There’s nothing better to me than curling up with a good book and a cup of tea. Even better is pairing a book and a tea. It’s not always easy, but some teas lend themselves to a whole variety of books. Oolo’s Smash the Patriarchy tea, for example, put me in mind of so many books it was hard to know where to start.
One of my personal favorites, from my English major college days, is Lysistrata – an ancient Greek play in which the women of Athens and Sparta team up and refuse to have sex with the men until they end the Peloponnesian War. Greek theater is probably not everyone’s cup of tea, so to speak, but there are probably some modern translations that make it more accessible. It’s worth a read and very funny.
Margaret George’s books take a deep dive into the lives of some seriously powerful women. Helen of Troy continues on the Greek theme, while The Memoirs of Cleopatra, Elizabeth I, and Mary Queen of Scotland and the Isles give us the perspective of a matriarchy – something very rare at the time. Mary, Called Magdalene, portrays a very different view of Mary Magdalene than the image presented of her in the Bible. They are long books, but they are absolutely worth the read. I don’t think there’s any of her books I wouldn’t highly recommend.
Speaking of the Bible, The Red Tent by Anita Diamant provides a look at daily life in biblical times with the story of Dinah, daughter of Jacob. It gives the female perspective of the story of Jacob and Joseph in the Old Testament. The actual red tent, by the way, is where the women live during their menstrual cycles because they are “unclean.” Obviously, period shaming is not cool, but one week a month of hanging with your girls – no men, no kids, no work – couldn’t be all bad.
There are a multitude of WWI and WWII historical fiction books out there that I love, but one that comes to mind is The Alice Network – which tells the story of a network of women spies during World War I, and a young lady looking for her missing cousin in the aftermath of World War II. I didn’t know at the time I read this that the Alice Network was a real thing, which made the story even more impressive for me.
Some obvious dystopian future type books, if you’re into that kind of thing, are The Handmaid’s Tale (along with it’s sequel The Testaments) and The Hunger Games – strong women fighting against some seriously twisted governments. I like to think I’d do the same, but you have to wonder.
And if you’re in the mood for a lighter, Christmassy story, I recommend How Mrs. Claus Saved Christmas – part of Jeff Guinn’s Christmas Chronicles. The whole series is great, but this one in particular features Mrs. Claus defending Christmas against the Puritan Parliament’s attempts to suck all the fun out of the holiday.