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The Women I Think About at Night: Traveling the Paths of My Heroes

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In The Women I Think About at Night, Mia Kankimäki blends travelogue, memoir, and biography as she recounts her enchanting travels in Japan, Kenya, and Italy while retracing the steps of ten remarkable female pioneers from history. What can a forty-something childless woman do? Bored with her life and feeling stuck, Mia Kankimäki leaves her job, sells her apartment, and de In The Women I Think About at Night, Mia Kankimäki blends travelogue, memoir, and biography as she recounts her enchanting travels in Japan, Kenya, and Italy while retracing the steps of ten remarkable female pioneers from history. What can a forty-something childless woman do? Bored with her life and feeling stuck, Mia Kankimäki leaves her job, sells her apartment, and decides to travel the world, following the paths of the female explorers and artists from history who have long inspired her. She flies to Tanzania and then to Kenya to see where Karen Blixen—of Out of Africa—fame lived in the 1920s. In Japan, Mia attempts to cure her depression while researching Yayoi Kusama, the contemporary artist who has voluntarily lived in a psychiatric hospital for decades. In Italy, Mia spends her days looking for the works of forgotten Renaissance women painters of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, and finally finds her heroines in the portraits of Sofonisba Anguissola, Lavinia Fontana, and Artemisia Gentileschi. If these women could make it in the world hundreds of years ago, why can’t Mia? The Women I Think About at Night is part travelogue and part thrilling exploration of the lost women adventurers of history who defied expectations in order to see—and change—the world.


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In The Women I Think About at Night, Mia Kankimäki blends travelogue, memoir, and biography as she recounts her enchanting travels in Japan, Kenya, and Italy while retracing the steps of ten remarkable female pioneers from history. What can a forty-something childless woman do? Bored with her life and feeling stuck, Mia Kankimäki leaves her job, sells her apartment, and de In The Women I Think About at Night, Mia Kankimäki blends travelogue, memoir, and biography as she recounts her enchanting travels in Japan, Kenya, and Italy while retracing the steps of ten remarkable female pioneers from history. What can a forty-something childless woman do? Bored with her life and feeling stuck, Mia Kankimäki leaves her job, sells her apartment, and decides to travel the world, following the paths of the female explorers and artists from history who have long inspired her. She flies to Tanzania and then to Kenya to see where Karen Blixen—of Out of Africa—fame lived in the 1920s. In Japan, Mia attempts to cure her depression while researching Yayoi Kusama, the contemporary artist who has voluntarily lived in a psychiatric hospital for decades. In Italy, Mia spends her days looking for the works of forgotten Renaissance women painters of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, and finally finds her heroines in the portraits of Sofonisba Anguissola, Lavinia Fontana, and Artemisia Gentileschi. If these women could make it in the world hundreds of years ago, why can’t Mia? The Women I Think About at Night is part travelogue and part thrilling exploration of the lost women adventurers of history who defied expectations in order to see—and change—the world.

30 review for The Women I Think About at Night: Traveling the Paths of My Heroes

  1. 4 out of 5

    Suru

    Somewhat anachronistic and naively orientalistic, but the language is engaging and beautiful. Wouldn't recommend, but I'm not ashamed of having read it. Somewhat anachronistic and naively orientalistic, but the language is engaging and beautiful. Wouldn't recommend, but I'm not ashamed of having read it.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Pinta Kauce

    The coolest thing about this book is its title. The original stories of these heroic women were amazing, but, damn, if the author ruined most of them with her (useless) commentary.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Khulud Khamis

