Books. I've read a few—and I've written a few.
Swimming in the Steno Pool. A Retro Guide to Making It in the Office. (published by W.W. Norton)
Breakthrough opportunity or dead-end busy work? Millions of women have held the position of secretary, withstanding criticism for abandoning their rightful sphere (the home), weathering the dubious advice of secretarial guidebooks, and seeing their fictional selves achieve stardom in everything from romance novels to television shows like The Office and Mad Men. In Swimming in the Steno Pool, Lynn Peril delivers a feisty, witty celebration of the women who have been running the show for decades.
“The title . . . might lead one to expect a kind of novelty how-to manual full of advice for lady office workers in the Mad Men days, adapted for the realities of contemporary cubicle dwellers. That's not what Swimming in the Steno Pool is about--but there are plenty of lessons to be drawn from its entertaining history of the secretary.” Bitch Magazine
A “light, wry history of the secretarial profession …” The New York Times
College Girls. Bluestockings, Sex Kittens and Co-eds, Then and Now. (published by W.W. Norton)
“Will her B.A. ruin her chances for an M-r-s.? Will too much study endanger her procreative organs? And if higher education is truly safe for a young woman, what sort of curriculum is appropriate? Greek and Latin? Home economics? According to Peril . . . in this history of women in colleges, ever since the first young ladies went off to their ‘dame schools’ in early America, people have been debating such questions. Underlying these mentionable fears was one more worrisome: who would protect a girl's virtue when she lived away from home, surrounded by hormonal young men? As Peril makes clear, throughout history ‘[a]dults inevitably get their granny-sized panties in a bunch when it comes to the sexcapades of the younger generation.’ . . . Peril's witty, irreverent style, her generous use of old advertisements and photos and her careful footnotes make this text unusually user-friendly.” Publisher’s Weekly
“Peril follows Pink Think (2002) with another witty and humorous look at women's history. . . . Researchers and pleasure readers alike will find a great deal to appreciate in Peril's fresh and engaging work.” Colleen Mondor, Booklist
Pink Think. Becoming a Woman in Many Uneasy Lessons. (published by W.W. Norton)
“Using her own deliciously quaint collection of pop-culture curiosities . . . that include magazine ads, child-rearing and teenage manuals, home-economics textbooks and teenage novels, products and games, the author unveils a social history of femininity from 1940 to 1970. Through board games with names like Miss Popularity and Park and Shop -- both intended to teach the womanly art of shopping --and advertisements for products like a Lysol douche, Ms. Peril reveals an entire world organized around raising and/or becoming a tidy wife and mother who keeps her mouth shut, her legs crossed and her skirts wrinkle-free.” Penelope Green, New York Times.
“In casual, friendly language, Peril who shares tales of her own childhood pink think rebellion charts the amusing yet sad history of how women have been conditioned with a set of rules that often begins with someone telling them little girls are made of ‘sugar and spice and everything nice.’ A pop culture history of achieving the feminine ideal, the book explores everything from childhood and adolescence to marriage and the workplace. . . . [I]t’s hilariously entertaining.” Publishers Weekly