A time to celebrate women with a good book

Published 11:12 am Friday, March 15, 2024

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Since 1987, March has been designated as Women’s History Month, a time when women’s achievements and contributions have been acknowledged and celebrated. The theme for this year is “Women Who Advocate for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.” For this column, there are four books about women who embody these qualities. 

Even before her death in 2022, Barbara Walters was hailed as a pioneer in the world of television journalism. She was the first female to co-anchor an evening news broadcast and excelled at one-on-one interviews. “The Rulebreaker” by Susan Page is a comprehensive biography of Walters, a complicated woman who struggled to balance her personal and professional lives but who was fearless in her determination to succeed. 

Before Mae Jemison became the first Black female astronaut, women were denied the opportunity to train for or even apply to be, astronauts for NASA. This changed in 1978 when six women were chosen to begin training. Journalist Loren Grush chronicles their experiences in “The Six: The Untold Story of America’s First Women Astronauts.” The women underwent rigorous training for years, forming a bond that survived tragedy (the death of Judy Resnik in the Challenger explosion) and triumph (Sally Ride becoming the first of their group to travel to space.) 

Sometimes it’s not just one woman who is groundbreaking but many women working together, even unbeknownst to them. Mallory O’Meara’s “Girly Drinks: A World History of Women and Alcohol” is a fascinating account of the centuries-old relationship between women and alcohol. Whether it be the ale wives of the middle ages who brewed, marketed and sold their own beer, often supporting their families in the process, to the widowed Madame Cliquot, who became a blockade runner during the Napoleonic Wars in order to keep her champagne brand solvent, this is a fun and informative book. 

When we talk about inclusion, we often use examples of words and/or language that create division instead of cohesion. We’ve all heard words about women but what about language women use for themselves? Jenni Nuttall explores all of these topics in “Mother Tongue: The Surprising History of Women’s Words.” An informative history of linguistics and gender, this book examines how language has transformed over the centuries, for better or worse, and offers some surprisingly empowering examples from centuries past. 

Visit your library and celebrate Women’s History Month with a good read! 

Holly Howze is the branch manager for the Ripberger Public Library located in Kenbridge. She can be reached at lcplsbooks@gmail.com.