Friday, March 16, 2012

Who are Your Favorite Women Authors?

(Fun, insight and inspiration are at the heart of Rear Adm. Kate Gregory’s selection of top ten women authors and their works for Navy Reads -- in honor of Women’s History Month.  Her top recommendation: exercise your mind, stretch your imagination and read!  -- Bill Doughty)
By Rear Adm. Kate Gregory
I think reading is great fun and terribly important.  For me, it provides an escape to times in history, new ideas, and great adventures and imaginary worlds.  I feel sorry for those who don't enjoy reading.  I believe it's often a learned skill and would recommend to those who don't enjoy it to simply try reading a little a day -- it's a lot like any exercise as it gets easier and more fun the more you do it.  I like to read some fiction and non-fiction because both have a lot to offer.
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand.  This is a wonderful, true story about the determination and strength of a great athlete and soldier.  She also wrote Seabiscuit, which I didn't read but understand was excellent.
The Guns of August by Barbara W. Tuchman.  This tells the story of the crazy events and unique personalities that led the world into WWI.  Even though you know how this all ends, the book is hard to put down!
The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean.  Ms. Orlean is a great writer and her book about the black-market business and crazy characters who steal rare orchids, grow, breed and sell them for millions is a bit wacky but oddly fun and unusual.  Orlean just finished another book on Rin Tin Tin.  She makes an enjoyment of atypical topics.  
Either O Pioneers! or My Antonia by Willa Cather.  I grew up in the Midwest and think it's an area often overlooked today.  
I think about (and admire) the people who settled the American plains, and have read these books to learn more about the settlers, especially pioneer women.  These books show the challenges of their lives and the great courage and fortitude it demanded.   
Nothing Daunted by Dorothy Wickenden.  This book is about two East Coast society-girls who boarded a train from the East Coast in 1916 to Colorado and, five days later, opened a new school and taught the children of frontiersmen and settlers.  Their lives were full of surprises and adventures, and make me wish for such experiences.  It really is very, very interesting to see what their lives were like.
Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin.  Ms. Goodwin's telling of how President Lincoln selected his Cabinet and closest advisors from his greatest critics and political enemies was a lesson for me in leadership and vision.  In reading how President Lincoln used their assaults on him to strengthen his plans, policies and actions, it's clear why he's one of our nation's greatest statesmen, and his strategy in selecting staff is pretty fascinating.  
Either Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice, or Emma by Jane Austen.  While Ms. Austen may be viewed by many as simply a romantic writer, I like the way she describes the characters of life -- smart, silly, vain, weak, arrogant, virtuous -- they're all here.  The stories are set in 19th century Great Britain, but the personalities are as prevalent as any I know today.
Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt.  This is actually a children's book that I first read in 5th grade, but I end up reading it again every few years.  It's a coming-of-age tale about an adolescent in Illinois during the Civil War, and shows how the war touched all aspects of the family and shaped the boy's future.
Any mystery by P.D. James in the Adam Dalgliesh series.  I'm not a big mystery reader, but these are interesting and have strong characters facing moral challenges, and I like them even though I can never solve them!
Italian Days by Barbara Grizutti.  Having been stationed twice in Naples, I like to read this armchair travel book when I start to long for the place.  If someone has been or is about to be stationed in Italy, I recommend it.
In 2010 Rear Adm. Katherine Gregory assumed command of Naval Engineering Command Pacific. (Photo by MC2 Robert Stirrup)

1 comment:

Toni Normand said...

I stumbled upon this blog and was delighted to see it! I agree with several of the choices ( Unbroken was the best book I read last year) and look forward to reading some of the others. Thank you.