Cover Image: How to Think Like a Woman

How to Think Like a Woman

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Member Reviews

I enjoyed this book to begin with, later on it lost its shine as it become more descriptive rather than letting me know about the philosophy they pioneered.

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This is an important book, that does what the title promises: to show How to Think Like a Woman. The author does exactly that, focusing on four women philosophers who have been dangerously close to history's fringed cliffs over which the forgotten, never named plunge every day.

Her women heroes, from who she furiously and feverishly studies are these:

◼ Mary Astell, 1666 - 1731, England
◼ Damaris Cudworth Masham, 1659 - 1708, England
◼ Mary Wollstonecraft, 1759 - 1797, England; and
◼ Catherine Trotter Cockburn, 1679 - 1749, England

While the author's admiration and wisdom gained from each of these shape her growth as a philosopher, she also pulls in many others, and often brings them forth to defend against male philosophers who rest comfortably and with no small amount of arrogance in their centuries' old easy chairs:

The female is like a "disabled male," [Artistotle] wrote. A "natural mutilation." One after another a similar view is presented. . .and where were the women? Everyone of those men had a mother, and likely sisters, daughters and life partners who were women, who would mind the kids, cows, and home fires. It is enough to get this reader's blood boiling and more than a little pissed off. And history marches on, with 98% of male philosophers writing the tomes that carry philosophy forward, busy writing that 2% of non-male philosopher voices into silence and obscurity. Grrgh.

When I started this read, all I wanted was to get that damned cover off that girl's head, free her head, eyes, ears and voice. At its end, I want a helluva lot more than that. We need a revolution that has sharper teeth and longer, deeper thinking than we've been using. I hear and receive the author's points, her questions answered and unanswered, her mind changed and unchanged. I appreciated her sharing of her own complex and ongoing life while she was actively engaged at the front in this philosophic battle and war. . .for isn't that truly how all wars are fought? Stolen time from lives being daily lived on all sides?

5 stars for taking the time out of fighting in that war, to report how it goes in the field.

*A sincere thank you to Regan Penaluna, Grove Atlantic, and NetGalley for an ARC to read and independently review.* #HowtoThinkLikeaWoman #NetGalley

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As someone who loved her philosophy classes in college and as someone who is married to someone with a philosophy degree, I was drawn to this book as soon as I read the title (and then even more so when I saw the cover). I know, I know, I know, I shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but it's amazing! It does such a great job capturing the idea of this book in such a visceral way. It's haunting, and beautiful, and makes you want to just rip that covering off of the woman's head.

This want and anger I had looking at the cover resurfaced regularly while reading this book. I kept turning to my husband saying "WHAT?? Did you know he thought this? Said this? Did this?!" etc. etc. when Penaluna referenced many renowned male philosophers. I could also feel the frustration that Penaluna faced when learning about these ideas in mostly male-driven classes and then working in an almost exclusively male department. By the end of the book, I felt a little less hopeless about women in philosophy, but it is clear much more needs to be done in the way of inclusivity in this particular field of study.

While reading, I found that I loved hearing about Penaluna's personal life and found that her writing style was much more enjoyable during her memoir-ish sections. When discussing the four women philosophers, the book read more like a somewhat mundane historical book report. Her personal story was compelling and heartbreaking. It was maddening the amount of misogyny she faced throughout her academic career. When reading the philosopher sections, they were almost <i>too</i> historical and not philosophical enough. I felt like I had read four mini biographies and had barely scratched the surface of their philosophies. I understand that their lives greatly shaped how they viewed the world, and how their backgrounds led each of these different women to become philosophers in the first place. However, I wish Penaluna would have given us even more about what they were writing and thinking and why they were so important to her.

All said, this was an interesting read. Was it interesting enough to recommend to all of my friends? Probably not, but it was compelling enough. 3.5 stars rounded down.

Thank you NetGalley and Grove Press for the advance reading copy!

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How to Think Like a Woman fills a hole in the history of philosophy and is at the same time an intriguing memoir. Regan Penaluna's touch as a writer is sure, and she strips the artifice from centuries of academic tradition. Any student of philosophy interested in restoring balance to the teaching and practice of this discipline will want to read Penaluna's book, and students in any field of study who feel lost or undervalued in academia will come to understand that originality and intellectual curiosity can more than make up for indifference and calcification.

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I really liked this book and it’s a great addition to my store, as philosophy is such a male dominated section. This fills a need for more female voices to be heard and does so in an engaging way.

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A memoir in which Regan Penaluna, a female philosopher, shares how four historical female philosophers (hard to find in the overwhelmingly male and sexist philosophy world) shaped her life and views.

