The American Association of University Women's

2017-18 ¡Adelante! Book of the Month Club Reading List

We hear about the gender gap all the time — in pay, in math and science fields, in leadership. But one gender gap we don’t hear about as often is the literary gender gap. Female authors are much less likely than male authors to have their books reviewed in major publications like the New York Times and Harper’s Magazine.

In 2014, 41 percent of books reviewed by the New York Times were by women; for Harper’s Magazine, it was 28 percent. And the numbers are even worse for women of color: 15 percent for the New York Times and 7 percent for Harper’s Magazine. That’s why we created the ¡Adelante! Book of the Month Club: to spotlight engrossing stories and writing by women from all backgrounds. We also connect our members to some of the authors we feature through web discussions.


June 2017 - LGBT Pride Month

Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family

By Amy Ellis Nutt

“When Wayne and Kelly Maines adopted identical twin boys, they thought their lives were complete. But it wasn’t long before they noticed a marked difference between Jonas and his brother, Wyatt. Jonas preferred sports and trucks and many of the things little boys were “supposed” to like. Wyatt liked princess dolls, dress-up, and playing Little Mermaid. By the time the twins were toddlers, confusion over Wyatt’s insistence that he was female began to tear the family apart. In the years that followed, the Maineses came to question their long-held views on gender and identity, accept and embrace Wyatt’s transition to Nicole, and undergo an emotionally wrenching transformation of their own that would change their lives forever. Becoming Nicole chronicles a journey that could have destroyed a family but instead brought it closer together.”


August 2017

Louisa Catherine: The Other Mrs. Adams

By Margery M. Heffron

“Louisa Catherine Johnson Adams, wife and political partner of John Quincy Adams, became one of the most famous women in the United States when her husband assumed office as the sixth president in 1825. Shrewd, intellectual, and articulate, she was close to the center of U.S. power over many decades, and extensive archives reveal her as an unparalleled observer of the politics, personalities, and issues of her day. Louisa left behind a trove of journals, essays, letters, and other writings, yet no biographer has mined these riches until now. Margery M. Heffron brings Louisa out of the shadows to offer the first full and nuanced portrait of an extraordinary first lady. Louisa’s sharp insights as a tireless recorder provide a fresh view of early American democratic society, presidential politics and elections, and — indeed — every important political and social issue of her time.”


September 2017 - National Hispanic Heritage Month

Breaking In: The Rise of Sonia Sotomayor and the Politics of Justice

Joan Biskupic

How did Sonia Sotomayor become the first Hispanic justice on the Supreme Court of the United States? That is the question veteran journalist Joan Biskupic seeks to answer. Biskupic takes readers inside the Supreme Court nomination process, revealing how Sotomayor’s connections and skills enabled her to achieve great success. Breaking In is the story of how two forces — the determination of a gifted Puerto Rican girl from the Bronx housing projects and the increasing political clout of Hispanics across the United States — came together to yield a historic appointment.


October 2017 - National Disability Employment Awareness Month

A Disability History of the United States

Kim E. Nielsen

The first book of its kind, A Disability History of the United States places the experiences of people with disabilities at the core of the chronicle of American history. Using primary sources and social histories, Kim Nielsen portrays familiar stories like slavery and immigration in a new light, highlighting the role ableism played in the growth and flourishing of democracy. In so doing, she skillfully illustrates how conceptions of disability have had a deep effect on how we understand the American experience. Available in print, Kindle, and Nook formats Register for the webinar on October 26


November 2017 - Native American Heritage Month

The Winona LaDuke Chronicles: Stories from the Front Lines in the Battle for Environmental Justice

Winona LaDuke

Chronicles is a collection of timely, persuasive, and inspiring stories of indigenous communities from the Canadian subarctic to the heart of the Navajo Nation. It is a collective account of Winona LaDuke’s personal journey to recovery, beginning with her home burning down in 2008. It is also a story of strength and resilience — not just LaDuke’s own, but that of all tribal and First Nations communities in the North American first world who struggle just to survive.


December 2017

The Gilded Years: A Novel

Karin Tanabe

From an early age Anita Hemmings longed to attend Vassar College. But she is hiding a secret, and it’s one that may compromise her dream: She is African-American. With her light skin, Anita succeeds in passing as white and matriculating at Vassar, where she finds herself living with Lottie Taylor, the daughter of one of New York’s most prominent families. Pulling a reclusive Anita out of her shell, Lottie inadvertently puts her friend’s greatest secret at risk. A fictionalized account of the life of the first African American woman to graduate from Vassar College, The Gilded Years is a moving story of how one woman risked it all for the chance at a better life.


