Celebrating Women’s History Month Through Books

March is Women’s History Month. How appropriate that many of us are currently immersing ourselves in Pasadena’s Spring 2022 One City, One Story community reading selection, Susan Straight’s In the Country of Women. The Pasadena Public Library characterizes this title as a valuable social history and a personal narrative that reads like a love song to America and indomitable women.

Looking for more books by or about other indomitable women? Our PMH volunteers are pleased to share some thoughts on titles they’ve recently read.

People Who Love to Eat Are Always the Best People: And Other Wisdom

by Julia Child

People Who Love To Eat Are Always the Best People: And Other Wisdom is a slim volume of charming quotes from Pasadena's own Julia Child. A cooking teacher, author, and television personality, Julia was born in Pasadena in 1912, where she grew up and lived until she went to college. Julia had a charming way with words - her television show was sprinkled with sage advice, witty comments, and amusing quips. This book collects many of those words together to create an anthology of inspiration and wisdom for both in and out of the kitchen. While this book would make a perfect hostess gift or gift basket addition, don't expect detailed advice on how to make a classic boeuf bourguignon! The quotes range in subject from cooking advice, to her experiences in France, to life wisdom. A great gift book or addition to complete your Julia Child library!

- Sarah Emery Bunn


Vanderbilt : The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty

by Anderson Cooper and Katherine Howe

I enjoyed reading most of Anderson Cooper’s recent book Vanderbilt: The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty.  I wondered how he would tell the story and if I would learn something about writing a family history.  Of course, I knew I wouldn’t find a connection to the life they lead but just maybe I would find a connection to the time and place in which they all lived.  I liked reading about the original Vanderbilt – Cornelius - and his start in New Amsterdam, New York, because of my recent DNA match to another earlier settler there.  There are many opportunities to learn about the women in the Vanderbilt line.  I had no idea of the competition those ladies waged to be accepted by the Astors.  As I read about Cornelius and his steamship and railroad empires, I wondered about those individuals I have researched at the PMH archives.  Did Col. G. G. Green and any of the Vanderbilts paths ever cross?  I and other reviewers of the book found many faults in the contents and tedious details, but for me, I will benefit from those when I write my own family history.  I know my family tree chart will be easier to understand than the one in this book!

- Susan Beeler Anderson


The Lives of Margaret Fuller: A Biography

by John Matteson

I love finding a free book on a library book cart.  Case in point - The Lives of Margaret Fuller.  This book written by John Matteson, a winner of the Pulitzer Prize, opened my eyes to the existence of Margaret Fuller (1810-1850), who was “perhaps the most talented- and most provocative woman of her generation.”  In the course of 510 pages, you will find Margaret’s many lives - as a child prodigy challenged and provoked by her father, as the first foreign correspondent for an American newspaper with the unlikely friendship with Ralph Waldo Emerson, and as an inspiration to the founders of the American women’s rights movement.  Her own book, Woman in the Nineteenth Century, led Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton to say that Fuller “possessed more influence on the thought of American women than any woman previous to her time.”  You will find some shocking details in this book that will keep you wondering what Margaret will do next.

- Susan Beeler Anderson