    This book! I spent about a week immersed in this book. I needed to take long breaks to look up more information about these inspiring women explorers and artists and look up their works. The first part of the book was a bit tedious to read, as it was a bit colonialist, but it was still interesting to read about Karen Blixen's life. The most interesting part for me was about the Renaissance female artists and Nellie Bly. Nelley Bly, an investigative journalist, traveled around the world in 72 day This book! I spent about a week immersed in this book. I needed to take long breaks to look up more information about these inspiring women explorers and artists and look up their works. The first part of the book was a bit tedious to read, as it was a bit colonialist, but it was still interesting to read about Karen Blixen's life. The most interesting part for me was about the Renaissance female artists and Nellie Bly. Nelley Bly, an investigative journalist, traveled around the world in 72 days. In 1887, at the age of 23, she committed herself to a Blackwell's Island Insane Asylum to uncover injustices and abuse of patients. Now, the female artists of the Renaissance: there is so much I want to write about them, their challenges as female artists, their extraordinary works, but instead I want to urge you to look them up yourself and read about their lives and look up their works. They are: Plautilla Nelli, the only female artist to paint the last supper, Artemisia Gentileschi, Lavinia Fontana, and Sofonisba Anguissola. Mia Kankimäki writes with passion about these women. I am left with thirst to learn more about these women's lives. There's a book I want to read but is currently unavailable. Invisible Women: Forgotten Artists of Florence. If you have any book recommendations on Italian female artists during the Renaissance period, please let me know.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lindsey

    A collection of mini-biographies of female artists, travelers and writers, with lots of self-reflection and whimsical touches, but this mostly falls flat. The author always remains a tourist in her travels, she never really immerses herself in the place or the experience. She also does the bare minimum to distance herself from colonialist attitudes and naïve orientalism. Made me wish I was reading Anna Badkhen instead, who really immerses herself in her travels and blends in personal narrative s A collection of mini-biographies of female artists, travelers and writers, with lots of self-reflection and whimsical touches, but this mostly falls flat. The author always remains a tourist in her travels, she never really immerses herself in the place or the experience. She also does the bare minimum to distance herself from colonialist attitudes and naïve orientalism. Made me wish I was reading Anna Badkhen instead, who really immerses herself in her travels and blends in personal narrative seamlessly. I still enjoyed the mini-biographies though.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    My problem with this book is partially that it’s really two books: a fairly interesting travelogue in the footsteps of famed (or forgotten) women explorers and artists, people whose appeal it’s easy to understand... and a weird fetishization of Karen Blixen and her “courage” in confronting “Africa,” a monolith. Unfortch, the focus on Karen Blixen makes up the entire first third of the book, but by the end of those 130 pages I still had no clue as to the author’s emotional connection with her, or My problem with this book is partially that it’s really two books: a fairly interesting travelogue in the footsteps of famed (or forgotten) women explorers and artists, people whose appeal it’s easy to understand... and a weird fetishization of Karen Blixen and her “courage” in confronting “Africa,” a monolith. Unfortch, the focus on Karen Blixen makes up the entire first third of the book, but by the end of those 130 pages I still had no clue as to the author’s emotional connection with her, or indeed why we as readers should care. Much more troubling are the racial dimensions of the portion on Blixen. At one point, the author says she knows she’s going to get in trouble as a white woman writing about Africa... but like, lol babe, naming your white liberal guilt doesn’t actually expiate it?! Maybe think about the humility with which your end note says you were to write about Africa (again, a monolith), and maybe somewhere in your 130 page paean attempt to explain why the fuck a colonizer like Blixen is worthy of not only your regard, but your readers’??? Finally, God I hope this is a translation error from the Finnish to the English edition, but just wanna note that at one point the author refers to the two Black men who are facilitating her safari as “the boys” (as in, “the boys slept in a different tent” — only one among many indications of her gaze on The Other, but worth noting on its own).

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ardys

    I think I read a review of this one in the NYT and I’m so happy I picked it up. The author writes short essays (except for the long part about Karen Blixen) who provide inspiration and encouragement for her. She ends each chapter with ‘night women’s advice’ which is a short list that summarizes the obstacles the woman of the chapter has overcome: if you want a glorious career, make it. Work out of passion. If you suffer horrific losses, keep going. Worth reading.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Heather Fineisen

    A great arm chair traveling book paying homage to early female adventurers and artists. Filled with lush settings and biographical snippets. The author shares her own experiences in travel and writing the book. My favorite parts were the attempt to follow in Karen Blixen's footsteps and the author's travels around Italy. Charming and informative. Copy provided by the publisher and NetGalley A great arm chair traveling book paying homage to early female adventurers and artists. Filled with lush settings and biographical snippets. The author shares her own experiences in travel and writing the book. My favorite parts were the attempt to follow in Karen Blixen's footsteps and the author's travels around Italy. Charming and informative. Copy provided by the publisher and NetGalley

