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Stories of Mighty Women

2017 Biographies for Adult Readers

The Year's Best Biographies about Inspiring Women for Older Teen & Adult Readers!

On A Mighty Girl, we feature thousands of books for children and teens about smart, confident, and courageous girls and women, but we are also often asked for reading recommendations for adults about inspiring women of the past and present. To that end, in this blog post, we're sharing our favorite biographies for older teen and adult readers about Mighty Women that were released in either hardcover or paperback this year. Whether you're looking for an empowering last-minute Christmas present or a thought-provoking title to tackle in the new year, these women's stories are sure to inspire!

For more of our favorite Mighty Girl books of 2017 for all ages, visit our special feature on the 2017 Books of the Year.

The 2017 Mighty Women Reading List for Adults

Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II

Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II

Written by: Liza Mundy
Recommended Age: Adults

In the midst of World War II, with many American men fighting overseas, over ten thousand women were recruited for an important but secret mission: these women would be trained as codebreakers. In Washington, they learned to crack codes, deciphering messages that would shorten the war and save the lives of countless people. They also gained access to a new realm of career advancement that had previously been closed to women. But after the war, with their vow of secrecy still in place, their stories were nearly lost. Author Liza Mundy dug deep into newly released files and interviewed surviving "code girls" to create this fascinating history of the women whose work made a significant but hidden contribution to America's war effort.

The Woman's Hour
New!

The Great Fight to Win the Vote

The Woman's Hour
New!

The Great Fight to Win the Vote

Written by: Elaine Weiss
Recommended Age: Adults

In August, 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment — guaranteeing women the legal right to vote — was at a critical point. Thirty-five states have already ratified it, but twelve have either rejected it or refused to vote at all. One final state has to ratify it to end the seventy-year push for women's suffrage, and Tennessee is about to decide. Many people stand in support, but the opposition includes many powerful people (including those who don't want to black women to gain the ballot) and the "Antis," women who believe suffrage will cause moral collapse. In this taut and suspenseful book, Elaine Weiss describes the last push to the passage of this critical legislation, capturing both the intensity of the opposition and the incredible influence the Nineteenth Amendment made on 20th Century history.

Suzanne's Children: A Daring Rescue in Nazi Paris

Suzanne's Children: A Daring Rescue in Nazi Paris

Written by: Anne Nelson
Recommended Age: Adults

In the late 1930s, Suzanne Spaak, a child of Belgium's leading political family, met a Polish Jewish refugee in Paris, and she discovered a new purpose; helping people escape from the Nazi regime. When Paris fell, she used her wealth and connections in service of the Resistance, arranging for thousands of children to be "kidnapped" out from under the Gestapo's nose. As liberating armies approached Paris, it seemed like safety might finally be achievable... until Spaak was caught in a Gestapo dragnet. For her "crimes" against the Nazi regime, she was executed — only shortly before Paris was freed. This powerful story was meticulously researched, but reads like a thriller, full of suspenseful twists — and starring a daring woman who gave her life to protect Europe's most vulnerable during World War II.

The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State

The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State

Written by: Nadia Murad
Recommended Age: Adults

In 2014, 21-year-old Nadia Murad was living a quiet life in her Yazidi village in Iraq, dreaming of a future as a history teacher or salon owner — but all that changed when ISIS invaded, massacring most of her family and neighbors, and kidnapping women young enough to be used as sex slaves. Nadia was taken to Mosul and forced, along with thousands of other Yazidi girls, into the ISIS slave trade. Following months of abuse, she escaped and went on to become one of most vocal advocates for the girls and women left in captivity. Named one of the world's most influential people of 2016 by Time, Nadia tells her harrowing and ultimately inspiring story in a powerful new memoir. This courageous young woman's story is a moving testament of the human will to survive and a call to action to end abuses toward women worldwide.

Astrid Lindgren: The Woman Behind Pippi Longstocking
New!

Astrid Lindgren: The Woman Behind Pippi Longstocking
New!

Written by: Jens Andersen
Recommended Age: Adults

Astrid Lindgren's life was often turbulent and difficult: she faced life as an unwed teenage mother, poverty during the war, and battles with depression. Then, as the creator of beloved book characters like Pippi Longstocking and Ronia, she was suddenly launched into fame, giving her a voice for causes that mattered deeply to her, like women's and children's rights. In this first English-language biography of Lindgren, author Jens Andersen draws on primary sources and letters to create a detailed and accessible account of Lindgren's life, and also explores how her characters still resonate with children today.

