THE 17TH ANNUAL BEST BOOK AWARDS ANNOUNCE 2020 AWARD RECIPIENTS

Mainstream & Independent Titles Score Top Honors in the 17th Annual Best Book Awards

 HarperCollins, Penguin/Random House, John Wiley and Sons, Routledge/Taylor and Francis, Forge, Sterling Publishing, Hay House, Sounds True, Llewellyn Worldwide, NYU Press, Oxford University Press, John Hopkins University Press, The White House Historical Association and hundreds of Independent Houses contribute to this year’s Outstanding Competition!

Highlights Include the Following Winning Titles: (Full Results are Available Here.)

Click on category headings to be taken directly to full book descriptions! Winners and Finalists are featured at the top of each page! 

Animals/Pets: General
The Balanced Pet Sitter: What You Wish you Knew Before Starting Your Pet Care Business by Renée Stilson
Equilibre Press, LLC

Animals/Pets: Narrative Non-Fiction
The Chimpanzee Chronicles: Stories of Heartbreak and Hope from Behind the Bars by Debra Rosenman
Wild Soul Press

Anthologies: Non-Fiction
This Moment Bold Voices from WriteGirl by Keren Taylor
WriteGirl Publications

Art
C. Curry Bohm: Brown County and Beyond edited by Daniel Kraft & Jim Ross
Indiana University Press

Autobiography/Memoir
Through My Eyes: CSI Memoirs That Haunt the Soul by Tamara Mickelson
Self-Published

Best Cover Design: Fiction
The Last Lumenian by S.G. Blaise
The Last Lumenian

Best Cover Design: Non-Fiction
When God Says NO – Revealing the YES When Adversity and Pain Are Present by Judith Briles
Mile High Press

Best Interior Design
Beautiful Living: Cooking the Cal-a-Vie Health Spa Way by Terri Havens
Cal-a-Vie Health Spa

Best New Fiction
In An Instant by Suzanne Redfearn
Lake Union

Best New Non-Fiction
The Book of Help: A Memoir of Remedies by Megan Griswold
Rodale Books/Penguin Random House

Biography
T.R.M. Howard: Doctor, Entrepreneur, Civil Rights Pioneer by David T. Beito and Linda Royster Beito
Independent Institute

Business: Careers
TIP: A Simple Strategy to Inspire High Performance and Lasting Success by Dave Gordon
John Wiley and Sons

Business: Communications/Public Relations
The Apology Impulse: How the Business World Ruined Sorry and Why We Can’t Stop Saying It by Cary Cooper & Sean O’Meara
Kogan Page

Business: Entrepreneurship & Small Business
Burdens of a Dream: 33 Actionable Nuggets of Wisdom for the Creative Entrepreneur by Craig M. Chavis Jr.
Author Academy Elite

Business: General
The Simplicity Principle: Six Steps Towards Clarity in a Complex World by Julia Hobsbawm
Kogan Page

Business: Management & Leadership
The Future Leader: 9 Skills and Mindsets to Succeed in the Next Decade by Jacob Morgan
Wiley

Business: Marketing & Advertising
The End of Marketing: Humanizing Your Brand in the Age of Social Media and AI by Carlos Gil
Kogan Page

Business: Motivational
Unlock!: 7 Steps to Transform Your Career and Realize Your Leadership Potential by Abhijeet Khadikar
Vicara Books

Business: Personal Finance/Investing
Enhancing Retirement Success Rates in the United States: Leveraging Reverse Mortgages, Delaying Social Security, and Exploring Continuous Work by Chia-Li Chien, PhD, CFP®, PMP®
Palgrave Pivot

Business: Real Estate
Market Forces: Strategic Trends Impacting Senior Living Providers by Jill J. Johnson
Johnson Consulting Services

Business: Reference
The Non-Obvious Guide to Virtual Meetings and Remote Work (Non-Obvious Guides) by Rohit Bhargava
IdeaPress Publishing

Business: Sales
The Visual Sale: How to Use Video to Explode Sales, Drive Marketing, and Grow Your Business in a Virtual World by Marcus Sheridan
IdeaPress Publishing

Business: Technology
Amazon Management System: The Ultimate Digital Business Engine That Creates Extraordinary Value for Both Customers and Shareholders by Ram Charan and Julia Yang
IdeaPress Publishing

Business: Writing/Publishing
Great Stories Don’t Write Themselves: Criteria-Driven Strategies for More Effective Fiction by Larry Brooks
Writer’s Digest Books (a division of Penguin Random House)