  8. 4 out of 5

    Hannah Bagnall

    Favorite book I've read in a long time! A great exploration of REAL women, instead of perfect idealized heroines and I could not have loved it more! Favorite book I've read in a long time! A great exploration of REAL women, instead of perfect idealized heroines and I could not have loved it more!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Dace

    I personally really loved it but partly because I really needed to read something like this in Covid times. I find book really inspiring and uplifting. The portraits of night women the author follows are interesting and inspiring that makes me want to dig deeper in their history. The book awakened me from covid's time depressive apathy and made me start exploring and living again. I personally really loved it but partly because I really needed to read something like this in Covid times. I find book really inspiring and uplifting. The portraits of night women the author follows are interesting and inspiring that makes me want to dig deeper in their history. The book awakened me from covid's time depressive apathy and made me start exploring and living again.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Elina Aizporiete

    Author’s research about ladies from 16th-19th century with some stories from her travels. Was expecting to read more of her travels and adventures but it was barley anything. The book was very dry and mostly contained facts/biography of women travellers and artists. I wouldn’t say it was completely boring but it wasn’t very exciting either. I found it odd to be reading about all of the night-women in great detail, from A to Z about their lives but nothing about the author herself or her life. I Author’s research about ladies from 16th-19th century with some stories from her travels. Was expecting to read more of her travels and adventures but it was barley anything. The book was very dry and mostly contained facts/biography of women travellers and artists. I wouldn’t say it was completely boring but it wasn’t very exciting either. I found it odd to be reading about all of the night-women in great detail, from A to Z about their lives but nothing about the author herself or her life. I was reading this book for Book Club and that’s the only reason why I pushed through and finished it. After watching an interview with the author I now understand why I felt like I was reading a school paper and wasn’t being able to connect. As she says, she has written this book for herself, it’s her research and her way of helping her work through things. I personally don’t think it was worth making a book out of it. A blog post would have cut it. On the bright side: The book did give me a brand new perspective on older times and how easy or hard it was to break out of ordinary life. I’m also not a history fan or artsy person, but I’m glad I got to learn bunch of new stuff about subjects I normally wouldn’t. Googling night women and seeing the art and pictures that are described in the book while reading does help to bring stories to life a little bit more.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Aibhilin

    During a time when most of us are avoiding any kind of travel, a book about traveling the world following the paths of famous women adventurers was a delight. See, delightful is the best word to describe this book. Kankimaki expertly describes these women in such loving detail that her night women become your night women. I especially appreciated how personal the author got about her worries about going to Africa and some of the issues she had along the way. When Kanimaki describes the safari sh During a time when most of us are avoiding any kind of travel, a book about traveling the world following the paths of famous women adventurers was a delight. See, delightful is the best word to describe this book. Kankimaki expertly describes these women in such loving detail that her night women become your night women. I especially appreciated how personal the author got about her worries about going to Africa and some of the issues she had along the way. When Kanimaki describes the safari she went on, she opens your eyes to a world only seen through screens or explained by zoologists. The author continuously discusses her feelings of stuck in life: she's forty, childless, and living with her parents. Kankimaki's openness about this creates a kind of personal bond with the reader, one that only enhanced my love of this book. I would highly recommend this book to get over your quarantine crazed cabin fever or if you just want to read a fun book about amazing adventurous women.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Susanna-Sofia Keskinarkaus

    I would've given it 5 stars if it had been 150 pages shorter (out of 650): the end felt a bit stretched BUT the beginning was brilliant! I loved reading about the women exploring Africa in the 17th century and about the author's travels there as well. Karen was my absolutely favorite character but I really enjoyed Isabella, Ida and Mary as well. The book was thought-provoking, fun to read and inspiring as well. And it really raised my interesting in travelling again! I would've given it 5 stars if it had been 150 pages shorter (out of 650): the end felt a bit stretched BUT the beginning was brilliant! I loved reading about the women exploring Africa in the 17th century and about the author's travels there as well. Karen was my absolutely favorite character but I really enjoyed Isabella, Ida and Mary as well. The book was thought-provoking, fun to read and inspiring as well. And it really raised my interesting in travelling again!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Brandie

