Tag: women’s rights

Bookstr's Three to Read 4/4/19: 'Madame Fourcade's Secret War,' 'Save Me The Plums,' & 'First'

Bookstr’s Three to Read This Week 4/4/19

March was Women’s History Month—but, while we appreciate the sentiment, we also know that women make history every month. In the entire world, men outnumber women only slightly, with a ratio of 102 men to every 100 women. We also know (or should know) that, in certain region, the infanticide of female children has impacted this figure. In the United States, women outnumber men. And yet, women’s stories are frequently placed into their own categories. Women’s stories are frequently deemed less universal. This week, we delve deeply into those stories: the professional, the political, and the historic. So often, women’s stories are all three of these things at once. (Let’s just note that these stories in particular share one more important quality—they’re damn good reads.)

So, although it may be April, here are Bookstr’s Three to Read: Women’s History edition. Why? Because we know it matters!





'Save Me the Plums' by Ruth Reichl


Trailblazing food writer and beloved restaurant critic Ruth Reichl took the risk (and the job) of a lifetime when she entered the glamorous, high-stakes world of magazine publishing. Now, for the first time, she chronicles her groundbreaking tenure as editor in chief of Gourmet, during which she spearheaded a revolution in the way we think about food.

When Condé Nast offered Ruth Reichl the top position at America’s oldest epicurean magazine, she declined. She was a writer, not a manager, and had no inclination to be anyone’s boss. And yet . . . Reichl had been reading Gourmet since she was eight; it had inspired her career. How could she say no?

This is the story of a former Berkeley hippie entering the corporate world and worrying about losing her soul. It is the story of the moment restaurants became an important part of popular culture, a time when the rise of the farm-to-table movement changed, forever, the way we eat. Readers will meet legendary chefs like David Chang and Eric Ripert, idiosyncratic writers like David Foster Wallace, and a colorful group of editors and art directors who, under Reichl’s leadership, transformed stately Gourmet into a cutting-edge publication. This was the golden age of print media–the last spendthrift gasp before the Internet turned the magazine world upside down.

Complete with recipes, Save Me the Plums is a personal journey of a woman coming to terms with being in charge and making a mark, following a passion and holding on to her dreams–even when she ends up in a place she never expected to be.



Women never have to apologize for their success. So it’s complicated to realize that we are often expected to. This book is a fascinating look at the career trajectory of an accomplished professional at the height of her power. Ruth Reichl asserts herself and her capabilities as she takes on a massive leadership role with talent and personality, inspiring all readers to not only live their dreams but also CRUSH them. Beyond the feminist elements of Reichl’s boss rise to success, Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir is a colorful story of big-time creative professionals, sure to add plenty of flavor (bad pun, accurate description) to your reading list. Reichl has also written a number of other successful books that draw upon her relationship with food, including the successful Delicious!: A Novel. As a bonus, this cover design is especially inventive—we look at the tantalizing first page of an open, glossy magazine, a nod to Reichl’s role in Gourmet that perfectly captures the feeling of such a prestigious publication. Also, we love food. We assume you feel the same.




'Madame Fourcade's Secret War' Lynne Olson



The dramatic true story of Marie-Madeleine Fourcade–codename Hedgehog–the woman who headed the largest spy network in occupied France during World War II, from the New York Times bestselling author of Citizens of London and Those Angry Days.

In 1941, a thirty-one-year-old Frenchwoman born to privilege and known for her beauty and glamour became the leader of a vast Resistance organization–the only woman to hold such a role. Brave, independent, and a lifelong rebel against her country’s conservative, patriarchal society, Marie-Madeleine Fourcade was temperamentally made for the job. Her group’s name was Alliance, but the Gestapo dubbed it Noah’s Ark because its agents used the names of animals as their aliases. Marie-Madeleine’s codename was Hedgehog.

