Good morning and welcome to the middle of the week! It's a busy day here. March is coming to a close and with it, Womxn's history month. As we prepare to flip over to April shenanigans, here are some reads to check out in honor of those who came before us.
Reads for Womxn's History Month
Badly Behaved Women by Anna-Marie Cowhurst
In the early twentieth century, through ceaseless dedication and fearless campaigning, the women's movement achieved what had previously been unimaginable: a woman's right to vote. Four waves of feminism and a century on, the rich cultural history of this movement is truly worthy of celebration.
Accompanied by stunning photographs, personal testimony essays from key figures and archive material from sources around the world, Anna-Marie Crowhurst's compelling and entertaining retelling of this multi-stranded, global and ongoing story also examines the flaws of the movement and the future of feminism.
Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
Montgomery, Alabama 1973. Fresh out of nursing school, Civil Townsend has big plans to make a difference, especially in her African American community. At the Montgomery Family Planning Clinic, she intends to help women make their own choices for their lives and bodies.
But when her first week on the job takes her down a dusty country road to a worn down one-room cabin, she’s shocked to learn that her new patients are children—just 11 and 13 years old. Neither of the Williams sisters has even kissed a boy, but they are poor and Black and for those handling the family’s welfare benefits that’s reason enough to have the girls on birth control. As Civil grapples with her role, she takes India, Erica and their family into her heart. Until one day, she arrives at the door to learn the unthinkable has happened and nothing will ever be the same for any of them.
Decades later, with her daughter grown and a long career in her wake, Dr. Civil Townsend is ready to retire, to find her peace and to leave the past behind. But there are people and stories that refuse to be forgotten.That must not be forgotten.
Because history repeats what we don’t remember.
The Radium Girls by Kate Moore
The Curies' newly discovered element of radium makes gleaming headlines across the nation as the fresh face of beauty, and wonder drug of the medical community. From body lotion to tonic water, the popular new element shines bright in the otherwise dark years of the First World War.
Meanwhile, hundreds of girls toil amidst the glowing dust of the radium-dial factories. The glittering chemical covers their bodies from head to toe; they light up the night like industrious fireflies. With such a coveted job, these "shining girls" are the luckiest alive—until they begin to fall mysteriously ill.
But the factories that once offered golden opportunities are now ignoring all claims of the gruesome side effects, and the women's cries of corruption. And as the fatal poison of the radium takes hold, the brave shining girls find themselves embroiled in one of the biggest scandals of America's early 20th century, and in a groundbreaking battle for workers' rights that will echo for centuries to come.
Written with a sparkling voice and breakneck pace, The Radium Girls fully illuminates the inspiring young women exposed to the "wonder" substance of radium, and their awe-inspiring strength in the face of almost impossible circumstances. Their courage and tenacity led to life-changing regulations, research into nuclear bombing, and ultimately saved hundreds of thousands of lives.
Black Candle Women by Diane Marie Brown
Generations of Montrose women—Augusta, Victoria, Willow—have always lived together in their quaint California bungalow. They keep to themselves, never venture far from home, and their collection of tinctures and spells is an unspoken bond between them. But when young Nickie Montrose brings home a boy for the first time, their quiet lives are thrown into disarray.
For the family has withheld a crucial secret from Nickie all these years: any person a Montrose woman falls in love with will die. Their surprise guest forces each woman to reckon with her own past choices and mistakes. And as new truths about the curse emerge, they're set on a collision course dating back to 1950s New Orleans’s French Quarter—where a hidden story in a mysterious book may just hold the answers they seek in life and in love…
It Won't Always Be Like This by Malaka Gharib
It's hard enough to figure out boys, beauty, and being cool when you're young, but even harder when you're in a country where you don't understand the language, culture, or religion.
Nine-year-old Malaka Gharib arrives in Egypt for her annual summer vacation abroad and assumes it'll be just like every other vacation she's spent at her dad's place in Cairo. But her father shares news that changes everything: He has remarried. Over the next fifteen years, as she visits her father's growing family summer after summer, Malaka must reevaluate her place in his life. All that on top of maintaining her coolness!
Malaka doesn't feel like she fits in when she visits her dad--she sticks out in Egypt and doesn't look anything like her fair-haired half siblings. But she adapts. She learns that Nirvana isn't as cool as Nancy Ajram, that there's nothing better than a Fanta and a melon-mint hookah, that the desert is most beautiful at dawn, and that her new stepmother, Hala, isn't so different from Malaka herself.
Lives of the Wives by Carmela Ciararu
The history of wives is largely one of silence, resilience, and forbearance. Toss in celebrity, male privilege, ruthless ambition, narcissism, misogyny, infidelity, alcoholism, and a mood disorder or two, and it's easy to understand why the marriages of so many famous writers have been stormy, short-lived, and mutually destructive. "It's been my experience," as the critic and novelist Elizabeth Hardwick once wrote, "that nobody holds a man's brutality to his wife against him." Literary wives are a unique breed, requiring a particular kind of fortitude.
Author Carmela Ciuraru shares the stories of five literary marriages, exposing the misery behind closed doors. In our #MeToo era, it is impossible not to challenge notions of power and silence in the context of writers' marriages.
The legendary British theatre critic Kenneth Tynan encouraged his American wife, Elaine Dundy, to write, then watched in a jealous rage as she became a bestselling author and critical success. In the early years of their marriage, Roald Dahl enjoyed basking in the glow of his glamorous movie star wife, Patricia Neal, until he detested her for being the breadwinner, and being more famous than he was. Elizabeth Jane Howard had to divorce Kingsley Amis to escape his suffocating needs and devote herself to her own writing. ("I really couldn't write very much when I was married to him," she once recalled, "because I had a very large household to keep up and Kingsley wasn't one to boil an egg, if you know what I mean.") Surprisingly, the most traditional partnership in LIVES OF THE WIVES is a lesbian couple, Una Troubridge and Radclyffe Hall, both of whom were socially and politically conservative and unapologetic snobs.
As this erudite and entertaining book shows, each marriage is a unique story, filled with struggles and triumphs and the negotiation of power. The Italian novelists Elsa Morante and Alberto Moravia were never sexually compatible, and it was Morante who often behaved abusively toward her cool, detached husband, even as he unwaveringly admired his wife's talents and championed her work. Theirs was an unhappy union, yet it fueled them creatively and enabled both to become two of Italy's most important postwar writers.