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The Women I Think About at Night

Traveling the Paths of My Heroes

Translated by Douglas Robinson

In The Women I Think About at Night, Mia Kankimäki blends travelogue, memoir, and biography as she recounts her enchanting travels in Japan, Kenya, and Italy while retracing the steps of ten remarkable female pioneers from history.

What can a forty-something childless woman do? Bored with her life and feeling stuck, Mia Kankimäki leaves her job, sells her apartment, and decides to travel the world, following the paths of the female explorers and artists from history who have long inspired her. She flies to Tanzania and then to Kenya to see where Karen Blixen—of Out of Africa—fame lived in the 1920s. In Japan, Mia attempts to cure her depression while researching Yayoi Kusama, the contemporary artist who has voluntarily lived in a psychiatric hospital for decades. In Italy, Mia spends her days looking for the works of forgotten Renaissance women painters of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, and finally finds her heroines in the portraits of Sofonisba Anguissola, Lavinia Fontana, and Artemisia Gentileschi. If these women could make it in the world hundreds of years ago, why can’t Mia?

The Women I Think About at Night is part travelogue and part thrilling exploration of the lost women adventurers of history who defied expectations in order to see—and change—the world.

Tommi Tuomi

Mia Kankimäki has worked with books all her life: she has a master’s degree in comparative literature from the University of Helsinki, and she has worked as a copywriter and editor at various publishing houses. Her travels in Tanzania, Kenya, Italy, and Japan in the footsteps of inspirational, historical female figures inspired her book The Women I Think About at Night. When not traveling for her next book project, Mia Kankimäki lives in Helsinki, Finland.

"[A]stute, entertaining....This insightful book will appeal to adventure enthusiasts and be an inspiration for those with an eye on hitting their stride later in life."--Publisher's Weekly

"A thought-provoking blend of history, biography, women’s studies, and travelog, this should appeal to readers interested in any of these subjects, and those who love eclectic narrative nonfiction."--Library Journal

"[E]nlightening...[A] patchwork study of the many hurdles women artists faced—and still face."--Kirkus

"The stories are complicated and inspiring, and Kankimäki’s experience unwinding each one to help understand her own life reminds us of the power of using travel for self-discovery."--TRAVEL + LEISURE