books, history, non-fiction, review

Review: Swimming in the Steno Pool by Lynn Peril

Oh Lynn Peril… I love her books so much, and this one hasn’t disappointed me!

Millions of women have held the position of secretary, alternately lauded as a breakthrough opportunity and excoriated as dead-end busy work. From the female pioneers who infiltrated Capitol Hill offices during the Civil War to today’s tech-savvy administrative assistants, secretaries have withstood criticism for abandoning their rightful sphere (the home), weathered the dubious advice of secretarial guide- books, taken hits from feminists and antifeminists alike, and demanded the right to resist making coffee—all while making their bosses look good.

In Swimming in the Steno Pool, author-secretary Lynn Peril profiles the various incarnations of the secretary, from pliable, sexy mate of the “office husband” to postfeminist executive-in-training, drawing inspiration from a wide range of “femorabilia” and secretarial guidebooks of yesteryear. Featuring an array of fabulous illustrations promoting office equipment and office girls alike, Peril delivers a feisty, witty celebration of the women who’ve been running the show for decades.

I’ve reviewed Lynn Peril’s other books before, and this one isn’t much different than the others. They are funny, witty, informative, and not boring at all. I don’t like dry non-fiction books, but Lynn Peril writes so beautifully, you just keep reading! And what’s also wonderful, is that the book isn’t just promoting feminism. I’m a feminist but I completely conform to the traditional gendernorms, and this book doesn’t tell you that that’s bad. Nor is it bad to be you. It’s the best feminist book, because it actually promotes accurate feminism, the best feminism is the type of feminism that let’s people stay people and be who they are, there’s nothing wrong with either side of the spectrum, as long as you don’t hurt anyone.

Enfin, the book gives great insight into the world of office work for women. I pride myself in knowing quite a bit about 20th century history, but about 80% of this book was full of information I didn’t know at all, which is great. Nothing is as boring as reading a book and learn nothing from it. Long story short, I love this book. Whether you want to read about female office work, read a book about feminist history or both, this is the book for you!

You can buy it here!


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