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A Woman's Book of Life: The Biology, Psychology, and Spirituality of the Feminine Life Cycle 1st Riverhead Trade Pbk. Ed Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1573226516
ISBN-10: 1573226513
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Women have always known that we are cyclical creatures, strongly influenced by our daily, monthly, and yearly rhythms. Finally, we have a book that examines these natural cycles as gifts rather than weaknesses or curses. Dividing the female life span by the mystical number of seven years, Joan Borysenko reveals the biological forces that drive our physical, emotional, and spiritual development. This is a pragmatic book filled with groundbreaking medical research; it is also a book that dares to explore the link between female biology and female mystery. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Borysenko, author of Minding the Body, Mending the Mind (1988), is back with a holistic approach to what's right about being a woman. The Harvard-educated scientist, author, and spiritual guide uses the latest hormonal and neurological research to show the "life path" down which each woman travels. What she terms a "bio-psycho-spiritual feedback loop" reveals its gifts gradually as a woman completes 12 seven-year cycles of renewal and metamorphosis, each one preparing her for the next. There are three such cycles in each life "quadrant": childhood, young adulthood, midlife, and late adulthood. The thirteenth cycle is death. Borysenko explains the evolving capacities of each period, traces the waxing and waning of feminine consciousness, and assures women that midlife is a stage, not a crisis. The book is laced with fascinating insights from experts such as Jungian analyst Clarissa Pinkola Estes, gynecologist Dr. Christiane Northrup, and cardiologist Dr. Dean Ornish. An appendix of medications and prayer practices rounds out the work. This is an intriguing, provocative look at the way women should view their bodies, their minds, and their spirits. Patricia Hassler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Trade; 1st Riverhead Trade Pbk. Ed edition (January 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573226513
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573226516
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #297,105 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on February 18, 1998
Format: Paperback
I found this book rather disappointing. Borysenko is at her strongest when she discusses the body-mind connection and the changes a woman goes through in the course of the life cycle; these parts of the book contain useful, up-to-date information for women of any age, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend them to readers. On the other hand, the "typical woman" whose story she chooses to present throughout the book is a white, upper-middle-class, well-educated woman who takes an exotic job, marries a professional man, and has perfect children ... sorry, but this doesn't sound like most women I know. Her heroine's big teenage crisis is whether or not to diet; her major marital upheaval turns out to be a misunderstanding; and when her husband dies she immediately finds another boyfriend. Where's the child who cuts school or gets involved in drugs; the husband who ditches her to marry a younger woman, leaving her to support herself and the kids on a secretary's salary; the chronic illness that blights her old age? Or do only women who lead relatively sheltered lives have the time and leisure to consider the meaning of the cycles in their lives? Unfortunately, that's the impression the book left me with. Borysenko is apparently a kind, compassionate person who wants to help people make sense of their lives, but the range of readers addressed by this book is awfully narrow.
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By A Customer on February 26, 2004
Format: Paperback
I sat down and read this book in two days...I just couldn't put it down. For the first time in my life (I am a young woman in my twenties) I am looking forward to the process of growing older and wiser. Even looking forward to experiencing the changes my body will go through in menopause. I no longer fear getting older and losing my "beauty". This book has caused powerful insight and reflection moving me closer to my potential. The mystery of womanhood is celebrated and embraced in this book rather than touted as less important than "traditional" roles. I will refer back to this book again and again, as well as recommend it to the women in my life who I hold the dearest.
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Format: Paperback
If you are a woman, or have a woman in your life (mother, wife, daughter, etc.), you should read this book. In other words, whoever you are, you should read this book. It's accessable and easy to read, but packed so full of information and new ideas that even if you disagree with half the book, the other half will open your eyes.

Dr. Borysenko is a scientist, with strong interests in health, spirituality, mind-body interaction, and the role of women in our society. This book synthesizes those ideas into a fascinating whole. It's definitely pitched to the layman (layperson?) rather than to scientists, and presents a broad range of ideas in an accessible and entertaining manner.

Borysenko's goal is to describe the physical and mental changes women undergo in their lives, and to outline a positive way to view each of the phases in a woman's life - childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and maturity. She synthesizes a tremendous amount of science and wisdom to do it, discussing everything from genetics and cell division to Lakota Sioux attitudes towards menstruation. Few readers are likely to agree with everything Borysenko writes, but her ability to take disparate information and combine it is sure to give every reader some new insights into women's physical and mental development, and ways in which women can craft their role in life.

Borysenko introduces most chapters with the ongoing story of a hypothetical character, "Julia", as she matures through each of Borysenko's stages of life. As some of the other reviewers have pointed out, Julia seems to be an idealized verion of Dr. Borysenko herself, an upper-middle class white American with strong interests in womens' development. While this may alienate some readers, I think it's worth sticking with the book.
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Format: Hardcover
this book will re-establish lost esteem, spirituallity, and faith in yourself and others with factual data as to "how" and "why" age-old myths have continually been perpetuated and desiged to "keep a woman in her place". However, if you are anti-male, this is not for you. Borysenko is not out to write the great male-bashing literary materpiece. She simply presents the facts with no obvious biases, and educates while encouraging some self-examination along the way. I will be sending a copy to every female in my family!
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Format: Paperback
I found this book to be very insightful and fun! Normally I don't read these kind of books, but I found this one very enjoyable. Borysenko makes so many fascinating points and backs them with evidence and examples that aren't boring. It's opened my eyes to many things and explained a few things that were unclear to me before I read this book. I've recommended this book to every women I know and even men!
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Format: Paperback
If a book makes me look forward to mid-life - I am all over it! This book was actually required reading for my course study in human development - what a find! Here, Harvard researcher and bestselling author, Joan Borysenko, takes the cycles of a woman's life and divides them into 7 year increments. Along the journey, she also makes a great case for debunking old myths about women and aging.?That's a Big 10-4, Ms. Borysenko! I find myself constantly at odds with the "beauty" images that the media gives us. I mean, come on, why 'o why are we more often rewarding people for how they look and less for what they contribute to society?

Perhaps it's escapism - I tell myself (in effort to sleep at night). Yet, after reading Borsyenko's, book I'm reminded that, yes, it's good to follow intellectual pursuits. And, yes, there's differences between women and men. According to Borysenko, women are most often motivated by what they can contribute to society, family, and how to make a difference in the world. Men tend to define themselves by their work. Most telling! Anyhow, I won't give away the store here - but in my opinion, if you are of the female persuasion, you will not want to miss this read.
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