No other French spy network lasted as long or supplied as much crucial intelligence as Alliance–and as a result, the Gestapo pursued them relentlessly, capturing, torturing, and executing hundreds of its three thousand agents, including her own lover and many of her key spies. Fourcade had to move her headquarters every week, constantly changing her hair color, clothing, and identity, yet was still imprisoned twice by the Nazis. Both times she managed to escape, once by stripping naked and forcing her thin body through the bars of her cell. The mother of two young children, Marie-Madeleine hardly saw them during the war, so entirely engaged was she in her spy network, preferring they live far from her and out of harm’s way.

In Madame Fourcade’s Secret War, Lynne Olson tells the tense, fascinating story of Fourcade and Alliance against the background of the developing war that split France in two and forced its citizens to live side by side with their hated German occupiers.



Culturally, we’re fascinated with female spies and operatives: consider the sheer number of listicles starring Hedy Lamarr, film actress, inventor, and WWII radio operator. Perhaps its appeal comes from something inherent in the subversion of gender roles. War is a man’s game, pop culture and history dictates. But, if that were true, why are women so good at playing? The reality is that men are frequently the ones writing the history they populate, removing the narratives of these compelling women. In Madame Fourcade’s Secret War, Lynne Olson explores the multifaceted life of a fascinating woman—a woman whose motherhood (and womanhood) does not make her any less of a Nazi-fighting badass. Olson is a prolific writer of non-fiction, and you don’t have to take my word for it: former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright dubbed Olson “our era’s foremost chronicler of World War II politics and diplomacy.”




'First' Sandra Day O'Connor



Based on exclusive interviews and access to the Supreme Court archives, this is the intimate, inspiring, and authoritative biography of America’s first female Justice, Sandra Day O’Connor- by New York Times bestselling author Evan Thomas.

She was born in 1930 in El Paso and grew up on a cattle ranch in Arizona. At a time when women were expected to be homemakers, she set her sights on Stanford University. When she graduated near the top of her class at law school in 1952, no firm would even interview her. But Sandra Day O’Connor’s story is that of a woman who repeatedly shattered glass ceilings–doing so with a blend of grace, wisdom, humor, understatement, and cowgirl toughness.

She became the first-ever female majority leader of a state senate. As a judge on the Arizona State Court of Appeals, she stood up to corrupt lawyers and humanized the law. When she arrived at the Supreme Court, appointed by Reagan in 1981, she began a quarter-century tenure on the court, hearing cases that ultimately shaped American law. Diagnosed with cancer at fifty-eight, and caring for a husband with Alzheimer’s, O’Connor endured every difficulty with grit and poise.

Women and men today will be inspired by how to be first in your own life, how to know when to fight and when to walk away, through O’Connor’s example. This is a remarkably vivid and personal portrait of a woman who loved her family and believed in serving her country, who, when she became the most powerful woman in America, built a bridge forward for the women who followed her.



It’s a rare biography that fully juxtaposes the human with the historic, the personal with the political. The New Yorker contributor Evan Thomas‘ First: Sandra Day O’Connor is one such work… and it’s worth putting first on your reading list. While the biography may center around O’Connor’s professional accomplishments, it also portrays her as a complex person. All of us craving that Game of Thrones content (specifically, the gossip and artifice of power dynamics) will feel the hypnotic pull of the Supreme Court’s political intrigue… without as much of the baggage of contemporary political discourse. There’s an inherent (if slightly voyeuristic) appeal in looking at the secret side of stories we’ve seen play out on the news, people we’ve seen on television made whole and complete. Thomas grants us access to rivalries hidden from the media, to the intimate accounts of friends and colleagues. This biography captures that same appeal of reality television—just with fewer beach hookups and parking lot fights. (By ‘fewer,’ we mean absolutely none. Just to clarify.)



The Second Shelf: A Feminist Bookshop About Rare Books, First Editions, and Future Classics in Soho

A N Devers, a writer and an arts journalist based in London, started an online store about feminist rare books, first editions, and manuscripts, and plans to open a bookshop in Soho.