Children’s Educational
Galileo! Galileo! by Holly Trechter and Jane Donovan
Sky Candle Press

Children’s Fiction
Nutmeg Street: Egyptian Secrets by Sherrill Joseph
Acorn Publishing

Children’s Mind/Body/Spirit
The Tooth Fairy’s Tummy Ache by Lori Orlinsky
Mascot Books

Children’s Non-Fiction
President’s Play! illustrated by John Hutton, text by Jonathan Pliska
The White House Historical Association

Children’s Novelty & Gift Book
Bubble Kisses by Vanessa Williams, illustrated by Tara Nicole Whitaker
Sterling Publishing

Children’s Picture Book: Hardcover Fiction
Bubble Kisses by Vanessa Williams, illustrated by Tara Nicole Whitaker
Sterling Publishing

Children’s Picture Book: Hardcover Non-Fiction
A-B-Skis: An Alphabet Book About the Magical World of Skiing by Libby Ludlow, illustrated by Nathan Y. Jarvis
Libby Ludlow LLC

Children’s Picture Book: Softcover Fiction
Frankie the Ferret by Kimberley Paterson
FriesenPress

Children’s Picture Book: Softcover Non-Fiction
Fridays With Ms. Mélange: Haiti by Jenny Delacruz
Cobbs Creek Publishing

Children’s Religious
That Grand Christmas Day! by Jill Roman Lord, illustrated by Alessia Trunfio
Worthy Kids

College Guides
Diversity At College: Real Stories of Students Conquering Bias and Making Higher Education More Inclusive by James Stellar, Chrisel Martinez, Branden Eggan, Chloe Skye Weiser, Benny Poy, Rachel Eagar, Marc Cohen, and Agata Buras
IdeaPress Publishing

Cookbooks: General
Recipes from the President’s Ranch: Food People Like to Eat by Matthew Wendel
The White House Historical Association

Cookbooks: International
Cooking with Marika: Clean Cuisine from an Estonian Farm by Marika Blossfeldt
Delicious Nutrition

Cookbooks: Regional
The Perfect Persimmon: History, Recipes, and More by Michelle Medlock Adams
Red Lightning Books

Current Events
In All Fairness: Equality, Liberty, and the Quest for Human Dignity, edited by Robert M. Whaples, Michael C. Munger and Christopher J. Coyne
Independent Institute

Education/Academic
The EQ Intervention: Shaping a Self-Aware Generation Through Social and Emotional Learning by Adam L. Saenz, PhD
Greenleaf Book Group

Fiction: African-American
Once in a Blood Moon by Dorothea Hubble Bonneau
Acorn Publishing

Fiction: Anthologies
Terror at 5280′ edited by Josh Schlossberg
Denver Horror Collective

Fiction: Cross-Genre
Mourning Dove by Claire Fullerton
Firefly Southern Fiction

Fiction: Fantasy
The Hollow Gods (The Chaos Cycle Series, #1) by A.J. Vrana
The Parliament House Press

Fiction: General
Bread Bags & Bullies: Surviving the ’80’s by Steven Manchester
Luna Bella Press

Fiction: Historical
The Takeaway Men by Meryl Ain
SparkPress

Fiction: Horror
The Vanishing by Arjay Lewis
Mindbender Press

Fiction: Inspirational
The Menu by Steven Manchester
Luna Bella Press

Fiction: LGBTQ
Even Weirder Than Before by Susie Taylor
Breakwater Books

Fiction: Literary
How Fires End by Marco Rafalà
Little A

Fiction: Multicultural
Subduction by Kristen Millares Young
Red Hen Press

Fiction: Mystery/Suspense
Strong From The Heart by Jon Land
Forge

Fiction: New Age
Catalyst by Tracy Richardson
Brown Books Publishing

Fiction: Novelette
When Angels Paint: A Milford-Haven Holiday Novelette by Mara Purl
Bellekeep Books

Fiction: Novella
When the Heart Listens: A Milford-Haven Novella by Mara Purl
Bellekeep Books

Fiction: Religious
The Longest Day by Terry Toler
BeHoldings Publishing

Fiction: Romance
What the Heart Wants by Audrey Carlan
HQN

Fiction: Science Fiction
Killing Adam by Earik Beann
Profoundly One Publishing

Fiction: Short Story
Oranges by Gary Eldon Peter
New Rivers Press

Fiction: Thriller/Adventure
The President’s Dossier by James A. Scott
Oceanview Publishing