January 2018 - National Mentoring Month

Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy

Sheryl Sandberg

When Option A is not available, how do you make the most of Option B? That’s the question Sheryl Sandberg had to confront after her husband’s unexpected death. Combining research and personal anecdotes, Option B not only explores Sandberg’s loss, but a wide swath of hardships including job loss, sexual assault, war, sickness, and natural disasters. In so doing the book explores how to help others in their time of need, treat ourselves with compassion, and develop the resilience to brave whatever is ahead.


February 2018 - Black History Month

The Firebrand and the First Lady: Portrait of a Friendship: Pauli Murray, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Struggle for Social Justice

Patricia Bell-Scott, Ph.D., 1984-85 AAUW American Fellow

When 28-year-old Pauli Murray wrote a letter to President Roosevelt and his wife, Eleanor, protesting southern segregation, she could not have known that it would start a friendship that would last for 25 years. But that is exactly what happened after First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt responded to the letter. The Firebrand and the First Lady provides the first substantive study of how two social justice activists — one the granddaughter of a mixed-race slave, the other a woman whose ancestry made her eligible for membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution — formed a relationship that changed the course of race and racism in the United States.


March 2018 - Women’s History Month

Senator Hattie Caraway: An Arkansas Legacy

Nancy Hendricks

Hattie Caraway became the first female U.S. Senator by chance. When her husband passed away in 1931, she was appointed to fill his seat. What was supposed to be a temporary honor instead launched a career, as Caraway ran for and won reelection. Ultimately, she served as senator for 12 years — her tenure enduring through the Great Depression and World War II. Through previously unpublished letters and photos, Nancy Hendricks takes readers inside a career that altered the face of the U.S. political landscape.


April 2018 - Sexual Assault Awareness Month

The Kindness of Strangers

Katrina Kittle

Sarah Laden’s life seems like it could not get any more tumultuous. Her husband recently died, her older son, Nate, has developed a rebellious streak, her younger son, Danny, is barely passing his classes, and all the while she is struggling to make ends meet through her catering business. But when an alarming revelation tears apart the family of her closest friend, Laden finds herself fostering her friend’s young son, Jordan. Now Jordan, Sarah, and her family must all cope with the tragedy that Jordan has endured, figure out how to confront and reckon with the truth, and ultimately learn how to forgive and heal.


May 2018 - Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month

Threading My Prayer Rug: One Woman’s Journey from Pakistani Muslim to American Muslim

Sabeeha Rehman

A timely reflection on being Muslim in the United States today, Threading My Prayer Rug is the story of Sabeeha Rehman’s many journeys: from Pakistan to the United States, from being a secular Muslim in an Islamic society to a devout Muslim in a society rife with misunderstandings about Islam, from immigrant to citizen. By challenging stereotypes and offering a new perspective on American life and society through Muslim eyes, Rehman offers a new perspective on what it means to be American.


June 2018 - LGBT Pride Month

Then Comes Marriage: United States V. Windsor and the Defeat of DOMA

Roberta Kaplan

The defeat of the Defense of Marriage Act before the Supreme Court is one of the most significant civil rights victories in our nation’s history. But how did the case that brought it down — Windsor v. United States — come to be? In Then Comes Marriage, lawyer Roberta Kaplan — who argued the case before the Supreme Court — pulls back the curtain on this landmark case, chronicling the story of how she met plaintiff Edie Windsor and their journey together to defeat DOMA and gain federal recognition for same-sex marriage.


July 2018

Stolen Beauty: A Novel

Laurie Lico Albanese

Adele Bloch-Bauer’s life in 1900s Vienna is charmed: She is beautiful, wealthy, intelligent, and in contact with some of the greatest figures of her time including artist Gustav Klimt, for whom she is a model and a lover. In that same city in 1938, her niece, Maria Altmann, watches in horror as the Nazis invade Austria and turn Vienna into a war zone. When the Gestapo arrive at her home, determined to transfer her property into non-Jewish hands, Maria must go to unimaginable lengths to survive and keep her family — and its history — alive. Stolen Beauty breathes life into the story of the two extraordinary women behind one of Gustav Klimt’s most famous paintings: one the model who became The Woman in Gold and the other who saved it from near destruction.


August 2018

The Cailiffs of Baghdad, Georgia: A Novel

Mary Helen Stefaniak, AAUW Iowa eNetwork (IA) Branch Member

Eleven-year-old Gladys Cailiff can’t help but be impressed by her new teacher, Miss Spivey, who arrives in Threestep, Georgia, at the height of the Great Depression. After all, she’s never seen someone quite like her. Miss Spivey smokes, drives a truck, and reads to her class from the classic Thousand and One Nights. Inspired by the book, Miss Spivey decides to turn the annual town festival into a Baghdad bazaar, complete with characters from the stories, a camel, and sets custom-made by the Cailiffs’ gifted neighbor, Theo Boykin, an African American teenager. But when Miss Spivey’s progressive vision proves threatening to some, it triggers a chain of events that culminate in triumph and tragedy for the talented teen.


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