Friday, March 09, 2012

Overlook Readers Roundup: Women's History Month

It is widely believed that March is the cruelest month, boasting thirty-one days of wet and chilly weather, not one of them a holiday. Arguably its one redeeming factor may be the opportunity given to society to celebrate one of its most outstanding, intelligent, and beautiful groups of the population—women, of course. Since its official U.S. origination in 1981, Women’s History Month has been a time to spotlight the ladies that have made great contributions to society and culture with numerous exhibitions and collections, major headlines, and more (oh, and apparently a Google doodle!) devoted to everyone from Amelia Earhart to Rosa Parks to Madonna to your mother.

Feeling like you need to brush up on your knowledge of women’s history this month? Luckily for you, we have a great selection of books featuring women and their many accomplishments. As you peruse this list, remember that the Overlook catalog is stocked with plenty of books (fiction and nonfiction) on the fairer sex, and women’s history is something that, like love and parents, should be celebrated more than just once a year.

In this Portis classic, Mattie Ross proves to be a unique heroine. Just 14 when her father is murdered in cold blood, Mattie sets out to avenge his death, recruiting some dangerous and odd allies along the way. She displays a bravery, diligence, and sagacity far beyond her years, making her a role model for women of all ages.

THE LOLITA EFFECT by M. Gigi Durham, PhD

In order to understand the history of women, one has to understand the historical ways in which women have been subjugated, and one of those is via media pressure to be—or at least appear to be—young and subservient. In this exacting study, Dr. Durham examines the ways in which the media and society at large perpetuate what she dubs “The Lolita Effect,” and how parents and young girls themselves can fight against it.

MISTRESSES by Elizabeth Abbott

MISTRESSES delves into the history of its titular anti-heroines, the famous “other women” of the past, from Hagar right down to Monica Lewinsky. Elizabeth Abbott’s inquisitive book seeks to discover what’s at the heart of the mistress: is the mistress a Beyonce-style independent woman, or a sad, hidden figure who will never be a wife? If you’re not a fan of heavy lifting, fear not—MISTRESSES will be released in paperback in just a few short months.


One of the best-known and most iconic inamoratas profiled in Mistresses, Marilyn Monroe is yet again making headlines this year as the inspirational subject of a critically acclaimed film and new TV series, as well as the face of the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. In this 50th anniversary year of her death, Marilyn Monroe is having a moment. What better resource to have in Our Year of Marilyn than Adam Victor’s exhaustive compilation of all things Norma Jean, from her first movie to her sordid end?

FRIDA by Bárbara Mujica

One of art’s most colorful (pun intended) and fascinating female figures is Frida Kahlo, the Mexican painter best known for her self-portraits and her tempestuous love affair with fellow Communist painter Diego Rivera. Her sister Cristina serves as the narrator for this novelized account of Kahlo’s life and Frida, now in paperback, underscores the Kahlo family dynamic, particularly the fierce elements of competition between siblings.

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