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In celebration of National Women's History Month, five biographies of women who have made their mark.

Shirley Jones is an American film legend of the first order, having starred in Oklahoma!, Carousel, and The Music Man, as well as playing her Oscar-winning role as a prostitute in Elmer Gantry long before The Partridge Family. On that iconic show, she portrayed the epitome of American motherhood, a symbol to generations of families in the 1970s, and she remains a cult icon today.But for those who only think of Shirley as the prim and proper Marian the librarian or the chaste and demure Mrs. Partridge, a massive surprise is in store. Here, in this candid memoir, the real flesh-and-blood Shirley Jones is revealed at last in this hilarious and heartwarming, shocking and intimate memoir.

Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, were thrust into the world spotlight when Gabby miraculously survived an assassination attempt. Now, as her health continues to improve, the couple shares their story. Told in Mark's voice and from Gabby's heart, this is an unflinching look at the challenges of brain injury, the responsibilities that fall to a loving spouse, and the healing power of deeply shared love and courage.

Shortly after 9/11, Los Angeles Times journalist Megan K. Stack was thrust into Afghanistan and Pakistan, where she dodged gunmen and prodded warlords for information. From there, she traveled to war-ravaged Iraq, Lebanon and other countries scarred by violence. Every Man in This Village is a Liar is Megan K. Stack's electrifying account of what she saw in the combat zones and beyond. She relates her initial wild excitement and her slow disillusionment. She reports from under bombardment in Lebanon; records the raw pain of suicide bombings in Israel and Iraq; and marks the deaths and disappearances of those she has interviewed. Beautiful, savage, and unsettling, this is an unforgettable narrative about the wars of the 21st century - a shattering account from a reporter on the front lines.

March is Women's History Month. Find out about the many brave and talented  women who have influenced world history by reading some of these titles from the Library's collection:

Pick up a copy of Emily St. John Mandel's Station Eleven at the library.  Join in one of the discussions. The Canton Seniors Book Discussion group will be discussing Station Eleven in April and the Adult Contemporary Book Discussion group in November.

Station eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Also available in: e-book | audiobook | e-audiobook

One snowy night a famous Hollywood actor slumps over and dies onstage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve. Moving back and forth in time-from the actor's early days as a film star to fifteen years in the future, when a theater troupe known as the Traveling Symphony roams the wasteland of what remains-this suspenseful, elegiac, spellbinding novel charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: the actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor's first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Traveling Symphony, caught in the cross-hairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet.

"Each time a girl opens a book and reads a womanless history, she learns she is worth less."   ~ Myra Pollack Sadker.  March is National Women's History Month.    History helps us learn who we are, but when we don’t know our own history, our power and dreams are immediately diminished.  Throughout the centuries, women have been strong contributors to our world, but  received no written recognition for their accomplishments.  

West with the Night by Beryl Markham
Also available in: e-audiobook

"West with the Night" is the story of Beryl Markham--aviator, racehorse trainer, beauty--and her life in the Kenya of the 1920s and '30s.  During the pioneer days of aviation, she became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic from east to west.

Also available in: e-book

A lively and provocative double biography of first cousins Eleanor Roosevelt and Alice Roosevelt Longworth, two extraordinary women whose tangled lives provide a sweeping look at the twentieth century. When Theodore Roosevelt became president in 1901, his beautiful and flamboyant daughter was transformed into "Princess Alice," arguably the century's first global celebrity. Thirty-two years later, her first cousin Eleanor moved into the White House as First Lady. Born eight months and twenty blocks apart from each other in New York City, Eleanor and Alice spent a large part of their childhoods together and were far more alike than most historians acknowledge. But their politics and temperaments couldn't have been more distinct. Do-gooder Eleanor was committed to social justice but hated the limelight; acid-tongued Alice, who became the wife of philandering Republican congressman Nicholas Longworth, was an opponent of big government who gained notoriety for her cutting remarks (she famously quipped that dour President Coolidge "looked like he was weaned on a pickle"). While Eleanor revolutionized the role of First Lady with her outspoken passion for human rights, Alice made the most of her insider connections to influence politics, including doing as much to defeat the League of Nations as anyone in elective office. 

