It’s Happiness Day all around the world! The UN has officially designated March 20th as the first International Day of Happiness. What are you going to do?
Have you read anything from UC-Berkeley’s “Greater Good” center? Among their “core themes” of research and writing is happiness, as well as mindfulness and altruism. Explore here. Want something else fun to do this weekend? Take Keri Smith’s advice in the amazing How to Be An Explorer of the World and uncover a mystery:
I have a new essay about going braless up at the body image website Adios Barbie. I confess: it is slightly anxiety-inducing to talk about your body on the Internet. I’m taking deep breaths right now. Still, I wrote the essay because I think Susan Bordo’s work in Unbearable Weight is important and deserves to be grounded in lived experience and shared with others.
Also on my radar this week is psychologist Stephen Hinshaw’s The Triple Bind: Saving Our Teenage Girls from Today’s Pressures. Hinshaw argues that young women today are trapped in a set of competing pressures that are impossible to negotiate. Compellingly, he describes those binds: “Today’s girl know she’s supposed to fulfill all the ‘traditional’ girl expectations–look pretty, be nice, get a boyfriend–while excelling at the “girl skills” of empathy, cooperation, and relationship building” but a “successful girl must also master [traditional] boy skills of assertion” by getting straight-As, excelling in sports, and aiming for a top-flight career, all the while being “effortlessly” sexy and thin. Here’s a FORA talk he gave surrounding the book’s publication.
For anyone interested in these issues, I highly recommend The Triple Bind. I have to give more thought to Hinshaw’s work and what potential strategies young women can use to escape all these pressures. I suspect yoga may offer some alternatives ways of thinking about womanhood, body image, and competition, but I’m still thinking.
Read these books, says my inner librarian. She might be a little bossy, y’all.
5 Underrated/Popular Things You Should Read (Bordeaux)
- Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers. Sayers was a religious scholar and academic who translated Dante and a popular mystery novelist in interwar Britain, best known for her detective Lord Peter Wimsey. Gaudy Night features Harriet Vane, Sayers’ stand-in, a prickly novelist and early graduate of a women’s college at Oxford. Some people find Sayers too dense, but I love that she is not afraid to burden her characters with opinions, flaws, and most of all, a love of education. One part whodunit, one part meditation on feminism, spliced with a 1930s English setting to please any Downton Abbey
- Perfumes: The Guide by Tania Sanchez and Luca Turin. Turin, a European scientist known for his work on scent, was prominently featured in Chandler Burr’s (equally great) non-fiction book about the mysteries of smell, The Emperor of Scent. The Guide is a collection of perfume reviews co-authored by Turin and Sanchez, a fellow perfume enthusiast and writer; the couple’s assessments of individual perfumes are alternatingly humorous and poetic: “smells exactly like the synthetic flavor used in codeine syrup, but induces a hacking cough instead of relieving it.”
- I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being A Woman by Nora Ephron. If you’ve ever wondered why late ‘90s Meg Ryan was America’s Sweetheart, look to Ephron, also the writer of You’ve Got Mail, Sleepless in Seattle, and When Harry Met Sally. In this essay collection, Ephron writes about food, books, and Bill Clinton. See also: her follow-up collection on aging, I Remember Nothing.
- My Man Jeeves by PG Wodehouse. Understated hilarity and ridiculousness at its best.
- Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding. Fielding’s use of an epistolary format and the distinctive voice of her famously dysfunctional character is really funny–and difficult to pull off.