A Mighty Girl's top picks of 2019 biographies and memoirs about Mighty Women for adult readers!
Nothing is more exciting than discovering an intriguing new biography or memoir — especially when it tells the story of a mighty woman! From thrilling stories about women war heroes, to engaging biographies about the pioneering suffragists who won women the vote, to searing accounts of overcoming harassment and abuse, these books provide an important perspective that's often missing in mainstream history books. And, just as our Mighty Girls love reading books about smart, confident, and courageous girls and women, we know that our adult supporters love their stories too!
In our new blog post, we're featuring our favorite biographies and memoirs for adult readers from 2019 about remarkable women of the past and present. These well-crafted titles provide a unique perspective on events that we often think we know, and invite us to think about how our history is affected by whose stories are told. Whether you're looking for an empowering last-minute Christmas present or a thought-provoking book to tackle in the new year, these women's stories are sure to inspire!
New Biographies and Memoirs For Adult Readers
In 1942 France, a mysterious spy known as the "Limping Lady" was a linchpin for the French Resistance – the Gestapo called her "the most dangerous of all Allied spies." Her name, unknown to the Germans, was Virginia Hall. She was the daughter of a well-off Baltimore family turned Special Operations Executive agent, and her distinctive limp was from a prosthetic leg that most people believed would trap her behind a secretary's desk. Author Sonia Purnell explores the full story behind Hall's life, illuminating her determination and her wartime heroism. Fast-paced, thrilling, and meticulously researched, this biography of Hall is better than any fictional spy story. For two more fascinating biographies of Hall, check out The Wolves at the Door: The True Story of America's Greatest Female Spy and Hall of Mirrors: Virginia Hall: America's Greatest Spy of World War II.
Mr. President, How Long Must We Wait: Alice Paul, Woodrow Wilson, and the Fight for the Right to Vote
Mr. President, How Long Must We Wait: Alice Paul, Woodrow Wilson, and the Fight for the Right to Vote
Woodrow Wilson's arrival in Washington as the new president was overshadowed by a suffragist parade — one organized by 25-year-old activist Alice Paul. It was the beginning of a struggle between the president and this determined woman, who refused to give way and wait for women's right to vote. In Mr. President, How Long Must We Wait?, author Tina Cassidy tells the interwoven stories of these two political figures, complete with a detailed portrait of Paul's activism — and the price she paid for it, including solitary confinement, force feeding, and even commitment in a psychiatric ward. Released in advance of the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, this book highlights the courage, determination, and daring of this little-known heroine.
What Is A Girl Worth? My Story of Breaking the Silence and Exposing the Truth about Larry Nassar and USA Gymnastics
What Is A Girl Worth? My Story of Breaking the Silence and Exposing the Truth about Larry Nassar and USA Gymnastics
Rachael Denhollander was the first person to publicly accuse Larry Nassar of abusing her when she was a teen — even though she wasn't sure people would listen. In this compelling book, Denhollander tells her own story of being an idealistic young gymnast betrayed by those she trusted, and how she grew up into a woman who refused to let the girls and women that Nassar abused go without a voice. In the telling, she also highlights the long-term effects of abuse and why so many survivors are slow to speak out, as well as the healing power of being believed. This must-read memoir that reminds us all to do what's right — for ourselves and for those who come after us.
As the daughter of notorious segregationist George Wallace, Peggy Wallace Kennedy adored her father, even as she watched him block a schoolhouse door against two African-American students. But as an adult, she had a political awakening, and has since become an avowed advocate of racial reconciliation. In this powerful and personal memoir, she explores the contradictions between her love for her father and her hated of the damage he did, and asks important questions about change, atonement, and what we can do to make up for the damage of the past.
