Cover Image: How to Think Like a Woman

How to Think Like a Woman

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Very interesting look at women in the profession of philosophy. I wished it was a little less of a memoir but overall, it's an eye-opening reminder that things haven't changed nearly as much as we might like.

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this one was a rather frustrating read. i liked the prologue, and i thought the way penaluna’s life story was interwoven with the female philosophers from the late 17th-early 18th century that have shaped her career in academia would be very interesting; i particularly loved the discussion on the inherent sexism that some professors still display to this day, and the way it affected her interventions in class, as well as her sense of self-worth as a graduate student. but her life story soon became somewhat of a drag, and i found myself skimming most of those chapters; i feel awful for saying this, i ultimately couldn’t care less about the end of her marriage and the way it was all thrown into the middle of an otherwise interesting book.

i also thought the chapters regarding the female philosophers were too biographical and lacked a deeper discussion on their philosophical viewpoints, but i get that it’s not meant to be a philosophy handbook, but rather a discussion on how reading these women’s ideas has shaped penaluna herself as a philosopher. still, i do wish the book had appealed more to me than it ultimately did, because i genuinely thought that i’d love it — but alas, i didn’t.

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Thanks NetGalley!

This was an interesting read.
I’m not that well versed in this genre but i loved this book and it’s writing style.
It had a thought provoking premise and it was a well done nonfiction novel that made me happy that I’ve read it.
I loved how Regan Penaluna dealt with this topic and it had personal experience parts as well as historical parts. It had a memoir feel to it as well.
The cover is really pretty and intriguing as well.
If you loved the synopsis I recommend you to check it out!

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I enjoyed the premise of this book. I was interested in learning about female philosophers because you never really hear about them in the American educational system. I will say, nonfiction is a new avenue I’m becoming interested in and Penaluna’s writing is engaging and informative at the same time. I hope those that read this will come away with firmer references for women in history questioning societal norms, and enjoy this thought provoking reflective novel.

Thank you to netgalley and Grove press for the ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Feeling a lot of womanly pride after reading this, all thanks to Regan Penaluna's intimate honesty and admirable dedication to carving out a notable space for women in the Western philosophical canon. I went into this book without any prior knowledge about philosophy, and I couldn't have asked for a better introduction. Part memoir, part history lesson, Penaluna gives readers an in-depth look into four women philosophers (Mary Astell, Damaris Masham, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Cathrine Cockburn) whose ideas and remarkable lives have been under constant threat of being forgotten. Penaluna relates what she's learned from these women to her personal journey from disheartened academic to hopeful, published author.

During her graduate program, Penaluna struggles to navigate the misogynistic culture of philosophy deeply rooted in her university's curriculum. Her superiors dismiss her before giving her an adequate chance, while her male peers are put on pedestals. Later, Penaluna has trouble separating herself from her academic husband, dwindling her confidence even further. Penaluna's research into the history of 17th-century women philosophers provides insight into why that might be. Even if you're not in academia, you'll likely find something to relate to in this examination of the universal woman experience.

"What prevents a woman from committing to an intellectual life: the unwritten, automatic, continual message that she isn't fit for it. Censure, ridicule, and isolation are strong enough forces to make her doubt herself."
"Our culture underestimates the difficulty a woman faces doing something her grandmothers and mother were not encouraged or allowed to do."

Too often, we're forced to view the world through the white male's perspective. For someone like me who has never studied philosophy in an academic setting, this is a rare glimpse into the minds of some of history's greatest women thinkers. While most of the women referenced are from the 17th-18th century, you can imagine their race and class status, which Penaluna briefly acknowledges. After reading this, I'd love nothing more than to find literature that introduces me to more worldly philosophies and their great thinkers. If it's even half as well written as Penaluna's "How to Think Like a Woman," I'd be in for a treat.

Thank you to NetGalley and Grove Press for an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

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This was an interesting read — I was drawn to the premise because when I thought about it, I realized that I couldn’t think of a single female philosopher. This is a personal memoir that leans heavily on the author’s study of four prominent female philosophers, and how their ideas mirror her experience as a woman, academic, and mother. Penaluna is an engaging writer and I like the way that she combines a personal narrative with a broader examination of how women who were interested in writing and philosophical ideas have been treated throughout history. I particularly liked her brief summaries of female intellectuals outside of the four core women that make up the bulk of the narrative. Overall, I feel like I learned some things about philosophy, like the fact that female philosophers have always existed but they’ve simply been left out of the canon.

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I really loved the parts of this book in which the author recounts her time in academia, with a lot really resonating with me. However, the parts where the author recounts different philosophers’ stories didn’t work as well for me. I found some of it hard to get through, and I had a hard time engaging with the text and kept wanting the book to go back to being more of a memoir. This isn't to say that this isn't a well-written book, with interesting topics being explored. It just didn't fully work for me.

Thank you to Netgalley and Grove Atlantic for sending me an advanced copy.

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How to Think Like a Woman is an important and timely book. Regan Penaluna provides a much-needed exploration of the lives and works of influential seventeenth- and eighteenth-century feminist philosophers Mary Astell, Damaris Masham, Catharine Cockburn, and Mary Wollstonecraft. Through her own personal experiences and those of her colleagues, Penaluna shines a light on the pervasive sexism in academia that continues to this day. As a woman who left academia, this book resonated with me profoundly.

That said, I found How to Think Like a Woman to be frustrating at times. Penaluna seems more interested in proving that women can think like philosophers than in exploring the unique perspectives that these women brought to bear on their work. As a result, the book feels a bit one-sided, and readers may find themselves wishing for more depth on particular topics. Nonetheless, Penaluna’s arguments are well-reasoned and thought-provoking, and the book is sure to spark further discussion on the role of women in philosophy.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for a free e-copy of the book in exchange of an unbiased review.

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'How to Think Like a Woman', is a journey of self-discovery and acceptance, by Regan Penaluna, using her love of philosophy as a methodology. The intriguing title surely begs the question, 'If I am a woman, do I not think like one?' Penaluna quickly points out, 'psyches are shaped in a society structured with patriarchy', and therefore opens a Pandora's Box of questions that challenges the reader to really examine their life: is it truly their's or has it been so engendered, that they're ignoring parts of themselves in order to be taken seriously and legitimised?

Regan Penaluna always had an interest in philosophy, finding it as a way to distill life and discover deeper meaning. However, at some point in her graduate studies, she realised that the discourse she'd digested and purported, was, in fact, a masculinised framework that underpinned much of societal thoughts and norms. Galvanised, Penaluna sought out the feminine philosophical voice. 'How to Think Like a Woman' follows four such women and, further, gives us a short history of philosophy. As Penaluna reveals the women's thoughts and vulnerabilities, trying to find their voice within society and amongst peers, so too does Penaluna journey towards finding and accepting herself. Women's voices have always echoed throughout history, and despite often being marginalised and even erased, they resound loudly enough to inspire.

'How to Think Like a Woman' is a fascinating read, not only regarding the women who were brave enough to question societal norms and speak out for equality in education and rights, but also as a general guide to philosophical theories and their development. Penaluna's personal story reads as a cathartic journey towards self-belief and contentment. Together, the theoretical and the practical meld to create a thought-provoking book.

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