31 Days of Great Nonfiction: A Year of Biblical Womanhood

Year of Biblical WomanhoodA Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband “Master”A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband by Rachel Held Evans

One of my favorite books from the year, in large part because of how thought-provoking it is. I hesitated to read it, thinking it would be a female version of A.J. Jacob’s The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible. That is so not the case.

Evans, unlike Jacobs, is a Christian, and approaching the project as a believer ended up making for a very different feel. (Approaching it as a woman and attempting to address the many many many ideas that there are about “Biblical Womanhood” made it a very different book too, but that I expected.)

I read some really critical reviews of this book, from people who objected strenuously to her theology and some of her actions and claims. While I do agree with some of the criticism, I don’t think that in any way takes away from the value of the book to get the reader thinking through some of the issues raised. In addition, this book isn’t written as a theological treatise, and needs to be read for what it is. (Update: RHE has a recent post on her blog, talking about this very issue. She also has a response to one of the critical reviews that is excellent. Read them both!)

Overall, I found it to be a really compelling. I loved how willing she was to dive into things and try something new (and a little bit crazy or weird). Plus, it’s fun – she’s got a sense of humor and her writing style was very appealing to me.

And, a heads-up – if you’re interested in the book for your Kindle or Kindle app, , grab it soon, because it’s on sale for only $2.99 until the end of the monthA Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband .

Publisher’s Description:
Strong-willed and independent, Rachel Held Evans couldn’t sew a button on a blouse before she embarked on a radical life experiment—a year of biblical womanhood. Intrigued by the traditionalist resurgence that led many of her friends to abandon their careers to assume traditional gender roles in the home, Evans decides to try it for herself, vowing to take all of the Bible’s instructions for women as literally as possible for a year.

Pursuing a different virtue each month, Evans learns the hard way that her quest for biblical womanhood requires more than a “gentle and quiet spirit” (1 Peter 3:4). It means growing out her hair, making her own clothes, covering her head, obeying her husband, rising before dawn, abstaining from gossip, remaining silent in church, and even camping out in the front yard during her period.

See what happens when a thoroughly modern woman starts referring to her husband as “master” and “praises him at the city gate” with a homemade sign. Learn the insights she receives from an ongoing correspondence with an Orthodox Jewish woman, and find out what she discovers from her exchanges with a polygamist wife. Join her as she wrestles with difficult passages of scripture that portray misogyny and violence against women.

With just the right mixture of humor and insight, compassion and incredulity, A Year of Biblical Womanhood is an exercise in scriptural exploration and spiritual contemplation. What does God truly expect of women, and is there really a prescription for biblical womanhood? Come along with Evans as she looks for answers in the rich heritage of biblical heroines, models of grace, and all-around women of valor.

31 Days of Great Nonfiction

Held Evans has also written a more traditional memoir, Evolving in Monkey Town: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask the Questions, which traces her spiritual journey. If you enjoy the “year of” format, try A.J. Jacobs’ The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible. It’s surprisingly not-repetitive from this book, because it’s written by a Jewish man (non-practicing, but it still shapes his worldview and the narrative quite a bit). And if you really like the “year of” format, there was quite the publishing trend for awhile of that – you can find what seems like any topic, and someone spent a year doing it (or not doing it), and writing a book about it. Stunt journalism in action!

To see all the books featured in 31 Days of Great Nonfiction, go to the series page.

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  1. LOVED this book too! Am loving your series this year! (I featured in a list of my favorite ’31 Days’ series a few posts back.) I love that I have found some wonderful reads through your blog, friend. Blessings! 🙂

  2. I really enjoyed this book as well! I thought her chapter on the myth of the Proverbs 31 woman was so interesting, I really liked how she researched the Jewish take on the concept. I declare you a Woman of Valor! For writing such a great 31 Days series. =)

    • Aw, thank you. I loved that chapter too, and I think of it every time I come across a reference to a Proverbs 31 woman now. I hadn’t realized just how many references I’d find to her and the concept!

  3. I’ve wondered about this book and have read reviews. Thanks for your insights!

  4. Thanks for reminding me about this book. I listened to an interview with her on the radio (and sat in the parking lot to hear it all the way to the end!) I just requested it from the library. (I have too much to read and not enough time, thanks to you, now. But that’s a good problem to have. :))

    • It is a good problem to have. I’d imagine that it’d be interesting to an interview with her – she’s got a lot of interesting perspectives and is so thought-provoking.

  5. I admit to being curious about this book, but I’ve learned the hard way not to read too many books simply out of curiosity… haven’t decided yet about this one. It does sound intriguing.

    • I don’t know your tastes in these sorts of books well enough to make a confident guess. I think you’re a lot more theologically conservative than she is, but would that keep you from enjoying the book?

  6. I remember when this book came out. It seemed interesting, but the blurb made me a bit hesitant. I am glad that you liked it, I will add it to my TBR list. 🙂

  7. I have appreciated each book this month. Surprisingly this is one of the few I have read… Of course not surprisingly my amazon wish list is at an all time high. Anyways RHE’s AYear is one of the best books I read this year. I too entered a skeptic. Her humble and humorous attitude won me over. I am still considering the points she raised and am trying some new things… I am now an expert challah maker! What was your favorite or most thought provoking chapter. The Pr. 31 woman was for me. I will probably write a series on it when I have a better grasp on my thoughts. Amt

    • I’m pretty sure it’s the P31 woman chapter as well. And it did make me want to bake challah, even though I’ve never liked the taste of challah. So far I’ve resisted the temptation, but I love the idea of having that weekly ritual.


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