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Notable Women

“Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives”, the 2015 theme for Women’s History Month provides a great opportunity to discover the lesser known stories of women throughout history. Celebrate this year’s theme with the following inspiring biographies of past and present notable women.

Read more about the development of Women’s History Month from the National Women’s History Project.


Amazon Says: #1 NATIONAL BESTSELLER At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage wa more...
Amazon Says: #1 NATIONAL BESTSELLER At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and she would do it alone. Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her. NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE One of the Best Books of the Year: NPR, The Boston Globe, Entertainment Weekly, Vogue, St. Louis Dispatch  less...
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Amazon Says: Now a major motion picture from HBO® starring Oprah Winfrey and Rose Byrne. Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tob more...
Amazon Says: Now a major motion picture from HBO® starring Oprah Winfrey and Rose Byrne. Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells—taken without her knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. If you could pile all HeLa cells ever grown onto a scale, they’d weigh more than 50 million metric tons—as much as a hundred Empire State Buildings. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions. Yet Henrietta Lacks remains virtually unknown, buried in an unmarked grave. Now Rebecca Skloot takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s to stark white laboratories with freezers full of HeLa cells; from Henrietta’s small, dying hometown of Clover, Virginia—a land of wooden slave quarters, faith healings, and voodoo—to East Baltimore today, where her children and grandchildren live and struggle with the legacy of her cells. Henrietta’s family did not learn of her “immortality” until more than twenty years after her death, when scientists investigating HeLa began using her husband and children in research without informed consent. And though the cells had launched a multimillion-dollar industry that sells human biological materials, her family never saw any of the profits. As Rebecca Skloot so brilliantly shows, the story of the Lacks family—past and present—is inextricably connected to the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics, and the legal battles over whether we control the stuff we are made of. Over the decade it took to uncover this story, Rebecca became enmeshed in the lives of the Lacks family—especially Henrietta’s daughter Deborah, who was devastated to learn about her mother’s cells. She was consumed with questions: Had scientists cloned her mother? Did it hurt her when researchers infected her cells with viruses and shot them into space? What happened to her sister, Elsie, who died in a mental institution at the age of fifteen? And if her mother was so important to medicine, why couldn’t her children afford health insurance?             Intimate in feeling, astonishing in scope, and impossible to put down, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks captures the beauty and drama of scientific discovery, as well as its human consequences. less...
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Amazon Says: Maya Angelou’s debut memoir is a modern American classic beloved worldwide. Her life story is told in the documentary film And Still I Rise, as seen on PBS’s American M more...
Amazon Says: Maya Angelou’s debut memoir is a modern American classic beloved worldwide. Her life story is told in the documentary film And Still I Rise, as seen on PBS’s American Masters. Here is a book as joyous and painful, as mysterious and memorable, as childhood itself. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings captures the longing of lonely children, the brute insult of bigotry, and the wonder of words that can make the world right. Maya Angelou’s debut memoir is a modern American classic beloved worldwide.   Sent by their mother to live with their devout, self-sufficient grandmother in a small Southern town, Maya and her brother, Bailey, endure the ache of abandonment and the prejudice of the local “powhitetrash.” At eight years old and back at her mother’s side in St. Louis, Maya is attacked by a man many times her age—and has to live with the consequences for a lifetime. Years later, in San Francisco, Maya learns that love for herself, the kindness of others, her own strong spirit, and the ideas of great authors (“I met and fell in love with William Shakespeare”) will allow her to be free instead of imprisoned.   Poetic and powerful, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings will touch hearts and change minds for as long as people read.   “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings liberates the reader into life simply because Maya Angelou confronts her own life with such a moving wonder, such a luminous dignity.”—James Baldwin less...
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Amazon Says: An unforgettable true story, The Midwife is the basis for the hit PBS drama Call the Midwife At the age of twenty-two, Jennifer Worth leaves her comfortable home to mo more...