Haben Girma has been Deafblind since early childhood, but to her, disability is an opportunity for innovation. The determined young woman learned early about the power of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and how technology could help her achieve her goals. She realized that a career as a lawyer could help her benefit even more people, allowing her to use her talents to advocate for people with disabilities. In a warm and thoughtful tone, Girma tells her story with more than a touch of humor, reminding readers that finding ways to help all people connect with the world is easier than we think — and benefits us all.
The mystery of Jack the Ripper looms large in popular culture, but the story of his victims is nearly forgotten. From early on, London newspapers spread the story that the Ripper killed prostitutes — the sort of woman society wouldn't miss — giving readers license to gasp in delighted horror at his crimes. Historian Hallie Rubenhold looks further at the stories of Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine and Mary-Jane, revealing complex lives, intriguing stories, and dreams shattered by the prejudices against women they faced every day. Shedding new perspective on one of the world's most famous crime stories, this book's most important question asks: why don't we care about the women the Ripper destroyed?
When Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, Sarah M. Bloom's family home was destroyed. Bloom's mother, Ivory Mae, had bought the shotgun house in 1961 to raise her family in. The house was a project that Ivory Mae could never complete: while she could keep it immaculately clean, she could not afford the repairs it constantly needed. And as Broom struggled to help her mother get disaster reimbursement — a project that took seven years and multiple sets of "lost" papers — she also began to research and write about the Yellow House and where it fits in the bigger picture of race and class. This National Book Award winner is an unflinching look at broken promises, persistence, and what it means to have a home.
Before and After: The Incredible Real-Life Stories of Orphans Who Survived the Tennessee Children's Home Society
Before and After: The Incredible Real-Life Stories of Orphans Who Survived the Tennessee Children's Home Society
In the 1920s, '30s, and '40s, Georgia Tann at the Tennessee Children's Home Society in Memphis could find just the right orphan for you to adopt... except that most of the children weren't orphans at all. instead, Tann stole children from poor families and single mothers, and even from women in maternity wards who were told their children had died. When Lisa Wingate published a novel called Before We Were Yours about Tann's child trafficking, adoptees previously unaware about their pasts suddenly realized that they might have families they didn't know. In this stunning book, journalist Judy Christie follows fifteen adoptees as they sought the truth, poignantly exploring family, identity, and healing.
In her first memoir, Home, Julie Andrews talked about the challenges of her childhood and of her rise to become a star on the stage. Now, in the much-anticipated follow-up, she explores her time in Hollywood, complete with the highs and lows: a stunning rise to fame, adjusting to a new world, and the challenges and joys of family and love. She also provides a behind-the-scenes peek at the making of some of her most beloved films, like Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music, and Victor/Victoria. This candid and charming memoir is a unique glimpse into the inspiring and little-known life of a Hollywood treasure.
After Odette Sansom decides to become an SOE agent in the midst of World War II, she parachutes into occupied France and meets her commanding officer, Captain Peter Churchill. The indomitable pair discover soul mates in one another, falling in love as they race to evade Hugo Bleicher, the German secret police sergeant who pursues them at every turn. When Bleicher finally captures them, they face prison in Paris, then torture in concentration camps in Germany, but their courage — and love — sustains them through seemingly unbeatable horror. Full of thrilling twists and turns and a heart-pounding romance, Sansom's true story is a tribute to the human capacity to overcome.
When Tammie Jo Shults was a girl, women pilots were still few and far between — but she knew she wanted to be one of them. The rancher's daughter fought prejudice and skepticism to become one of the Navy’s first female F/A-18 Hornet pilots, then took a place in the cockpit as a pilot for Southwest Airlines. And on April 17, 2018, she became a hero when Flight 1380 suffered a catastrophic explosion that threatened the lives of everyone on board. This inspiring memoir about Shult's life, work, and faith tells the full story behind her heroic success. There is also a young readers edition of this memoir for ages 9 to 13.
