The Women Unbound Reading Challenge


November 1, 2009 – November 30, 2010

Eva at A Striped Armchair, Aarti from Booklust, and Care from Care’s Online Book Club are hosting a challenge dedicated to women which has its own challenge site. The  Women Unbound Reading Challenge encourages participants to read nonfiction and fiction books related to the rather broad idea of ‘women’s studies.’ Eva gives a definition of this on the page about the challenge.

There are three levels you can choose as a reader:

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

I’m going to go for reading 8 books (Suffragette). We don’t have to make up a reading list ahead of time, but I thought it would be fun to pull some books from my shelf which seem to fit the theme of this challenge (and I’ll keep adding to this list as I discover more great books).

Non Fiction:

  1. Persepolis AND Persepolis 2, by Marjane Satrapi(92 graphic memoirs about Satrapi’s life growing up during the Islamic Revolution in Iran) – COMPLETED December 28, 2009; rated 4/5 and 4.5/5; read my review of Persepolis; read my review of Persepolis 2.
  2. I Never Told Anyone: Writings by Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse, edited by Ellen Bass and Louise Thornton (an anthology of women’s writings about their experiences as children of sexual abuse) – COMPLETED March 27, 2010; rated 5/5; read my review.
  3. There is No Me Without You: One Woman’s Odyssey to Rescue Her Country’s Children, by Melissa Fay Greene (the story of Haregewoin Terferra, a middle-class Ethiopian woman who opens her home to AIDS orphans and facilitates adoptions to homes all over the world) – COMPLETED June 9, 2010; rated 4/5; read my review.
  4. The Blue Sweater, by Jacqueline Novogratz (memoir following the  journey of the author through Africa, India and Pakistan and ultimately creating a mulit-million dollar organization to bridge the gap between global poverty and wealth) – COMPLETED July 17, 2010; rated 5/5; read my review.
  5. Hiroshima in the Morning, by Rahna Reiko Rizzuto (memoir about the author’s experience during a 6 month research trip to Hiroshima – explores the role of women as mothers and wives, and identity) – COMPLETED October 5, 2010; rated 5/5; read my review.


  1. The Passport, by Herta Muller (winner of the 2009 Nobel Prize for Literature; novella about the plight of people living in Romania under the dictatorship of Ceausescu; one theme is the debasement of women) – COMPLETED November 24, 2009; rated 5/5; read my review.
  2. Kristin Lavransdatter, by Sigrid Undset – (A novel about the life of a Norwegian woman – from childhood into adulthood – living in the 14th century. Undset is the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.) – COMPLETED December 20, 2009; rated 4.5/5; read my review of The Wreath, The Wife, and The Cross.
  3. Sacred Hearts, by Sarah Dunant – (A novel set in sixteenth century Italy about a young girl forced into convent life against her will) – COMPLETED January 21, 2010; rated 4/5; read my review.
  4. The Children’s Book, by A.S. Byatt – (An historical novel set in the late 19th/early 20th century in England; there is a huge amount of information re: the Women’s Suffrage movement in England and also women’s issues of independence vs. dependence) – COMPLETED March 14, 2010; rated 5/5; read my review.
  5. Impatient With Desire, by Gabrielle Burton – (An historical novel which imagines letters and journals written by Tamsen Donner and re-creates the ill-fated journey of the Donner Party. A book which looks at women as pioneers in American history). – COMPLETED April 10, 2010; rated 4/5; read my review.
  6. My Name is Mary Sutter, by Robin Oliveira – (An historical novel set during the Civil War in the United States which explores the role of women in medicine) – COMPLETED May 19, 2010; rated 4.5/5; read my review.
  7. The Quickening, by Michelle Hoover (An historical novel set in the midwest which explores women’s roles in farming during the early to mid-part of the twentieth century) – COMPLETED June 26, 2010; rated 4/5; read my review.
  8. City of Veils, by Zoe Ferraris – (A mystery-thriller set in Saudi Arabia – themes include women’s rights, the struggle between the modern and traditional cultures of Saudi Arabia, and male/female relationships in an evolving society where traditionally men wield all the power.) – COMPLETED August 24, 2010; rated 4.5/5; read my review.
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  1. Oh my gosh, everyone needs to stop having so many awesome challenges! JK. But seriously, there have been a rash of great challenges cropping up lately and I’ve barely even started the ones I already signed up for! I might do this one too.

    • Eva on October 30, 2009 at 10:36

    Thanks for joining in-your list looks awesome! 🙂 Just to let you know (and I know the original challenge blog wasn’t clear on that, so we’ve made some changes, lol), Aarti of Booklust and Care are co-hosting with me!

    • Eva on October 30, 2009 at 10:48

    Have ‘borrowed’ a couple from your list (There is No Me w/o You and you reminded me I want to read a collection of letters between the Mitfords!). 🙂 Paradise of the Blind is a good choice-it’s really readable, and all about women!

    • Kathy on October 30, 2009 at 10:54

    Good luck with the challenge!

  2. Nice responses to the meme. I’ve picked up Reading Lolita in Tehran a couple of times and put it back. I should pick it up and keep it next time. 😉

  3. I have There is No Me Without You and will be reading it for a forthcoming as of yet unannounced challenge. I”ve heard it’s really excellent.

    • Wendy on October 31, 2009 at 08:31

    Bookshelf Monstrosity: I’ve been trying not to do as many…but I couldn’t resist this one!

    Eva: I’ve “fixed” the mistake…and added Aarti and Care as hosts both here and at A Novel Challenge blog!

    Kathy: Thank you!

    BrownGirl: I’ve had Reading Lolita in Tehran on my shelf for ages…it’s time I actually read it, I think! By the way, love your blog 🙂

    Amy: I really need to make sure I read that book this time…it’s been on my shelf for awhile and has gotten great reviews.

    • Care on October 31, 2009 at 17:32

    oh that one about the Mitfords looks fascinating! I’m so enjoying ll these lists. Reading Lolita in Tehran is a great book.

    • susan on November 2, 2009 at 17:56

    Paradise of the Blind by its premise is similar to In The Time of the Butterflies.
    Nice list.

    • Wendy on November 6, 2009 at 07:52

    Care: I’ve had the Mitford book in my stacks forever! This is the perfect excuse to read it.

    Susan: I haven’t heard of The Time of the Butterflies…will need to check it out.

  4. Looks like a good list! I haven’t read any of those (yet).

  5. I just found the challenge today and I saw you were participating! What a great list of books you have! I have Eudora Welty’s book The Optimists Daughter on my shelf for a while and now you’ve given me a great suggestion for one of the books for the challenge!

    • Wendy on November 9, 2009 at 08:16

    Alison: I’m looking forward to dipping into these books!

    Suzanne: I cannot tell you how long I’ve had Welty’s book in my TBR pile! It is time to read it!! Glad to hear you’ll also be participating.

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