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body

Written by: Roxane Gay
Recommended Age: Adults

In a culture that fetishizes thinness, a childhood sexual assault prompted this thought for Roxane Gay: "if I made myself big, my body would be safe." The trauma prompted decades of wrestling between mind and body... and then this best-selling book exploring the shame, guilt, and invisibility that faces anyone whose body does not match our culture's ever-narrowing definition of "good.". With staggering honesty and an unflinching look both at herself and at the society around her, Gay tackles difficult issues about body and mind and reminds us that "all of us have to be more considerate of the realities of the bodies of others."

The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women

The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women

Written by: Kate Moore
Recommended Age: Adults

The Curies' discovery of radium wasn't just a scientific landmark; it also became a marketing frenzy, with beauty products and medicines hawking its benefits for the body. The women who worked in radium-dial factories of World War I were thought to have the luckiest job of all: they spent their days coated in the glimmering dust. But then they started to get sick. As the factories denied the connection, and with the women crying corruption and demanding answers, one of the greatest battles for worker's rights of the 20th century would begin. Kate Moore tells the riveting story of how the "radium girls" fought for life-changing regulations and research into the effects of radiation that would save hundreds of thousands of lives, highlighting how their battle still influences our world today.

The Unwomanly Face of War: An Oral History of Women in World War II

The Unwomanly Face of War: An Oral History of Women in World War II

In the midst of World War II, over a million Soviet women stepped up to serve their country. After the war, however, their contributions were deliberately pushed aside; their efforts had been critical, but they didn't fit the narrative of what a proper Soviet woman ought to be. To capture their side of history, Nobel Prize-winning author Svetlana Alexievich conducted dozens of interviews, speaking to women who had been nurses and doctors, pilots and tank drivers, and even snipers and machine-gunners on the front lines. This powerful book, which now appears in a much-anticipated English translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, tells what Alexievich calls "a woman's history" of the war. It is a heartfelt tribute to the strength and courage of women who were willing to give everything for their nation — including the truth of their part in the war.

The Atlas of Beauty: Women of the World in 500 Portraits

The Atlas of Beauty: Women of the World in 500 Portraits

Written by: Mihaela Noroc
Recommended Age: Adults

Photographer Mihaela Noroc wants the world to reconsider how they define beauty. Over the course of her travels, she developed an online following for what she called an Atlas of Beauty: portraits of women within their communities that celebrate not traditional beauty, but the beauty that is within all of us. In the forests of the Amazon, streets of London, markets of India, and parks of Harlem, these colorful portraits provide a unique, intimate look at women around the world; now, this hardcover photo book encourages people to flip through her photographs and see the artistry of their everyday lives.

Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder

Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder

Written by: Caroline Fraser
Recommended Age: Adults

For many people, the iconic Little House on the Prairie series formed their image of pioneer life... but the true story of Laura Ingalls Wilder's life is more complex and fascinating than she let on in her books. Wilder's childhood was not an inspiring tale of the pioneering spirit: her family struggled with an inability to put down roots and frequently faced poverty. Even after she married, she faced great challenges — including losing everything during the Great Depression — before she wrote a rosy vision of homesteading in her 60s that suddenly brought her fame and fortune. This authoritative biography gets to the core of Wilder's real life story, and explores why America latched so strongly to her mythologized vision of her past.

Strong Is The New Pretty: A Celebration of Girls Being Themselves

Strong Is The New Pretty: A Celebration of Girls Being Themselves

Written by: Kate T. Parker
Recommended Age: Adults

When photographer Kate T. Parker snapped a photo of her daughter right before her first triathlon, she started a new project that would celebrate the diverse, authentic, wonderful girls all around the world! In this book, Parker collects 175 photographs that defy the restrictive notion of beauty that's often presented in the media. Instead, she captures girls being fearless, kind, wild, proud, silly, and so much more. Each full-page picture is accompanied with a short quote from the featured girl reflecting on her own strengths. This beautiful celebration of the power of girls is an inspiring book that moms can share together with their daughters.

Chasing Light: Michelle Obama Through the Lens of a White House Photographer

Chasing Light: Michelle Obama Through the Lens of a White House Photographer

Written by: Amanda Lucidon
Recommended Age: Adults

Inside the White House, photographers capture the inner workings of a presidency — and the personalities of the First Family. Amanda Lucidon spent four years covering First Lady Michelle Obama, and in this new book, she shares 150 of her favorite photographs, along with reflections about what it was like to be so close to one of the most admired First Ladies in history. Lucidon follows Obama through her work to combat childhood obesity, promote girls' education, and support military families; watches her as she travels with her children; and observes the quiet moments between the First Lady and the President that most people never see. This intimate and vibrant book is a celebration of the values that made Michelle Obama an icon to so many people around the world.