Fiction: Visionary
Journey of a JuBu by Blaine Langberg
Critical Eye

Fiction: Western
Moccasin Track by Reid Lance Rosenthal
Rockin’ SR Publishing

Fiction: Women’s Fiction
Appearances by Sondra Helene
She Writes Press

Fiction: Young Adult
The Return of the Dragon Queen by Farah Oomerbhoy
Wise Ink Creative Publishing

Health: Addiction & Recovery
Stepping Stones: A Memoir of Addiction, Loss, and Transformation by Marilea C. Rabasa
She Writes Press

Health: Aging/50+
EIGHTSOMETHINGS: A Practical Guide to Letting Go, Aging Well, and Finding Unexpected Happiness by Katharine Esty, PhD
Skyhorse Publishing

Health: Alternative Medicine
Have a Peak at This: Synergize Your Body’s Clock Towards a Highly Productive You by Said Hasyim
Self-Published

Health: Cancer
All Of Us Warriors: Cancer Stories of Survival and Loss by Rebecca Whitehead Munn
She Writes Press

Health: Death & Dying
Aftermath: Picking Up the Pieces After a Suicide by Gary Roe
Healing Resources Publishing

Health: Diet & Exercise
Whole Person Integrative Eating: A Breakthrough Dietary Lifestyle to Treat Root Causes of Overeating, Overweight and Obesity by Deborah Kesten, MPH and Larry Scherwitz, PhD
White River Press

Health: General
True Wellness for Your Gut: Combine the best of Western and Eastern medicine for optimal digestive and metabolic health by Catherine Kurosu, MD, L.Ac. and Aihan Kuhn, CMD, OBT
YMAA Publication Center

Health: Medical Reference
The Ultimate College Student Health Handbook: Your Guide for Everything from Hangovers to Homesickness by Jill Grimes, MD
Skyhorse Publishing

Health: Psychology/Mental Health
The Big Bliss Blueprint: 100 Little Thoughts to Build Positive Life Changes by Shell Phelps
Positive Streak Publishing, LLC

Health: Women’s Health
The Book of Help: A Memoir of Remedies by Megan Griswold
Rodale Books/Penguin Random House

History: General
Gun Control in Nazi-Occupied France: Tyranny and Resistance by Stephen P. Halbrook
Independent Institute

History: Military
40 Thieves on Saipan The Elite Marine Scout-Snipers in One of WWII’s Bloodiest Battles by Joseph Tachovsky with Cynthia Kraack
Regnery History

History: United States
Liberty in Peril: Democracy and Power in American History by Randall G. Holcombe
Independent Institute

Home & Garden
My Creative Space: How to Design Your Home to Stimulate Ideas and Spark Innovation by Donald M. Rattner
Skyhorse Publishing

Humor
Struggle Bus: The Van. The Myth. The Legend. by Josh Wood
Lucid Books

Law
Banned: Immigration Enforcement in the Time of Trump by Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia
NYU Press

LGBTQ: Non-Fiction
Our Gay History in 50 States by Zaylore Stout
Wise Ink Creative Publishing

Multicultural Non-Fiction
Overcoming Ordinary Obstacles: Boldly Claiming the Facets of an Extraordinary Life by Nesha Pai
SPARK Publications

Narrative: Non-Fiction
Sola: One Woman’s Journey Alone Across South America by Amy Field
WanderWomyn Publishing

New Age: Non-Fiction
Embodying Soul: A Return to Wholeness by Keri Mangis
Curiosa Publishing, LLC

Novelty & Gift Book
The Official White House Christmas Ornament: Collected Stories of a Holiday Tradition by Marcia Anderson and Kristen Hunter Mason
The White House Historical Association

Parenting & Family
Why Will No One Play with Me? The Play Better Plan to Help Children of All Ages Make Friends and Thrive by Caroline Maguire, PCC, M.Ed. with Teresa Barker
Grand Central Publishing

Performing Arts: Film, Theater, Dance, Music
THAT GUY: a stage play by Peter Anthony Fields
Amazon

Photography
Beautiful Living: Cooking the Cal-a-Vie Health Spa Way by Terri Havens
Cal-a-Vie Health Spa

Poetry
Five Oceans in a Teaspoon, poems by Dennis J. Bernstein, visuals by Warren Lehrer
Paper Crown Press

Religion: Christian Inspirational
Extraordinary Hospitality for Ordinary Christians: A Radical Approach to Preparing Your Heart & Home for Gospel-Centered Community by Victoria Duerstock
Good Books

Religion: Christianity
Come Fill This Place: A Journey of Prayer by Stacy Dietz
KP Publishing Company

