book of jezebel


Fresh Air book reviewer Maureen Corrigan says give the new Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy a [hard] pass and go for feminist encyclopedia The Book of Jezebel instead:

Dizzy dames don’t age well.  An attractive young thing doing prat falls is disarming; an older woman stumbling around for laughs spells hip replacement.  Sad to say, Bridget Jones has hung on to her once-endearing daffiness, self-deprecation, and wine dependency far past their collective expiration date.  That’s one of the big reasons why her latest outing, called Mad About the Boy, is painful to read.

…If you’re looking for jolly feminist cultural commentary, give Mad About the Boy a pass and, instead, pick up The Book of Jezebel.  This is a lavish encyclopedia composed of contributions from the writers and artists who’ve helped shape the Jezebel website, which was created in 2007 by award-winning writer, Anna Holmes.  The Book of Jezebel is packed with gorgeous graphics and photos, as well as witty and unruly entries on everything from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie books to speculums.  Most gloriously, this is an encyclopedia with a voice.  Take, for instance, the entry on conservative commentator Ann Coulter, which notes that she “subsists on a diet of kittens.” (70)  There’s even a prophetic entry for Bridget Jones’s Diary, which observes that the enormous popularity of the first novel inspired the mostly “crappy” chick lit craze, which eventually cannibalized the genre’s original heroine.  They got that right without even seeing this most recent Bridget Jones sequel.

Read the full review here.

At the time I was writing for a site ( that was explicitly feminist-identified, and we often took on the role of calling out Jezebel the way Jezebel called out mainstream women’s magazines. As more time has passed, though, I’ve come to see Anna’s approach as kind of the sweet spot: broad enough to appeal to the “I’m not a feminist but” types, but critical enough to call out more conventional women’s media.
—  I talked to The Aesthete about the brilliant Anna Holmes, the founding editor of Jezebel. I also contributed to the Book of Jezebel, which is out today! ORDER YOUR COPY NOW before the FOMO sets in.
Book Review: The Book of Jezebel by Anna Holmes

Book to Review: The Book of Jezebel by Anna Holmes, Kate Harding, + Amanda Hess
Stars: ★★★ (real rating: 3/5)

Source: c/o NetGalley

Synopsis: “From, the popular website for women, comes a must-read encyclopedic guide to pop culture, feminism, fashion, sex, and much more.

With contributions from the writers and creatives who give the site its distinctive tone and broad influence, THE BOOK OF JEZEBEL is an encyclopedia of everything important to the modern woman. Running the gamut from Abzug, Bella and Baby-sitters Club, The to Xena, Yogurt, and Zits, and filled with entertaining sidebars and arresting images, this is a must-read for the modern woman.

Review: I know everyone has coffee table books, right? Those giant books that you only pull out when you have guests coming over so you look well-traveled, whimsical, modern, fashionable, etc.? They’re full of pretty pictures and light on the words. Well, this book is one of those types of books.

I learned a lot of fun facts in this book, mostly about historical feminists that I never heard of. (And before you start sighing at me, I took 2 women’s studies courses in college and loved them.) But also some more pop culture-ish factoids, and I’m going to share with you my favorites:

  • Did you know Mama Cass (of the Mamas and the Papas) did not actually choke to death? I’d heard that all my life since we all know she had a bit of a weight problem. Apparently she actually died of a heart attack.
  • Did you know that Amelia Earhart (you know, the first woman to fly across the Atlantic by herself) worked as an editor at Cosmopolitan and was a fashion designer? She also was a huge feminist and did not take her husband’s last name. 
  • Did you know that Anna Wintour worked at Viva magazine (similar to Penthouse) AND, the real kicker here, reportedly DATED Bob Marley? Say what! 

There are many more fun facts hidden in the pages of the Book of Jezebel, Overall though, I had mixed feelings about it because I read it all on a long car ride. This probably is not the normal type of reading for this type of book, and thus may have led me to rate it lower than say, someone who is a fanatical follower of the Jezebel blog. And also, isn’t Jezebel in some of kind of scandal right about now over some photos of Lena Dunham or something? Way to be timely, me. 

Do you enjoy pop culture/feminist blogs like Jezebel? What do you think about a coffee table book from them? 


The Book of Jezebel: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Lady Things 

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  Buy Book | Kindle 

Marketplace: The 5 Sites Jezebel Creator Anna Holmes Thinks You are Missing Out On

On Point: Jezebel Founder Anna Holmes

All Things Considered: An Honest look at ‘Lady Things’

Fresh Air: Choose 'Jezibel’ over “Bridget Jones’

NPR: The World According to 'Jezibel’

WPR: An Encyclopedia of Lady Things

With contributions from the writers and creatives who give the site its distinctive tone and broad influence, THE BOOK OF JEZEBEL is an encyclopedia of everything important to the modern woman. Running the gamut from Abzug, Bellaand Baby-sitters Club, The to Xena, Yogurt, and Zits, and filled with entertaining sidebars and arresting images, this is a must-read for the modern woman.