The Mother of Black Hollywood: A Memoir

The Mother of Black Hollywood: A Memoir

Written by: Jenifer Lewis
Recommended Age: Adults

Over more than 300 appearances on TV, movie screens, stages, and more, Jenifer Lewis has established herself as a versatile — and deeply admired — entertainer. Now, in this open and honest memoir, she reveals the story of her journey from guest stars to headliner. Along the way, she tackles the realities of life in Hollywood and the undiagnosed mental illness that nearly brought her career to an end, as well as her determined climb back to mental health and new challenges, including her current role in the hit show black-ish. Alternately poignant and laugh-out-loud funny, this is the perfect choice for anyone who immediately recognizes the woman who's played "mama" for many of black Hollywood's biggest stars.

Sisters First: Stories from Our Wild and Wonderful Life

Sisters First: Stories from Our Wild and Wonderful Life

Recommended Age: Adults

Jenna and Barbara Bush were used to being in the public eye growing up in a political family — but when their own father became president, the scrutiny reached a whole new level. The sisters found their typical teenage mistakes making news across the country, saw pictures of themselves appear on tabloid covers, and had to go to college with Secret Service agents in tow to watch over them. In their new memoir, the sisters share their story of what life was like before, during, and after the White House — and about what the bond of sisterhood has meant to both of their lives. Funny, poignant, and personal, this is an intimate look at the inside story of the former first daughters.

Love on Trial: Our Supreme Court Fight for the Right to Marry

Love on Trial: Our Supreme Court Fight for the Right to Marry

Recommended Age: Adults

When Proposition 8 banned same-sex marriage in California, Kris Perry and Sandy Stier had been a couple — raising four sons — for over a decade. Like many gay and lesbian couples, they had everything... except for the protections that legal marriage offered. So Perry and Stier decided to take a stand, becoming the lead plaintiffs in the court case suing the state of California to reinstate gay marriage — a case that would go all the way to the Supreme Court. Told in alternating voices, Perry and Stier explore the steps that took them from childhoods in 1960s America to the forefront of the marriage equality battle. Full of poignant and hilarious observations on everything from parenting teenagers to having hot flashes in front of Supreme Court justices, this is a unique look at the family who took part in one of the most important civil rights battles of our time.

Jane Austen At Home: A Biography

Jane Austen At Home: A Biography

Written by: Lucy Worsley
Recommended Age: Adults

Author and historian Lucy Worsley takes a novel look at the life of author Jane Austen — through the lens of the homes where she lived — in this fascinating new biography. Contrary to her claim that she lived "a life without incident," Austen was a passionate young women who fought for her freedom and who refused to cave to domestic expectations, turning down five different marriage proposals. As Worsley describes the homes, rooms, and possessions of Austen and her family, she also provides a subtle discussion of gender and creativity. With its intriguing format and its two sections of illustrated plates, this is a must-have book for any Austen fan.

Peggy Seeger: A Life of Music, Love, and Politics

Peggy Seeger: A Life of Music, Love, and Politics

Written by: Jean R. Freedman
Recommended Age: Adults

Peggy Seeger may have seemed destined for success in folk music, given her family, but that didn't mean she was going to follow an already beaten path! Seeger not only helped drive folk revivals in both the US and the UK, but she also devoted her time to important causes like environmentalism and feminism. Along the way, she left a legacy of festivals, recording studios, and mentored artists, all of which have cemented her influence in the music world and beyond. Author Jean Freedman's candid and in-depth biography is sure to be a hit with fans of this groundbreaking artist and woman.

The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine Who Outwitted America's Enemies

The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine Who Outwitted America's Enemies

Written by: Jason Fagone
Recommended Age: Adults

Elizebeth Smith was an expert in Shakespeare when a 1916 job changed the course of her life — and American intelligence history. Smith's boss, a tycoon with connections to the US government, turned her language skills to code cracking. Along the way, she would meet groundbreaking cryptologist William Friedman, her future husband, and the couple would be critical to the development of the NSA. Smith would help catch gangsters and smugglers during Prohibition, expose Nazi spy rings in South America, and help crack multiple versions of the German Enigma machine. This intriguing story explores the development of modern intelligence through the life of one unforgettable woman.

Daring to Drive: A Saudi Woman’s Awakening

Daring to Drive: A Saudi Woman’s Awakening

Written by: Manal al-Sharif
Recommended Age: Adults

As a teen, Manal al-Sharif was as conservative as they come: she even burned her brother's boy band cassettes because music was forbidden by Islamic law. But after a college education and the beginning of a career as a computer security engineer, she became frustrated with the limitations placed upon her by Saudi law and found her way into activism. With ridiculous contradictions facing her every day — like her teenaged brother having to "chaperone" her on a business trip, or the expensive car her work allowed her to afford but that she wasn't legally able to drive — she decided to stand up and fight back. In her memoir, al-Sharif captures the resentment and anger simmering among Saudi Arabia's women, the power of education and solidarity to fight for change, and the incredible freedom that comes from making your voice heard.

