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Book Lists for Adults

Extraordinary Women

Nonfiction

Berry, Daina Ramey, author.
305.4889 BER
"A vibrant and empowering history that emphasizes the perspectives and stories of African American women to show how they are--and have always been--instrumental in shaping our country. In centering Black women's stories, two award-winning historians seek both to empower African American women and to show their allies that Black women's unique ability to make their own communities while combatting centuries of oppression is an essential component in our continued resistance to systemic racism and sexism. Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross offer an examination and celebration of Black womanhood, beginning with the first African women who arrived in what became the United States to African American women of today. A Black Women's History of the United States reaches far beyond a single narrative to showcase Black women's lives in all their fraught complexities. Berry and Gross prioritize many voices: enslaved women, freedwomen, religious leaders, artists, queer women, activists, and women who lived outside the law. The result is a starting point for exploring Black women's history and a testament to the beauty, richness, rhythm, tragedy, heartbreak, rage, and enduring love that abounds in the spirit of Black women in communities throughout the nation."--Publisher's website.

Chang, Jung, 1952- author.
951.0509 CHA
The most famous sisters in China, the three Soong sisters from Shanghai were at the center of power during a time of wars, revolutions and seismic transformations. Red Sister, Ching-ling married Sun Yat-sen; Little Sister, May-ling, became Madame Chiang Kai-shek; Big Sister, Ei-Ling, became Chiang's unofficial main adviser, and made herself one of China's richest women.

Cormack, Raph, author.
305.4096 COR
"A vibrant portrait of the talented and entrepreneurial women who defined an era in Cairo. One of the world's greatest twentieth-century cosmopolitan cities, Cairo was a magnet for the ambitious and talented. During the 1920s and 30s, a vibrant music, theater, film, and cabaret scene flourished there, defining what it meant to be a "modern" Egyptian. Women came to dominate that scene-as stars but also as impresarias, entrepreneurs, owners, and promoters of the entertainment industry. Raphael Cormack unveils the rich histories of independent women like vaudeville star Rose al-Youssef (who launched one of Cairo's most important newspapers); nightclub singer Mounira al-Mahdiyya (the first woman to lead an Egyptian theater company); her great rival, Umm Kalthoum (still venerated for her soulful lyrics); and other fabulous female stars. Buffeted by crosswinds of colonialism and nationalism, conservatism and liberalism, "religious" and "secular" values, patriarchy and feminism, this new generation of celebrity opened new horizons of possibility for women in Egypt and throughout the Middle East"-- Provided by publisher.

De Hart, Jane Sherron.
BIO GINSBURG
"The first full life--private; public; legal; philosophical--of the 107th Supreme Court Justice, one of the most profound and profoundly transformative legal minds of our time; a book fifteen years in work, written with the cooperation of Ruth Bader Ginsburg herself and based on many interviews with the Justice, her husband, her children, her friends, and associates. In this large, comprehensive, revelatory biography, Jane De Hart explores the central experiences that crucially shaped Ginsburg's passion for justice, her advocacy for gender equality, her meticulous jurisprudence: her desire to make We the People more united and our union more perfect. At the heart of her story and abiding beliefs--her Jewish background. Tikkun Olam, the Hebrew injunction to "repair the world," with its profound meaning for a young girl who grew up during the Holocaust and World War II. We see the influence of her mother, Celia Amster Bader, whose intellect inspired her daughter's feminism, insisting that Ruth become independent, as she witnessed her mother coping with terminal cervical cancer (Celia died the day before Ruth, at 17, graduated from high school). From Ruth's days as a baton twirler at Brooklyn's James Madison High School, to Cornell University, Harvard and Columbia Law School (first in her class), to being a law professor at Rutgers University (one of the few women in the field and fighting pay discrimination), hiding her second pregnancy so as not to risk losing her job; founding the Women's Rights Law Reporter, writing the brief for the first case that persuaded the Supreme Court to strike down a sex-discriminatory state law, then at Columbia (the law school's first tenured female professor); becoming the director of the women's rights project of the ACLU, persuading the Supreme Court in a series of decisions to ban laws that denied women full citizenship status with men. Her years on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, deciding cases the way she played golf, as she, left-handed, played with right-handed clubs--aiming left, swinging right, hitting down the middle. Her years on the Supreme Court. A pioneering life and legal career whose profound mark on American jurisprudence, on American society, on our American character and spirit, will reverberate deep into the twenty-first century and beyond"-- Provided by publisher.