Religion: Eastern
Secrets of Divine Love: A Spiritual Journey into the Heart of Islam by A. Helwa
Naulit Publishing House

Religion: General
Esoterism as Principle and as Way: A New Translation with Selected Letters by Frithjof Schuon
World Wisdom

Science
Bliss Brain: The Neuroscience of Rewiring Your Brain for Resilience, Creativity and Joy by Dawson Church
Hay House

Self-Help: General
Start Finishing: How to Go from Idea to Done by Charlie Gilkey
Sounds True

Self-Help: Motivational
Edge: Turning Adversity into Advantage by Laura Huang
Portfolio

Self-Help: Relationships
The Remarriage Manual: How to Make Everything Work Better the Second Time Around by Terry Gaspard
Sounds True

Social Change
I Am Not Your Enemy: Stories to Transform a Divided World by Michael T. McRay
Herald Press

Spirituality: General
The Universe Is Talking to You: Tap Into Signs and Synchronicity to Reveal Magical Moments Every Day by Tammy Mastroberte
Llewellyn Worldwide

Spirituality: Inspirational
Spark Change: 108 Provocative Questions for Spiritual Evolution by Jennie Lee
Sounds True

Sports
The Martial Arts of Vietnam: An Overview of History and Styles by Augustus John Roe
YMAA Publication Center

Travel: Guides & Essays
Exploring Wine Regions — Bordeaux France: Discover Wine, Food, Castles, and The French Way of Life by Michael C. Higgins, PhD
International Exploration Society

True Crime: Non-Fiction
Beast of New Castle by Larry Sells & Margie Porter
WildBlue Press

Women’s Issues
Muslim Women Are Everything: Stereotype-Shattering Stories of Courage, Inspiration, and Adventure by Seema Yasmin, illustrated by Fahmida Azim
Harper Design, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers

Young Adult: Non-Fiction
My Life, My Way: How To Make Exceptional Decisions About College, Career, and Life by Elyse Hudacsko
Self-Published

Thriller writer channels anger into her books

Fargo, vice president of the Chicagoland chapter of Sisters in Crime and the cocreator of the podcast Unlikeable Female Characters, has a little bad girl in her too.

“I love the sinister title of ‘They Never Learn,’” she said, adding that this, her second thriller, has everything she loves in a book — sexy women, Shakespeare references and the stabbing of men who “deserve” it.”

Layne Fargo

Scarlet Clark, the lead character in Layne Fargo’s newest psychological thriller, “They Never Learn,” is not your typical English professor. While she takes her studies and students seriously, for 16 years she’s also been on a mission, to eliminate men at Gorman University she considers to be bad guys. By planning carefully and keeping the murder rate down to one a year, she’s managed to avoid discovery.

That is until her last killing — the poisoning of a star football player accused of rape — doesn’t go so well. She posted a suicide note on the guy’s Instagram account, but it turns out you can’t kill a star athlete without some ramifications.

Suddenly, the other suicide notes written by Scarlet are under review and her current project — dispatching a lewd department head who also is her competitor for a fellowship she desperately wants (not all of Scarlet’s killings are devoid of self interest). Trying to forestall discovery, Scarlet insinuates herself into the police investigation while under pressure to get away with this next kill.

But it’s even more complex than this. After all, it is a Fargo book, and the Chicago author who wrote the well-received “Temper” likes the complexities and power struggles inherent in relationships.

In this case, adding to the drama is the transformation of Carly Schiller, a freshman who has escaped an abusive home life and now immerses herself in studies as a way of avoiding life. But when Allison, her self-assured roommate, is sexually assaulted at a party, Carly dreams of revenge.

Fargo, vice president of the Chicagoland chapter of Sisters in Crime and the cocreator of the podcast Unlikeable Female Characters, has a little bad girl in her too.

“I love the sinister title of ‘They Never Learn,’” she said, adding that this, her second thriller, has everything she loves in a book — sexy women, Shakespeare references and the stabbing of men who “deserve” it.

Fargo was enraged at what she saw as the injustice of the appointment of a man accused of rape into a high position.

“I channeled that all-consuming anger into a story where men like that are stripped of their power, where they get exactly what they deserve,” she said.

This are article also ran in the Books section of the Northwest Indiana Times.

Lady Romeo: The Radical and Revolutionary Life of Charlotte Cushman, America’s First Celebrity

A force of nature in her time, stage actress Charlotte Cushman who played both male and
female roles, was friends with Abraham Lincoln who admired her work. Indeed, she acted along side both Edwin and John Wilkes Booth and was said to have left a scar on the assassin’s neck that was later used to identify him as the president’s murderer.