The Crown: The Official Companion, Volume 1

The Crown: The Official Companion, Volume 1

Written by: Robert Lacey
Recommended Age: Adults

Fans of the Emmy-winning Netflix drama The Crown will love getting to dive deeper into the history of Queen Elizabeth II with this official companion! Elizabeth Mountbatten was crowned queen at 25; she was already a wife and mother and faced additional challenges, from the doubts of family members to the resentment of her husband. Nevertheless, resolute Elizabeth was determined to ensure that the crown — and her country — came out on top. Royal biographer Robert Lacey, the show's official consultant, adds historical detail to the show's depiction of the years 1947 to 1955, and includes both archival photographs and stills from the production.

My Life, My Love, My Legacy

My Life, My Love, My Legacy

Recommended Age: Adults

Coretta Scott King’s life was changed forever when she met and married Martin Luther King, Jr. – but her marriage to the famous civil rights leader was only a part of her story. After Dr. King's death, as a widow and single mother of four, she became one of the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement and worked tirelessly to found and develop The King Center as a citadel for world peace. A well-known activist for many causes, she championed women's, workers’ and gay rights and was a powerful international voice for nonviolence, freedom and human dignity. Coretta’s is a love story, a family saga, and the memoir of an extraordinary black woman in twentieth-century America, a brave leader who, in the face of terrorism and violent hatred, stood committed, proud, forgiving, nonviolent, and hopeful every day of her life.

At the Heart of the White Rose: Letters and Diaries of Hans and Sophie Scholl

At the Heart of the White Rose: Letters and Diaries of Hans and Sophie Scholl

Recommended Age: Adults

As teenagers, the Scholl siblings were avid members of the Hitler Youth, but as they watched Hitler tighten his grip — and the atrocities that came along with it — Hans and Sophie decided something had to be done and became two of the most celebrated German anti-Nazi activists in history. They founded the White Rose, a student resistance movement that broadcast the truth about Hitler's Final Solution, "the most terrible crime committed against the dignity of humankind, a crime that has no counterpart in human history" — and were ultimately executed for treason. Editor Inge Jens has collected letters and diaries written by both Scholl siblings, which illuminate their personal beliefs and the ordinary moments of joy, laughter, and art that they enjoyed, even in the midst of such horrifying times. Alongside commentary about the progress of Hitler's campaign while they were writing, their words are a reminder of the power of humanity and an unyielding belief in what is right.

A Woman's Place Is At The Top: A Biography of Annie Smith Peck, Queen of the Climbers

A Woman's Place Is At The Top: A Biography of Annie Smith Peck, Queen of the Climbers

Written by: Hannah Kimberley
Recommended Age: Adults

When Annie Smith Peck climbed the Matterhorn in 1895 — at the age of 45 — she didn't win fame for her daring, but because she'd climbed while wearing pants. But the determined suffragist, political activist, and scholar wasn't about to let that stop her from climbing again. Peck became a world-renowned climber, an expert on North and South American relations, and even entered a race to climb Mount Coropuna just before her 60th birthday... competing against Hiram Bingham, the inspiration for Indiana Jones. Despite her amazing achievements, few people know her name. But now, author Hannah Kimberley has dug into Peck's original letters and artifacts to create a new portrait of this courageous woman who was determined to see her way to the top.

Empress of the East: How a European Slave Girl Became Queen of the Ottoman Empire

Empress of the East: How a European Slave Girl Became Queen of the Ottoman Empire

Written by: Leslie Peirce
Recommended Age: Adults

When a Christian girl named Roxelana was abducted from her home by slave traders, no one could have predicted that she would become one of the most powerful and shrewd rulers of her time. When she was delivered to the harem of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent in Istanbul, he was fascinated by her: not only did he vow not to keep any other concubines, but he freed her so that the pair could marry. Roxelana's intelligence and daring proved a tremendous asset to Suleyman's rule, forcing him to keep pace with a rapidly changing world — and at the same time, her power allowed her to achieve works of philanthropy that no one else could have imagined. Author Leslie Pierce creates a compelling portrait of an astonishing woman, who went from powerlessness to holding the reins of an empire.

