My Favorite Feminist Books of 2016

As 2016 draws to a close, I'm sharing my favorite feminist books that I read this year. | Book reviews by NewberyandBeyond.com
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It’s no secret that I care about women around the world, and my reading life often reflects that. I’ve recently read some incredible feminist and women-focused books, and I wanted to share some of my favorites with you. There are reviews of my newest reads, as well as a list of my favorite feminist books from earlier in the year.

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls

If you haven’t heard about this lovely picture book, you must check it out! It was created through one of the most-funded Kickstarters ever, and I was lucky enough to be one of the backers.

This book is filled with lovely illustrations by female artists, and it features the stories of tons of women of various occupations, countries, and eras. It’s written for little kids, of course, but I think it’s enjoyable for adults too. If you have little ones (boys or girls) that you want to teach about important women of the past and present, you need Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls.

Rating: Re-read Worthy

A Century of Women

I picked this book up for 50 cents in a recent thrift store splurge, and I was surprised at how wonderful it was! Published in the late 90s or early 2000s, the “century” in the title refers to American women in the 1900s.

The main attraction for A Century of Women is the amazing collection of photographs and quotes from primary sources. From suffrage to workers’ rights, from family planning to representation in the arts, this book has a little bit of everything that has happened in American women’s 20th century history. It’s worth reading just to hear the varying opinions of women throughout this time and to view all the gorgeous photos.

Rating: Re-read Worthy

Half the Sky

Half the Sky is eye-opening and powerful. It reveals the horrible issues facing women around the world, from maternal health and economic inequality to sexual slavery, rape, and violence, as well as various failed attempts at understanding the culture and fixing the problems. Still, it offers hope and concrete steps to making a difference in women’s lives.

If you, like me, have a passion for women’s health and equality around the world, this book is a must-read.

Rating: Re-read Worthy

Jesus Feminist

If you’re a Christian wondering if feminism is for you, take heart! This book will offer hope. As someone who considers herself a Christian and a feminist, it was so exciting to find someone else who believes in equality and Jesus.

This book isn’t for everyone. Some of Sarah’s writing is a bit flowery and hippy-dippy. Still, if you can get past that, I’d say it’s worth a look.

Rating: Pretty Darn Good

Other books I’ve already reviewed that made my list:

Her Stories (children’s fiction)

Reading Lolita in Tehran (adult nonfiction)

The Girls of Atomic City (adult nonfiction)

The Princess Problem (adult nonfiction)

Interstellar Cinderella (picture book)

Good Girls, Bad Girls of the New Testament (adult nonfiction)

Untangled (adult nonfiction)

Excellent Daughters (adult nonfiction)

The Voice that Challenged a Nation (children’s nonfiction)

I hope these books give you a starting place for some wonderful feminist reading!

Audio Books Roundup

I'm not a big audio book fan, but I've been listening to more and more on my commute. | Book reviews by NewberyandBeyond.com
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I’m not a big fan of audio books, but my commute to work has nearly doubled since our recent move. Because my favorite podcasts only update once a week, that still leaves me with a lot of driving time to fill. So on the days that I don’t feel like listening to music, I’ve started turning to audio books. I have a huge collection from the SYNC summer audio book program, and I’ve listened to a few of those.

The Perfect Storm

It was the storm of the century – a tempest created by so rare a combination of factors that meteorologists deemed it “the perfect storm.”

When it struck in October 1991, there was virtually no warning. “She’s comin’ on, boys, and she’s comin’ on strong,” radioed Captain Billy Tyne of the Andrea Gail from off the coast of Nova Scotia. Soon afterward, the boat and its crew of six disappeared without a trace. (Summary via Goodreads.com)

This nonfiction book offers an interesting look at commercial fishing, how hurricanes work, drowning, and true life deaths and rescues from the storm of the century. If you’ve seen the movie The Perfect Storm, you know the central characters from the book, but you’ll be surprised at how much more information is contained here. Although the crew of the Andrea Gail did not survive, there were many other boats in need of rescue, and the stories of these rescue attempts are both harrowing and heartwarming.

“Meteorologist see perfect in strange things, and the meshing of three completely independent weather systems to form a hundred-year event is one of them. My God, thought Case, this is the perfect storm.”

Rating: Pretty Darn Good

Here in Harlem

These fifty-four poems, all in different voices but written by one hand, do sing. They make a joyful noise as the author honors the people-the nurses, students, soldiers, and ministers-of his beloved hometown, Harlem. Worship with Deacon Allen, who loves “a shouting church,” and study with Lois Smith, who wants “a school named after me.” Don’t get taken by Sweet Sam DuPree, who “conned a shark right outta his fin.” And never turn your back on Delia Pierce, who claims she “ain’t the kind to talk behind nobody’s back” while doing precisely that-with panache. (Summary via Goodreads.com)

The audio version of this book of poetry is amazing–there is a different narrator for each character, and there is jazz/blues music and sound effects in the background. The poetry itself is great, too. The collection of poems talks about life in Harlem from the viewpoint of people of all ages and occupations, and Walter Dean Myers’ writing makes each character come alive.

If you decide to read this book, I strongly suggest the audio version. It is just wonderful.