Tana Wojczuk by Beowulf Sheehan

Cushman was 58-years-old when on November 7, 1874 she gave her last performance in front of
thousands of fans in New York City. There should have been much to remember her by. She is Angel of Waters on top of Central Park’s Bethesda Fountain designed by her lover Emma Stebbins. This is no ordinary sculpture, Cushman soars above what is, at twenty-six feet high by ninety-six feet wide, one of New York’s largest fountains. But that was the kind of woman she was. She acted for more than 30 years traveling the world to appear on stage and it was publicly well-known that her lovers were female. Yet for some reason she slips from sight, almost lost to history until now, almost 160 years later, her vibrant life is captured in Tana Wojczuk’s new biography, Lady Romeo: The Radical and Revolutionary Life of Charlotte Cushman, America’s First Celebrity.

Angel of Waters (Wikimedia Commons)

Wojczuk, a senior nonfiction editor at Guernica who teaches writing at New York University, first
became aware of Cushman when she was an aspiring actress, a passion she pursued starting at age
thirteen, and continued through college.

“Women often played men in the 18th and 19th centuries,” says Wojczuk who came across
Cushman’s name while researching women who had played Hamlet. “Most cross-dressing onstage was for comic effect or to titillate men who liked to ogle a woman’s legs. But Charlotte was a convincing man onstage. When I found out that she had also been one of the most famous women in the world I wanted to know why, and, like in a detective novel, to account for her disappearance.”

Charlotte Cushman. Wikimedia Commons

Cushman aimed for realism so much so that, according to Wojczuk, she was a pioneer of
method acting, visiting prostitutes in Five Points and exchanging clothes with them to prepare to
play a prostitute.

Reading fascinating books like this makes you wonder how many fascinating women—and
men—have vanished into the mists of time. Why, I wonder? ojczuk has a surprising answer.

“When she was at her height, American culture was remarkably diverse and experimental, still
figuring out what it would become,” she says. “There were successful all-black theatres in New York, for example, before well-connected white theatre owners had them shut down. Charlotte’s masculinity was acceptable on-stage, when viewed as a performance, and it helped argue for all gender as performance. But by the time she died in 1876, the American centennial, the postwar culture had clamped down, strictly policing public morality. Even though Charlotte helped create American culture, her role became inconvenient. She was a dangerous influence to young women now clamoring to go to college, to work, to vote. Even on the day she died Victorian critics tried to write her out of history. For a long time, they were successful.”

He’s Making You Crazy: How to Get the Guy, Get Even, and Get Over It

“We weren’t born crazy—we were made crazy. It’s true, and I have plenty of stories to prove it. My turbulent dating history has brought me an abundance of peaks and valleys, but I didn’t get there on my own. Crazy is a two-person job.”

         “Women all over the world get called crazy every day,” writes Kristen Doute, star of Bravo’s long running TV series Vanderpump Rules, in her new book, He’s Making You CrazyHow to Get the Guy, Get Even, and Get Over It  (Chicago Review Press 2020). “But we weren’t born crazy—we were made crazy. It’s true, and I have plenty of stories to prove it. My turbulent dating history has brought me an abundance of peaks and valleys, but I didn’t get there on my own. Crazy is a two-person job.”

         Indeed, Doute who co-authored the book with Michele Alexander who in turn was a coauthor of How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, that was turned into a movie of the same name starring Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey, has plenty of tales to tell.

         But first a little background. Vanderpump Rules started as a spinoff of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and is centered around one of the 36 or so restaurants that Lisa Vanderpump and her husband own. This one, SUR, is in West Hollywood and Doute was working there as a server while waiting for her acting career to take off when the series first began. Since then she’s been a main character on the show which started its eighth season this January.

         Detailing her relationships and the lessons she’s learned including how to accept her own emotionality and not let it negatively define her, she shares her wisdom in this easy-to-read book written in her typical hilariously outspoken style.

         “In the beginning, the term Crazy Kristen had negative connotations given to me by the people who called me by that name,” she says. “People would say she’s crazy, she’s psycho, she’s outlandish, she’s irrational.”

         Being young, she says she allowed herself to own their opinion of her.  With age and experience came wisdom.

         “What does crazy mean? Is it because I’m passionate or feel strongly and stand up for what I believe in?” she asks rhetorically. “Does that make me crazy? Now I wear Crazy Kristen as a badge of honor.”

