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Staff Picks - Extraordinary Women, Extraordinary Lives

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Bend, Not Break: A Woman’s Life in Two Worlds (004.092 F949)                               
by Ping Fu 
Traces the author's rise from a survivor of China's Cultural Revolution to an Inc. Magazine Entrepreneur of the Year, member of Obama's innovation and entrepreneurship advisory council and proud U.S. citizen, describing the harrowing circumstances that led to her exile from her homeland and the compassionate, visionary leadership style that enabled her remarkable career.

Sojourner Truth: A Life, A Symbol (305.567 T874)
by Nell Irvin Painter
A revealing portrait of Sojourner Truth profiles one of the most important woman of the 19th century, who was born into slavery, transformed herself into a pentecostal preacher, and whose strong words against slavery and in support of oppressed people still move people around the world today.   

Hunger: A Memoir of My Body (306.4613 G285)
by Roxanne Gay
The author reflects on her emotional and psychological struggles to explore women's anxieties over consumption, appearance, and health.

Keeping Hope Alive: One Woman, 90,000 Lives Changed (323.092 H389)
by Hawa Abdi
A poignant memoir by a Nobel Prize nominee about her efforts to advocate on behalf of tens of thousands of fellow citizens in Somalia describes how her physician daughters and she founded a large-scale camp for displaced people from war-torn Mogadishu. 

Lucy Stone: An Unapologetic Life (324.62309 S878)
by Sally G. McMillen
In the rotunda of the nation's Capital a statue pays homage to three famous nineteenth-century        American women suffragists: Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Lucretia Mott. "Historically," the inscription beneath the marble statue notes, "these 3 stand unique and peerless." In fact, the statue has a glaring omission: Lucy Stone. A pivotal leader in the fight for both abolition and gender equality, her achievements marked the beginning of the women's rights movement and helped to lay the groundwork for the eventual winning of women's suffrage. Yet, today most Americans have never heard of Lucy Stone.

Queen of Spies: Daphne Park, Britain’s Cold War Spy Master (327.1241 PARK OF MONMOUTH)
by Paddy Hayes
Documents the true story of the female British secret intelligence officer to share insights into the significance of her achievements in a male-dominated organization, offering intimate narratives of her Cold War-era missions and her celebrated appointment as one of the SIS's elite Area Controllers.

Unbowed: A Memoir (333.72092 M111)
by Wangari Maathai
The recipient of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize describes her life as a feminist, political activist, and environmentalist in Kenya, detailing her determination to receive an education despite the odds, her confrontations with the brutal Moi government, the 1977 establishment of the Green Belt Movement, her role in the transformation of Kenya's government, and her hope for the future.

My Beloved World (347.73263 S718)
by Sonia Sotomayor
The first Hispanic American on the U.S. Supreme Court shares the story of her life before becoming a judge, describing her youth in a Bronx housing project, the ambition that fueled her ivy league education, and the individuals who helped shape her career. 

Patient H69: The Story of My Second Sight (362.109 POTTER)
by Vanessa Potter
In 2012, Vanessa Potter, a married advertising film producer with two young children, was stricken by Neuromyelitis Optica Spectrum Disorder (NMOSD), a rare illness that resulted in sudden blindness and paralysis. Over the next five months at home, she regained mobility but recovering her sight was more problematic. As color reappeared, she encountered synesthesia.

The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying (362.196 RIGGS)
by Nina Riggs
Discussing motherhood, marriage, friendship, and the legacy of her great-great-great grandfather, Ralph Waldo Emerson, the author, who has been diagnosed with terminal breast cancer, explores what makes a meaningful life when one has limited time. 

Billie Holiday (782.42165 H732)
by John Szwed
Looking beyond the numerous tragedies endured by the singer, draws on material that has come to light in the last decade to reveal Holliday's persona and musicianship while examining the historical context of her career.

Rita Moreno: A Memoir (791.43028 M843)
The Puerto Rican singer, dancer, and actress takes a look back at her life and career, from her arrival in New York at age five to winning an Academy Award for her role in "West Side Story" to her struggles to avoid typecasting.

Grandma Gatewood’s Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail (796.51092 G259)           
by Ben Montgomery
Emma Gatewood told her family she was going on a walk and left her small Ohio hometown with a change of clothes and less than two hundred dollars. The next anybody heard from her, this genteel, farm-reared, 67-year-old great-grandmother had walked 800 miles along the 2,050-mile Appalachian Trail. And in September 1955, having survived a rattlesnake strike, two hurricanes, and a run-in with gangsters from Harlem, she stood atop Maine’s Mount Katahdin. There she sang the first verse of “America, the Beautiful” and proclaimed, “I said I’ll do it, and I’ve done it.”