Gilded Suffragists: The New York Socialites Who Fought For Women's Right To Vote

Gilded Suffragists: The New York Socialites Who Fought For Women's Right To Vote

Written by: Johanna Neuman
Recommended Age: Adults

Suffragists had to fight hard for their cause — but that meant more than simply protesting. To win the vote, they had to do more than just fight for a change in law: they had to change society and build popular support for their ideas. In New York City, a group of women with powerful names — Astor, Belmont, Rockefeller, Tiffany, Vanderbilt, and Whitney among them — set their sights on using their status as media darlings to fight for women's rights, including women's education, the right to a career, and the ability to end a marriage. And while some criticized them for "trying on suffrage as they might the latest couture designs from Paris," their work was key to the success of the suffrage movement. This fascinating book explores how these women leveraged their social standing to give suffrage the nudge it needed to become a reality.

A Beautiful Work in Progress

A Beautiful Work in Progress

Written by: Mirna Valerio
Recommended Age: Adults

Mirna Valerio is a long-distance runner who is shattering stereotypes that keep people from lacing up their shoes and discovering the joy of running: neither skinny nor white, she's regularly faced public comments that she must not be a "real" runner. In her optimistic, body-positive memoir, Valerio talks about her journey from first steps to ultramarathons with honesty, humor, and heart. Valerio challenges the idea that you can determine health from appearance, and encourages other women like her — women who have been told that their size means they can never be athletes — to take on the challenge of finding a form of exercise that they love. Throughout, she reminds her readers that every runner will sometimes get a DNF (Did Not Finish): the important thing is that you DNQ: Did Not Quit.

Jackie's Girl: My Life with the Kennedy Family

Jackie's Girl: My Life with the Kennedy Family

Written by: Kathy McKeon
Recommended Age: Adults

19-year-old Kathy McKeon was a newly arrived Irish immigrant in 1964 when she took a job that would change her life: being the personal assistant to former First Lady Jackie Kennedy. For thirteen years, McKeon spent hours every day either by Kennedy's side or caring for Caroline and John Jr. — enough time that Rose Kennedy nicknamed her "Jackie's girl." It was a position that gave her a unique view of some of the most significant, tumultuous times of the 20th century. Part behind-the-scenes look at the Kennedy household, part memoir of a young immigrants search for identity and belonging, this title is captivating and inspiring.

A Hope More Powerful Than The Sea: One Refugee's Incredible Story of Love, Loss, and Survival

A Hope More Powerful Than The Sea: One Refugee's Incredible Story of Love, Loss, and Survival

Written by: Melissa Fleming
Recommended Age: Adults

In 2011, Doaa Al Zamel's life as a typical Syrian girl was torn apart by the civil war. Her family fled to Egypt to escape the violence, but they were not welcome there either. There, though, Doaa met a young opposition fighter, fell in love, and made a new plan with her fiance: they would give everything they had to smugglers in hopes of making it to Europe and starting a new life. But when a ship full of angry men rams Doaa's overloaded boat — and leaves everyone to drown — Doaa's struggle truly begins. Holding two children whose doomed families had pushed them into her arms, Doaa knows that she must survive... if not for herself, for them. The painful part of this story is not that it is unusual; rather, it sheds light on the desperate plight faced by thousands of refugees every day. This unforgettable story is a tribute to the human spirit — and a poignant call to act.

Garden of the Lost and Abandoned: The Extraordinary Story of One Ordinary Woman and the Children She Saves

Garden of the Lost and Abandoned: The Extraordinary Story of One Ordinary Woman and the Children She Saves

Written by: Jessica Yu
Recommended Age: Adults

In Uganda's capital city of Kampala, Gladys Kalibbala is on a mission. At least 5,000 children live on the streets of her city; few of them know the names of their villages and some of them are so young they don't know their parents' names. Kalibbala is the author of "Lost and Abandoned," a newspaper column about the children she meets — and a key partner with police and other authorities hoping to reunite her young charges with their families. This powerful and heartrending story of one woman's efforts to care for so many children in need is a testament to both everyday and extraordinary altruism, and one that shows what a difference one caring adult can make in the life of a child.

Why We March: Signs of Protest and Hope - Voices from the Women's March

Why We March: Signs of Protest and Hope - Voices from the Women's March

Written by: Artisan
Recommended Age: Adults

On January 21, 2017, millions of people gathered worldwide for the Women's March, one of the largest demonstrations in political history. Together they raised their voices in hope, protest, and solidarity. This inspiring collection features 500 of the most eloquent, provocative, uplifting, clever, and creative signs from marches across the United States and around the world. Each is a powerful reminder of why we march, and as with the new battle cry of "Nevertheless, she persisted," these messages continue to reverberate daily and fortify a movement that will not be silenced.