"Inspired by the critically acclaimed Netflix documentary What Happened, Miss Simone?, an intimate and vivid look at the legendary life of Nina Simone, the classically trained pianist who evolved into a chart-topping chanteuse and committed civil rights activist. From music journalist and former Spin and Vibe editor-in-chief Alan Light comes a biography of incandescent soul singer and Black Power icon Nina Simone, one of the most influential, provocative, and least understood artists of our time. Drawn from a trove of rare archival footage, audio recordings and interviews (including Simone's remarkable private diaries), this nuanced examination of Nina Simone's life highlights her musical inventiveness and unwavering quest for equality, while laying bare the personal demons that plagued her from the time of her Jim Crow childhood in North Carolina to her self-imposed exile in Liberia and Paris later in life. Harnessing the singular voice of Miss Simone herself and incorporating candid reflections from those who knew her best, including her only daughter, Light brings us face to face with a legend, examining the very public persona and very private struggles of one of our greatest artists"--.

The  Agatha Christie Awards nominees for best mysteries published in 2015 reflect a wide range of authors, publishers, styles, and themes. In the contemporary category, award-winning favorites Margaret Maron, Louise Penny, and Hank Phillipi Ryan share the honoree podium with newcomer Annette Dashofy and Catriona McPherson. The winners will be announced at Malice Domestic 28, which will be held April 29-May 1, 2016.  Check out what is available at Canton Public Library.

Best Contemporary Novel

Long upon the land by Margaret Maron
Also available in: e-book | audiobook | large print

On a quiet August morning, Judge Deborah Knott's father Kezzie makes a shocking discovery on a remote corner of his farm: the body of a man bludgeoned to death. Investigating this crime, Deborah's husband, Sheriff's Deputy Dwight Bryant, soon uncovers a long-simmering hostility between Kezzie and the slain man over a land dispute. The local newspaper implies that Deborah's family may have had something to do with the murder-and that Dwight is dragging his feet on the case. Meanwhile, Deborah is given a cigarette lighter that once belonged to her mother. The cryptic inscription inside rekindles Deborah's curiosity about her parents' past, and how they met. For years she has wondered how the daughter of a wealthy attorney could have married a widowed, semi-illiterate bootlegger, and this time she's determined to find the answer. But why are Deborah's brothers so reluctant to talk about the dead man? Is the murder linked to Kezzie's illegal whiskey business? And could his courtship of Deborah's mother have something to do with the bad blood between the two families? Despite Deborah's promise not to interfere in Dwight's work, she cannot stop herself from doing everything she can to help clear her brothers and her father from suspicion.

The child garden : a novel by Catriona McPherson

Eden was its name. "An alternative school for happy children." But it closed in disgrace after a student's suicide. Now it's a care home, the grounds neglected and overgrown. Gloria Harkness is its only neighbor, staying close to her son who lives in the home, lighting up her life and breaking her heart each day. When a childhood friend turns up at her door, Gloria doesn't hesitate before asking him in. He claims a girl from Eden is stalking him and has goaded him into meeting near the site of the suicide. Only then, the dead begin to speak--it was murder, they say. Gloria is in over her head before she can help it. Her loneliness, her loyalty, and her all-consuming love for her son lead her into the heart of a dark secret that threatens everything she lives for. 

This year commemorates the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare's death and our Macbeth display pays tribute to the life and work of The Bard. Be sure to visit the Detroit Institute of Arts exhibit where the original book, The First Folio, will be on display from March 7 - April 3. And "Beware of the Ides of March!"

 

"There are so few established facts about how the son of a glove maker from Warwickshire became one of the greatest writers of all time that some people doubt he could really have written so many astonishing plays. We know that he married Anne Hathaway, who was pregnant and six years older than he, at the age of eighteen, and that one of their children died of the plague. We know that he left Stratford to seek his fortune in London, and eventually succeeded. He was clearly an unwilling craftsman, ambitious actor, resentful son, almost good-enough husband. But when and how did he also become a genius? The Secret Life of William Shakespeare pulls back the curtain to imagine what it might have really been like to be Shakespeare before a seemingly ordinary man became a legend. In the hands of acclaimed historical novelist Jude Morgan, this is a brilliantly convincing story of unforgettable richness, warmth, and immediacy"--.