A House of My Own: Stories of My Life (813.54 C579)
by Sandra 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 & 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. 

I Love a Broad Margin to My Life (818.54 K554)
by Maxine Hong Kingston
The National Book Award-winning author of The Woman Warrior presents a series of versed observations on her experiences of aging, covering topics ranging from her literary activities and activist work to her views on her characters and a visit to China. 

Romantic Outlaws: the Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley (828.609 G662)
by Charlotte Gordon
A pioneering English feminist and the daughter she never knew. Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley have each been the subject of numerous biographies, yet no one has ever examined their lives in one book—until now. In Romantic Outlaws, Charlotte Gordon reunites the trailblazing author who wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Woman and the Romantic visionary who gave the world Frankenstein—two courageous women who should have shared their lives, but instead shared a powerful literary and feminist legacy.

The Discovery of Jeanne Baret: A Story of Science, the High Seas, and the First Woman to Circumnavigate the Globe (910.4092 B248)
by Glynis Ridley
Documents the pioneering round-the-world journey of the woman adventurer, tracing how she disguised herself as a boy to accompany her lover, botanist Philibert Commerson, on his 18th-century voyage before her true gender was exposed.

Queen Bee of Tuscany: The Redoubtable Janet Ross (945.5084 R824)
by Ben Downing
Born into a distinguished intellectual family and raised among luminaries such as Dickens &         Thackeray, Janet Ross married at 18 and went to live in Egypt. There, she wrote for the London Times, hobnobbed with the developer of the Suez Canal, and humiliated pashas in horse races. In 1867 she moved to Florence, Italy where she spent the remaining 60 years of her life writing books and hosting a colorful miscellany of friends and neighbors, from Mark Twain to Bernard Berenson.

Daughters of the Samurai: A Journey from East to West and Back (952.03 N713)
by Janice P. Nimura
In 1871, 5 young girls were sent by the Japanese government to the U.S. Their mission: learn Western ways and return to help nurture a new generation of enlightened men to lead Japan. Raised in traditional samurai households during the turmoil of civil war, 3 of these unusual ambassadors grew up as typical American schoolgirls. 10 years later, they returned to Japan--a land grown foreign to them--determined to revolutionize women's education.

Defiance: The Extraordinary Life of Lady Anne Barnard (968.703 BARNARD)
by Stephen Taylor
A biography of Scottish writer, artist, and socialite Lady Anne Barnard (1772-1825). She wrote one of the most popular ballads of the time, “Auld Robin Grey”; associated with the Prince of Wales, Edmund Burke, and Samuel Johnson; had affairs with prominent men but married an army officer much younger than her; lived and traveled alone; and moved to the Cape of Good Hope in Africa and wrote her memoirs. 

Dear Abigail: (973.44092 J171)
by Diane Jacobs
Much has been written about the enduring marriage of President John Adams and his wife, Abigail. But few know of the equally strong bond Abigail shared with her sisters, Mary Cranch and Elizabeth Shaw Peabody, accomplished women in their own right.

Love, Fiercely: A Gilded Age Romance (974.7041 S874)
by Jean Zimmerman
Re-creates the glittering world of Edith Minturn and Isaac Newton Phelps Stokes. Contemporaries of the Astors and Vanderbilts, they grew up together along the shores of bucolic Staten Island, linked by privilege—her grandparents built the world’s fastest clipper ship, his family owned most of Murray Hill. Together Edith and Newton battled on behalf of New York’s poor and powerless as reformers who never themselves wanted for anything. Through it all, they sustained a strong-rooted marriage.

Trials of the Earth: The True Story of a Pioneer Woman (976.24 HAMILTON)
by Mary Hamilton
Near the end of her life, Mary Mann Hamilton (1866 - c.1936) began recording her experiences in the backwoods of the Mississippi Delta. The result is this astonishing first-person account of a pioneer woman who braved grueling work, profound tragedy, and a pitiless wilderness (she and her family faced floods, tornadoes, fires, bears, panthers, and snakes) to protect her home in the early American South. 

Ladies of the Canyons: A League of Extraordinary Women and Their Adventures in the American Southwest (979.031 POLING-KEMPES)
by Lesley Poling-Kempes
Educated, restless, and inquisitive, Natalie Curtis, Carol Stanley, Alice Klauber, and Mary Cabot Wheelwright were plucky, intrepid women whose lives were transformed in the first decades of the 20th century by the people and the landscape of the American Southwest. Part of an influential circle of women that included Mabel Dodge Luhan and Willa Cather, these ladies imagined and created a new home territory, a new society, and a new identity for themselves and for the women who would follow them.