         That meant being herself and not trying to change who she is to please a guy, as she did early on in relationship. After all, there are always going to be differences between two people in a relationship. The questions to ask yourself, she says, is if the differences are something you can live with and can you work out. In all, she wants us to learn from her mistakes and the wisdom she’s acquired.

         Doute also sees a double standard—what she terms “himpathy” or male sympathy.

         “That’s where it’s like, ‘Oh, he’s a guy–he’s allowed to lash out or do this or do that. But if she does that, she’s crazy’,” she explains, noting that she’s not man bashing because she really likes men—we know, we’ve seen the show.  “Just because we’re passionate doesn’t mean we’re insane.”

         For those who love the show, there’s some juicy stuff about the people she works with. For others, the book can stand alone as a relationship guide or an interesting autobiography of a woman who turned a server job into a career as an actress and also added James Mae, a 1970s-inspired clothing line and her “Witches of Weho” wine collection to her resume.

         Now she can author to that list.

Renegade Women in Film and TV

              When we think of power brokers—the people who produce and direct movies or write the scripts, the names that come to mind are mostly males. Film critic Elizabeth Weitzman sets about changing all that in her new book, Renegade Women in Film & TV (Clarkson Potter 2019; $16.99). Told in short biographies, some highlighted with interviews, this wonderfully illustrated book is a gem to read as it highlights women in films who have broken the glass ceiling.

              “There has been a lot of talk in recent years about how underrepresented women have always been in Hollywood, says Weitzman, who was named one of New York’s Top Film Critics by the Hollywood Reporter and who earned a master’s degree in cinema studies. “And although that’s true, it only tells half the story. The reality is that women have been essential innovators in entertainment from the very beginning. But they’ve been written out of history so consistently that few people were even aware of their enormous accomplishments.”

              As just one of many examples, Weitzman writes about first female filmmaker Alice Guy-Blaché who film historians believe is also the first person to make a narrative film–her 1896 short The Cabbage Fairy.

              Deciding who to include in her book (we’re hoping for a sequel) wasn’t an easy process for Weitzman. If she’d gone with all the trailblazers, her book would have been hundreds of pages long.

Rita Moreno by Natalie Mulford

              “When my editor said we had room to honor fifty of them, I did panic a little,” she recalls. “I couldn’t imagine how to narrow down the list so much. But I really wanted to share stories that represent a broad range of experiences, while also showing how the industry has changed over the last century.”

              Weitzman always wanted to change the image of female imagine silent film stars as damsels in distress, tied to railroad tracks and waiting to be rescued. That’s why she included the story of Helen Gibson, a silent-era teenager who quit her job at a cigar factory to teach herself trick riding—and then became the country’s first stuntwoman.

              “And everyone should know the story of the gorgeous, gifted Dorothy Dandridge, who was both the first African-American to be nominated for a lead actor Oscar and the first person to integrate many of the places she visited,” she says. “But every story in the book is more compelling than any movie could be. Renegades don’t ever choose an easy path, so their experiences are all unique, and all fascinating.”

Jessica Williams
by Natalie Mulford

Contemporary icons like Barbra Streisand, Rita Moreno, and Sigourney Weaver also win Weitzman’s admiration.

“All of them shared insights that surprised me,” she says. “And I will admit I wasn’t expecting these great women to be so down-to-earth and funny and blunt about their experiences in Hollywood.”

              Weitzman also includes a chapter called Essential Viewing, in which she suggests must-see movies and shows from each woman featured.

Alla Nazimova by Natalie Mulford

“Fans of old films will already know this,” she says, “but I think some people may be surprised by how modern and witty and fun so much of their work still feels today. I made sure to choose options that were all easy to find, so I hope people will discover some new favorites among them.”

Though she was familiar with the works of many of the pioneers in film, Weitzman became even more impressed when learned more about their lives, struggles, determination and how ahead of their times they all were.

Nora Ephron by Natalie Mulford

 “So often, pioneers are pushed aside or overlooked altogether,” she says. “These incredible women made so many sacrifices to create a better world for us. It’s our responsibility to learn their names and share their stories.”

Ifyougo:

What: A screening of The Hitchhiker directed by Ida Lupino, best known as a sultry film star, introduced by Elizabeth Weitzman with a post-film book signing of Renegade Women in Film & TV.

