Congrats to Dr. Carla Hayden (plus book recommendations!)
Congratulations to Dr. Carla Hayden, the first woman and African-American to lead the Library of Congress. Dr. Hayden was sworn into her new position this past Wednesday, and despite the colossal task of managing the largest library in the world, Dr. Hayden says she can’t wait to explore “the ultimate treasure chest.” She told the Baltimore Sun:
"They have the letter that Rosa Parks wrote from jail to her parents. They have Abraham Lincoln's life mask—not his death mask, but his life mask. They have the contents of his pocket on the night he was assassinated. I'm looking forward to sharing my discoveries with everyone!"
Dr. Hayden‘s love of books began when her mother helped her check out Bright April by Marguerite de Angeli, the story of a young African American girl during the grips of the civil rights movement. Hayden closely identified with the story's protagonist, down to the pigtails they both wore. “It was like a door opening for me,” Hayden said. “I could read what I wanted to and I've been hooked ever since.”
In honor of Dr. Hayden's historic new position, we put together a list of book recommendations featuring strong, inspirational women. Enjoy!
Mighty Be Our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer, and Sex Changed a Nation at War by Leymah Gbowee
Propelled by her realization that it is women who suffer most during conflicts—and that the power of women working together can create an unstoppable force—Leymah Gbowee helped organize and then led a coalition of Christian and Muslim women who confronted Liberia's ruthless president and rebel warlords by sitting in public protest and even holding a sex strike. In Mighty Be Our Powers, she traces her journey from abused civil war refugee to women's rights and peace activist.
Minding the Manor: Memoir Of A 1930s English Kitchen Maid by Mollie Moran
An inspirational memoir for fans of Downton Abbey. Born in 1916, Mollie Moran is one of the few people still alive today who can recall working “downstairs.” Having left school at fourteen to work as a scullery maid in a London mansion, Moran provides a rare and fascinating insight into a world that has long since vanished. Despite days filled with grueling tasks, Mollie's bright and precious outlook will certainly inspire readers.
The Heart of a Woman by Maya Angelou
In the fourth volume of Maya Angelou's autobiography, life breaks wide open with joy as the singer-dancer enters the razzle-dazzle of fabulous New York City. Filled with unforgettable vignettes of famous characters, from Billie Holiday to Malcolm X, The Heart of a Woman sings with Maya Angelou's eloquent prose her fondest dreams and deepest disappointments. Vulnerable, humorous, and tough, Angelou speaks with an intimate awareness of the heart within all of us.
My Life In France by Julia Child
Julia Child introduced an entirely new approach to American cuisine with her cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking, yet she had never even tasted French food until the age of 36. This book follows Julia and her husband, Paul Child, from her first bite of French food to the airing of her television show, The French Chef. A beautiful look at Julia's tenacious spirit and determination, her sheer love of cooking, and the drive to share that love with her fellow Americans.
A Woman Among Warlords: The Extraordinary Story of an Afghan Who Dared to Raise Her Voice by Malalai Joya
Malalai Joya, raised in the refugee camps of Iran and Pakistan, has been a teacher in secret schools for girls’, established free medical clinics and orphanages in her impoverished home province of Farah, and has stood up to her country’s powerful NATO-backed warlords, all by the age of 25. With this book, Malalai takes us inside her country, shows us the desperate day-to-day situations its remarkable people face at every turn, and recounts some of the many acts of rebellion that are helping to change it.
The Painter From Shanghai by Jennifer Cody Epstein
Fction based on the life and work of a real artist, Pan Yuliang, The Painter from Shanghai transports readers to early-20th-century China, a culture marked by oppression. This book tackles heavy questions about art and life. How does a talented artist blossom, even under repressive conditions? What is art, and what is love? What makes a life well lived? The answers form a mesmerizing portrait of one young woman's journey to find herself and to nourish her creative talents despite appreciable odds.
For even more reading, check out these 10 Mind-Blowing Facts About the Library of Congress.
Hugs and bućas!