Womanly Reading

The Lions of Fifth Avenue: a novel by Fiona Davis—Known for her novels about historic New York City addresses, the New York Public Library is no exception. In 1914, the Lyons family moves into a special apartment in the library as Thomas Lyon becomes the superintendent. Laura, his wife, has other aspirations though. She wants to become a journalist and against all odds, she enrolls in the Columbia University School of Journalism and gets a taste of feminism.

The narrative then switches to 1993 as Laura’s granddaughter, Sadie, also working at the NY Public Library in the Berg Collection, attempts not only to find out more about her family but to solve the ongoing theft problem.

It’s a very interesting look into historical New York, complete with mystery, romance and the early 20th century women’s rights movement.

Seasonal Work: Short Stories by Laura Lippman—Whatever you are expecting from Laura Lippman, you will be surprised. The Queen of Baltimore mystery series and stand-alone psychological thrillers has inserted a little of everything into these stories. In the title work we meet a family down on their luck who pops up in a different city every Christmas to milk the public and it works until an overly interested journalist discovers the real story. Some of the stories feature murders, but not all and not who you would expect, as the murderer or the victim. We meet Tess Monahan the heroine of her detective series, and even Tess’ mother. But every ending is different! I loved it…but then I’m a Laura Lippman fan from way back!

The Stars are Fire by Anita Shreve—Grace Holland lives with her husband and two children in a loveless marriage. The place is a coastal town in Maine and the time is post WWII. The weather is rain, showing no sign of stopping, and then the weather is dry showing no sign of rain. But there is also the threat of fire, and then there is fire. Grace’s house, along with most of the other homes in her neighborhood have burned to the ground. After taking refuge on the beach, she and her children are saved. But her husband, who had gone with other men to try to stop the fire, doesn’t return. And Grace now tries to rebuild her life, even better than before. She gets a job and moves into her dead mother-in-law’s house. But will her husband come home? And if he does, what are her next steps?

This was Shreve’s last book before she died in 2018. Most of her books were about troubled marriages and/or bad husbands, so the plot will be no surprise.  What kept me reading was what does Grace do with her life? It kept me reading until 2 in the morning.

The Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik—If you want to learn about the incredible, quirky, brilliant life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, this may be a good place to start, although there are many other books by and about her.

Why would a brilliant, feminist associate justice of the Supreme Court from 1993-2020 become as popular as a rock star? She was given the title The Notorious RBG by Knizhnik, an attorney who worked with RBG at the ACLU. Carmon is a journalist for New York Magazine and together they came up with the idea for this book. It’s quirky, designed to appeal to young people with lots of pictures but very pertinent information.  We learn about Ginsburg’s early life, how she met the love of her life, Marty Ginsburg, also a lawyer and how she was one of nine women to graduate from Columbia Law School. How she continually fought for, not only her right to be there, but other women as well. How, when her husband became ill, she not only did his work but hers as well. She was the founder of the Women’s Right’s Project of the ACLU and argued before the Supreme Court. After being nominated to the Supreme Court by President Clinton.  She was awesome right until the moment of her death at 87. There are so many incredible facts about her, you must read this book.

There is also RBG, a Documentary (2018) which is a more personal way to learn about her. However you choose to learn about this amazing woman especially during Women’s History Month, you definitely should. And don’t be afraid of dull legalese language…not with RBG.

Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver–Bean Trees was not only Kingsolver’s first novel, it was also the first of her novels that I’ve read, after steadfastly refusing to read any of her works. I was an instant convert. Taylor Greer leaves her Kentucky home in a dilapidated car on her way to somewhere. When she stops for gas in Oklahoma, she rescues an abandoned Native American child named Turtle and continues on to Arizona. It’s a beautiful story and Taylor’s love for Turtle, her culture, the friends she makes along the way and the land she eventually appreciates, make this the foundation of Kingsolver’s works. Be sure to read the second part, Pigs in Heaven. And of course, all her other thought provoking and environmentally provocative writings.

Spring is upon us! Go outside while you can and take a book with you.

3 thoughts on “Womanly Reading”

  1. I have loved every Barbara Kingsolver book I have ever read, so you are in for a treat. I woo started with The Bean Trees and loved it (Pigs in Heaven not as much, but still good. Don’t forget her nonfictional Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (I blogged about it here https://nliakos.wordpress.com/2007/10/31/animal-vegetable-miracle/.), one of my favorites. I also loved The Notorious RBG. What an amazing person, a real mensch.

    MCPL is about to snatch Braiding Sweetgrass off my phone…. I have already put another hold on (but the last one took months). I bet Barbara Kingsolver loves that book.


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