When: Monday, March 4 @ 7pm

Where: The Music Box Theatre, 3733 N. Southport Ave., Chicago, IL

Cost: Tickets only $11; tickets and a book $24. To order tickets, contact The Music Box at 773 871 6604; musicboxtheatre.com

FYI: This event is an off-site presentation by The Book Cellar, for more information (773) 293-2665; bookcellarinc.com

Pure: Inside the Evangelical Movement that Shamed a Generation of Young Women and How I Broke Free

Inside the purity culture, girls and women are not only responsible for their own sexual thoughts and actions but also those of the boys and men around them says Linda Kay Klein, author of Pure: Inside the Evangelical Movement that Shamed a Generation of Young Women and How I Broke Free (Touchstone 2018 $26).

Linda Kay Klein Author Photo by Jami Saunders Photography            “Because women are seen as the keepers of sexual purity which is a necessary part of their living out their faith, when men or boys have lustful thoughts about them, then it’s about what they were wearing, were they flirting,” says Klein, who grew up in the evangelical movement in the 1990s before breaking free. “It creates a tremendous amount of anxiety because your purity is assessed by others around you. It makes you worry about when you’re going to fall off the cliff and no longer be considered pure and no longer part of the community.”

But if being non-sexual before marriage is of utmost importance, afterwards the onus is on the woman to be extremely sexual, able to meet all their husband’s needs lest he cheat—which of course would be her  fault.

“Zero to 100 is extremely difficult,” says Klein, noting it’s better to ease into sexual experience. “I interviewed women who didn’t know what sex was and suddenly they’re expected to be a sexual satisfier.”

As far as sexual abuse, well, if girls and women were just pure, that sort of thing wouldn’t happen.

Klein was in her 20s when she left the evangelical church. The impetus was in part when she learned her pastor had been convicted of child enticement with intent to have sexual contact with a 12-year-old girl who was under his pastoral care. She was a senior in high school and as awful as it was to learn that, it was even more devastating when she discovered the pastor had been let go from two other evangelical institutions after he confessed to committing the same acts.  But her evangelical upbringing still bound her.

“I thought I would be free,” says Klein who during her teenage years was so obsessed with staying pure that she took pregnancy tests even though she was a virgin and resisted asking for help when dealing with what would later be diagnoses with Crohn’s Disease because she wanted to prove she was a woman of the spirit and not of the flesh. “But I wasn’t able to escape them, they were me.”

At least at first.

Writing her book, which took 12 years, was cathartic for Klein who interviewed many evangelical women and likening the fear and angst they experienced as similar to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Noting there’s a dominant gender teaching in the evangelical church—as well as many other churches, Klein says that patriarchy hurts both men and women except those at the top of the hierarchy.  There is also something else off putting about the purity culture and that is the profit motive in the development of products.

“The people on the ground are believers,” she says.

Others make money off of purity rings which can range in price from around $10 to $600 or more, abstinence education, Christian purity parties, father-daughter purity balls and clothing including t-shirts reading “Modest is Hottest.”

“Over the course of time I did a lot of healing through my research for the book,” says Klein, who. “There have been phases in this journey. I’ve been angry, but keeping my focus on healing, knowing I’m not alone—I think there’s something powerful that happens.”

Ifyougo:

What: Author Conversation: Linda Kay Klein & Deborah Jian Lee

When: November 7 at 7 p.m.

Where: Women & Children First, 5233 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL

Cost: Free

FYI: 773.769.9299; womenandchildrenfirst.com

 

 

 

Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger

Women’s anger is complicated, dating back to the days before they were allowed to vote and when all but a few careers were available to them. Even in the last generation or so, women have fought against discrimination in pay, employment—consider that former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor could at first only get a job as a deputy county attorney even though she graduated from the prestigious Stanford University and what they wore (up until the 1970s even pantsuits were considered inappropriate in the workplace) among many other things. On a personal level, when my father returned from serving overseas during World War II, at least one of the men on the East Chicago Public Library board demanded that my mother resign because she was taking a job away from a man. Fortunately, other board members disagreed and she worked there until she was in her 70s, retiring after 50 years. Other women weren’t as lucky—many were asked to leave or fired so that men could be re-employed.Rebecca Traister_credit_Victoria Stevens

For New York Times bestselling author Rebecca Traister, a National Magazine Award winner for her coverage of the Harvey Weinstein scandals, writer at large for New York Magazine and contributing writer for Elle, the long-simmering anger women have felt is now brimming over. This is shown by the ever growing #MeToo movement and also what she sees as women’s reaction to Donald Trump and his policies that hurt women. In her newest book, Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger (Simon & Schuster 2018; $27) Traister wants to let women know their anger is potent.

“It’s consequential, it’s meaningful, valid and rational,” says Traister who discusses how women’s anger is often held against them and used to invalidate their feelings. “I think those are things that women are told are not true about their anger all the time. This book sort of serves as a guide and a reminder–to let women know that their anger is powerful, that it has historical precedence.”

