Wouldn’t it be cool if a bunch of us read the same book at the same time and then got together virtually to discuss it? Rather than one of us reading a good book and reviewing it, and the rest of us thinking “hmmm, maybe I should read that book someday,” all of us could read the book and share our thoughts on it. Specifically, I’m thinking of the sort of books that speak to the experiences of women in STEM fields.
I think a book club would be really cool, and I say we should do it. In fact, I’ve already got a book in mind. And I think you’ll like it.
The book I have in mind is “Lifting a ton of feathers: A woman’s guide to surviving in the academic world” by Paula J. Caplan (published in 1993 by the University of Toronto Press).
Here’s what it says in the preface:
“This book is intended to be a handbook, a source of suggestions, ideas, perspectives, and many other references that might be useful to women academics. The focus is on graduate students and faculty, although much of the material is also applicable to other staff. …This book is based on the wealth of existing literature on women in academia, on interviews and discussions with hundreds of academic women, and on my own experiences. …Based on these various materials, I have assembled some background information, but the bulk of the book consists of suggestions and advice.”
Sounds pretty useful, eh? I think so. In fact, I’ve already started reading the book and it’s a fast and intriguing read. It’s also easy to pick up and read for short increments, perfect for down times in the lab or while your babe is happily destroying the house. It’s also less than 200 pages of a big font, so while the subject matter may be heavy, the reading load is not.
You can get “Lifting a ton of feathers” on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or your favorite bookseller. But you can also check your library. If you are at a university, then they really should have this book. If they don’t, that tells you something about the institutional culture and values, and it’s not something positive for women. If they do, but it’s checked out, then there’s at least one other kindred spirit on your campus. Your public library might also be a place to look.
Ok, so we’ve got a book that sounds good, we know where to look for it, all we need now is a date. And since I’ve done all the decision making so far, I’ll propose the date too. Let’s plan on discussing the book over the weekend of March 14-16th. That gives us a little more than a month. I’ll post a link to the book in the sidebar and remind y’all as we get closer to the discussion date.