    "The Women I Think About at Night" is a fabulous memoir about what it means to walk in the footsteps of our heroes. How we see them under our own fairytale lights and find their flaws- making them unflinchingly human. Kankimaki's writing is beautiful and raw. I love when women write vulnerably. "The Women I Think About at Night" is a fabulous memoir about what it means to walk in the footsteps of our heroes. How we see them under our own fairytale lights and find their flaws- making them unflinchingly human. Kankimaki's writing is beautiful and raw. I love when women write vulnerably.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Patty

    I'm sorry I was unable to finish the book... only read a few chapters in the beginning. The writing felt dull and drab to me, maybe because the main character was a little depressed, and it hit too close to home. I'm sorry I was unable to finish the book... only read a few chapters in the beginning. The writing felt dull and drab to me, maybe because the main character was a little depressed, and it hit too close to home.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Apina_lukee_kirjoja

    This book was perfectly targeted to me. Written specifically for my kind of person in my circumstances. And I loved it.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    Forty-something Mia Kankimäki doesn’t have children or a fulfilling job. But she does have a collection of what she calls her ‘Night Women’, women from around the world and throughout history who stepped away from the expectations of their societies and lived their lives on their own terms– through travel, art, or moving to a place entirely outside their previous experiences. These women were the ones Kankimäki read and dreamed about by night, and they were the ones who inspired her to, upon fin Forty-something Mia Kankimäki doesn’t have children or a fulfilling job. But she does have a collection of what she calls her ‘Night Women’, women from around the world and throughout history who stepped away from the expectations of their societies and lived their lives on their own terms– through travel, art, or moving to a place entirely outside their previous experiences. These women were the ones Kankimäki read and dreamed about by night, and they were the ones who inspired her to, upon finding herself drifting aimlessly into her 40s, go out and see if she, too, could make a life for herself on her own terms. Her first stops are Tanzania and Kenya, where Karen Blixen (aka Isak Dinesen, author of Out of Africa) lived and toured for much of her adult life after traveling to Kenya to marry a friend and help oversee his Kenyan coffee plantation. Kankimäki describes Blixen’s arrival in Africa and compares it to her own arrival in Tanzania– a century apart and worlds away from each other. As a white woman, Kankimäki stands out and becomes something of a spectacle among the locals. She doesn’t understand the customs and the food is strange to her. And she wants the sort of safari experience that Blixen encountered in the early twentieth-century, which seems impossible given the effects of climate change, the decline of Africa’s great wildlife, and the rise of the tourism industry. Kankimäki marvels at Blixen’s calm in Out of Africa, which seems unreal. But the more she reads about Blixen, the more Kankimäki realizes that the serene woman in the book came later, after Depression and illness, financial ruin, and tragedy. It was an older Karen Blixen who survived multiple trials who wrote Out of Africa. And the deeper she travels into the Tanzanian wilderness, the more Kankimäki begins to conquer her own fears to encounter, if not the same safari experience Blixen had a century earlier, the closest thing a twenty-first century woman could have. As she looks back on her experiences, the hardships fade away and she realizes how amazing it all was- just as Blixen might have done while writing Out of Africa. But the African experience can’t last forever, and Kankimäki takes us through a whirlwind of travelers from Isabella Byrd to Nellie Bly and others, and if Kankimäki didn’t follow their round-the-world travels exactly, that’s to be expected as it would be impossible for a single person to follow in their intrepid footsteps. All the while, though, Kankimäki wonders at both their courage and ability to face all hardships that come their way and their reluctance to put away society’s expectations upon returning home. Is it the distance that makes us bold and encourages us to step outside our ordinary lives? Kankimäki provides no solid answers, because there really aren’t any. The driving force that causes us to step out in the the unknown can really only be known to the individual. It’s not something that can be defined or fully explained on ink and paper. The best a person can do is find inspiration in those stories and then set out on their own. For their own reasons. Turning away from world travelers, Kankimäki looks farther back into time– to the late Renaissance when women artists like Sofonisba Anguissola, Lavinia Fontana, and Artemesia Gentilleschi proved that women could rival men when it came to painting. As the first female artists who made a living from their art during the Renaissance, they refused to let their talents be set aside to satisfy society’s expectations. They wanted to paint, and they were good at it. Among the best. So paint they did. And finally, hundreds of years later, the world is once more seeing their genius for what it was. As she progresses through a lively discussion of each woman’s life, Kankimäki comes up with a bit of advice from each of them- short, trite little mottoes that are almost ridiculous, but somehow manage to encapsulate their remarkable lives. And while Kankimäki’s description of Florence in the late Renaissance suffers from twenty-first century preconceptions of the supposed lack of cleanliness of pre-modern times, her descriptions of her subject’s lives are full of life, making the reader want to look up the artists’ work or read the travelers’ memoirs. Doug Robinson’s skillful translation give the book a lightness that’s sometimes missing from works in translation, leaving in the dry humor and occasional sarcasm that makes it seem like Kankimäki is sitting just across the table and telling her story– a tale that shows that women of a certain age are capable of remaking their lives entirely, and that by stepping away from society, we might end up stepping more deeply into our own selves. Thank you to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for providing me with a free ebook in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my opinion in anyway.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Grace

