Summer Reading Remarkable Women

Summer Reading: 10 Biographies Of Remarkable Women

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Let’s get inspired this summer by reading about the lives of remarkable women.

While all of these come recommended, I haven’t read any of them yet and can’t wait to order them.

1.    Emily Haun 

Nobody Said Not To Go by Ken Cuthbretson 

In a time when women were supposed to wear dresses and stay very close to home, Emily’s adventures sound like the lives of five women, not one.  She traveled the U.S. dressed as a boy in the 20’s and ran away to the Belgian Congo with the Red Cross during the Depression.

Her adventures included taking a lover in China (yes the country of), and another in Hong Kong (head of British Secret Service), and moved back to the U.S. After returning home, she didn’t rest on her laurels as she made her mark on the world in wildlife preservation.

Not to mention, she wrote all about her adventures in the New York Times.

2.    Maya Angelo

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

I can’t believe I haven’t read her story!  Maya writes her own story about a child abandoned and then abused. Nonetheless, she learns love for herself and kindness of others. Even though she felt imprisoned by her circumstances, reading great authors helped her be free.  Thankfully, she teaches us these lessons in her book.

3.    Irene Sendler

Irena’s Children: The Extraordinary Story of the Woman Who Saved 2,500 Children from the Warsaw Ghetto by Tilar J. Mazzeo

Can you believe I’d only learned of her heroism on Facebook?  Irene Sendler, a social worker during WWII, saved 2,500 trapped Jewish children placing them in convents or with non-jewish families. Because of her heroism, these children’s lives were saved.

Equally important, she kept records of their true identities so relatives could find them after the war. While a movie was made of her life, she never appeared prominently in the history books.

4.    Ruth Bader Ginsburg 

Notorious RBG: The Life & Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik

Ruth Bader Ginsberg is an Associates Justice to the Supreme Court appointed by Bill Clinton. Ruth is known for being an advocate of women and women’s rights. While her career is inspiring, her unusual cult following with the younger generation is one of a kind. 

While the book enlightens us to the interesting cases she championed and other accomplishments of this remarkable woman, the levity comes in her nickname – Notorious RBG. Not surprisingly, she gets a kick out of it and her unexpected (to her) popularity.

This one may be best in book form versus Audible because of the rare photos and documents. 


5.    Katherine Graham 

Personal History by Katharine Graham

Katherine Graham became the publisher of the Washington Post (her father’s business transitioned not to her but her husband.) When her husband passed away, she was able to step up.

This lady had something to prove and prove it she did. Subsequently, Katherine became the first woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company and paved the way for gender equality. 

Not shying from controversy, and relying on advisors and her judgement, the Post published the Pentagon Papers and investigative reporting of Watergate. In the thick of things, Katherine gained status as the most powerful woman in publishing.

6.    Violetta Szabo

Carve Her Name With Pride – by RJ Minney

Called a tom boy as a child, looking more like Grace Kelly as a woman, Violeta Szabo became a spy for the British in WWII.  Furthermore, she was a spy with a vengeance after her husband was killed in the war.   

Tough as nails and not easily rattled, Violetta brandished weapons, parachuted behind enemy lines, sabotaged infrastructure and spied on industrial facilities. Violeta Szabo was awarded the British George Cross and the French Croix de Geurre.

7.    Mary Brave Bird 

Lakota Woman by Mary Crow Dog

In the book, Lakota Woman we’ll learn about a girl who grew up without a father in a small cabin with no running water or electricity on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota.  After rebelling as a teenager with drugs and alcohol, she turned her life around. What became of her was an amazing life marrying a medicine man and becoming a leader of her people. 

8.    The love and friendship of Eleanor Roosevelt and reporter Lorena Hickok

Eleanor and Hick: The Love Affair that Shaped a First Lady by Susan Quinn

While our friendships with girl friends are so important to the fabric of our lives, this relationship helped shape a country.  Associated Press reporter Lorena Hickok who wrote about the deep poverty in the US during the great depression, shared that information with the First Lady who helped influence the New Deal.

Their close friendship lasted 30 years and 13 of them included a guest room in the White House next to Eleanor’s. Lorena encouraged Eleanor to write her influential column My Day. 

This is a story of intimacy and friendship between women who encouraged each other to use their strengths for good. 

(We should add the column My Day to the list, too!)

9.    Sonali Deraniyagala 

Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala

Imagine your entire family and village being swept away in a tsunami.  You alone survive.  How could you cope?  Wave is Sonali’s account of her ordeal and great courage as well as the aftermath of the tsunami in Sri Lanka in 2004.  

10.    Tina Fey

Bossypants by Tina Fey

I was going to say on the “lighter side” because Tina is a comedian but her message “You’re no one until someone calls you bossy” impacted our culture in a positive way.  Bossy was no longer a negative word.  Tina has led a fascinating life and reveals all!  I for one want to hear more. 

I think I’d like to get to know all these women, how about you?

Want to meet some more remarkable women? Check out the recent blogs of my friends who write about mid-life and beyond:

Heidi: Simply Our Society

D’Arcy: Dear-Darcy

Rosemary: Distinctly Southern Style

Gwen: Gwen lives Well

Mel: Mel’s Second Act

Kim: For a Good Life After 50

Rebecca: R You Ready To Organize

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3 thoughts on “Summer Reading: 10 Biographies Of Remarkable Women”

  1. Nancy,
    I love all the books you have recommended about strong women.
    I have read about four of them but I would love to read Tina Fey’s book.

    See you soon!

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