Posted by SusanM on Wednesday, Mar 9, 2011 - 1:57 PM

womens historyThis year, March 8th marks the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. It is a day of global celebration of women; a time to celebrate women’s cultural, social, economic and political contributions to the world. In the US we have established March as Women’s History Month.  This year’s theme is “Our History is Our Strength. “ Knowing women’s stories is a source of strength to all women. There are many excellent books available that tell these stories. Here are a few to consider.

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was an American icon, but she never wrote her own biography or memoir. She spent the last 19 years of her life in the publishing business working as an editor at Viking and at Doubleday. This part of her life has recently been documented in two new biographies, Jackie as Editor by Greg Thomsen, and Reading Jackie by William Kuhn. Both authors have given us a behind the scene look at the publishing business and an intimate look at Mrs. Onassis through the nearly 100 books she helped edit. Both books present a fascinating look at a part of her life that we know little about.

Currently appearing on the NY Times bestseller list is the biography Cleopatra by Stacey Schiff. Cleopatra, the last Egyptian queen, is one of the most intriguing and influential women in world history. Ms. Schiff has succeeded in portraying this ambitious political strategist, and recreated the story of an amazing era in time. Cleopatra’s story is one that will captivate you.

One of the top ten books of 2010 was a remarkable work written by Rebecca Skloot entitled The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Henrietta Lacks was a poor tobacco farmer, descended from slaves, whose cells were used and are still being used today in scientific studies and experiments. Ms. Skloot, a science writer, followed the story of Henrietta Lacks and her descendants to uncover an extraordinary story about race, ethics and the medical industry. This is the perfect book for a lively book club discussion, and we have just added it to our Speaking of Books collection.

Just Kids by Patti Smith is Ms. Smith’s memoir about her early days in New York City. It focuses on her friendship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe and their coming of age in the art scene of New York during the late 60’s and early 70’s. It was the winner of the 2010 National Book Award in the nonfiction category.  Westport Public Library will be honoring poet and musician Patti Smith at our Booked for the Evening celebration on May 19th. Copies of Just Kids have also been added to the library’s Speaking of Books collection.

Four unique women with four original stories to share: be sure to add one of these to your book club list in honor of Women’s History Month, as we remember and honor the contributions of notable and ordinary women to our society and culture, and to the world at large. 


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