Samantha Power grew up with a firm belief in the importance of human rights and the need to critique those in positions of power. In 2005, her critiques of American foreign policy led to a position working with Senator Barack Obama... and a few short years later, to a position as a government insider. And when he named her the US Ambassador to the United Nations, she became the youngest American ever to assume that role. In this clever but frank memoir, Power explores both the personal — juggling her difficult and demanding role and her family life — and the political — exploring how America can lead in the world. Most importantly, she reminds her readers that every one of us has the power to make a difference.
During the sexual assault case against Brock Turner, she was known only as Emily Doe. Despite having the "perfect" case — eyewitnesses, physical evidence, and more — she wrestled with shame, even as she wrote a victim impact statement that stunned the nation and the world. In her stunning memoir, now proudly owning her name, Chanel Miller reveals the oppression she experienced as a survivor, her anger at a justice system that fails to protect the vulnerable, and the power of finding your voice as a way to aid healing. At times humorous, at other times a punch in the gut, this memoir demands that we sit up and pay attention to survivors.
Fanny Bullock Workman was never one to care what society told her to do; the complicated and defiant woman would become one of America's greatest mountain climbers. Workman climbed peaks around the world, becoming the first woman to map the far reaches of the Himalayas and only the second to address the Royal Geographic Society of London. Her detailed books featured information on everything from weather conditions to the effects of high altitude, remaining important reference material for decades after publication. In this book, Cathryn J. Prince explores how Workman scaled the male-dominated ladder of science as easily as a mountain, and how her influence on science and exploration endures even today.
Edie Windsor was known around the world as the face of the Supreme Court case that set the precedent for LGBTQ marriage equality in the US. Her story, though, is much more than a single court case. In this inspiring memoir, begun before she died in 2017 and finished by her co-writer, Windsor describes her realization that she was a lesbian and her life in the underground gay scene of Greenwich Village in the 1950s. Then, she talks about her time as a computing pioneer, achieving the highest technical ranking at IBM, and her years with the two loves of her life: Thea Spyer, her partner of more than forty years who passed away in 2009, and Judith Kasen-Windsor, who she married in 2016. This dynamic memoir celebrates a life lived well and authentically, despite the disapproval of those on the wrong side of history.
For centuries, women artists were treated like oddities — but the truth is that there have always been creative women changing the world of art! In this extensive, fully illustrated book, you'll learn about over 400 artists of the past 500 years, from countries all around the world. Each capsule biography is accompanied by a compelling piece of artwork that represents her art and influence, providing a counterpart to the many male-dominated texts about art history. Vibrant, inspiring, and full of engaging stories, this book is a must-have volume for any art lover.
Sandra Day O'Connor may have graduated near the the top of her Stanford law school class, but in 1952, no law firm would even interview her. Determined to shatter every glass ceiling she encountered, O'Connor became the first female majority leader in a state senate. As a judge on the Arizona Court of Appeals, she proved her willingness to uphold and humanize the law. Once she was appointed the first female justice on the United States Supreme Court, she became a key decision maker in many of America's most important legal cases. This personal and poignant look at a woman who was used to being first at almost everything she did will inspire anyone who wants to ignore the naysayers and take the lead.
The U.S. Women's National Soccer team dominates their sport — but their story is full of both triumphs and struggles. Leading soccer journalist Caitlin Murray dives into the history of the USWNT, beginning with their formation in the 1980s and highlighting how their phenomenal performance helped drive the popularity of soccer and the way people think about women athletes. She also shines a light on the inequities they've faced, which led to the team's current battles for equal pay and conditions. With almost 100 exclusive interviews, Murray provides a peek inside the day-to-day workings of the team and celebrates their determination both on and off the field. For a book that explores the influence of women's soccer players around the world, check out SoccerWomen: The Icons, Rebels, Stars, and Trailblazers Who Transformed the Beautiful Game.
Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey weren't the first reporters to hear tales about Harvey Weinstein's treatment of women; rumors had circulated for years. Their 2017 investigation — which would win the Pulitzer Prize — involved confidential interviews with actresses and employees, which not only revealed allegations, but also the web of payouts, nondisclosure agreements, and legal threats that kept women silent. And even that didn't prepare them for the cultural response to their New York Times story, which galvanized the #MeToo movement as women around the world told their own stories of harassment and abuse. In this thrilling story of the power of investigative journalism, Kantor and Twohey tell their story and reflect on how they hope it will change the world for future generations of women.
In 1941, 31-year-old Marie-Madeleine Fourcade, a young, privileged mother of two, was also the head of a critical French spy network, Alliance. It seemed like a role she was born to play: she was notoriously strong-willed and rebellious, willing to defy her country's patriarchal rules before the war — and the Nazi occupiers during it. Fourcade would be the war's only female chef de résistance; she held together thousands of agents despite relentless pursuit by the Gestapo. Thanks to her ferocious conviction, Alliance became the longest-lasting resistance network in France, supplying key information, including an enormous map of the beaches where the Allies landed on D-Day. This tale of a courageous woman who refused to give in is suspenseful and thrilling.
Even as a teen, Mallory O'Meara loved The Creature from the Black Lagoon — and she was delighted to discover that her beloved creature had been designed by a woman. But Milicent Patrick, its creator, had disappeared from film after her contributions had been claimed by a male colleague. So when she joined the horror movie industry, she decided to track down the incredible true story of Patrick's life, her work as one of Disney's first female animators, and where she went after her film career was cut short. This exciting story, which reminds readers that Hollywood culture still has a long way to go, celebrates a female (and feminist) pioneer in film.
When Carolyn Forché met Leonel Gomez Vides, who wanted her to learn more about his homeland of El Salvador, she was fascinated by the charming and brilliant man. He introduced her to farm workers trapped in poverty, the priests trying to help them, and the military officers trying to stamp out any sign of dissent. It didn't take long before Forché got swept up in Vides' perilous work. As they ran from safe house to safe house, she tried to make sense of the horrors around her, and wondered how someone can stay moral in a country on the edge of disaster. Lyrical and devastating, this is a powerful book by one of today's greatest poets about empathy, social conscience, and what you will risk for others.
Audrey Hepburn is known as both a glamorous movie star and a compassionate humanitarian — and according to her son, Luca Dotti, "The war made my mother who she was." In this fascinating book, author Robert Matzen draws on interviews, personal reminiscences, wartime diaries, and more to capture Hepburn's life-changing experiences during the Nazi occupation of Holland. The war brought violence, including the execution of her uncle, near starvation during the infamous Hunger Winter, and dangerous roles working with the Dutch Resistance. But there were triumphs as well, including newfound fame as a ballerina. Intimate and intense, this powerful story illuminates the childhood that drove Hepburn's incredible contributions to the world.
Barbara Bush is the only woman ever to see both her husband and her son sit in the Oval Office as president — but her story is about more than being a wife and mother. She was a savvy campaign strategist and a capable advisor. She supported literacy programs and compassion for people with HIV and AIDS. And her personal story included emotional scars, deep losses, and mental health struggles that few people saw. In this powerful look at one of America's beloved First Ladies, USA TODAY's Washington Bureau chief Susan Page, in cooperation with Bush herself in the months before her death, tells her extraordinary story and her last words on key issues facing her family and the nation.
Whether you love classic Disney films like Snow White, or you prefer their modern-day stories like Moana and Frozen, you probably don't know that there was a group of influential women involved at every step of the way! These women fought sexism and workplace intimidation in the male-dominated story and animation departments, but their fingerprints are all over the rise of Walt Disney Studios. Nathalia Holt, the bestselling author of Rise of the Rocket Girls, illuminates the contributions of women from Disney's Golden Age to today, highlighting how having women at the table has transformed female characters in animated film.
Ornithologist Caroline Van Hemert felt unfulfilled in her lab, so she and her husband made a bold decision: they would make a 4,000 trek from the Pacific rainforest to the Alaskan Arctic, immersing themselves in nature and, hopefully, recapturing their sense of wonder. In The Sun Is A Compass, Van Hemert tells the story of their journey — which included rowboats, canoes, and rafts, skis, and sturdy hiking boots — and both the dangers and joys they faced along the way. This celebration of nature and of the human spirit is a reminder of the miracles all around our world.
This gorgeously illustrated book takes a new look at history through the eyes of women past and present! History books often leave out women's roles, but from ancient matriarchal cultures to today's feminism and gender politics, women are a key element of society. This book explores both the famous names you already know and the lesser-known women who deserve their own places in the history books. It also reminds readers about women's involvement in everyday life, and how their unsung contributions helped bolster whole societies. This energetic look at the importance of women's history is sure to inspire readers!
Susan Rice's family were immigrants on one side and descendants of slaves on the other, and her elders had expectations that each generation would seize whatever opportunities they could. Rice did so, becoming one of America's youngest assistant secretaries of state during the Clinton administration and, later, a trusted advisor to President Obama. But after the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attacks in Libya, she was mischaracterized by those both for and against her. In this memoir, Rice tells her own story in a candid and often funny way — and uses it to urge her nation to seek unity and be the leaders the world needs.
Queen Victoria ruled over a vast British Empire at a time when most women were confined to strict feminine roles — and while she carefully cultivated a traditional image, she was also a defiant, astute, and politically-minded woman far ahead of her time. In this evocative biography, Lucy Worsley looks at twenty-four defining days from Victoria's life, from her childhood to her coronation to her life as a wife and widow. Worsley dives into her correspondence and other archival information in order to illuminate this powerful woman's complexity — and how her influence shaped both her age and our world today.
When 28-year-old Stephanie Land discovered she was pregnant, she had to shift gears from her plans to go away to university. She was determined to provide a good life for her child, and that meant taking work as a cleaner, applying for government assistance, and taking classes online at night. In this powerful book, Land writes about the realities of life as one of the working poor — and about what it's like to be simultaneously necessary to the life of upper-middle class America, and disdained by them. Her book is not just a personal story; it's also a reminder of the strength it takes to survive and thrive when you live as a "servant" worker.
Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton answer one of the most common questions they receive: who is your hero? Their answer includes a wide variety of women, from Civil Rights activist Dorothy Height to scientist Rachel Carson to courageous activist Malala Yousafzai. In this book, they explain how these women influenced them and what their examples have to teach other women. The world needs gutsy women, and this book will help inspire you to be one too!
Ryan Dostie grew up in a sheltered Christian cult in Connecticut, but she took the bold step of joining the Army when she graduated from high school, wooed by a recruiter with promises of a career that incorporated her gift for languages. She found work she loved in the army, but she also found a male-dominated world where she was decidedly not welcome. It was also a world where, when she was raped by a fellow soldier, her accusation could be "unsubstantiated" despite evidence of the attack, and where a combat tour in Iraq could leave her with PTSD. This is a story that is messy and undefinable, just like real life often is, but conveys a powerful message about pushing forward through trauma and proving — and believing — your worth.
Françoise Frenkel dreamed of opening a bookshop, and in 1921, the Polish-born Jew realized that dream by opening La Maison du Livre, Berlin's first French bookshop. But around her, Nazi ideology was taking root. By 1935, she was facing bureaucratic obstacles and book confiscations — and although La Maison du Livre was spared during Kristallnacht in 1938, she knew she had to escape. Paris, her first stop, turned out to be no safer, and as she ran from one safe house to the next, Françoise witnessed the horrors of war first hand. This compelling account, originally published in 1945, was rediscovered almost sixty years later. Now, this story of courage and survival is available as a reminder of the evil of hate and oppression and as an inspiring testament to human resilience.