Image Via The Second Shelf



Devers came to the idea of “The Second Shelf” in 2014, and since then she aimed to become an official “bookwoman” to balance the bookselling markets. In her interview at Guardian, Devers mentioned how the word “bookman” not only generalizes the concept of what we think of the people collecting books, but also dominates the whole book retailing process. This occurs in many things like naming bookshops, in deciding book covers, and even in making prices:



At one of first I went to, in New York City, I noticed a discrepancy that I had never seen before when lingering in the stacks of secondhand bookshops. I pulled two first editions off of the shelf: one by a living female writer who is tremendously respected, and one by a similarly lauded male writer – and gaped at the difference in price. The book by the famous woman was $25. The book by the man was hundreds…There could be many reasons for this difference in price other than the authors’ genders. Yet looking around that room, I was quite certain it had everything to do with gender.



Since that moment, Devers decided to create a space for collecting, selling, and promoting books about women and by female writers, especially women of color. In her mind, a book collector has power to determine which writers are remembered, canonized, and forgotten. From the first book choosing phrase to readers’ bookshelves, universities, archives, and libraries, she wanted to take the charge as a woman, for the women.



This project was soon embodied as exhibits at book fairs then connections with book dealers and collectors. Next it was an online store and now a real bookshop. Planning to open the store this October, Devers paints a picture for us about how her bookshop will be:



It’s a small store, less than 300 sq ft, it’s cosy but with enough space to have events for 25 people or so with a small courtyard outside…It will be a feminist bookshop, but the focus will be rare books and modern first editions - lot of literature and non-fiction and significant work by women across all subjects.




Room change and that’s low printer ink colors happening there.

The Second Shelf(@secondshelfbooks)分享的貼文 於 張貼




Devers also mentioned that in addition to rare books and modern first editions, she hopes The Second Shelf may help unfold a new category in the book world titled “future classics”. With this she wants to build collections of modern contemporary female writers and fuel the archive of feminism.



In her interview with Bookseller, Devers rechanneled her goal in The Second Shelf:



It may seem like a small action but we need to say that women’s first editions are important and should get a place on my bookshelf. It’s an important step to help protect these writers legacies, we should collect them. I’m trying to define the market and say this is an important thing, and to lead the charge. I’m not saying men should not collect books by women, I hope that they will. It seems like even if a woman writer’s contribution is acknowledged then it seems hard for her to get her space in the literary canon.



Along with the bookstore opening, Devers is launching the project’s new journal The Second Shelf: A Quarterly of Rare Book and Words by Women in September.



As a feminist, I love to hear Devers’ story in making the world better by empowering the word “bookwoman”. I can’t wait to visit The Second Shelf in Soho which will open in October with a space for 3,000 books and regular literary events, from Tuesday to Sunday between 10am to 5pm. According to the Bookseller’s article, Devers will also be part of the staff in store. We should definitely check her out!



More info about The Second Shelf HERE.





Suggested readings:

This Is How a Woman Is Erased from Her Job

Feminist Presses Gaining Strength in U.S. Publishing Industry




Featured Image Via The Guardian

Annette Bening

New Adaptation Promises to Turn Hollywood Ageism on Its Head

If you’re a film buff, you know the actress Annette Bening. When she was younger, she acted in several massive movies like American Beauty and The Grifters. Bening recently wrapped up filming for her newest movie, based on Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, a memoir written by actor Peter Turner, which focuses heavily on his relationship with fellow actress Gloria Grahame.


The film shares a name with the memoir, and stars Jamie Bell as Peter and Bening as Gloria. Bening revels in her role because Grahame was much older than Turner when the two started their romance. Bening, who was used to starring alongside older men such as Robert DeNiro and Harrison Ford, found starring alongside a younger man while portraying a romantic relationship with him was “refreshing,” she told the BBC.


Acting alongside Bening are other older actresses such as Dame Julie Walters, Frances Barber, and Vanessa Redgrave, only boosting Bening’s delight, both at being able to work with such big names in the film industry, and because one movie featured so many actresses over the age of 50, a rare occurrence in today’s films.


Bening and the film’s producer, Barbara Broccoli, have been playing with the idea of making this film for two decades. Bening loves the book, and enjoys the way the film mirrors the book’s composition, seamlessly shifting between the past and present.


