Women in print: Northland reading recommendations present more than one way to be a feminist
The News Tribune asked local writers, readers, artists and instructors to recommend must-read books in honor of Women's History Month.
Responses ranged from a historical look at a superhero to an essay born of a TED Talk to popular young adult literature. Here are the picks:
THE ART OF EATING
By M.F.K. Fisher
"'The Art of Eating' is an anthology of the writings of M.F.K. Fisher who was musing about food post-WWI and through the '90s. What I love about this book and her writing is that no matter what page I turn to, I am taken to another time in our American history. Fisher's delightful firsthand and bluntly passionate opinions on food and cooking and a little politics thrown in fulfill a special kind of hunger inside me."
Recommended by Nyanyika Banda, owner-chef of Martha's Daughter and a food writer
THE LITTLE STRANGER
By Sarah Waters
"For rich, fictionalized narratives of women's history and experience, Sarah Waters' novels can't be beat, and 'The Little Stranger' is my favorite. Think post-war Britain and the gradual decomposition of a stately home and the once-wealthy family that inhabits it, including a strong, smart woman who is caught between old and new worlds."
Recommended by Julie Gard, poet and associate professor of writing at the University of Wisconsin-Superior
YOUNG ADULT LITERATURE
"The Hunger Games" series by Suzanne Collins
"Harry Potter" series by J. K. Rowling
"Divergent" series by Veronica Roth
"A Wrinkle in Time" By Madeleine L'Engle
"Twilight" series by Stephenie Meyer
"There's value in recommending good literature to young people, but there's also value in listening to young people when they tell you what they like. To dive into the minds of today's emerging feminists, try reading these popular books aimed at young adults. You'll find violent stories of young women fighting for their lives, defying authority and outsmarting their classmates. These warrior-scholars aren't perfect, but they claim their equal place in the world without apology and earn the respect of their peers. I'd say for all that, you can endure a doe-eyed vampire or two."
Beverly Godfrey, News Tribune features editor and licensed secondary English teacher
WE SHOULD ALL BE FEMINISTS
By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
"My forever recommendation."
Recommended by Abigail Mlinar, founder of the Feminist Action Collective and FEmn Fest
THE SECRET HISTORY OF WONDER WOMAN
By Jill Lapore
"It gives the historical account of the creators of Wonder Woman and the early feminist ideals she was inspired by, but also tells the story of the creators' polyamorous relationship and their struggles and refusals to confirm to traditional societal standards in the early and mid-20th century. I really appreciate the way the book demonstrates that the history of Wonder Woman's creation challenges and queers her status as a symbol of national allegory, making her an even more powerful feminism icon."
Recommended by Jamie Ratliff, assistant professor of art history at the University of Minnesota Duluth
MY NAME IS LUCY BARTON
By Elizabeth Strout
"I just finished Elizabeth Strout's 'My Name is Lucy Barton,' recommended to me by fellow Duluth writer Judy Budreau. The subject — poverty, family, and how love can heal and remake people — was handled with such care. The sparseness of the writing, the way the story unfolded at just the right moments, hooked me. I had to finish it in an evening. And now I have a stack of Strout's books from the library sitting on my bedside table."
Recommended by Felicia Schneiderhan, author of "Newlyweds Afloat: Married Bliss and Mechanical Breakdowns While Living on a Trawler," is also a freelance writer
THE DANCE BOOTS
By Linda LeGarde Grover
"This book is interwoven with beauty, tragedy, Ojibwe culture and the resilience of the Anishinaabe women within one family throughout time. While reading the book, it connected me to the strength and challenges of my maternal great-grandmother Frances Beargrease Mercer, my almost-92-year-old grandmother Teresa Trout and my mother, Sandra Gray."
Recommended by Ivy Vainio, photographer and climate and cultural resiliency coordinator at AICHO
THE ROUND HOUSE
By Louise Erdrich
"This story is about the difficulty of prosecuting crimes against Native people. It is a story that is shocking as it exposes real legal loopholes that allow for dehumanization. 'The Round House' resonates with me because I am reminded that who tells the story matters."
Recommended by Christina Woods, executive director of the Duluth Art Institute