Dreilinger, Danielle, author.
640.92 DRE
"The surprising, often fiercely feminist, always fascinating, yet barely known, history of home economics. The term "home economics" may conjure traumatic memories of lopsided hand-sewn pillows or sunken cakes. But obscured by common conception is the story of the revolutionary science of better living. The field exploded opportunities for women in the twentieth century by reducing domestic work and providing jobs as professors, engineers, chemists, and businesspeople that were otherwise foreclosed. In The Secret History of Home Economics, Danielle Dreilinger traces the field's history from small farms to the White House, from Victorian suffragists to Palo Alto techies. Home economics followed the currents of American culture even as it shaped them; Dreilinger brings forward the racism within the movement along with the strides taken by Black women who were influential leaders and innovators. She also looks at the personal lives of home economics' women, as they chose being single, shared lives with women, or tried for egalitarian marriages. This groundbreaking and engaging history restores a maligned subject to its rightful importance"-- Provided by publisher.

Frenkel, Françoise, 1889-1975, author.
BIO FRENKEL
In 1921, Françoise Frenkel--a Jewish woman from Poland--fulfills a dream. She opens La Maison du Livre, Berlin's first French bookshop, attracting artists and diplomats, celebrities and poets. The shop becomes a haven for intellectual exchange as Nazi ideology begins to poison the culturally rich city. In 1935, the scene continues to darken. First come the new bureaucratic hurdles, followed by frequent police visits and book confiscations. Françoise's dream finally shatters on Kristallnacht in November 1938, as hundreds of Jewish shops and businesses are destroyed. La Maison du Livre is miraculously spared, but fear of persecution eventually forces Françoise on a desperate, lonely flight to Paris. When the city is bombed, she seeks refuge across southern France, witnessing countless horrors: children torn from their parents, mothers throwing themselves under buses. Secreted away from one safe house to the next, Françoise survives at the heroic hands of strangers risking their lives to protect her.

Holt, Nathalia, 1980-
384.8097 HOL
From the bestselling author of <i>Rise of the Rocket Girls<i> comes the untold story of the women of Walt Disney Studios, who shaped the iconic films that have enthralled generations.

Midorikawa, Emily, author.
133.9092 MID
"Out of the Shadows tells the stories of six enterprising Victorian women whose apparent ability to move between the realms of the dead and the living allowed them to cross rigid boundaries of gender and class, and to summon unique political voices. The clairvoyance of the Fox sisters from upstate New York inspired some of the era's best-known female suffrage activists and set off an international séance craze. Emma Hardinge Britten left behind a career on Broadway for the life of a "trance lecturer," whose oration on the death of Abraham Lincoln was celebrated by tens of thousands. The meteoric rise of Victoria Woodhull, born into poverty in Ohio, took her from childhood medium to Wall Street broker to America's first female presidential candidate. And Georgina Weldon, whose interest in spiritualism nearly saw her confined to an asylum, went on to become a favorite of the press and a successful campaigner against Britain's archaic lunacy laws. These extraordinary tales illuminate a radical history of female influence that has been -until now-confined to the dark"-- Provided by publisher.

Rioux, Anne Boyd, author.
813.4 RIO
A 150th anniversary tribute describes the cultural significance of Louisa May Alcott's classic, exploring how its relatable themes and depictions of family resilience, community, and female resourcefulness have inspired generations of writers.