Scene from Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool

Image Via Variety


Bening also hopes her role will inspire more stories like Grahame’s, whether they be real or fictional. Like Bening says, the world needs to hear “about people who are older and sophisticated – what the sex is about, what the reality is, especially for women getting older. Not just this cliche. The reality is a lot more subtle.”


But Bening isn’t just hoping for better storylines for women in front of the camera. She, like many women, know it’s a man’s world out there, and the women that do brilliant work in that world need to be applauded as well. “We had a woman cinematographer which was really cool, very infrequent. I don’t think it was always easy for her, although she was heroic and fantastic.”


Bening is excited for the future of the world however, truly believing things are changing. She’s confident that the lives of older women will be portrayed in future films. Whether it’s about violence they experienced or a non-conventional relationship, it seems Bening is right. Things are changing, and it might be a better time to be a woman in a man’s world as long as their stories are being told. 


Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool can be seen in theaters on November 16th in the UK and December 29th in the US.


Feature Image via The Hollywood Reporter

the handmaids tale

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Season 2 Gets a Premiere Date

The Handmaid’s Tale, a Hulu adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s 1985 classic, has dominated television this past year. Everyone, critics and fans alike, have been talking about the show’s profound impact on the discussions of gender and reproductive rights as well as issues of gender inequality. The adaptation has also encouraged many readers and non-readers to turn towards Atwood’s source material and rediscover her haunting portrayals of gender issues which bare uncanny similarities to the modern issues we’re currently experiencing.


We simply cannot get enough of the gripping tale and are thrilled to announce that Hulu has confirmed that season two will premiere in April 2018.


handmaids tale

Image Via Hulu


While the spring premiere isn’t exactly shocking given that the first season premiered last April, we are happy that we don’t have to wait too long to see what the next chapter holds. Hulu offered fans some insight into season two, providing an official synopsis highlighting the key plot points to watch out for.


The synopsis reads:


The Emmy-winning drama series returns with a second season shaped by Offred’s pregnancy and her ongoing fight to free her future child from the dystopian horrors of Gilead. ‘Gilead is within you’ is a favorite saying of Aunt Lydia. In Season Two, Offred and all our characters will fight against – or succumb to – this dark truth.


While many of us may have already assumed that the second season would explore Offred’s pregnancy, this preview hints at the unforeseen issues we can’t even begin to fathom.


Actress Elisabeth Moss recently told fans to “give up” trying to predict season two. “I read the outline and got full body chills. Give up trying to guess what happens,” Moss said. 


Well, by her reaction I’m sure many fans can look forward to the unexpected drama that awaits us this spring!


Featured image courtesy of ‘MGM’

Women in Handmaid's costume protest outside the Dail

Irish Women Dress as Handmaids to Protest Abortion Laws

Irish women dressed as handmaids from Margaret Atwood’s feminist dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale to protest Ireland’s strict abortion laws yesterday


Ireland, where there is still little separation between church and state, has some of the strictest laws regarding reproductive rights in the world, with women facing up to fourteen years in prison for going through with an abortion. Ireland has been condemned for their lack of action on this by both Amnesty International and the United Nations.


Advocates for the Repeal the Eighth movement dressed as the enslaved female characters of Atwood’s novel, which was recently adapted for television by Hulu. They stood as handmaids outside the Dáil (the Irish government buildings) as the first meeting of the Committee on the Eighth Amendment took place.



The eighth amendment to the Irish constitution, the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act, equates life from the moment of conception with the life of the pregnant person. The movement to repeal the eighth amendment has gained popularity and strength in the last several years, spurred by several high profile deaths which occurred as a result of the laws. The eighth amendment prevents abortion in virtually any circumstances, including rape, incest, or immediate health risk. It is estimated that twelve women a day travel to the UK and other European countries to access the healthcare they are denied at home. 



A referendum is expected in 2018 as recommended by a Citizens’ Assembly. 


Hulu’s hugely popular television adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale has familiarized the public with the handmaid’s costume and women have been donning the recognizable white cap and red cape in protest of women’s rights violations around the world.


Featured Image Via ROSA (Reproductive rights, against Opression, Sexism and Austerity)