When Karen Thomas survived a sexual assault at knife point as a sophomore at UC Berkeley, she wanted more than anything to forget — but somehow, her body and mind wouldn't allow it. In her career as a criminal defense lawyer, she often found herself working for men who were accused of crimes just like the one committed against her. Finally, she decided she had to learn more: about her own PTSD, about what happened to her attacker, and about how survivors can regain their confidence, even if that's an ongoing journey. Riveting and deeply moving, this transformative story is a reminder of the complex nature of trauma and the power of human resilience.
In the midst of World War II, it appeared that the Nazis were unstoppable — especially with almost every man in England already fighting on the front. So the Special Operations Executive took a bold step and recruited women as spies. Thirty-nine women answered their call, including Andrée Borrel, Odette Sansom, and Lise de Baissac. In D-Day Girls author Sarah Rose draws on recently declassified documents, diaries, and more to create a compelling portrait of these three women and their motivations for risking everything in order to make the D-Day invasion possible — and pave the way for the Allied victory.
When Sarah Vallance suffered a traumatic brain injury, she thought she had lost everything: she was told that her cognitive skills and her personality would never be the same. Isolated at home, she struggled with her anger at losing the ability to do things she thought were simple — even reading and writing. But a chance conversation gave her hope that her brain could heal and relearn, and slowly, she was able to build a new life. Vallance provides a deeply personal look at life with TBI and the disabilities that can result from it, with equal parts hope for recovery and a reminder that accepting yourself as you are is the most powerful healing of all.
When Susan Straight, a book nerd and future author, married Dwayne Sims, an African American basketball player, their new combined family bore the legacy of many indomitable women. On Sims' side, there were stories of women fleeing violence in post-slavery Tennessee or Jim Crow Mississippi — or in their own homes, from abusive husbands and fathers. On Straight's side, there were women from Switzerland, Canada, and Colorado who pushed for new futures in strange lands. In this social history, Straight explores how the legacies of these women have affected her own family — including her three daughters. This powerful and thoughtful book is a celebration of courageous women and the American dream.
Melissa Isaacson loved sports, but for years she'd been turned away from boys' teams. That changed in 1975, when she entered Niles West High School in Chicago as a freshman. Title IX was three years old, and for the first time, Illinois was implementing teams and tournaments for high school girls. Missy found herself on the basketball team with a group of other girls who were overjoyed at being able to play, and for whom sports became a refuge from challenges and frustrations at home and elsewhere. Isaacson tells this remarkable story about the power of athletics and finding your community with vigor, capturing the exciting moment that a group of girls first heard they were state champions.
Keena Roberts spent a childhood split between two very different worlds: six months a year in a Philadelphia private school, and six months a year at a baboon research camp in Botswana. Her parents, famous primatologists, encouraged the adventurous girl, but they were still American, not African. And yet when she went "home," she felt just as out of place in the private school hierarchy. This funny, personal, and heartfelt memoir provides a unique glimpse into both lives — from field hockey team drama to being chased by a lion — while asking universal questions about finding out what it means to fit in.
Meryl Streep is an iconic, award-winning actress who has defied the Hollywood mold by playing a diverse range of complicated female roles — no marginal characters for her! In this joyful homage to Streep's influence, journalist and author Erin Carlson follows Streep from awkward teenage years, to blossoming on stage at Vassar and the Yale School of Drama, to her early acting career where she incorporated her feminist activism into her roles. Finally, she highlights her current career, where she defies attitudes towards women over 40 and continues to be one of Hollywood's biggest box office draws. With vibrant artwork by Justin Teodoro, this is a unique peek at a dynamic and defiant woman who has changed the shape of women in film.
Geraldine Largay was fulfilling a dream of thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail in 2013... and then she went missing. The 66-year-old's disappearance kicked off a massive search; the Maine Warden Service followed leads for over a year. But two years later, her remains were found by chance on the U.S. Navy's SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape) School land, only 2,000 feet from the trail. In this powerful book, Denis Dauphinee, a Maine author who volunteered in the search for Largay, explores why the search didn't find her — and how she spent her last days of life, both while she waited for rescue and once she knew it wasn't coming.