Dorothy Day: The World Will Be Saved By Beauty - An Intimate Portrait of My Grandmother

Dorothy Day: The World Will Be Saved By Beauty - An Intimate Portrait of My Grandmother

Written by: Kate Hennessy
Recommended Age: Adults

Dorothy Day is rightly hailed for her social activism and work on the part of the poor — but she was also a person, full of all the beauty and flaws that any human being presents. In this unique biography, Day's granddaughter Kate Hennessy creates a multidimensional portrait of this radical and determined woman: full of compassion and desire for service on the one hand, dogmatic and sometimes judgemental on the other. Hennessy tackles Day's life both before and after her conversion to the Catholic church, and depicts how she was simultaneously a great champion for her faith and its greatest challenger. Complex and deeply personal, this biography is a much-needed addition to the history of a little-known hero.

We're Going to Need More Wine: Stories That Are Funny, Complicated, and True

We're Going to Need More Wine: Stories That Are Funny, Complicated, and True

Written by: Gabrielle Union
Recommended Age: Adults

When Gabrielle Union published a powerful editorial urging society to provide more support to survivors of sexual assault — and revealing her own story as one of them — she made the world sit up and take notice. Now, in a collection of essays, she tackles even more issues with the same passion, writing about everything from feminism and color to power and fame to life as a child, moving between a home in majority white Californian suburbs and her black relatives' home in Nebraska. Throughout, she reminds her readers of the importance of empathy, the value of humor, and the power of standing together in support of those in need. Funny, vulnerable, and deeply real, this book recognizes all the complexity of life as a modern woman.

Where The Past Begins: A Writer's Memoir

Where The Past Begins: A Writer's Memoir

Written by: Amy Tan
Recommended Age: Adults

Fans of best-selling author Amy Tan love her writing for its unique combination of humor, emotion, and heart — and now in this incisive memoir, she explores the childhood experiences that helped her develop her unique fictional voice. After being raised by a critical and volatile mother, and losing her father at the age of 15, the challenges and hurts of her life would become rich fodder for her future writing. As Tan looks back, she combines family history, diary entries, story-telling, and even letters to and from her editor to create an intriguing look at the relationship between an author's past and her work.

Broad Strokes: 15 Women Who Made Art and Made History (In That Order)

Broad Strokes: 15 Women Who Made Art and Made History (In That Order)

Written by: Bridget Quinn
Illustrated by: Lisa Congdon
Recommended Age: Adults

For centuries, women artists have been ignored in galleries and excluded from art history texts, their contributions minimized or omitted. In this book, art historian Bridget Quinn provides an entertaining, educational, and intelligent look at a few of these artists and their works that you’ve been missing! Fifteen female artists, along with beautiful reproductions of their works, are featured in these pages, and accented with contemporary portraits of each woman by illustrator Lisa Congdon. From 1600 to the present, this is a fascinating and long overdue examination of the female side of art history!

First Time Ever: A Memoir

First Time Ever: A Memoir

Written by: Peggy Seeger
Recommended Age: Adults

Peggy Seeger tells the story of her remarkable life — and her influence on the world of folk and popular music — in this funny and heartfelt memoir. From a childhood in a musically talented family that were proud to call themselves "left-wingers," to her youthful adventures singing her way through multiple countries (including, against advice, Russia and China), and then to her incredible partnership (both personal and professional) with Ewan MacColl, Seeger takes a clear-eyed look at the ups, downs, ins, and outs of her decades-long career of music and activism.

Fire on the Track: Betty Robinson and the Triumph of the Early Olympic Women

Fire on the Track: Betty Robinson and the Triumph of the Early Olympic Women

Written by: Roseanne Montillo
Recommended Age: Adults

At the 1928 Olympic Games, Betty Robinson took the starting position and won gold... and it was only her fourth-ever organized track meet. She had been spotted running for a train in rural Illinois; with no formal women's athletic system, her raw speed was still remarkable. After becoming the fastest woman in the world, though, a plane crash nearly killed her, and other women stepped forward to the Olympic starting blocks, including stars like Babe Didrikson and Stella Walsh, who proved to the world that women could achieve athletic feats that few thought them capable of. And then, a near miracle: Robinson went from fighting to walk to the 1936 Olympic team, once again inspiring the world of women's athletics. This fascinating, novelistic telling of the history of women athletes in the early Olympic Games highlights just how far the world of women's sports has come.

