Book club anyone?


I was thinking it might be a nice idea to try and have a book club. I know it’s hard to get everyone to co-ordinate and read the same book at the same time but I thought given that this is a forum rather than a face to face meeting the time differences aren’t so much of a problem.

I thought it could work by one person nominating a book - by which I mean starting a discussion about it giving the title, author and preferably a link to an online seller of your choice and then people could join in if and when they’d read the book. There’s no reason multiple books couldn’t be discussed at the same time, as long as each post made it clear which book they were referring to. If it gets too confusing we can always start new threads, with the title ‘book club - [book title]’ or something.

To start I want to recommend ‘Delusions of Gender’ by Cordelia Fine. It’s a thoroughly researched book that is a devastating critique of ‘neurosexism’ - the research into gender-based brain differences and the idea that these are the route of social gender differences. The main conclusions are that 1) the evidence for gender differences in the brain are negligible - they aren’t consistent and aren’t predictive (i.e. you can’t look at part of the brain said to be different in men and women and reliably tell from that brain part which gender the person is) and 2) despite the claims that differences in the brain cause gender differences there’s no evidence to distinguish which is the cause and which is the effect (i.e. it could just as easily be that the different ways men and women are treated in society shape the way their brains develop).

There’s a lot more than that and it’s had me go WTF on many occasions. The book is divided into several sections but the final section, that of gender and society, was the most fascinating to me as it showed just how early in life we become aware of gender differences and how fully segregated our society really is, even though we claim to be ‘post-sexism’.

There’s loads more that could be said and I probably will be but hopefully that’s been enough to spark some interest and get others reading it. I’d love to know what you think!



Ooh, great idea! Yes! I shall have to get a copy of this and give it a go!



We could always look specially for non-white and non-male writers? :wink:

But in all serious, it would be good to discuss some books, I had been meaning to get this one after it kept being referenced in Living Dolls, so this has reminded me.



I am up for this, though I might not contribute much due to time, lack of insight and not having as clever things to say as other people. However, even if it gets me reading some interesting books and thinking about them I’d be happy!



Headdesk, you have plenty of insight and regularly produce interesting observations so stop talking yourself down!



I have started reading the book - although that’s no guarantee that I’ll finish soon! I’m enjoying it so far - I think the emphasis on fMRI/PET scans as definitive evidence of ‘stuff’ is something that is discussed in psychology - well, I’ve read some bits that advise caution in explaining findings, cos just saying ‘a ha, different, see’ doesn’t really cut it.



Yeah, the fMRI/PET scan results seem to be consistently overstated by many researchers (strangely, mostly those who seem to think that brain differences ‘prove’ there’s nothing we can do about sexism) and the book definitely tears into them.

I found the first part a bit of a slog (though that may also have something to do with how/where I was reading it) but it was very informative.



I completely forgot about this, so hopped over to Amazon to get the book - it’s only £1 on Kindle, excellent!



Oh and this is where my vow to use Amazon as little as possible gets sorely tested… it’s £4.80 on Nook. Bah.



Now my friends, these are books to die for. A fabulous friend just bought me a sumptuous new book on Stanley Spencer, one of my artists of the moment. It proved to be by the same author/publisher as an equally gorgeous book I had just bought for my dad’s 83rd birthday, on Paul Nash. Both exceptional war artists and landscape artists. Pictured here, Spencer to the left, Nash to the right.



More reading. Cat books by a Guardian journalist whom I follow on Twitter (and his cats too). Not the intellectual high ground, certainly, but good fun stuff requiring not too much concentration. :smile:

Knitted cat courtesy of online friend Marianne.



We just finished Black Powder War, the third in Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series. Basic concept: It’s the Napoleonic wars, but both sides have an aerials corps formed of dragons! Navy Capt. Will Laurence happens to be commanding the ship that captures a French vessel upon which is an egg, just about to hatch…

They really are wonderful, and the main dragon, Temeraire, is one of my favourite characters of any species in any fiction I’ve ever read! (Also, lots of stuff about the emancipation of dragons in the second and third books which those familiar with a history of a women’s suffrage might find familiar. :wink: )



I’m currently reading A Brief History of Misogyny: The World’s Oldest Prejudice. It’s rather good. There’s a lot I knew already but largely on a superficial level so it’s giving me more depth of understanding. I’ll try and do a proper review when I’m finished but if anyone wants to have a read it’s be great to discuss it. Also, if anyone wants to borrow it when I’m done I’ll happily share it (as long as I get it back eventually!).



That’s interesting the kindle version on amazon is now 2.99£ on UK store and 7.59€ on the French store.

For information, google changes 2.99 British pounds to 4.11456128 Euros. I might add it to my next batch of book order though.



Need somewhere to put this:

Another book I need to get and read. Just been sent one about Isabella Milbanke that I need to read. Though when is a good question.



Couple of thing:

Lady Byron and her Daughters was an excellent book, and I have to admit I feel a bit bad having fallen for the anti-Annabella/pro-Byron propaganda which depicted Annabella as a cold, heartless prude. Really is a must-read, I think.

Also saw this doing the rounds on Twitter, sounds interesting, if possibly depressing:

1 Like


This looks very interesting:

Gender equality is a moral and a business imperative. But unconscious bias holds us back, and de-biasing people’s minds has proven to be difficult and expensive. Diversity training programs have had limited success, and individual effort alone often invites backlash. Behavioral design offers a new solution. By de-biasing organizations instead of individuals, we can make smart changes that have big impacts. Presenting research-based solutions, Iris Bohnet hands us the tools we need to move the needle in classrooms and boardrooms, in hiring and promotion, benefiting businesses, governments, and the lives of millions.

What Works is built on new insights into the human mind. It draws on data collected by companies, universities, and governments in Australia, India, Norway, the United Kingdom, the United States, Zambia, and other countries, often in randomized controlled trials. It points out dozens of evidence-based interventions that could be adopted right now and demonstrates how research is addressing gender bias, improving lives and performance. What Works shows what more can be done?often at shockingly low cost and surprisingly high speed.

Kobo link:



Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us from Missiles to the Moon to Mars

The true story of a group of elite young women at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory who shared a love of math and and whose work influenced military rocket design, brought us the first American satellite, shaped lunar missions, and ushered in a new era of space exploration that continues today at NASA where some of the women still work—now as senior engineers directing our missions to Mars and Venus.

Coming in 2016 from Little, Brown



An interesting historical novel, Remarkable Creatures, by Tracy Chevalier

In 1810, a sister and brother uncover the fossilized skull of an unknown animal in the cliffs on the south coast of England. With its long snout and prominent teeth, it might be a crocodile – except that it has a huge, bulbous eye.

Remarkable Creatures is the story of Mary Anning, who has a talent for finding fossils, and whose discovery of ancient marine reptiles such as that ichthyosaur shakes the scientific community and leads to new ways of thinking about the creation of the world.

Working in an arena dominated by middle-class men, however, Mary finds herself out of step with her working-class background. In danger of being an outcast in her community, she takes solace in an unlikely friendship with Elizabeth Philpot, a prickly London spinster with her own passion for fossils.

The strong bond between Mary and Elizabeth sees them through struggles with poverty, rivalry and ostracism, as well as the physical dangers of their chosen obsession. It reminds us that friendship can outlast storms and landslides, anger and jealousy.



Sounds really good - I’ve added it to my reading list :smile: