How to Think Like a Woman

Current Stock: 2
UPC: 9780802158802
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Authors: Regan Penaluna

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Grove Press (March 14, 2023)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 320 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0802158803
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0802158802
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.1 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.9 x 1.3 x 9.1 inches


From a bold new voice in nonfiction, an exhilarating account of the lives and works of influential 17th and 18th century feminist philosophers Mary Wollstonecraft and her predecessors who have been written out of history, and a searing look at the author’s experience of patriarchy and sexism in academia

As a young woman growing up in small-town Iowa, Regan Penaluna daydreamed about the big questions: Who are we and what is this strange world we find ourselves in? In college she fell in love with philosophy and chose to pursue it as an academician, the first step, she believed, to becoming a self-determined person living a life of the mind. What Penaluna didn’t realize was that the Western philosophical canon taught in American universities, as well as the culture surrounding it, would slowly grind her down through its misogyny, its harassment, its devaluation of women and their intellect. Where were the women philosophers?

One day, in an obscure monograph, Penaluna came across Damaris Cudworth Masham’s name. The daughter of philosopher Ralph Cudworth and a contemporary of John Locke, Masham wrote about knowledge and God, and the condition of women. Masham’s work led Penaluna to other remarkable women philosophers of the era: Mary Astell, who moved to London at age twenty-one and made a living writing philosophy; Catharine Cockburn, a philosopher, novelist, and playwright; and the better-known Mary Wollstonecraft, who wrote extensively in defense of women’s minds. Together, these women rekindled Penaluna’s love of philosophy and awakened her feminist consciousness.

In How to Think Like a Woman, Regan Penaluna blends memoir, biography, and criticism to tell the stories of these four women, weaving throughout an alternative history of philosophy as well as her own search for love and truth. Funny, honest, and wickedly intelligent, this is a moving meditation on what philosophy could look like if women were treated equally.



“An alternate philosophical canon, where women and their intellect are deeply and rigorously examined.” — The Millions, Most Anticipated Books of 2023

How to Think Like a Woman is a much-needed revelation.” — Literary Hub, Most Anticipated Books of 2023

“Incisive…Penaluna skillfully captures the thinking of these four women in impassioned prose as she challenges sexism in the canon…Lucid and frank, this blend of memoir, biography, and criticism makes a solid case for why representation matters.” — Publishers Weekly


Thought-provoking…Engaging…A considerable achievement.” — Bookliststarred review

“[Penaluna’s] story of rebuilding and reimagining personally and professionally demonstrates defiant independence from patriarchal prescriptions and their shame and an embrace of feminist anger, ambiguity, and diversity of thought….[A] redemptive reclamation of the female voice in the study of philosophy.” — Kirkus 


"A feminist rallying cry informed by centuries of thought on the 'woman question,' this elegantly written and intellectually rigorous memoir is a gift to women in male-dominated fields—and to everyone living a life of the mind while also trying to be a decent human being." — Ada Calhoun, Author of Why We Can't Sleep: Women's New Midlife Crisis 

"How to Think Like a Woman is a fascinating and illuminating work of non-fiction by a writer of real style and critical intelligence. Regan Penaluna has created an elegant synthesis of intellectual history, memoir and feminist polemic that deserves to be widely read as a corrective to centuries of misogyny and erasure in philosophy."—Mark O’Connell, author of Notes from an Apocalypse

“In a world in which philosophy is not only sexist in underestimating women's actual and potential contributions, but actively misogynistic in pushing women out of the field, we need this book. Regan Penaluna's How To Think Like a Woman is at once a deeply personal and philosophically riveting meditation on four brilliant and inspiring female philosophers--Mary Astell, Damaris Masham, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Catharine Cockburn--that I learned so much from. A must-read for anyone who cares about what happens to women, young and old, in this needlessly and harmfully male-dominated profession.”—Kate Manne, author of Entitled: How Male Privilege Hurts Women


“Regan Penaluna’s courageous book is a walk along the bluffs, amid the drowned gardens, telling of the sun and flood of her life. Along those bluffs four women from the past keep her company, awaiting the words she will speak of them and herself.”—Alexander Nemerov, author of Fierce Poise: Helen Frankenthaler and 1950s New York

“A sharp-eyed reappraisal of four brilliant women in history — and a provocative challenge to the philosophy bros.” — Helen Lewis, author of Difficult Women

About the Author

Regan Penaluna is a writer and journalist based in Brooklyn. Previously, she was an editor at Nautilus Magazine and Guernica, where she wrote and edited long-form stories and interviews. A feature she wrote was listed in the Atlantic as one of “100 Exceptional Works of Journalism.”