Encyclopedic knowledge

When I was little, a traveling encyclopedia salesman came to our house and gave my parents the hard sell – by showing me and my younger sister the encyclopedias. I wanted them so badly that I cried when my parents declined to pay whatever absurd amount of money they didn’t have so that I could have the encyclopedias like my elementary school library had, but all to myself, to read at my leisure. (I didn’t know the word “leisure” so much, though what I knew of it had to do with leezure suits, because my mom said my dad used to wear a really ugly one before they got married.)

I still have never owned an encyclopedia – but starting today you can read my contributions to one! The Book of Jezebel hit stores today, and I’m one of the contributors on important topics ranging from Cyndi Lauper to zygotes.

Regrettably, I had to learn about swear words from the dictionary because the encyclopedias never explained them. The Book of Jezebel just solved this for me, about 27 years too late.

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Second visual idea for the Jezebel book cover project. I’ll have to simplify it substantially, since the project calls for a minimalist design, but I’m happy with this direction.

(I forgot to take a picture of my first idea before I turned it in…)

Term that the antichoice movement would perfer you eschew in favor of the cozy sounding “Pro-life” even though its objectively bogus. “Pro life simply cannot describe a movement that objects to vaccinating young women against HPV to save them from cervical cancer. Or that objects to distributing condoms to communities in which HIV is rampant. Or that objects to stem cell research that could potentially save millions of lives. in lieu of "Pro-life” antichoicers will often begrudgingly accept “antiabortion” but again, this term fails a basic accuracy test. After all, antichoicers work hard at increasing the main cause of abortion, unwanted pregnancy, which can’t help but increase the abortion rate. they do this by fighting contraception education in schools, by defund family planning programs that provide contraception here and abroad,by supporting laws that allow pharmacists to deny women contraception, and by spreading misinformation about the safety and efficacy of the pill. anti choice is the inverse of pro-life, a perfectly accurate, if limited term to describe the people who think women should have choices when it comes to reproduction. But “anti choice” does fail to reflect the breadth and depth of the fear and loathing experienced by anti choice activists when it comes to the subject of women having sex without paying a terrible price, either at the end of a coat hanger or in being marched down the aisle to marry a guy whose sole husbandry qualifications is that he turned you on after a few rounds one Saturday night. At a reset event at the Manhattan Institute conservative Kay Hymowitz nostalgically recalled the halcyon days before feminism, when a 20-year-old-woman would have been a wife and mother.“ (you know before doing pointless things women find so entrancing these days such as getting educations and careers, and avoiding having your first divorce and remarriage before you’re thirty.) for the anti choice movement, visions of twenty-year-old-brides do not have to be relegated to the world of the fifties sitcom fantasy but can become a twenty-first-century reality. All they need is to apply a little force. An abortion ban here, the end of birth control pill distribution there, and the next thing you know, all the gains women have made n the past few decades have crumbled into a pile of dirty diapers. And its the forced part of the equation that makes the term anti choice an apt description feminists return to time and again.
—  The Book of Jezebel: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Lady Things by
Anna Holmes

I was a member of the Women of Jezebel group, and when I went up to answer questions, people seemed surprised at my answers. I was a little, too. In Atwood’s book, the women in Jezebel’s are there, not because they want to be, but because they had no other choice. It was either Jezebel’s or the colonies, where they’d inevitably die. In class, I kept getting questions about why I wouldn’t just rather go to the colonies and die, and I was asking myself the same thing. 

And then I started thinking about women today, and I realized the novel isn’t that far off. When we think of prostitutes and strippers and hookers or whatever you want to call them, there is obviously a lot of negative thoughts. But I think that we should look at it from another point of view. Being a prostitute isn’t something any woman would chose for herself; it’s something they do when they are desperate. But the fact that they are willing to do those terrible things says something about them: they’re fighters. They could have given up. They could have killed themselves (or in the book, gone to the colonies), but they don’t. They don’t give up. And the reason I believe that is, is because somewhere deep down, they still have hope that things will change.  


Today in class it was the Jezebels turn to get up on stage and answer the classes questions. In the book the handmaids tale the Jezebels are the picture of freedom, they have escaped being a handmaid and can now spend there days free but nights are spent pleasing the men. The Jezebels got up there and said basically that there life wasn’t perfect but hey they had at least a little bit of freedom more then anyone else can say. Now everyone instantly pushed back on that but I agreed with them. Then we started to compare the Jezebels to basically strippers and then we were comparing strippers to models and how closely or not closely related those two groups of people are. Now I disagree I don’t think that the Jezebels are like strippers at all I think they represent something different. I related it to teenage girls. They are always looking for an inch or freedoms from something and when they get it they look and see sometimes it wasn’t always that great. But even if it wasn’t this helps them grow as people and live their lives to the fullest. Just like the Jezebles were telling us in class today at least they lived there lives the best the could, there were trying.