Siler, Julia Flynn, 1960- author.
CALIFORNIANA 306.362 SIL
"A revelatory history of the trafficking of young Asian girls that flourished in San Francisco during the first century of Chinese immigration (1848-1943) and the "safe house" on the edge of Chinatown that became a refuge for those seeking their freedom From 1874, a house on the edge of San Francisco's Chinatown served as a gateway to freedom for thousands of enslaved and vulnerable young Chinese women and girls. Known as the Occidental Mission Home, it survived earthquakes, fire, bubonic plague, and violence directed against its occupants and supporters--a courageous group of female abolitionists who fought the slave trade in Chinese women. With compassion and an investigative historian's sharp eyes, Siler tells the story of both the abolitionists, who challenged the corrosive, anti-Chinese prejudices of the time, and the young women who dared to flee their fate. She relates how the women who ran the house defied contemporary convention, even occasionally broke the law, by physically rescuing children from the brothels where they worked, or snatching them off the ships smuggling them in, and helped bring the exploiters to justice. She has also uncovered the stories of many of the girls and young women who came to the Mission and the lives they later led, sometimes becoming part of the home's staff themselves. A remarkable story of an overlooked part of our history, told with sympathy and vigor"-- Provided by publisher.

Burke, Tarana, author.
362.883 BUR
"From the founder and activist behind one of the largest movements of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the "me too" movement, Tarana Burke debuts a powerful memoir about her own journey to saying those two simple yet infinitely powerful words-me too-and how she brought empathy back to an entire generation in one of the largest cultural events in American history. Tarana didn't always have the courage to say "me too." As a child, she reeled from her sexual assault, believing she was responsible. Unable to confess what she thought of as her own sins for fear of shattering her family, her soul split in two. One side was the bright, intellectually curious third generation Bronxite steeped in Black literature and power, and the other was the bad, shame ridden girl who thought of herself as a vile rule breaker, not of a victim. She tucked one away, hidden behind a wall of pain and anger, which seemed to work...until it didn't. Tarana fought to reunite her fractured soul, through organizing, pursuing justice, and finding community. In her debut memoir she shares her extensive work supporting and empowering Black and brown girls, and the devastating realization that to truly help these girls she needed to help that scared, ashamed child still in her soul. She needed to stop running and confront what had happened to her, for Heaven and Diamond and the countless other young Black women for whom she cared. They gave her the courage to embrace her power. A power which in turn she shared with the entire world. Through these young Black and brown women, Tarana found that we can only offer empathy to others if we first offer it to ourselves. Unbound is the story of an inimitable woman's inner strength and perseverance, all in pursuit of bringing healing to her community and the world around her, but it is also a story of possibility, of empathy, of power, and of the leader we all have inside ourselves. In sharing her path toward healing and saying "me too," Tarana reaches out a hand to help us all on our own journeys"-- Provided by publisher.

Carlile, Brandi, author.
BIO CARLILE
In Broken Horses, Brandi Carlile takes readers through the events of her life that shaped her very raw art--from her start at a local singing competition where she performed Elton John's "Honky Cat" in a bedazzled white polyester suit, to her first break opening for Dave Matthews Band, to many sleepless tours over fifteen years and six studio albums, all while raising two children with her wife, Catherine Shepherd. This hard-won success led her to collaborations with personal heroes like Elton John, Dolly Parton, Mavis Staples, Pearl Jam, Tanya Tucker, and Joni Mitchell, as well as her peers in the supergroup The Highwomen, and ultimately to the Grammy stage, where she converted millions of viewers into instant fans.

Chung, Nicole, author.
LARGE TYPE BIO CHUNG
Nicole Chung was born severely premature, placed for adoption by her Korean parents, and raised by a white family in a sheltered Oregon town. From childhood, she heard the story of her adoption as a comforting myth. Nicole believed that her biological parents had made the ultimate sacrifice in the hope of giving her a better life, that forever feeling slightly out of place was her fate as a transracial adoptee. But as she grew up - facing prejudice her adoptive family couldn't see, finding her identity, becoming ever more curious about where she came from - Nicole wondered if the story she'd been told was the whole truth.

