Nonfiction by women writers

Tonight my friend Maureen over at BySingingLight asked for recommendations for excellent non-fiction by female authors, with a focus on history and biography.

Well, you can’t ask for book suggestions within earshot of a librarian without getting a detailed list back, so without further ado:

A Royal Experiment: the private life of King George III, by Janice Hadlow. I just finished this and I learned so much.

How To Be a Victorian, by Ruth Goodman. Detailed and incredibly well-researched – everything you need to know about daily life in Victorian times.

The Victorian City: Everyday Life in Dickons’ London, by Judith Flanders. Are you seeing a theme here? I’ve read a lot of books about England/English history in the last six months. A lot.

A Journey Through Tudor England: Hampton Court Palace and the Tower of London to Stratford-Upon-Avon and Thornbury Castle, by Suzannah Lipscomb. Here’s another.

And now for a few that aren’t about English history:

Twelve Little Cakes, by Dominika Dery. I absolutely loved this one, but it seems like it’s slipped under everyone else’s radar. Dominika Dery has a charming way of writing and even though life was very difficult growing up in communist Czechoslovakia – especially if your parents were dissidents – each tale of her childhood is presented with such love and humor that it really is a “feel good” book.

And Then There Were Nuns, by Jane Christmas. I’m never entire sure how II feel about Jane Christmas, but this is by turns funny, deep, and thought-provoking.

A Homemade Life: stories and recipes from my kitchen table, by Molly Wizenberg. Yes, it’s recipes … but it’s a lot more than that.

Consider the Fork, by Bee Wilson. You don’t have to be food-obsessed to enjoy this, but it probably helps.

As Always, Julia, edited by Joan Reardon. This is a collection of letters between Julia Child and her good friend Avis. Both women are so intelligent and funny, and their personalities shine through their correspondence.

I could go on … and on … and on, but I’ll leave it at this for now. Basically, if you like food or British history, you’ll probably find something on this list to love.

Object lessons: #3

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In January of 2011, I was in Goshen, Indiana for a family funeral. It was a sad time, but also intensely beautiful. I spent lots of time exploring small shops (and coffee shops), walking around in the falling snow.

I particularly loved Graber|Found. I had a lovely chat with the owner about traveling the world (as he does to collect the things he sells – lucky duck).

I wanted to buy a handpainted Ethiopian Orthodox icon; instead I bought this tiny paper crane.

Object lessons: #2

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One lovely spring morning in New York City, I stopped in at Murray’s Cheese Shop for supplies for a picnic in Washington Square Park, among which was some icelandic yogurt. But to eat yogurt one needs a spoon, so it was a lucky thing that Murray’s also sells these little olivewood spoons.

The baguette, brie, and yogurt are long gone. The spoon remains.