Inspiration for childless and childfree women

Thoughts and ideas to inspire, uplift and affirm the childless and childfree, by circumstance and by choice

reading

I sometimes wonder if it’s just coincidence that among childless and childfree women of note, a remarkably common trend is a lusty passion for reading. For Oprah Winfrey, “Books were my pass to personal freedom”. For Jane Austen, “I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!” For Amy Tan, “I think books were my salvation”. For bell hooks, “Life-transforming ideas have always come to me through books”. For Elizabeth Gilbert, “I did not ache with longing whenever I saw an infant. (Though I did ache with longing, it is true, whenever I saw a good used-book shop)”.

I have no idea if there really is a connection between non-motherhood and a special pleasure in reading, so I’ll just add my own ordinary voice to these extraordinary ones and say that the opportunity to curl up with a cat, a cup of tea and a paperback is something I’m grateful for every day of my life.

If you’re interested in the connection between being childless or childfree and having a passion for reading, you may also be interested in the bias often found in biographies of childless and childfree women or the possibility that childless and childfree women might often be ‘ideas people’.

But in the meantime, I’m reading Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway. How about you? Reading anything interesting lately?

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18 comments on “reading

  1. M
    March 21, 2012

    Anything by Nikki Gemmell but, most recently, her newest: With My Body. She’s a mother but remembers the sensual, un-motherly side of her life. Not for the fainthearted.

    • olivia
      March 21, 2012

      I must look out for that, M. I haven’t yet read past her first (I think?) book, the Bride Stripped Bare. From memory, my faintish heart coped alright with that, but perhaps Gemmell’s books are getting more hardcore!

  2. Beam_Me_Up_Scotty
    March 21, 2012

    I am currently reading three books:
    *A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
    *The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
    *Quiet:The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
    I didn’t have a great childhood, so I used books to escape it – which helped me to develop my reading retention skills, as well as a terrific imagination.
    Out of all the benefits of being Childfree, I love my “quiet time” the most!

    ~Audrey

    • olivia
      March 21, 2012

      Would you believe I have all of those on my own shelves, Audrey? Given our track record here perhaps you read it years ago 😉 but I wonder if you know a book by Francis Spufford called The Child that Books Built? It’s a memoir of the author’s childhood and the way he used books to escape, just as you’ve described. It’s a lovely book – I’d definitely recommend it.

      • Beam_Me_Up_Scotty
        March 21, 2012

        I haven’t read that one, olivia – but I’ll definitely check it out! Thank you for the recommendation! My reading queue has grown considerably since I started school for Library & Information Science! 😀
        ~Audrey

  3. ootastic
    March 21, 2012

    My current book is The Uncommon Reader, which is about the joy of reading 😉

    • olivia
      March 21, 2012

      How very fitting, ootastic!

  4. Angie
    March 21, 2012

    I am an only child and grew up in a very small, somewhat isolated, community. I looked forward to our twice-montly trips to the nearest library more than anything else in the world when I was a child. Books were an escape for me then, a way to see things in my mind that were too far away to see in person, and in some ways they still are, but even more so now they are inspiration – inspiration for future travels, educational pursuits, new ways of thinking, new foods to try, and even more things to read! I have been a big fan of Greek political theory since college, and have reread Plato’s Republic several times. I am currently reading a book called “The Hemlock Cup: Socrates, Athens, and the Search for the Good Life”, which is an historical look at Athens at the birth of democracy and during Socrates’ life. It is fascinating.

    • olivia
      March 21, 2012

      Angie, I love your description of the way books inspire you. So beautifully put! The book you’re reading does sound fascinating and I imagine Greek political theory must be a really interesting field to specialise in.

  5. dinkschildfree
    March 21, 2012

    I was definitely the kid who after my mom tucked me in at night, I turned on my small lamp and read. I just started a No Kidding group in my area and we are starting a book club because so many people are interested in it. Maybe it is a common thread with childfree individuals. 😀

    • olivia
      March 21, 2012

      It really does feel like that, doesn’t it! What a brilliant idea about the No Kidding book group. I hope it goes well.

  6. Roisin
    March 21, 2012

    Just started “All that is bitter and sweet” the auto bio of Ashley judd, another accomplished and beautiful woman who has decided not to have children. Her decision is based on her humanitarian work around the world and the desperate plight of millions of existing children. She feels strongly she does not need to “make her own ” in order to be a mother to those who need her. I like her philosophies very much.

    • olivia
      March 21, 2012

      Roisin, I’m so glad you commented about this as it sounds as though Ashley Judd definitely belongs on the pinboard. Sounds as if I’d better look out for the book myself too.

      ETA – found a gorgeous pic for the pinboard. Thanks Roisin!

  7. Kaitlyn
    March 21, 2012

    I’m childless and I LOVE to read! I’m not sure if it has anything to do with being childless, though (I was an early reader). However, I do agree that it’s easy for me to read when I don’t have too much schoolwork. I couldn’t imagine trying to read the latest Stephen King book with rugrats in the house!!!

    • olivia
      March 21, 2012

      That’s a good point, Kaitlyn. I was an early reader too. And yes, I’m not sure I’d be comfortable explaining half the feminist stuff I read to other early readers either. “What’s an Industrial Vagina, Mum? Who is the Bitch in the House? Is there one in our house?” etc 🙂

      • Beam_Me_Up_Scotty
        March 21, 2012

        I could only imagine trying to explain “Sex for One: The Joy of Selfloving” to a kid (I managed to find this title at the library. Awesome book, if you’re interested in female sexuality). I do not envy parents when they have to give the ‘Sex Talk.’ Yikes!

  8. rantywoman
    March 23, 2012

    When I contemplated having children in my twenties, one of the things that concerned me was that I would feel irritated if they interrupted me all the time while I was trying to read!

    I am currently reading Sister Carrie and hope to get to some other classics this year, like Day of the Locust and The Magic Mountain.

    I also read a lot of nonfiction– The Science of Yoga was good.

    • olivia
      March 23, 2012

      Such an interesting and varied reading list, rantywoman. I’m a big non-fiction person with an interest in yoga, so it looks like I have a new addition to my own reading list. Thanks 🙂

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