Bookmark the Blog


SHE COME BY IT NATURAL

One of our recommended books is She Come By It Natural by Sarah Smarsh

The National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestselling author of Heartland focuses her laser-sharp insights on a working-class icon and one of the most unifying figures in American culture: Dolly Parton.

Growing up amid Kansas wheat fields and airplane factories, Sarah Smarsh witnessed firsthand the particular vulnerabilities—and strengths—of women in working poverty. Meanwhile, country songs by female artists played in the background, telling powerful stories about life, men, hard times, and surviving. In her family, she writes, “country music was foremost a language among women. It’s how we talked to each other in a place where feelings aren’t discussed.” And no one provided that language better than Dolly Parton.

read more

BEAUTY MARK

One of our recommended books is Beauty Mark by Carole Boston Weatherford

From the day she was born into a troubled home to her reigning days as a Hollywood icon, Marilyn Monroe (née Norma Jeane Mortenson) lived a life that was often defined by others. Here, in a luminous poetic narrative, acclaimed author Carole Boston Weatherford tells Marilyn’s story in a way that restores her voice to its rightful place: center stage. Revisiting Marilyn’s often traumatic early life—foster homes, loneliness, sexual abuse, teen marriage—through a hard-won, meteoric rise to stardom that brought with it exploitation, pill dependency, and depression, the lyrical narrative continues through Marilyn’s famous performance at JFK’s birthday party, three months before her death.

read more

LITTLE WONDER

Little Wonder by Sasha Abramsky

A groundbreaking biography of the world’s first female sports superstar, the pioneering and uncompromising Lottie Dod.

Lottie Dod was a truly extraordinary sports figure who blazed trails of glory in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Dod won Wimbledon five times, and did so for the first time in 1887, at the ludicrously young age of fifteen. After she grew bored with competitive tennis, she moved on to and excelled in myriad other sports: she became a leading ice skater and tobogganist, a mountaineer, an endurance bicyclist, a hockey player, a British ladies’ golf champion,

read more

WE ARE ALL HIS CREATURES

One of our recommended books for 2020 is We Are All His Creatures by Deborah Noyes

Much has been written about P. T. Barnum — legendary showman, entrepreneur, marketing genius, and one of the most famous nineteenth-century personalities. For those who lived in Barnum’s shadow, however, life was complex. P. T. Barnum’s two families — his family at home, including his two wives and his daughters, and his family at work, including Little People, a giantess, an opera singer, and many sideshow entertainers — suffered greatly from his cruelty and exploitation. Yet, at the same time, some of his performers, such as General Tom Thumb (Charles Stratton), became wealthy celebrities who were admired and feted by presidents and royalty.

read more

WHAT STARS ARE MADE OF

One of our recommended books for 2020 is What Stars Are Made of by Donovan Moore

The history of science is replete with women getting little notice for their groundbreaking discoveries. Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, a tireless innovator who correctly theorized the substance of stars, was one of them.

It was not easy being a woman of ambition in early twentieth-century England, much less one who wished to be a scientist. Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin overcame prodigious obstacles to become a woman of many firsts: the first to receive a PhD in astronomy from Radcliffe College, the first promoted to full professor at Harvard, the first to head a department there. And, in what has been called “the most brilliant PhD thesis ever written in astronomy,” she was the first to describe what stars are made of.

read more

AFTER EMILY

One of our recommended books for 2019 is After Emily by Julie Dobrow

“Scandal and pathos abound” (The New Yorker) in this riveting account of the mother and daughter who brought Emily Dickinson’s genius to light.

Despite Emily Dickinson’s renown, the story of the two women most responsible for her initial posthumous publication—Mabel Loomis Todd and her daughter, Millicent Todd Bingham—has remained in the shadows of the archives. Utilizing hundreds of overlooked letters and diaries to weave together three unstoppable women, Julie Dobrow reveals the intrigue of Dickinson’s literary beginnings, including Mabel’s tumultuous affair with Emily’s brother, Austin Dickinson, controversial editorial decisions, and a battle over the right to define the so-called Belle of Amherst.

read more