Thursday, February 29 2024 10:33

Sisters Are Doing it for Themselves

Written by Shelley Laurence, Main Point Books

Read about women who are changing the world

In Aretha Franklin’s words, “We got doctors, lawyers, politicians too,” and there are books about them all! When it comes to equality between the sexes, the road is long. But as women take charge, more and more of their tales are being told.

Here’s a sampling of some of their page-turning stories.

“It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent.” That’s former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. In her revealing, funny and inspiring story, Hell and Other Destinations: A 21st-Century Memoir, Albright examines the challenge of continuing one’s career way past the normal retirement age. After years in public service, Albright blazed her own trail — and gave voice to millions who want respect, regardless of gender, background or age.

If I asked you to describe a spy, you’d probably picture a man in a black suit. But did you know women are the real backbone of the CIA? It’s true. The Sisterhood: The Secret History of Women at the CIA by Liza Mundy chronicles these unlikely spies. Many began as clerks or secretaries and rose to become some of the agency’s top operatives. They were successful, in part, because women were considered unimportant and were able to move around Europe without raising suspicions. Steve Coll, author of Ghost Wars, calls The Sisterhood “a rip-roaring read about spy-craft and the CIA’s inner workings … an inspiring group portrait of extraordinary CIA women whose careers are multisided profiles in courage.”

Women are also blazing new trails in medicine and saving lives in the process. Nowhere is that more evident than in Breaking Through: My Life In Science by Katalin Karikó. Her decades of research, some of it at the University of Pennsylvania, led to the Covid-19 vaccines and earned her the 2023 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Karikó’s journey was anything but easy. The daughter of a butcher in postwar communist Hungary, she grew up in a house that lacked running water. But her dogged determination brought her to the United States as a postdoctoral fellow in 1985 with $1,200 hidden in her child’s teddy bear and a big dream. Despite many hardships, she persevered. Bonnie Garmus, author of Lessons in Chemistry, says Karikó’s memoir is “riveting … the true story of a brilliant biochemist who never gave up or and gave in.”

Then there’s Greta Thunberg. Thunberg rose to prominence in 2018, when she started a school strike for the climate outside the Swedish Parliament. Today, she’s a climate change activist known around the world. Her latest salvo, The Climate Book, amasses knowledge from nearly a hundred experts. Publisher’s Weekly raves, calling it “Impassioned … Thunberg gathers essays from scientists, journalists and activists, starting with lucid and accessible explanations of the science of global warming and its possible effects … A comprehensive and articulate shock to the system.”

Want to introduce the younger set to some amazing women leaders? Check out the Who Was series. You can start with Who Is Kamala Harris? by Kirsten Anderson. It’s meant for kids 8 through 12 and showcases the defining moments of Harris’s life that made her the first woman and the first African American and South Asian American person to be elected to the vice presidency. Her story is bound to inspire any young woman who dreams big.

For those who think a bit differently, there’s Rebel Girls Celebrate Neurodiversity: 25 Tales of Creative Thinkers. Rebel Girls is a global empowerment brand, dedicated to raising a confident generation of girls. This book features the likes of Madeline Stuart, the first professional model with Down syndrome, Salma Hayek, an award-winning actor with dyslexia, and Temple Grandin, whose autism led to new and compassionate ways of interacting with animals.

Got a sports fanatic in the family? Give them the first official history of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team. Pride of a Nation: A Celebration of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, by Gwendolyn Oxenham and Julie Foudy, includes all the big names: Mia Hamm, Brandi Chastain, Abby Wambach, Megan Rapinoe. There are stories and action photos honoring the athleticism and unshakeable spirit of the charismatic pioneers who planted the U.S. women’s soccer flag and fought a fierce fight for equal pay.


Women are changing the world, and books reflect their impact. Stop by your local, independent bookstore for a book about extraordinary women who are making a difference.

Shelley Laurence is a bookseller at Main Point Books, an independent bookstore with a handpicked selection for every member of the family. Check out their events, book groups and children’s activities at or on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Order online for delivery or pickup. 484-580-6978; 116 N. Wayne Ave., Wayne.