I’m Not Reading The Vagina Book

My mind in its natural state is closed. Tight as a fist in a left hook. But being the modern woman I am, I combat my innate inclination towards small-mindedness every chance I get.

Like last Monday when I saw a book on my public library’s “new arrivals” shelves. The book: Naomi Wolf’s Vagina A Biography.

Gripping I whispered to myself.


I grabbed it with the best of intentions. I’m going to read about my body!  I’m going to be educated about the social constructs and biological ways in which I have misunderstood my vagina. It would be like graduate school without the $70 million student loans.

I’m going to open my mind.

For the first 6 days I talked about it.  A lot. A picture on Facebook. An instagram. I enjoyed holding it–face out– on the train half hoping someone would engage me about my vagina book. (No one did.)

“What’s that book all about?” My husband asked.  “I don’t know yet,” I said, even though I’d been escorting it from my bed to my purse to the couch for a week as “the book I am reading.”

I decided to start reading it. I read the intro. I was psyched– I like Naomi Wolf’s passion even if I don’t always agree with her positions. I admired the way she situated her research with a personal narrative. I hope to be that courageous and generous as a writer.

Y’all I wanted to tear through that book to prove to myself (1) that I care about social issues related to my body, (2) that I am interested in understanding my own sexual pleasure, (3) that I could, and (4) for the killer book review I would write of THE VAGINA BOOK, ya’ll!

I didn’t even realize how much I truly didn’t want to read the book– for reasons too complicated to get into here and now– until I walked by the library on the way to the train and popped the book in the return chute. 

I felt so much relief as I watched the metal basket close and take that book out of my hands.

Walking away from the library, I felt lighter– and not just because a 400+ page book is heavy.  It was also one less shackle, one less “should” that I put on my own shoulders. 

Once on the train I settled in to read my other library book, the one I will never take a picture of and the one with the mundane title.  The one that brings me pleasure and escape and is perfect for a train ride.

I felt grateful that project Open My Mind was closed for the day.


66 thoughts on “I’m Not Reading The Vagina Book

  1. I really love this post. Good for you for giving it back. More important than the words in that book is the way you honored where you are. Yesterday in my energy work I told her my intention was to shed the weight I am carrying that I don’t need and isn’t mine to carry. Not kidding. Simpatico my friend.

  2. I LOVED this!!!!! I know it’s important to read things that open our minds. It feels like pressure sometimes. But these days, man! I want to escape all the shit! I totally “get” your relief as you released the book down the chute. Could feel it in your words.

    • I’m not buying “not smart” from you. That’s the thing: reading that book won’t make me smart, but there is a part of me that wants to be high-minded like that and not just sitting on the train reading chick lit. I am almost 40–time to be who I really am. Not a vagina reading person. My vagina likes Costco. Oh my god, I have to stop writing the word vagina.

      • well thanks. and i get what you’re saying. i like to pretend to be my smarter self or my martyr self or my together self… when sometimes i just want a massage and dumb book and crap to eat while i cry. life’s a stage..

        i was going to write that the housewives give me more vagina than i need, but i felt silly writing vagina. maybe i should read the book. have you looked into alice book? i feel like you’ll like it.

      • What’s alice book? I am not familiar. And yes, life’s a stage. I wanna take my make up off and prance down the aisles eating Cheeto’s.

  3. Like you, I try my best to read books in an effort to “push” my boundaries. You are much wiser than me. You were able to return it to the library. I usually just buy the damn thing and then allow it to be a dust catcher on my bookshelf. *sigh*

    • WEll, I have been really into the library for a while, but yesterday someone told me that bed bugs hide in the spine of library books and that’s how you can get them. Um, ewwwww to that. So, I may cool it on the library books.

  4. Meh, vaginas. Naomi sure does know a catchy title, hmm? But really. Really? I applaud your attempt to read her book but if you want to read about vajayjays, try Anais Nin’s Delta of Venus : )
    (okay that’s a joke). I have to admit that I’m skeptical about Wolf’s motives here: catchy flashy title, all edgy and confrontational but then…. I mean, if she wanted to push the envelope, what about PENIS.
    or perhaps that’s her next project? : )

  5. I’ve had enough “shoulds” to last a lifetime. Enough. I love the image of you sending that book back to its maker. 😉 I support you in reading whateverthehellyoufeellike at any given moment!

    • Whooo hoooo!!! There is something very suspect about me reading a 400 page book to learn about sexual pleasure. I imagine I might miss some actual pleasure if I was buried in that book.

  6. Such a good post Christie! I am one of those people who has a hard time putting a book down once I start – even if I hate it. I am not sure why I have trouble quitting books like that. I need to take a lesson from you.

  7. I still catch myself dealing with feeling I should do this or that, and I rarely ever abandon a book, even if I don’t like it. I tell myself life’s too short, but I still do it anyways. “Gripping”–lol!

  8. Good job! In my about me on my site, I mention how I basically only read fluff and sci fi. And if it’s a Pulitzer Prize winner, or even close to being nominated, forget it! I have too much stuff floating around in my head already that I can barely deal with, I’ll leave the complicated insightful stuff to the “normal” people.

  9. You know what’s fun? Reading your responses to your comments. I like to stop by when you’ve already got 40 to 1,000 comments so I can scroll slowly down, savoring each one. You never disappoint. I enjoy that as much as your posts. Your posts never disappoint either. You ever watch Chelsea Handler? She calls her vagina a clasaphagus or a peekachew. It’s difficult to spell made up words, but the pronunciation is phonetic. Much better words than vagina. Naomi and her publishers need to think outside the box.

  10. Holy Vajayjay. What is there to be said about one orifice in 400+ pages? That’s a lot of output on one input. A couple of years ago I found a copy of a book called “That Takes Ovaries” on the street in Manhattan. Thought it would be a fun read. Alas, my “Ovaries” sit on the shelf gathering dust.

  11. I have recently (as in within the past year) given myself the freedom to not read a book I am not liking. I know that sounds weird, but I often just pressed on because…well, I don’t know why. Because that’s what you do? Well no more! I applaud you releasing the Vagina back into the wild for those who want it. Life is too short to spend it dreading what should be enjoyable and fun. –Lisa

  12. I do not have time to read crap that isn’t interesting or well-written. And I definitely don’t have time to read 400 pages on vaginas. I have a hard time stopping a book I’ve started even if it is terrible,so I do my best not to start something terrible.

    Trivia: the only book I’ve started and not finished TWICE is Moby Dick. Bored me to sleep. Other Melville? Fine, but not that one. Ugh…

    I just had to write that because I thought a comment with DICK fit this post.

  13. I love the last line of this. I can completely relate to the idea of struggling to let myself off the hook for something that no one is pressuring me to do but me. Glad you gave yourself a break!

  14. Love this. I totally have books I’m Supposed To Read and often, it’s so much more satisfying to decide this is a book I Don’t Want To Read (at least, now) and drop it back in the chute. Or the shelf. (Or the trash. Just kidding. I don’t throw away books.) I’m glad you felt that way with this book.

  15. I deal with the big neon flashing SHOULD in my mind all the time. I kept “An Inconvenient Truth” in my DVR forever and never watched it. I totally care about the environment, but I just never felt prepared to take this on, especially when my viewing hours are limited to the sleepy end of the day. Thanks for giving me permission to make returns, too!

  16. Vaginas, schmaginas. I feel like the more pressure there is that I “SHOULD” read a book, the more I give it the double bird. My latest example? The Happiness Project. Oh, the irony.

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