Amazon Says: An unforgettable true story, The Midwife is the basis for the hit PBS drama Call the Midwife At the age of twenty-two, Jennifer Worth leaves her comfortable home to move into a convent and become a midwife in post war London's East End slums. The colorful characters she meets while delivering babies all over London-from the plucky, warm-hearted nuns with whom she lives to the woman with twenty-four children who can't speak English to the prostitutes and dockers of the city's seedier side-illuminate a fascinating time in history. Beautifully written and utterly moving, The Midwife will touch the hearts of anyone who is, and everyone who has, a mother. less...
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A House in the Sky: A Memoir by Amanda Lindhout
Amazon Says: The spectacularly dramatic memoir of a woman whose curiosity about the world led her from rural Canada to imperiled and dangerous countries on every continent, and then int more...
Amazon Says: The spectacularly dramatic memoir of a woman whose curiosity about the world led her from rural Canada to imperiled and dangerous countries on every continent, and then into fifteen months of harrowing captivity in Somalia—a story of courage, resilience, and extraordinary grace. The dramatic and redemptive memoir of a woman whose curiosity led her to the world’s most beautiful and remote places, its most imperiled and perilous countries, and then into fifteen months of harrowing captivity—an exquisitely written story of courage, resilience, and grace As a child, Amanda Lindhout escaped a violent household by paging through issues of National Geographic and imagining herself in its exotic locales. At the age of nineteen, working as a cocktail waitress in Calgary, Alberta, she began saving her tips so she could travel the globe. Aspiring to understand the world and live a significant life, she backpacked through Latin America, Laos, Bangladesh, and India, and emboldened by each adventure, went on to Sudan, Syria, and Pakistan. In war-ridden Afghanistan and Iraq she carved out a fledgling career as a television reporter. And then, in August 2008, she traveled to Somalia—“the most dangerous place on earth.” On her fourth day, she was abducted by a group of masked men along a dusty road. Held hostage for 460 days, Amanda converts to Islam as a survival tactic, receives “wife lessons” from one of her captors, and risks a daring escape. Moved between a series of abandoned houses in the desert, she survives on memory—every lush detail of the world she experienced in her life before captivity—and on strategy, fortitude, and hope. When she is most desperate, she visits a house in the sky, high above the woman kept in chains, in the dark, being tortured. Vivid and suspenseful, as artfully written as the finest novel, A House in the Sky is the searingly intimate story of an intrepid young woman and her search for compassion in the face of unimaginable adversity. less...
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Amazon Says: The first major biography of legendary war correspondent Martha Gellhorn, whose life provides a unique and thrilling perspective on world history in an extraordinary time more...
Amazon Says: The first major biography of legendary war correspondent Martha Gellhorn, whose life provides a unique and thrilling perspective on world history in an extraordinary time Martha Gellhorn's heroic career as a reporter brought her to the front lines of virtually every significant international conflict between the Spanish Civil War and the end of the Cold War. The preeminent-and often the only-female correspondent on the scene, she broke new ground for women in the male preserve of journalism. Her wartime dispatches, marked by a passionate desire to expose suffering in its many guises and an inimitable immediacy, rank among the best of the twentieth century. A deep-seated love of travel complemented this interest in world affairs. From her birth in St. Louis in 1908 to her death in London in 1998, Gellhorn passed through Africa, Cuba, China, and most of the great cities of Europe, recording her experiences in first-rate travel writing and fiction. A tall, glamorous blonde, she made friends easily-among the boldface names that populated her life were Eleanor Roosevelt, Leonard Bernstein, and H. G. Wells-but she was as incapable of settling into comfortable long-term relationships as she was of sitting still, and happiness often eluded her despite her professional success. Both of her marriages ended badly-the first, to Ernest Hemingway, publicly so. Drawn from extensive interviews and with exclusive access to Gellhorn's papers and correspondence, this seminal biography spans half the globe and almost an entire century to offer an exhilarating, intimate portrait of one of the defining women of our times. less...
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Amazon Says: Winner of the 2014 National Outdoor Book Awards for History/Biography Emma Gatewood told her family she was going on a walk and left her small Ohio hometown with a ch more...
