Things in Print Thursday :: Amazon’s 100 biographies/memoirs list and women

24 Mar

In honor of Women’s History Month, I decided it would be fun to see how much of women’s history is reflected in the popular retailer’s list of essential biographies and memoirs (i.e. true stories about the history of people), what parts of history they span, and what general topics they primarily cover).

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank (the Holocaust, coming-of-age)
Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy (present day, coming-of-age post-serious illness)
Bossypants by Tina Fey (present day, coming-of-age/celebrity lifestyle)
Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie (the 1700s, monarchy and politics)
Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Philip K. Hoose (the 1950s, desegregation)
Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood by Alexandra Fuller (late 20th century, childhood in Africa)
Dorothy Parker: What Fresh Hell is This? by Marion Meade (~the 1920s, celebrity lifestyle)
Dust Tracks on a Road: An Autobiography by Zora Neale Hurston (early 20th century, coming-of-age and education)
Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia
by Elizabeth Gilbert (present day, self-fulfillment)
The Story of My Life by Helen Keller (late 1800s-early 1900s, personal disability and coming-of-age)
I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai (present day, political struggle for education)
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (mid-20th century, coming-of-age, themes of trauma and racism)
Knock Wood by Candice Bergen (mid-20th century, coming-of-age)
My Life in France by Julia Child (mid-20th century, career/relationship/lifestyle)
Personal History by Katharine Graham (mid-20th century, career/relationship/lifestyle)
The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein (early 20th century, coming-of-age/career/relationship/lifestyle)
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (mid-20th century, coming-of-age and mental illness)
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (late 20th century, coming-of-age and political upheaval)
The Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self-Portrait by Carlos Fuentes (early-mid-20th century, late-life career/relationship/lifestyle)
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (mid-20th century, coming-of-age)
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (mid-late 20th century, medical ethics)
The Liars’ Club by Mary Karr (mid-2oth century, coming-of-age)
The Soul of a New Machine by Tracy Kidder (mid/late 20th century, career)
The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts by Maxine Hong Kingston (mid-20th century, coming-of-age/cultural/familial revelation)
Véra (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov) by Stacy Schiff (20th century, relationship/lifestyle)
West with the Night by Beryl Markham (early 20th century, coming-of-age)
Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang (20th century, coming-of-age/cultural/familial revelation)

27 out of 100 titles.  A little over 1/4 of the essential personal histories Amazon thinks you should read are women’s, and less than half of those belong to women of color.

–your fangirl heroine.



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