Yes, yes, I’m a day late for International Women’s day, but for Recommendsday this week, I’ve gone for books about or by interesting women, because it seems fitting somehow. And yes, I meant to read a whole bunch of books ahead of writing this post but see all my previous notes about my inability to read stuff that’s not romance or mystery. I know. Best laid plans. But maybe I’ll have read some of them by next year!
Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud by Anne Helen Petersen
Anne Helen Petersen deconstructs eleven women who have been deemed unruly or too much in some way. It’s such a good insight into the forces that drive perception of women – and the boundaries that are still there and the celebrities pushing against them. I read this a couple of years back – and it was a BotW at the time -and as I said thenI didn’t always like all the personalities involved here then, and I like some of them even less now, but Peterson’s arguments are really compelling and I had to examine my own thinking and challenge myself a little about my own perceptions after reading this.
Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shelterly
This is honestly a fabulous book shining a light on a formidable group of women who fought against a system stacked against them and played a key role in the US side of the space race. It is really, really good. I’ve read books about the Mercury 7 and the early American Astronauts but I hadn’t really got any idea of the maths and actual process behind their achievements until I read this. And I am in awe of people who can figure out not just the maths of it, but which maths is actually needed because my brain absolutely does not work like that at all. Really, really good. And then you can watch the film afterwards and see how they adapted it!
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
I can’t believe it’s nearly eight years since Maya Angelou died and I wrote about the impact her writing had on me. As I said back then this was on the extended reading list when I was studying Color Purple and Oranges are Not the Only Fruit at A Level. I can’t even begin to explain the impact it had on me (although I did try in that post). I bought the other volumes of Angelou’s autobiography and have taken them around with me from house to house ever since. The writing is amazing, her story – in this volume – is heartbreaking but she overcomes. if you haven’t already read this, you really should
First Women by Kate Anderson Brower
This group biography is six years old now, and my notes about it from when I read it (in early 2017) are that it is written from a point of view that seemed to be expecting that Hillary Clinton would win, but if you want a group biography of the First Ladies from Jackie Kennedy to Michelle Obama during their time in the White House and afterwards this is a good place to start. Very well researched and very interesting.