The Book Jam Blog
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Women & History
Over the years, we've heard that Mae West or Eleanor Roosevelt or anonymous once said "well behaved women seldom make history". Because Lisa Cadow is who she is, she investigated and discovered Harvard History Professor Laurel Thatcher Ulrich coined this phrase in 1976, while a phd student at the University of New Hampshire. We'll leave it to you to agree or disagree with Professor Ulrich. But we believe it is an apt quote to mention as we review two books for women's history month, on the eve of International Women's Day. Both books show tales of women and girls overcoming obstacles - those of their own making and those made by others. We hope you find both selections inspiring.
Untamed by Glennon Doyle (2021). I avoided reading this for many months. So many people recommended it; I could not believe it could be as life changing as purported. I also tend to avoid books like this. I was not looking to divorce my husband. I was not looking for a new lens on my life. I was definitely not looking to read anything that would make me feel inadequate for not completely changing everything in my life. And yet, for an unknown reason, it stayed in my pile of "to be read books" month after month. It just patiently sat there with its cheerful brightly swirly cover. Finally I picked it up and started perusing page one. Before I knew it I was underlining passages and thinking about all the choices we all make in life. And, I was simultaneously struggling with the often overly neat stories and the problematic "Lean In" aspects (I could not finish Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In because it short-shifted the issues and hardships of women of color and women in poverty); many of the things (e.g., finding and cultivating inner power) discussed in Untamed work much more easily for certain subsets of the population - white, college educated, well-off women. Nonetheless, Doyle seems genuine and definitely not at all judgemental. Basically, her use of apt metaphors (e.g., the memoir starts with a story of a cheetah that unleashes the rest of the book) kept me turning the pages as she untangles the many layers of how she has been tamed by societal expectations and coped in unhelpful ways - eating disorders, alcoholism, perfectionism, to name a few. I have not yet finished this, so can not attest to the ending. However complicated one's relationship to this book, it seems like an excellent one to review during women's history month as it bluntly tackles how expectations placed on women can hinder their lives. Note - this was previously reviewed during Pages in the Pub in Woodstock. ~ Lisa Christie
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 real-life tales of Black girl magic by Lilly Workneh (2021). This latest installment of the best selling Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls series amplifies stories of Black women and girls from around the world, including tennis player Naomi Osaka, astronaut Jeanette Epps, author Toni Morrison, filmmaker Ava DuVernay; aviator Bessie Coleman, and others. We highly recommend this volume and the previous ones from this Rebel Girls series for any reader. It's never too early to show young people of all gender identities how brave women and girls change the world. ~ Lisa Cadow and Lisa Christie
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