Even More Movies for Black History Month

Akeelah and the bee [videodisc] by Lionsgate, 2929 Productions and Starbucks Entertainment present ; an Out of the Blue Entertainment and Reactor Films production ; in association with Cinema Gypsy Productions, Inc. ; produced by Nancy Hult Ganis, Sid Ganis, Laurence Fishburne, Michael Romersa, Danny Llewelyn ; written and directed by Doug Atchison

 

 

Crooklyn [videodisc] by a Spike Lee joint ; Universal Pictures presents a 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks production in association with Child Hoods Productions

 

 

 

 

Cry freedom [videodisc] Universal Pictures presents a March Arch production

 

 

 

 

The express [videodisc]: the Ernie Davis story by produced by John Davis ; written by Charles Leavitt ; directed by Gary Fleder

 

 

 

 

A compelling combination of storytelling and science, this series uses genealogy, oral histories, family stories and DNA to trace roots of several accomplished African Americans down through American history and back to Africa.

Explore with Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the evolution of the African-American people, as well as the multiplicity of cultural institutions, political strategies, and religious and social perspectives they developed - forging their own history, culture and society against unimaginable odds.

Explores the life and career of tennis player Althea Gibson, who overcame obstacles in the highly segregated tennis world of the 1950s.

If you loved Me Before You by JoJo Moyes, check out one of these titles today. 

After I do : a novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid

When Lauren and Ryan's marriage reaches the breaking point, they come up with an unconventional plan. They decide to take a year off in the hopes of finding a way to fall in love again. One year apart, and only one rule: they cannot contact each other. Aside from that, anything goes. Lauren embarks on a journey of self-discovery, quickly finding that her friends and family have their own ideas about the meaning of marriage. These influences, as well as her own healing process and the challenges of living apart from Ryan, begin to change Lauren's ideas about monogamy and marriage. She starts to question: When you can have romance without loyalty and commitment without marriage, when love and lust are no longer tied together, what do you value? What are you willing to fight for? 

Sixteen year old Hazel, who has cancer, meets Augustus at a kids-with-cancer support group and as they fall in love they both wonder how they will be remembered.

It's not me, it's you by Mhairi McFarlane

Delia Moss isn't quite sure where she went wrong. Everything was going smoothly. Ok, she had a slightly rubbish job working for the council and she hadn't seen her best friend Emma in god knows how long, but she'd been working up to proposing to Paul for months. This. Was. It. But with one annoying little 'beep beep', Delia's life is turned upside down and rather than stick around and commit GBH by punching her cheating scumbag boyfriend (who still wants to be with her) in the chops, she decides the best thing to do would be get some head space and leave for London. But a new city is never going to be the answer, and with a dodgy new job in media PR, where a suspicious yet devastatingly handsome journalist seems to be sniffing around and endangering her job, Delia can't run forever. Where did the old Delia go? And can she get her back?.

This post contains suggestions for how to earn your Explore History: Super Bookworm and Keep It Real: Super Bookworm badges.
Learn more and earn badges on the Connect Your Summer page.

There are a number of books that deal with similar stories or events in history that have been adapted for younger audiences. Several other topics are covered by multiple ages for multiple age ranges. Pick one of these for yourself and one for your child, and discuss aspects of history as a family.

 

 

Extraordinary Zoo Stories During WWII

When Germany invaded Poland, bombers devastated Warsaw-- and the city's zoo along with it. With most of their animals dead, zookeepers Jan and Antonina Zabinski began smuggling Jews into the empty cages. Another dozen "guests" hid inside the Zabinskis' villa, emerging after dark for dinner, socializing and, during rare moments of calm, piano concerts. Jan, active in the Polish resistance, kept ammunition buried in the elephant enclosure and stashed explosives in the animal hospital. Meanwhile, Antonina kept her unusual household afloat, caring for both its human and its animal inhabitants and refusing to give in to the penetrating fear of discovery, even as Europe crumbled around her.

An elephant in the garden by Michael Morpurgo

Lizzie and Karl's mother, Mutti, working at a local zoo in Dresden, Germany, during World War II while their father is away fighting in France, brings home Marlene, a baby elephant that is slated to be destroyed as the Allied bombing grows closer, and when they are forced to flee, Mutti feels they must take Marlene with them, adding even more danger to their journey.

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