Cisneros, Sandra.
BIO CISNEROS
"From the beloved author of The House on Mango Street: a richly illustrated compilation of true stories and nonfiction pieces that, taken together, form a jigsaw autobiography: an intimate album of a literary legend's life and career. From the Chicago neighborhoods where she grew up and set her groundbreaking The House on Mango Street to her abode in Mexico, in a region where "my ancestors lived for centuries," the places Sandra Cisneros has lived have provided inspiration for her now-classic works of fiction and poetry. But a house of her own, where she could truly take root, has eluded her. With this collection--spanning nearly three decades, and including never-before-published work--Cisneros has come home at last. Ranging from the private (her parents' loving and tempestuous marriage) to the political (a rallying cry for one woman's liberty in Sarajevo) to the literary (a tribute to Marguerite Duras), and written with her trademark sensitivity and honesty, these poignant, unforgettable pieces give us not only her most transformative memories but also a revelation of her artistic and intellectual influences. Here is an exuberant, deeply moving celebration of a life in writing lived to the fullest--an important milestone in a storied career."--Publisher information.

Eder, Mari K., author.
940.5309 EDE
"The Girls Who Stepped Out of Line takes you inside the lives and experiences of 15 unknown women heroes from the Greatest Generation, the women who served, fought, struggled, and made things happen during WWII-in and out of uniform, for theirs is a legacy destined to embolden generations of women to come. Liane B. Russell fled Austria with nothing and later became a renowned U.S. scientist whose research on the effects of radiation on embryos made a difference to thousands of lives. Gena Turgel was a prisoner who worked in the hospital at Bergen-Belsen and cared for the young Anne Frank, who was dying of typhus. Gena survived and went on to write a memoir and spent her life educating children about the Holocaust. Ida and Louise Cook were British sisters who repeatedly smuggled out jewelry and furs and served as sponsors for refugees, and they also established temporary housing for immigrant families in London. Retired U.S. Army Major General Mari K. Eder wrote this book because she knew their stories needed to be told-and the sooner the better. For theirs is a legacy destined to embolden generations of women to come"-- Provided by publisher.

Field, Sally, author.
BIO FIELD

Ginsburg, Ruth Bader, author.
BIO GINSBURG
"The first book from Ruth Bader Ginsburg since becoming a Supreme Court Justice in 1993--a witty, engaging, serious, and playful collection of writings and speeches from the woman who has had a powerful and enduring influence on law, women's rights, and popular culture. My Own Words is a selection of writings and speeches by Justice Ginsburg on wide-ranging topics, including gender equality, the workways of the Supreme Court, on being Jewish, on law and lawyers in opera, and on the value of looking beyond US shores when interpreting the US Constitution. Throughout her life Justice Ginsburg has been (and continues to be) a prolific writer and public speaker. This book contains a sampling, selected by Justice Ginsburg and her authorized biographers Mary Hartnett and Wendy W. Williams. Justice Ginsburg has written an Introduction to the book, and Hartnett and Williams introduce each chapter, giving biographical context and quotes gleaned from hundreds of interviews they have conducted. This is a fascinating glimpse into the life of one of America's most influential women"-- Provided by publisher.

Hall, Rebecca, 1963- author.
GN 741.5973 HAL
"An historical and imaginative tour-de-force, WAKE brings to light for the first time the existence of enslaved black women warriors, whose stories can be traced by carefully scrutinizing historical records; and where the historical record goes silent, WAKE reconstructs the likely past of two female rebels, Adono and Alele, on the slave ship The Unity. WAKE is a graphic novel that offers invaluable insight into the struggle to survive whole as a black woman in today's America; it is a historiography that illuminates both the challenges and the necessity of uncovering the true stories of slavery; and it is an overdue reckoning with slavery in New York City where two of these armed revolts took place. It is, also, a transformative and transporting work of imaginative fiction, bringing to three-dimensional life Adono and Alele and their pasts as women warriors. In so doing, WAKE illustrates the humanity of the enslaved, the reality of their lived experiences, and the complexity of the history that has been, till now, so thoroughly erased"-- Provided by publisher.

