Non Fiction

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Women in the Kitchen

Women in the Kitchen : Twelve Essential Cookbook Writers Who Defined the Way We Eat, from 1661 to Today, by chef and cookbook author Anne Willan, is a history of cookbooks written by women in both the US and UK, from the very first such book published to modern times and the advent of cooking shows. ...

B+
Beyond Heaving Bosoms

Beyond Heaving Bosoms, by Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan of Smart Bitches Trashy Books, is a delightful look at romance in general - its history, its strengths and flaws as a genre, its tropes (does this ever go into tropes!) and its authors. This isn't a comprehensive guide to romance, and since it wa ...

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The Barbizon: The Hotel That Set Women Free

Paulina Bren focuses in on life at New York’s Barbizon Hotel in The Barbizon: The Hotel That Set Women Free, a handsome, fascinatingly-written volume about life in the women-only hotel. An outpost for middle class, mainly white, women in New York high society, The Barbizon was considered a safe ...

A+
Know My Name

Chanel Miller’s Know My Name is a devastating memoir. It was a must-read for me, but the pain and fear and frustration in this book is so raw and immediate that I had to wait for the right frame of mind to tackle it. Nevertheless, it’s one of the best books I’ve read this year, and the only ch ...

B
The Radium Girls

Narrated by Angela Brazil Corporate greed led to mass murder before our current legal protections came into play and perhaps no group exemplifies that better than The Radium Girls from the early Twentieth Century. In 1898, Marie Curie and her husband Pierre discovered radium. By 1901 it was kn ...

B+
Frida in America

Frida in America boils down the life of artist Frida Kahlo to a small chunk of time – 1930 to 1933 – and focuses on her life at the side of husband Diego Rivera, following him from New York to Detroit to San Francisco as he paints murals for rich industrialists, and she develops her own foothold ...

B+
The Wilder Life

The Wilder Life, by Wendy McClure (who tweets as @HalfPintIngalls), is a tribute to her fascination with Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books and life. I’ve read the whole original series, but until I picked up this book, I had no idea that the Little House phenomenon could be so entertaining, emotional ...

A+
Janis: Her Life and Music

I am, admittedly, a very hard sell when it comes to Janis Joplin biographies.  I adore her music and have read multiple biographies about her life, as well as her sister Laura’s intimate, heartbreaking chronicle of Janis’ world and progress from bullied adolescent to worldwide superstar, Love, ...

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Only a Novel: The Double Life of Jane Austen

Note: this is a re-release of a book that was originally published in 1972. Only a Novel is the general gold standard for Jane Austen biographies.  Written in a smooth, witty tone that’s easy to sink into, the book explores Austen’s life from pre-conception (her mother wore a daring red cloa ...

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Queen Victoria: Twenty-Four Days That Changed Her Life

Popular TV historian Dr. Lucy Worsley once again proves her popularity is well deserved with this delightful biography of Queen Victoria.  But this book is different from any other you may have read about Victoria in that it takes an in-depth look at twenty-four specific days in the Queen’s life ...