Shoot Like A Girl: One Woman’s Dramatic Fight in Afghanistan and On the Home Front

Shoot Like A Girl: One Woman’s Dramatic Fight in Afghanistan and On the Home Front

Written by: Mary Jennings Hegar
Recommended Age: Adults

After being selected for pilot training by the Air National Guard, Mary Jennings “MJ” Hegar finished top of her class, served three tours in Afghanistan, and flew in a daring rescue attempt that earned her a Purple Heart and a Distinguished Flying Cross... but as difficult as all of that was, her hardest fight has been on home soil. Hegar was determined to end the US military’s Ground Combat Exclusion Policy, which prevents female armed service members from serving in official combat roles – even though they have done so unofficially for decades. In her book, Hegar takes a thrilling, humorous, and inspiring tour through her own life, showing how the same devotion to service that led her to join the military led her to fight for her fellow women in service.

Why I March: Images from the Women's March Around the World

Why I March: Images from the Women's March Around the World

Written by: Abrams Books
Recommended Age: Adults

What began as a protest highlighting women's rights became a worldwide movement: the Women's March. Around the globe, people in 82 countries galvanized in support of issues such as immigration, health care, environmental protections, LGBTQ rights, racial justice, freedom of religion, and workers’ rights — all of which had been cast into high relief by the 2016 American election. This book captures images from the Women's Marches around the world, as a visual reminder of the moment that 5 million people marched to say, "We stand together."

The Nasty Women Project: Voices from the Resistance

The Nasty Women Project: Voices from the Resistance

Written by: Erin Passons
Recommended Age: Adults

When Donald Trump called Hillary Clinton a “nasty woman” during the final presidential debate, women across the country embraced the label: yes, they declared, we are nasty women and we will not bow down. In this evocative book, dozens of women from across the country share their stories of outrage, survival, and activism. They represent every race, class, and sexual orientation, and have lived both lives of privilege and poverty; the factor that unites them is the knowledge that, together, they can stand up against those who would marginalize them and demand to be heard. This book is a tribute to the power of women to be agents of change – and to the power of hope and resistance to overcome even the greatest of obstacles.

The Invention of Angela Carter: A Biography

The Invention of Angela Carter: A Biography

Written by: Edmund Gordon
Recommended Age: Adults

Angela Carter was one of the most inventive writers of the 20th century — and her life was as unconventional as her work. In this definitive biography, author Edmund Gordon drew on unrestricted access to her writings, interviews with friends and family, and travels to the places she lived in order to create a comprehensive picture of Carter and her work. Along the way, readers explore the shift in British society, second-wave feminism, and 1960s counterculture. It's a unique look at a groundbreaking author who dared to defy all the rules... and achieved greatness because of it.

What Happened

What Happened

Recommended Age: Adults

Finally free from the restrictions and scrutiny of life as a running politician, Hillary Clinton opens up about the 2016 election in this candid new memoir. From her experiences over years as a woman in politics, facing double-standards and constant criticism, to the challenge of running in one of the most polarizing, vicious elections in US history, to how she recovered from the devastating loss, Clinton reveals what it was like for her personally, as well as highlighting what her experiences say about our society. She also tackles the dangerous truths about external interference in the election and what it means for American democracy. Poignant, hard-hitting, and honest, this book is a must for anyone who cares about the future of American politics.

Dust Bowl Girls: The Inspiring Story of the Team That Barnstormed Its Way to Basketball Glory

Dust Bowl Girls: The Inspiring Story of the Team That Barnstormed Its Way to Basketball Glory

Written by: Lydia Reeder
Recommended Age: Adult

In the midst of the Great Depression, basketball coach Sam Babb offered hardworking young women a unique opportunity: free college education in exchange for playing on his basketball team. Together, they built the Cardinals, a team of talented newcomers whose passion for their sport and loyalty to their coach and one another helped them win time after time. Author Lydia Reeder tells a fascinating story about how these women defied common misconceptions about the inappropriateness and danger of competitive sports for women and fought their way to the top of their game.

Sign My Name To Freedom: A Memoir of a Pioneering Life
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Sign My Name To Freedom: A Memoir of a Pioneering Life
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Written by: Betty Reid Soskin
Recommended Age: Adults

Betty Reid Soskin has witnessed dramatic changes to American culture in her 96 years — and she's helped to create plenty of that change, too! Today, she's best known as the oldest park ranger in the history of the National Park Service, who gives unique tours of the Rosie the Riveter National Park from the perspective of someone who was there. In this absorbing memoir, Soskin describes a life watching the course of American 20th century history, complete with tremendous strides in women's and civil rights — and a worrying re-emergence of a racist far right movement. Conversational and fresh, this book will make you look at the world around you with new eyes.

The Best We Could Do: An illustrated Memoir

The Best We Could Do: An illustrated Memoir

Written by: Thi Bui
Illustrated by: Thi Bui
Recommended Age: Adults

After the fall of South Vietnam, Thi Bui's family fled and faced both the challenges of escape... and the longer, more subtle challenges of building a new life. In this illustrated memoir, Bui explores her family's history through the lens of her new role as a mother, with the new understanding it brings her about the sacrifices and doubts that come with being a parent. With a gentle but clear-eyed tone, Bui explores the gifts and flaws of her family and herself in this graphic novel, telling a complex story with heart and love.