Harman, Claire, author.
BIO BRONTE
"A groundbreaking biography that places an obsessive, unrequited love at the heart of the writer's life story, transforming her from the tragic figure we have previously known into a smoldering Jane Eyre. Famed for her beloved novels, Charlotte Brontë has been known as well for her insular, tragic family life. The genius of this biography is that it delves behind this image to reveal a life in which loss and heartache existed alongside rebellion and fierce ambition. Harman seizes on a crucial moment in the 1840's when Charlotte worked at a girls' school in Brussels and fell hopelessly in love with the husband of the school's headmistress. Her torment spawned her first attempts at writing for publication, and he haunts the pages of every one of her novels--he is Rochester in Jane Eyre, Paul Emanuel in Villette. Another unrequited love--for her publisher--paved the way for Charlotte to enter a marriage that ultimately made her happier than she ever imagined. Drawing on correspondence unavailable to previous biographers, Claire Harman establishes Brontë the heroine of her own story, one as dramatic and triumphant as one of her own novels"-- Provided by publisher.

Harry, Debbie, author.
BIO HARRY
Harry recounts her path from glorious commercial success to heroin addiction, the near-death of partner Chris Stein, a heart-wrenching bankruptcy, and Blondie's breakup as a band to her multifaceted acting career in more than thirty films, a stunning solo career and the triumphant return of her band, and her tireless advocacy for the environment and LGBTQ rights.

Hilsum, Lindsey, author.
BIO COLVIN
A biography of the war correspondent Marie Colvin.

King, Billie Jean, author.
BIO KING
"In this spirited account, Billie Jean King details her life's journey to find her true self. She recounts her groundbreaking tennis career--six years as the top-ranked woman in the world, twenty Wimbledon championships, thirty-nine grand-slam titles, and her watershed defeat of Bobby Riggs in the famous "Battle of the Sexes." She poignantly recalls the cultural backdrop of those years and the profound impact on her worldview from the women's movement, the assassinations and anti-war protests of the 1960s, the civil rights movement, and, eventually, the LGBTQ+ rights movement"-- Provided by publisher.

Lucey, Donna M., 1951- author.
920.72 LUC
"In this seductive, multilayered biography, based on original letters and diaries, Donna M. Lucey illuminates four extraordinary women painted by the iconic high-society portraitist John Singer Sargent. With uncanny intuition, Sargent hinted at the mysteries and passions that unfolded in his subjects&#x2019; lives. Elsie Palmer traveled between her father&#x2019;s Rocky Mountain castle and the medieval English manor house where her mother took refuge, surrounded by artists, writers, and actors. Elsie hid labyrinthine passions, including her love for a man who would betray her. As the veiled Sally Fairchild&#x2015;beautiful and commanding&#x2015;emerged on Sargent&#x2019;s canvas, the power of his artistry lured her sister, Lucia, into a Bohemian life. The saintly Elizabeth Chanler embarked on a surreptitious love affair with her best friend&#x2019;s husband. And the iron-willed Isabella Stewart Gardner scandalized Boston society and became Sargent&#x2019;s greatest patron and friend. Like characters in an Edith Wharton novel, these women challenged society&#x2019;s restrictions, risking public shame and ostracism. All had forbidden love affairs; Lucia bravely supported her family despite illness, while Elsie explored Spiritualism, defying her overbearing father. Finally, the headstrong Isabella outmaneuvered the richest plutocrats on the planet to create her own magnificent art museum. These compelling stories of female courage connect our past with our present&#x2015;and remind us that while women live differently now, they still face obstacles to attaining full equality."--Jacket flap.

Miller, Chanel, author.
364.1532 MIL
Brock Turner had been sentenced to just six months in county jail after he was found sexually assaulting "Emily Doe" on Stanford's campus. Her victim impact statement was posted on BuzzFeed, where it instantly went viral, was translated globally and read on the floor of Congress. It inspired changes in California law and the recall of the judge in the case. Now Miller reclaims her identity to tell her story of trauma, transcendence, and the power of words. She tells of her struggles with isolation and shame during the aftermath and the trial, reveals the oppression victims face in even the best-case scenarios, and illuminates a culture biased to protect perpetrators. -- Adapted from jacket