Indeed, Traister argues that anger, when used to make changes, is a potent force.

“It’s the bottling up of anger, rather than the anger itself, that raises our blood pressure and makes us grind our teeth,” she says.

Though her book was written before the recent confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Traister says the  reaction to how the women who came forward were treated will also reverberate into the future—just as they did 26 years ago after the Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings.

“#MeToo was an examination of how often sexualized harm was actually a tool of inequality within workplaces and within power structures where women faced all kinds of economic, professional, public forms of discrimination,” she says noting the harm being done wasn’t just sexual—it was also economic and professional. “What was being exposed were fundamental inequalities.

Ifyougo:

What: Chicago Humanities Festival, in conversation with Dr. Brittney Cooper

When: Sunday, October 28 at 3:30 p.m.

Where: Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Northwestern University, 50 Arts Circle Dr., Evanston, IL

FYI: (847) 467-4000; chicagohumanities.org/events/207-rebecca-traister-good-and-mad

 

 

 

Gretchen Carlson’s “Be Fierce: Stop Sexual Harassment and Take Your Power Back”

Gretchen Carlson shows how to fight back.

Gretchen Carlson started a tsunami when she sued Roger Ailes, the all- powerful mogul CEO and Chairman of Fox News and Fox Television for sexual harassment after she lost her long-term job as a Fox anchor for refusing his advances.  Now, with the release of her latest book, Be Fierce: Stop Sexual Harassment and Take Your Power Back (Center Street 2017; $27) she is garnering the stories of women—and men—who have been sexually harassed and showing them how to fight back.

“When one person says no to sexual harassment, they inspire others to step forward as well,” Carlson tells me when we meet at Books by the Banks, Cincinnati’s annual and very popular regional book festival. Like me, she is there to sign copies of her books. Unlike me, she has a large table right by the entrance and a huge sign overhead with her name on it. I am in the center of the barn-sized room, crowded together with other writers who are at my level in the food chain. We have no oversized banners with our names on them just little placards on our shared tables. Nor will we have, as the morning goes on, lines of up to an hour waiting to have us autograph our books.

Hearing the Message Loud and Clear

Those long lines show how much Carlson’s message has resonated. She’s been inundated with the stories of those who’ve also experienced sexual harassment and, to a much lesser degree, hateful comments about being a gold digger and just out for the money, advice on how women should dress to avoid being harassed and those who believe there is no such thing as sexual harassment, just lying women. Carlson blithely posts these pearls of wisdom on her Facebook page. We’re looking at you “baychevy” who posted “…most of the time women claim they were sexually harassed and make a big deal out of it simply to broadcast to other women that they are irresistible.”

“Thank you,” I say to Carlson. Hey, I’ve been through it, who hasn’t? And, of course, I thought that’s one more thing you have to deal with.

Not so, says Carlson, who had to withstand a barrage of negative publicity loosened on her by Ailes and his allies.

“That’s also to be expected,” says Carlson.

Be Fierce and Be Smart

It’s one reason why she says we need to be fierce. And smart. The lawsuit would have been just another she-said, he-said situation but Carlson had the recordings. Ailes settled for $20 million. And in the following cascade of women coming forward to tell their horror stories about his penchant for sexual harassment, he eventually was fired from his job—albeit it with a $40 million payout.

“You were so smart to record all those conversations,” I say. Carlson replies with a smile.

She is indeed, very intelligent. An honors graduate of Stanford University who also studied at Oxford University, she was the first classical violinist to win the title of Miss America. Carlson is also fierce. She didn’t just take her money and go home. Angered not only by what happened to her but what happens to so many others, she determined to empower them to become fierce. It is her mission and the purpose of her book.

“I had worked 25 years in the business–working my way up from local to national news and discovering I was going to lose all that made me determined to speak out,” she says.

Showing the Way

Her book doesn’t dwell on her own travails but instead is a guide for those who experience sexual harassment and what they should expect and how they can navigate confronting a system that has until recently taken a “boys will be boys attitude.”

“Coming forward isn’t fun,” she tells me. “Women aren’t looking for fame or money when they take the step of reporting harassment because there’s nothing rewarding about being demeaned.”

One her Facebook page, she writes, “It’s easy to be disgusted. It’s easy to be outraged. But we need more – we need a movement. It’s time to be fierce. Be Fierce:

I’ll repeat what I said to her that day in Cincinnati, “Go, Gretchen, go.”

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