Amazon Says: Winner of the 2014 National Outdoor Book Awards for History/Biography Emma Gatewood told her family she was going on a walk and left her small Ohio hometown with a change of clothes and less than two hundred dollars. The next anybody heard from her, this genteel, farm-reared, 67-year-old great-grandmother had walked 800 miles along the 2,050-mile Appalachian Trail. And in September 1955, having survived a rattlesnake strike, two hurricanes, and a run-in with gangsters from Harlem, she stood atop Maine’s Mount Katahdin. There she sang the first verse of “America, the Beautiful” and proclaimed, “I said I’ll do it, and I’ve done it.”Grandma Gatewood, as the reporters called her, became the first woman to hike the entire Appalachian Trail alone, as well as the first person—man or woman—to walk it twice and three times. Gatewood became a hiking celebrity and appeared on TV and in the pages of Sports Illustrated. The public attention she brought to the little-known footpath was unprecedented. Her vocal criticism of the lousy, difficult stretches led to bolstered maintenance, and very likely saved the trail from extinction.Author Ben Montgomery was given unprecedented access to Gatewood’s own diaries, trail journals, and correspondence, and interviewed surviving family members and those she met along her hike, all to answer the question so many asked: Why did she do it? The story of Grandma Gatewood will inspire readers of all ages by illustrating the full power of human spirit and determination. Even those who know of Gatewood don’t know the full story—a story of triumph from pain, rebellion from brutality, hope from suffering. less...
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Amazon Says: A MEMOIR BY THE YOUNGEST RECIPIENT OF THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE "I come from a country that was created at midnight. When I almost died it was just after midday." When the Tali more...
Amazon Says: A MEMOIR BY THE YOUNGEST RECIPIENT OF THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE "I come from a country that was created at midnight. When I almost died it was just after midday." When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education. On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive. Instead, Malala's miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she became a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest nominee ever for the Nobel Peace Prize. I AM MALALA is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls' education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons. I AM MALALA will make you believe in the power of one person's voice to inspire change in the world. less...
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Amazon Says: "A brutally real and unrelentingly raw memoir."--Kirkus (starred review) War photographer Lynsey Addario’s memoir It’s What I Do is the story of how the relentless more...
Amazon Says: "A brutally real and unrelentingly raw memoir."--Kirkus (starred review) War photographer Lynsey Addario’s memoir It’s What I Do is the story of how the relentless pursuit of truth, in virtually every major theater of war in the twenty-first century, has shaped her life. What she does, with clarity, beauty, and candor, is to document, often in their most extreme moments, the complex lives of others. It’s her work, but it’s much more than that: it’s her singular calling. Lynsey Addario was just finding her way as a young photographer when September 11 changed the world. One of the few photojournalists with experience in Afghanistan, she gets the call to return and cover the American invasion. She makes a decision she would often find herself making—not to stay home, not to lead a quiet or predictable life, but to set out across the world, face the chaos of crisis, and make a name for herself.Addario finds a way to travel with a purpose. She photographs the Afghan people before and after the Taliban reign, the civilian casualties and misunderstood insurgents of the Iraq War, as well as the burned villages and countless dead in Darfur. She exposes a culture of violence against women in the Congo and tells the riveting story of her headline-making kidnapping by pro-Qaddafi forces in the Libyan civil war.Addario takes bravery for granted but she is not fearless. She uses her fear and it creates empathy; it is that feeling, that empathy, that is essential to her work. We see this clearly on display as she interviews rape victims in the Congo, or photographs a fallen soldier with whom she had been embedded in Iraq, or documents the tragic lives of starving Somali children. Lynsey takes us there and we begin to understand how getting to the hard truth trumps fear.As a woman photojournalist determined to be taken as seriously as her male peers, Addario fights her way into a boys’ club of a profession. Rather than choose between her personal life and her career, Addario learns to strike a necessary balance. In the man who will become her husband, she finds at last a real love to complement her work, not take away from it, and as a new mother, she gains an all the more intensely personal understanding of the fragility of life.Watching uprisings unfold and people fight to the death for their freedom, Addario understands she is documenting not only news but also the fate of society. It’s What I Do is more than just a snapshot of life on the front lines; it is witness to the human cost of war. less...
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