I was hoping for wonderful tidbits of advice and to gain new outlooks on the world around me, but instead How to Think Like a Woman read like a textbook biography with the smallest morsels of Penaluna’s life, which was just not personal enough for me. If I was a student looking for a compelling and modern, but still academic source for a term paper it would be golden though.

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I took a philosophy class in college and I wish I could say it was more memorable. It was only an intro to philosophy but I imagined the class to have more opportunities to explore concepts that I knew and end up questioning and debating. Instead, we focused on the main male philosophers and spoke about matter. I remember feeling deflated and regretting having picked a nine am class. I wish instead that I took a class from Regan Penaluna. I loved learning about these four women and about Penaluna’s own experiences. I will preface by saying that this is and I don’t think should be an overnight read. You get a lot of history from Penaluna, giving context to these four woman philosophers not solely their philosophies and facts. With all this information they should be given space and time to settle in your mind.

This book follows along while Penaluna talks you through her life, her studies of philosophy and how throughout it she found these four women philosophers who ended up changing her life. There were many quotes that stood out to me (and that I have highlighted and noted in a notebook) yet this is the one that has stuck and I will leave with you. It is from one of the philosophers Mary Wollstonecraft, “Do not retreat. A woman’s path to self-knowledge requires her to risk losing herself to find herself. I will go further, and affirm, as an indisputable fact, that most of the women, in the circle of my observation, who have acted like rational creatures, or shewn any vigour of intellect, have accidentally been allowed to run wild”.

Thank you to Regan Penaluna, NetGalley, and Grove Atlantic.

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This was a hard book to get into, and once I put it down it was hard to pick back up. But once you get going with it and allow yourself to be lost in it, the book is a feminist, historical treat. Very unlike anything else out there right now.

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I have received an audio ARC of this book and will be leaving my full review on that copy.

Thank you so much to the publisher and to NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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I enjoyed this, but didn't love it. I really appreciated Penaluna's frankness throughout the book, her willingness to examine herself and her beliefs and connect them to these women philosophers' ideas. I also found the women philosophers she discussed to be interesting, though the nature of the book means that we couldn't get as in-depth a look at them as I wanted. Overall enjoyable but I wish this had been more memorable for me.

Thank you to Grove Atlantic for the eARC!

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This was a brilliant and interesting read, both in its concept and writing. I really liked the writing style, and the interesting information imparted. The cover is also very eye-catching, and the title is bold and catchy.

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The book is more personal as the author — a fellow woman thinker herself — shares the stories of these four women intellectuals and weaves their narratives into reflections of her own personal life. What’s so important about this book is that it doesn’t just focus on women in the philosophy field or the academe in general; the author also shares the philosophy of these women in regards to traditional roles such as being a wife and a mother, and how these roles sometimes — or often times — come into conflict with their identity as scholars in an age where philosophical ideas were prolific. The book is not only educational, but reflective even of our own personal experiences as women, no matter what our fields are, whether academe, philosophy or even beyond such fields.

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How to think like a woman: Goodreads/Net galley review

This book was such a treat. I went into this one blind only with the notion of a beautiful cover and a feminist premise of How to Think Like a Woman is a dedication to the female philosophers forgotten intentionally by time and academia.

In the time and space where hidden voices are being pushed to the forefront, this is another niche that is inevitably important in feminist works. Penaluna recounts personal anecdotes while intermingling with the women philosophers she had unearthed in her quest for representation. The voice given to these women was heartening and fascinating, with ideologies I had thought to be modern having been developed, pondered, and reverberated hundreds of years in the past.

As a contemporary philosopher in a male-dominated field, it is easy to adopt the imposter syndrome of not belonging, of feeling like an 'other' in an area that is supposed to encompass the world and all its wonders around you, intersectional, open, and accessible.

Penaluna has a way with words, crafting her journey in a novel-esque way that keeps you interested. For anyone not privy to this topic, it is written relaxedly, making it easy for most audiences to dissect.
My only grievances lie within the length of the unraveling biographies, which are often long and winding. Often times I felt myself drifting, not because they were not interesting but because I found the recounts of the author’s personal experiences more exciting and wished that was the main focus.

Overall, a fantastic book. One that I need to get for myself on my shelves, it’s a must-have. Thank you, NetGalley and Grove Atlantic, for the review copy.

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I had a hard time getting through this one. I wanted to like it because I love reading about historical figures that are women, but this was not what I expected. I enjoyed listening to the author's story and how philosophy shaped basically her entire life. However, the way that the philosophers' stories were built into the story was a bit awkward. It went from memoir to historical lecture, which was jarring every time and felt like classwork. I wish the author stuck to one or the other or incorporated the philosophers' stories a bit differently, maybe weaving the stories into her own narrative. I would still recommend it to academics or those interested in philosophy, but not for people looking for a casual read.