Moore, Kate (Writer and editor), author.
BIO PACKARD
"1860: As the clash between the states rolls slowly to a boil, Elizabeth Packard, housewife and mother of six, is facing her own battle. The enemy sits across the table and sleeps in the next room. Threatened by Elizabeth's intellect, independence, and outspokenness, her husband of twenty-one years is plotting against her and makes a plan to put her back in her place. One summer morning, he has her committed to an insane asylum. The horrific conditions inside the Illinois State Hospital in Jacksonville, Illinois, are overseen by Dr. Andrew McFarland, a man who will prove to be even more dangerous to Elizabeth than her traitorous husband. But most disturbing is that Elizabeth is not the only sane woman confined to the institution. There are many rational women on her ward who tell the same story: they've been committed not because they need medical treatment, but to keep them in line--conveniently labeled "crazy" so their voices are ignored. No one is willing to fight for their freedom, and disenfranchised both by gender and the stigma of their supposed madness, they cannot possibly fight for themselves. But Elizabeth is about to discover that the merit of losing everything is that you then have nothing to lose..."-- Provided by publisher.

Obama, Michelle, 1964- author.
BIO OBAMA

Steinem, Gloria, author.
LARGE TYPE BIO STEINEM
"Gloria Steinem had an itinerant childhood. Every fall, her father would pack the family into the car and they would drive across the country, in search of their next adventure. The seeds were planted: Steinem would spend much of her life on the road, as a journalist, organizer, activist, and speaker. In vivid stories that span an entire career, Steinem writes about her time on the campaign trail, from Bobby Kennedy to Hillary Clinton; her early exposure to social activism in India, and the decades spent organizing ground-up movements in America; the taxi drivers who were "vectors of modern myths" and the airline stewardesses who embraced the feminist revolution; and the infinite, surprising contrasts, the "surrealism in everyday life" that Steinem encountered as she traveled back and forth across the country. With the unique perspective of one of the greatest feminist icons of the 20th and 21st centuries, here is an inspiring, profound, enlightening memoir of one woman's life-long journey"-- Provided by publisher.

Tan, Amy, author.
BIO TAN
"From New York Times bestselling author Amy Tan, a memoir on her life as a writer, her childhood, and the symbiotic relationship between fiction and emotional memory"-- Provided by publisher.

Lemmon, Gayle Tzemach, author.
956.9104 LEM
"The extraordinary story of the women who took on the Islamic State and won In 2014, northeastern Syria might have been the last place you would expect to find a revolution centered on women's rights. And yet that year, an all-female militia faced off against ISIS in a little town few had ever heard of. The Islamic State by then had swept across vast swaths of the country, taking town after town and spreading terror as the civil war burned all around it. From that unlikely showdown in the town of Kobani emerged a fighting force that would wage war against ISIS across northern Syria as partner of the United States. In the process, these women would spread their own political vision, determined to make women's equality a reality by fighting--house by house, street by street, town by town--the men who bought and sold women. Based on years of on-the-ground reporting, The Daughters of Kobani is the unforgettable story of the women of the Kurdish militia that improbably became part of the world's best hope for stopping ISIS in Syria. Over hundreds of hours of interviews, bestselling author Gayle Tzemach Lemmon introduces us to the women fighting on the front lines, determined to not only extinguish the terror of ISIS but also prove that women could lead in war and must enjoy equal rights come the peace. In helping to cement the territorial defeat of ISIS, whose savagery toward women astounded the world, these women played a central role in neutralizing the threat the group posed worldwide. In the process they earned the respect--and significant military support--of U.S. Special Operations Forces. Rigorously reported and powerfully told, The Daughters of Kobani shines a light on a group of women intent on not only defeating the Islamic State on the battlefield but also changing women's lives in their corner of the Middle East and beyond"-- Provided by publisher.

Wamariya, Clemantine, author.
BIO WAMARIYA
"Clemantine Wamariya was six years old when her mother and father began to speak in whispers, when neighbors began to disappear, and when she heard the loud, ugly sounds her brother said were thunder. It was 1994, and in 100 days more than 800,000 people would be murdered in Rwanda and millions more displaced. Clemantine and her fifteen-year-old sister, Claire, ran and spent the next six years wandering through seven African countries searching for safety. They did not know whether their parents were alive. At age twelve, Clemantine and Claire were granted asylum in the United States. Raw, urgent, yet disarmingly beautiful, this book captures the true costs and aftershocks of war: what is forever lost, what can be repaired, the fragility and importance of memory. A riveting story of dislocation, survival."-- Provided by the publisher."