Fasting and Feasting: The Life of Visionary Food Writer Patience Gray

Fasting and Feasting: The Life of Visionary Food Writer Patience Gray

Written by: Adam Federman
Recommended Age: Adults

Decades before the Slow Food movement or farm to table eating became part of mainstream cooking, a food writer named Patience Gray was already living these ideals. In Puglia, Italy, she lived without electricity and modern plumbing, farming most of her food and foraging alongside her impoverished neighbors. However, her isolated life meant she was often overshadowed by more prominent food writers of her day. In this fascinating biography, Adam Federman tells the story of how a privileged intellectual from England became a food pioneer whose influence still resonates today.

In Praise of Difficult Women: Life Lessons From 29 Heroines Who Dared to Break the Rules
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In Praise of Difficult Women: Life Lessons From 29 Heroines Who Dared to Break the Rules
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Written by: Karen Karbo
Recommended Age: Adults

When women are independent, ambitious, opinionated, or simply insistent that they will take up space, they're often branded with the word "difficult." But in this beautifully illustrated book, author Karen Karbo argues that being "difficult" may not make life easier, but it definitely makes it more meaningful and fulfilling! Her unique narrative tells the stories of 29 iconic women, including figures like Frida Kahlo, Carrie Fisher, Amelia Earhart, and Shonda Rhimes, she explores their stories — imperfections and all — and illustrates what lessons we can draw from their authentic lives. Frank, funny, and inspiring, it's the perfect choice to remind you that it's worth being "difficult" to make your voice heard!

Identity Unknown: Rediscovering Seven American Women Artists

Identity Unknown: Rediscovering Seven American Women Artists

Written by: Donna Seaman
Recommended Age: Adults

In too many art books, photographs are carefully captioned with male names... while female faces are labeled "identity unknown." Donna Seaman decided to rectify that imbalance by telling the stories of seven little-known women artists — many of whom were famous in their day but were dismissed as unimportant afterward. Her profiles of Gertrude Abercrombie, Joan Brown, Ree Morton, Loïs Mailou Jones, Lenore Tawney, Christina Ramberg, and Louise Nevelson capture the fight these women endured to be taken seriously as artists — and what drove them to keep creating despite being neglected and ignored. This book, which includes stunning examples of the women's art, is both a story of fascinating lives and a call to examine the way that we write some creators out of history.

Forty Autumns: A Family's Story of Courage and Survival on Both Sides of the Berlin Wall

Forty Autumns: A Family's Story of Courage and Survival on Both Sides of the Berlin Wall

Written by: Nina Willner
Recommended Age: Adults

When twenty-year-old Hanna escaped from East to West Germany, she had no idea how long she would be separated from her family. Decades later, Hanna's daughter, Nina Willner, became an Army Intelligence officer, and she was assigned to Berlin. She was mere miles away from relatives she'd never met — her grandmother Oma, her aunt Heidi, and a cousin, Cordula — but contact was as difficult as ever. In this powerful memoir, Willner shares the story of these five women, providing a very personal peek at life behind the Iron Curtain, as well as a sense of how the scars of the Cold War still affect people today. It's also a testament to their courage, as they fought for forty years to maintain their divided, but desperately loved, family.

Poppies of Iraq

Poppies of Iraq

Written by: Brigitte Findakly
Illustrated by: Lewis Trondheim
Recommended Age: Adults

As a Christian child growing up in Iraq, Brigitte Findakly developed an odd relationship with her homeland. She loved the places where she grew up, but she was not blind to signs of oppression — censored magazines, public hangings, even the banning of the color red. Brigitte's father continued to hope that a secular, prosperous Iraq will return, but eventually moved the family to Paris... where Brigitte didn't feel at home either. This gentle and nuanced graphic memoir, illustrated by Findakly's husband cartoonist Lewis Trondheim, explores interesting questions about home and identity.

200 Women Who Will Change The Way You See The World

200 Women Who Will Change The Way You See The World

Recommended Age: Adults

In this landmark book, 200 influential women from around the world answer five key questions: What really matters to you? What brings you happiness? What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? What would you change if you could?, and Which single word do you most identify with? The answers are uplifting, inspiring, heartbreaking, and real. Interviewees include Margaret Atwood, Jane Goodall, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Dolores Huerta, Alicia Garza, and more; together, they create a strong and empowering picture of the women of today — and a call to action to push for positive change wherever we are.

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