    3.5 - I'm back to explain my rating. I really like the concept of this book. It is everything I want in a nonfiction book. Women leading their lives, finding freedom and independence, even in times of yore. I am also sympathetic to the author's struggle to continue to provide for herself and create meaningful work in these times. I appreciated getting to "follow" in the footsteps of some badass ladies who do not get their historical due. However, there are parts of this book that didn't work for 3.5 - I'm back to explain my rating. I really like the concept of this book. It is everything I want in a nonfiction book. Women leading their lives, finding freedom and independence, even in times of yore. I am also sympathetic to the author's struggle to continue to provide for herself and create meaningful work in these times. I appreciated getting to "follow" in the footsteps of some badass ladies who do not get their historical due. However, there are parts of this book that didn't work for me, including these hokey letters the author writes to her heroes. Her own presence in the book is a bit clunky, as opposed to a clearer separation from her exploration of the subject matter. I understand that this is a personal project and she is looking to these women for guidance in how to keep going in her own life. But there is an obvious and legit critique to be made (maybe already has been) about the level of class and racial privilege the author possesses and an unequal level of self-awareness. She occasionally exhibits it, but the circumstances of an educated, well-to-do, property-owning Finnish writer gallivanting around the world from research trip to writer's residency may be off-putting to some. It is also tricky in that she mostly admires and studies Western or European women from the Global North. This is not to take away from the individual hardships each of them faced, usually related to being married at a young age or having to endure near constant pregnancy and childrearing, while also trying to work and live. But the optics are not completely right in the year 2021. She doesn't shy away from critiquing her "heroes" even as she humanizes and seeks to understand them. But this won't be for everyone. I'm willing to play because I want more books like this, that talk about women, of any background, making a life for themselves, oftentimes in unenviable circumstances.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly Allen

    While I loved the premise (woman goes out exploring in the path of her heros) fascinating, I found the execution lacking. I think part of it is simply the author - she is such a character in her own book that if you find her personality grating (as I did), the rest of the book will naturally suffer. The farther into the book you get the more of a role the author takes, as it becomes less about the women in whose footsteps she’s ostensibly following and more about her struggle to write the very b While I loved the premise (woman goes out exploring in the path of her heros) fascinating, I found the execution lacking. I think part of it is simply the author - she is such a character in her own book that if you find her personality grating (as I did), the rest of the book will naturally suffer. The farther into the book you get the more of a role the author takes, as it becomes less about the women in whose footsteps she’s ostensibly following and more about her struggle to write the very book we’re reading. While I have compassion for the struggle of any artist to set down and actually work on their art, it’s not something I want to pay money to read about, especially when I’m seeking out a book on interesting women. It’s with these women though that the book shines. Several were new to me, others were not, but each provided more biographical detail and were fleshed out more humanely than the passing mentions I’ve encountered before. I do wish the author would have set with Karen Blixen’s colonialism a bit longer, which she seems to skim over without truly wrestling with. Overall though, it is the lives of these women that show me that there is no one path to a well-lived life, no prescriptions or “shoulds” you can follow to achieve one - it must be lived on your terms and earned by your merit. It’s the portraits of the women (some more intimate than others), that keeps me from giving the book two stars. The at times mundane writing (perhaps a product of translation), sometimes choppy organization, and the author’s own insertion all count against it (although, again, if you find like author likable and not tedious, that very well my count in the books favor). I’d only recommend to someone if I truly thought they may appreciate the author herself, otherwise I’d imagine there must be other books about interesting women I can read.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sini