At the beginning of 1939, Polish teenager Renia Spiegel began a diary, a confidante "who would never reveal my secrets." Her writing would also become a chronicle of the beginning of World War II. Separated from her mother when the German and Soviet armies invaded Poland, Renia tried to continue life as usual, and her diary became the place where she could explore her desire to be a writer, capture the daily dramas of teenage life (including falling in love with her boyfriend, Zygmund), and recount her fears about the war. Her diary ends in July 1942, with a note from Zygmund, after she was murdered by the Gestapo. Now translated from the original Polish, this incredible historical document brings Renia to life once again, and serves as a reminder of what we lose through hatred and war.
Debbie Harry's work as a musician, and actor, and an activist has left its mark on the world — but until now she's never told her story from her own point of view. In Face It, Harry recounts her days in 1970s New York City, as her band Blondie forged a new sound and shared the stage with rock and roll greats — and the bumpy road that came after, including addiction, bankruptcy, and the band's breakup. And then, she rose again, becoming an actor, a solo artist, and LGBTQ and environmental activist. With never-before-seen photographs, as well as commissioned illustrations and fan art, this is a unique look at a dynamic and bold woman who changed the face of music.
Soccer is a tremendously popular sport, both in America and around the world — but the famous female players of today still faced significant hardships and discrimination, in addition to all the challenges of a world-class athlete, in order to play the game they love. In this tribute to the daring women who transformed the sport, author Gemma Clarke interviewed over fifty players and coaches to explore their lives and experiences with the beautiful game. Packed with names both famous and unfamiliar, this book is sure to be a favorite with any fan of soccer or women's sport.
As long as she's been in the public eye, Demi Moore has wrestled with doubt and insecurity. Even as she rose to fame and became the highest paid actress in Hollywood, she questioned her value — and struggled with body image, addiction, and trauma. In this compelling and frank memoir, Moore opens up about her past and her present; about the difficulty of finding a place to belong when you're constantly being followed (and torn apart) by tabloids; and about the power of choosing your own path. It's a unique look at an often-private woman's inner life that celebrates resilience and urges readers to remember that they are all good enough.
Ruth Reichl started poring over Gourmet magazine when she was 8 years old, but when Condé Nast offered her the role of editor in chief for the food magazine, she struggled with whether to accept it. She thought of herself as a writer, not a manager, and she worried about entering the corporate world. Still, the chance to work for the magazine that inspired her was too tempting to pass up — and she helped transform Gourmet into a cutting-edge publication. In her memoir (complete with recipes), Reichl describes what it was like to work for Gourmet, the remarkable personalities she met there, and what she did when her passion led her to unexpected places.
When Susan Levenstein and her husband moved to his hometown of Rome in 1978, it was the beginning of 40 years practicing medicine there — and facing the joys and frustrations of life as a foreigner and expat. She had to fight Italian bureaucracy and sexism just to begin her practice. Then, she had to adjust to the differences between American and Italian medicine — including the benefits of easily accessible, publicly funded health care. At times both hilarious and exasperating, Levenstein's story is a unique peek at life in Italy and the experience of finding home in another country.
Julie Yip-Williams was a survivor, even as a newborn; because she was born blind, her grandmother tried to euthanize her. Then, in the late 1970s, she and her family fled the turmoil of her birth country of Vietnam in a rickety boat. When she finally made it to America, Julie's sight was partially restored by a surgeon; she got a law degree from Harvard; and she married and had children. And then at 37, she was diagnosed with terminal colon cancer. In her struggle to find clarity and peace, she put pen to paper, telling her life story and chronicling the joys, pains, and strangeness of life, illness, and death. It's a potent account that encourages readers to face each day head-on, confident in the knowledge that life — and its end — is a miracle.
