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Page-turners for Your Period: What to Read When in the Red Zone

Jessica Lollino

Posted on December 16 2016

Reading is good for the soul, but it’s also an excellent way to stay healthy. Research shows that regularly engaged reading (Facebook memes don’t count) slows mental decline by 32%! It also increases empathy, staves off Alzheimer’s, and can help you sleep better. What time could be better to pick up a book than when you feel a little less likely to run a marathon or organize a world peace summit? What’s even better is to pick up a little something that unites you with womanhood at large, in its many eras and forms.

Historical and intensely intimate: The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

A fictional view of the lives of Biblical women, The Red Tent is a deeply moving and intimate look at what it was to be a woman in ancient times. The red tent itself is the place a woman was exiled to when she was menstruating (as women were seen as unclean during their periods). The exile, though, bridged generations of women together and gave them a place to share stories and be themselves. The story is told through the eyes of Dinah, a daughter of Jacob, and the daughter of his four wives—Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah. This is a must read at any time but is especially resonant while in your own red tent by connecting you to the women who have gone before you.

The Bildungsroman—Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume

What is a bildungsroman you say? It is a novel centered around a main character’s coming-of-age. Enter Margaret Simon; a 12-year-old girl who just moved from New York to New Jersey, gets a new crowd of friends and is trying to reconcile her spiritual feelings as her mother is Christian and her father is Jewish. No matter if you are spiritual, religious, or not, readers can completely relate to the choices we feel we must make in our young life. Not to mention Margaret is dealing with all these big firsts like a first bra, first period, and first envy of another girl. I know it is a Young Adult novel from the seventies, but it is a classic and was featured on more than one Banned Books list. It is also a nice little piece of nostalgia. Judy Blume holds up y’all; give it another read.

The Story of a Real Hot-Head: Carrie by Stephen King

Also in bold on the Banned Books list, Carrie is a cautionary tale about what happens when you add an over-bearing fanatic mother with girl-on-girl bullying (and telekinesis). While some movies based on the book are decent, the book is where it’s at. Carrie is a social misfit who doesn’t understand menstruation because her looney mom believes it’s a sin, so all the popular girls make fun of her and throw tampons and pads at her (do they know how much money those cost?). Of course, there are major consequences as the action unfolds (I don’t want to spoil it for you) and it is a bloody, deadly mess. Morale of the story: Don’t f*&% with a girl on her period.

Period for Period: Jane Austen is Queen

A period book for your period, of course! While there are many periods to choose from, the Victorian Age with its many societal rules for women somehow calls to me during this time of repose. I love Austen’s Emma with all its matchmaking and scheming, but Pride and Prejudice has my heart with strong, pre-feminist Elizabeth Barrett who is one to buck society and refuse the proposals of two men. Everything about her is authentic, including her desire to marry not for money or convenience, but for love alone.

These Aren’t Disney Fairytales: Hot, Heavy, and High-Brow Tales for Your Honey Pot

Fairy tales are what young girls are brought up on (and severally disenchanted by later). But the professor in me is here to tell you that it’s time to upgrade your fairytales. Most original fairy tales are dark and expose the not-so-pleasant sides of life and our own psyches. These two offerings are modernized, but still dark and deeply erotic. If you want to work bit-by-bit, pick up The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter. The late Carter was a Magical Realism maven with her ability to feminize and eroticize this collection of fairy tales with aplomb. Favorites to read include “The Tiger’s Bride,” “The Bloody Chamber,” and “The Company of Wolves.”

If you want to settle in for a long winter’s eve, then you should definitely put The Sleeping Beauty Quartet (formerly Trilogy) by Anne Rice on your wish list this year. This set is so steamy she published it originally under her pen name, A.N. Roquelare, to give her a little more freedom and also so her papa wouldn’t be subjected to it (awwww). Fair warning: this is an erotic BDSM collection of novels with a very diverse, pan-sexual progressiveness and may not appeal to everyone. This is not 50 Shades, people. It is real BDSM and written beautifully like an actual novel should be written. Rice brings the kingdoms and villages to life in this story of Beauty, the protagonist, and her journey to self-knowledge, sexual and otherwise.

Get comfy, grab a beer and your reading glasses, and enjoy a night with your imagination.

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