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I didn't get to finish the book, because just a few chapters later I was greatly disappointed and uncomfortable. A woman who doesn't understand her privilege as a well-off 40-something, traveling to Kenya and Japan to see the place her heroines have lived, while not being able to share that inspiration with anyone besides herself. It's like Eat Pray Love but nothing I can resonate with. I found this book in a local bookstore and thought it would be inspiring. I always wanted to live an unconventi I didn't get to finish the book, because just a few chapters later I was greatly disappointed and uncomfortable. A woman who doesn't understand her privilege as a well-off 40-something, traveling to Kenya and Japan to see the place her heroines have lived, while not being able to share that inspiration with anyone besides herself. It's like Eat Pray Love but nothing I can resonate with. I found this book in a local bookstore and thought it would be inspiring. I always wanted to live an unconventional life, being single and happily devoted to what I love. I thought I could learn a lot from her, as she comes from the most egalitarian culture in the world. But I don't find her a good role model, at least not through her book. She may have learned during her trips to Africa, Asia, and more, but her reflections don't speak to me. After all, like many of the reviews said, she never went through what the other women went through, and her journey is definitely not as impressive as the women she looked up to. She is only touring the world like any other tourists, and I can't feel her if I never went there myself.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kristiana

    Fantastic Read! I'm no history buff, thus would have never willingly picked this book off the shelf, but the 'travelling' side of it drew me in, in an instant. The adventures are quite fascinating to read, especially the way how women were treated hundreds of years ago. As well as the way they had to travel, and things that needed to be packed. Not like in current times, where you get a backpack, and jump on a plane. Their journey's took much, much longer. There are various of women who have trav Fantastic Read! I'm no history buff, thus would have never willingly picked this book off the shelf, but the 'travelling' side of it drew me in, in an instant. The adventures are quite fascinating to read, especially the way how women were treated hundreds of years ago. As well as the way they had to travel, and things that needed to be packed. Not like in current times, where you get a backpack, and jump on a plane. Their journey's took much, much longer. There are various of women who have travelled and explored around many different parts of our dear planet, Earth. Having included 7+ women, they all seemed to get mixed up in my mind. Nevertheless great journeys they took. Overall, a great historical lessons about some very famous women in history, even though I never heard of these women until reading this book. Very vivid read with my oh so great imagination. Definitely will not overlook a history book again.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mae Tesh

    Loved soaking in the information and life lessons from this book. I've spent so much of my life thinking about fictional women at night and now my eyes have been opened to so many real life women who have done incredible things and I love that Kankimaki can take situations from centuries ago and give us present day advice. It made me feel connected to these women who lived so long ago although we lived very different lives. I was expecting a deeper ending that would leave me pondering for hours Loved soaking in the information and life lessons from this book. I've spent so much of my life thinking about fictional women at night and now my eyes have been opened to so many real life women who have done incredible things and I love that Kankimaki can take situations from centuries ago and give us present day advice. It made me feel connected to these women who lived so long ago although we lived very different lives. I was expecting a deeper ending that would leave me pondering for hours or days afterwards, but I was a bit disappointed. It felt to me at first that the book was incomplete. After a while I realized that the author included her journey at the end for us to consider herself a night woman, but there is conflicting messaging throughout the book on whether she is one or not.

