that runs a paperback collection off donations; I’m always happy to put books into this collection, and really, a “light read” of genre fiction may as well go back into circulation as languish on my shelf never to be reread. Also as a librarian, I’m hyper-aware and extremely appreciative of the prospect of a free and unlimited supply of books to read. Even with all the money in the world, I wouldn’t buy every book I’m interested in reading; if it turns out to be a dud (and some do!), I don’t want it living with me afterwards! But with all the money in the world, I would be likely to buy some of the best books I’ve read from the library that turn out to be excellent. (Most recently, that would be Fire Season and The Heroine’s Bookshelf.) […]

  4. […] the King, Julie Macintosh The Devil in the White City, Erik Larson Fire Season, Philip Connors Heroine’s Bookshelf, Erin Blakemore Iphigenia in Forest Hills, Janet Malcolm Mr. Playboy, Steven Watts And also […]

  5. […] hosted by The Heroine’s Bookshelf blog. The Heroine’s Bookshelf book, which I read (and reviewed) earlier this year, had already prompted an interest in a reread of this book; I read it when I was […]

  6. […] The Heroine’s Bookshelf, Erin Blakemore. Nonfiction. […]

  7. […] guest hosting over there. In the first such episode, I interview Erin Blakemore, author of The Heroine’s Bookshelf which you know I loved. Don’t forget to check out her website here. And now the […]

  8. […] came highly recommended from Erin Blakemore of The Heroine’s Bookshelf (my review of her book here; my interview of Erin here). As that single volume runs nearly 1200 pages, I thought you might […]

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