Rating: Re-read Worthy

Courage Has No Color

World War II is raging, and thousands of American soldiers are fighting overseas against the injustices brought on by Hitler. Back on the home front, the injustice of discrimination against African Americans plays out as much on Main Street as in the military. Enlisted black men are segregated from white soldiers and regularly relegated to service duties. At Fort Benning, Georgia, First Sergeant Walter Morris’s men serve as guards at The Parachute School, while the white soldiers prepare to be paratroopers. Morris knows that for his men to be treated like soldiers, they have to train and act like them, but would the military elite and politicians recognize the potential of these men as well as their passion for serving their country?

Tanya Lee Stone examines the role of African Americans in the military through the history of the Triple Nickles, America’s first black paratroopers, who fought in a little-known attack on the American West by the Japanese. The 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion, in the words of Morris, “proved that the color of a man had nothing to do with his ability.” (Summary via Goodreads.com)

I was really interested by this book, as the Triple Nickles are not a group I ever learned much about in school. The stories of racism in America, even as our troops battled one of the most evil regimes in history, are horrible. In particular, I’ll never forget one African American soldier’s description of how much better the German POWs were treated than the black soldiers.

Still, if you can face up to these awful moments (and I think we have the responsibility to do so), you’ll find a lot of good here. Although the writing itself is nothing special, the story is important and interesting.

Rating: Good but Forgettable

This post is part of the Write 31 Days series, Lovely Words. You can see all the posts in this series here.

Newbery Review: 1934

An interesting look at Louisa May Alcott's fascinating life and views on writing. | A book review by NewberyandBeyond.com
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Medal Winner: Invincible Louisa: The Story of the Author of Little Women

This book is a short biography about Little Women author Louisa May Alcott. She lived a fascinating life surrounded by some of the greatest writers of the time, and her own views on writing and her classic book are not what you might think. This is a book for children, so of course it’s not a tell-all (and of course no one can stack up to Russell Freedman for biographies about important and fascinating historical figures), but it is full of interesting facts and stories about Louisa May Alcott’s life. Definitely worth a look if your child is a fan of Little Women or wants to learn more about the lives of female American authors.

Rating: Good but Forgettable

Newbery Extravaganza

This set of Newbery books contains some great stuff--and some less-than-great books. | A book review by Newbery and Beyond
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I’m posting another set of review of Newbery books I’ve read recently. Some I enjoyed; others, not so much. Learn from my mistakes!

Eleanor Roosevelt: A Life of Discovery

This book was wonderful. I was amazed at how well-written a biography it was–not too complex for kids to follow, but not too dumbed-down for adults, either. And Eleanor Roosevelt was awesome! How did I not hear more about her in school? Anyway, I know about her now, and I have this book to thank. Even if you don’t normally go in for biographies (I don’t), this one is worth a look.

Rating: Pretty Darn Good

The Silver Pencil

This book, on the other hand, was not a winner. It covers the story of a young girl as she grows up in Trinidad, moves to England after her father dies, and eventually winds up as a teacher in America. I found most of the book slow moving and boring (and sometimes a little racist–it was published in the 1940s), and the book covered so much of the girl’s life that I couldn’t figure out what age group would be interested in the story. This one was not for me.

Rating: Meh

The Loner

The nameless protagonist of this book is a nomad. He has no family, so he lives by his wits, picking crops to raise money to convince families to let him travel with them. His goal is to get to California, but when he finds himself alone again in Montana, he latches onto a brusque sheepherder and finds out that maybe belonging isn’t so bad after all. The story was definitely interesting and unusual–what’s the last book you read with a 13-year-old kid living on his own (that wasn’t a dystopian book)? I’m not sure if I’ll be reading it again, but I’m glad I read it once, at least.

Rating: Good but Forgettable

Newbery Review: An American Plague

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Because I’ve been having trouble posting a third weekly post with my new work schedule, I’ve decided to introduce a new feature: the weekend Mini Review!  This short review will be posted on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday each week.

This Newbery book was fantastic!  I loved it way more than I ever enjoy nonfiction books.  I kept reading sentences and factoids aloud to my husband, and I devoured it in two hours.

The book talks about the yellow fever plague that swept through Philadelphia in 1793, killing thousands in a matter of weeks.  It is compulsively readable and full of interesting facts about treatments, politics, racial issues, and disease control at the time.  I absolutely loved it.  Any kid (or adult!) who’s interested in lesser-known areas of history will love it, too.

Rating: Re-read Worthy

Review Copy: A Simple Guide to WWI

This fully illustrated history of WWI is perfect for kids, or anyone who needs a quick refresher on the events and statistics of the Great War. #spon | A book review by Newbery and Beyond
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Note: I received a free galley of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

A short review for a short book: This book of WWI history is exactly what it claims to be.  It’s full of infographics, simple maps, child-appropriate explanations, and statistics about the first World War.

I thought this book was adorable.  The illustrations were simple and clean, and they helped get the basic points across without becoming too cutesy or distracting.  My one complaint is that the book is so short that I didn’t get a good feel for what the daily events and consequences of the war were.  If the book had been about WWII or the Civil War instead, I probably wouldn’t have even noticed, but I know much less about World War I.

This fully illustrated history of WWI is perfect for kids, or anyone who needs a quick refresher on the events and statistics of the Great War.  It’s short and sweet, and it gets the major points across without bogging you down in the details.  It would be a great companion to a more in-depth study of the events of WWI.

Rating: Pretty Darn Good

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