  22. 5 out of 5

    scarlettraces

    [This is a memoir with some light meditation on the creative process, rather than a travel or historical biography book per se. Though I don't think it's misleading on the focal women, where I can tell - I know most about Mary Kingsley, and Mia's Mary feels pretty accurate to me.] An utter delight, especially for a book I ordered at random from the library because it looked interesting when it came up in my search for Isabella Bird. (I'm reading the Gutenberg version of Uneaten Tracks in Japan, b [This is a memoir with some light meditation on the creative process, rather than a travel or historical biography book per se. Though I don't think it's misleading on the focal women, where I can tell - I know most about Mary Kingsley, and Mia's Mary feels pretty accurate to me.] An utter delight, especially for a book I ordered at random from the library because it looked interesting when it came up in my search for Isabella Bird. (I'm reading the Gutenberg version of Uneaten Tracks in Japan, but I wanted to see whether they had any print books... They did not.) Also a spectacularly readable translation with the obvious caveat that I have no idea how it relates to the original text. The (original) Finnish cover is stunning and much more in line with Kankimäki's elegant feminism than the beige nature-writing English-language version. Sigh.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    Starts off with an interesting premise and intriguing mini biographies of "night women" but was disappointed by the author distancing herself from them and her travels. A brief mention of the issues with addressing (or not) colonialism and race while she's in Africa and then lots of discussion about how difficult it is for her to write and will book ever get written (spoiler, it does). While some of these women will continue to live in my thoughts, based on her account, unfortunately this author Starts off with an interesting premise and intriguing mini biographies of "night women" but was disappointed by the author distancing herself from them and her travels. A brief mention of the issues with addressing (or not) colonialism and race while she's in Africa and then lots of discussion about how difficult it is for her to write and will book ever get written (spoiler, it does). While some of these women will continue to live in my thoughts, based on her account, unfortunately this author will not be one of them.

  24. 5 out of 5

    elysa

    WOW. What a beautiful memoir based around the hardship and strength it takes to live up to expectations. I love how Kankimaki wrote so gently but at the same time so strong in how she saw her history and the famous people around it. In a different spotlight. we see our heroes in other lenses and their flaws- making them as human as myself. I will definitely recommend this book the message is worth noting. Thanks to Netgalley, Pub, and Author for this oppurtunity.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    This book starts out interesting with the story of Karen Dirksen of Out of Africa fame. Maybe it should have ended there. It does not. She goes on and on about women explorers, obscure explorers and she goes on for hundreds of pages. Now I've started on the women artists section. Continuing my review: I started the artist section and it is more interesting so more history is added and color to the writing,. I thought the explorer section could have been pared down more. Too many obscure explorers This book starts out interesting with the story of Karen Dirksen of Out of Africa fame. Maybe it should have ended there. It does not. She goes on and on about women explorers, obscure explorers and she goes on for hundreds of pages. Now I've started on the women artists section. Continuing my review: I started the artist section and it is more interesting so more history is added and color to the writing,. I thought the explorer section could have been pared down more. Too many obscure explorers no one has heard of. Long book but worth the read and certainly not a fast read.

  26. 5 out of 5

    kaitlyn

    this book was really slow at times but it also opened my eyes to the hardships women have had to deal with in the past. their options were so limited and every bit of their identity was somehow related to men, they were very rarely allowed to be their own person. it made me realize how lucky i am to have been born in the 21st century where i can choose not to get married and instead pursue my own career

  27. 4 out of 5

    Pat Little

    I loved the stories about strong and outsider women, and I loved her travel descriptions, but it was offputting how many times she whined about how challenging her own life was, how difficult it was for her to sit down and write, despite having opportunities to be in some great places. That being said, I met some new favorite female role models from times long gone.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Christina

    Let's start with this: the book is too long by about a third, and the ground it covers is uncomfortably ambitious for one book. But the subject matter is deeply compelling: female explorers, travelers, and artists in eras when it was extraordinarily difficult for women to do much more than die in childbirth. Let's start with this: the book is too long by about a third, and the ground it covers is uncomfortably ambitious for one book. But the subject matter is deeply compelling: female explorers, travelers, and artists in eras when it was extraordinarily difficult for women to do much more than die in childbirth.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sandy

    Mishmash of the author’s thoughts. I enjoyed the first chapters focusing on Out of Africa’s, Karen B as the author traced her adventures. Then, the following chapters wandered to her college home in Japan while looking for women explorers, then overview chapters of a variety of explorers and finally women artists.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Diskin

    This book is something else entirely. A (translated) book by a Finnish woman about the women she admires. It doesn’t follow any kind of typical memoir/novel outline. It doesn’t follow a straight line. And it’s just intriguing and spectacular. You should read it.

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