In 1127, Henry I of England made an unusual decision and recognized his daughter, Matilda, as his official heir. Despite this, after her father died, her cousin claimed the throne, easily swaying the barons who doubted a woman's ability to rule. They had little idea just who they had crossed. Matilda never sat on the throne, but her son did, and every English and British monarch since has had her blood in their veins. In this detailed biography, author Catherine Hanley explores Matilda's role as a leader — both political and military — during the succession crisis. It's a unique look at a powerful but little-known figure of the English Middle Ages.
When T. Kira Madden was a child, her father moved her and her mother into a life of privilege in Boca Raton, including private schools, designers shoes, and more. But her "perfect" life on the surface hid ugliness underneath: an alcoholic and abusive father, a mother addicted to painkillers, and a culture where she felt more like an object than a person. Eventually, though, she found a community of other fatherless girls — friends she could rely on, and people who sparked a queer awakening. This lyrical book about simultaneously mourning a father and recognizing his deep flaws also explores finding love — and the strength to rebuild yourself — in unexpected places.
While Rachel Brathen was undergoing emergency surgery for mysterious stomach pains, her best friend, Andrea, was killed in a car accident. In the years that followed, Rachel wrestled with grief over her friend and past traumas she had never faced. Although her life seemed perfect on the outside, she feared she would succumb to her grief at any moment. Finally, when she conceived a child, her pregnancy also became the catalyst for the healing she desperately needed. In this transformative memoir, Brathen explores how love and grief are two sides of the same coin — and how to let go without forgetting.
Patti Smith, National Book Award-winning author of Just Kids and M Train, returns to the story of her life in this book about one transformative year: 2016, the Year of the Monkey. It's a wandering year for Smith, who travels alone through California, Arizona, Kentucky, and more, along the way meeting strangers and visiting old friends and mentors. She blends imaginary and remembered places into her story, as well, creating a poetic mix of dream and reality. Throughout, Smith reminds readers that there is a better world out there — even if you have to wander to find it.
Susan Sontag was a suburban girl who made it in the big city, and left a spectacular legacy of writing. She was present for some of the biggest moments of the 20th century, but behind the determined public face there was insecurity, struggles with sexuality, and moral debates about how to respond to her country when it stepped on the wrong path. In this stunning volume, complete with nearly one hundred images, Benjamin Moser draws on Sontag's restricted archives and interviews with people who have never spoken publicly about their relationships with Sontag before to create a stunning portrait of a groundbreaking figure from American culture.
Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman grew up poor in Appalachia, but she was determined to strive for a career as a violinist. When she finally made it to an Ivy League college, she was not good enough for their music program — but she did get a position in an ensemble... without an audition. It turned out that the "orchestra" she played for was a fraud; all the music is played by a CD, coordinated by The Composer, who tricked his audiences into believing it's real. Hindman explores her interior struggles with her identity and ambitions in this funny and stranger-than-true memoir that asks pointed questions about gender and why our culture is so content with fakes.
Deena Kastor was a champion runner from a young age, but she was driven by fears of losing, which meant burnout ran hard on her heels. After college, she almost quit running altogether, until she joined legendary coach Joe Vigil's professional distance-running team. His suggestion seemed almost unthinkable: what would make her fast was not her body, but her mind. After years of training herself in resilience and positivity, Kastor smashed American records in every distance from the 5K to the marathon, and won America's first Olympic medal for the marathon in twenty years. This memoir is a fascinating look at the mind of an athlete and a compelling lesson in the value of positivity and self-love.
For twenty years, Melinda Gates has been trying to help people around the world, seeking solutions for those in need. One thing has become clear: when you help women rise, everyone rises with them. In this book, Gates talks about the inspiring people she's met around the world, and how their initiatives have transformed their communities. She backs up her stories with data about how addressing issues like child marriage, contraceptive access, and gender inequality affect cultures on both the small and large scale. This book is a call to action, encouraging us to connect with one another, lift one another up, and watch the whole world rise together.