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4.5 stars!!!

This was a very well written and interesting look into the women of philosophy. The author did a very good job sprinkling in her own experiences throughout telling the life stories of these four woman, who I have regretfully never heard of before. It was very interesting to learn about these women and how they viewed the world through a philosophical lens. Sometimes over a hundred years before what most women consider the Women's Rights Movement, these women throughout Europe were speaking up about what a "woman's place" should be and how women were being treated as stupid and good for nothing but motherhood/being a wife. One woman in particular, who was very "traditional" was very upfront with her idea that a woman should only become a mother and/or a wife if that's what she wants for herself, and that men have no place to force that on them. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and wish it was longer! I'm definitely going to be on the look out for anything Regan writes in the future because I'm sure it will be this incredible mix of history and her personal journey of love, motherhood, and philosophy.

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How to Think Like a Woman: Four Women Philosophers Who Taught Me How to Love the Life of the Mind by Regan Penaluna is part memoir, part philosophy manual.

Penaluna walks readers through her own evolution as she discovered the women philosophers who have been marginalized and overlooked and how she altered her scholarly focus to learn more about the contributions of key female philosophers in the 17th and 18th centuries. The book begins with going into detail on how certain male philosophers discussed women's abilities to engage in the life of the mind (alas, some of her examples were of her own professors, a discouraging take, albeit not surprising by any accounts).

Then Penaluna delves into four notable women that shaped philosophy and challenged the thinking and work of men around them: Mary Astell, Damaris Masham, Catharine Cockburn, and Mary Wollstonecraft.

Through this lens of scholarship, we are also given insights into Penaluna's life, particularly the start and end of her marriage to another philosopher. It is natural to make some conclusions about the misperceptions faced by women yet today, while finding some progress and hope.

(I received a digital ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.)

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This non-fiction book details the author's own experiences with sexism and the patriarchy in philosophy academia, as well as exploring the lives and works of four female philosophers who influenced both her work and personal life.

Being a philosophy graduate, and due to the lack of discussion surrounding female philosophers and the absence of female philosophers on university syllabuses, this book totally grabbed my attention. I loved the balance of the personal alongside the philosophical history in here - learning about the four female philosophers was interesting and informative, and experiencing this alongside the author's personal story, and learning about how her philosophy studies impacted her personal life, was fascinating.

This was entertaining and educational with empowering feminine vibes, which is exactly what I wanted. I'd highly recommend this to anyone wanted to learn more about female philosophers.

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interesting and important subject! overall i enjoyed the book, and i liked the mix of history and memoir but think those two elements could have been a bit more well balanced! sometimes the history parts bored me a little bit.

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[4 Stars]

How to Think Like a Woman is part memoir, part nonfiction about Penaluna's journey to understand the role of women (historically and now) within the philosophical canon. I found this to be quite lovely and an easily recommendable book. The writing is very conversational and definitely not a barrier for the average individual. You also don't need to be familiar with philosophy or philosophical writings to pick this up and understand Penaluna's points.

Penaluna perfectly balanced the memoir elements of this book with the nonfiction/biographies of the four philosophers. I loved the reflections she had on how their lives and writings impacted her in her own life and guided her through various struggles she encountered. I only wish that the biography elements themselves had included more on the actual writings of these women. There was a large emphasis on explaining their life stories and the challenges they faced due to their gender, which is important. But then I felt that the bulk of their writings were breezed over. I would have loved to get more into the weeds of what they exactly wrote about and argued for.

On a similar note, I would love to read something by this author in the future on modern women philosophers. For the purposes of this book that topic doesn't really have a role, but I would love to see a meditation on where philosophy is today, women who are making impacts on the field now, and how common thought or the canon could (or is) changing.

Overall this is a great read. This book really made me realize just how few women have been highlighted in the various philosophy courses I've taken. Or even penned philosophical works I've picked up in my own time. I realized I myself had succumbed unknowingly to the false belief that there must not have been any women philosophers out there. I'm grateful to this book for introducing me to so many new female writers that I might never have known about.

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Part memoir, part history, part philosophical, How to Think Like a Woman surprised me again and again. I picked this title out on a whim while browsing netgalley because I've been drawn to books centering around women and this delivered whatever it was I was looking for at the time. Penaluna wove together history and personal anecdotes in a way that made reading deeply personal and compelling. Absolutely recommend picking this one up.

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