When asked to write a post about strong female protagonists, it took me longer than I’d like to admit to think of my favorites. Even if I’ve read hundreds of books over the course of my life, only a handful stand out in their portrayal of a female lead. Most often, the most interesting characters I’ve come across are varied, flawed, and human, filled with errors and quirks that I find easy to relate to in my day to day life. These are the women I find myself relating to (even if I do wish I could be as perfect as Hermione Granger) and rooting for. I’ve compiled a list of a few of my favorites, which barely scratch the surface of the wonderful and wide world of women in books, but hey, we all have to start somewhere.
If I’ve missed your favorites, please feel free to leave a comment down below, I’m always looking to add books to my reading list.
She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb. First off, this is a book I swore to never read again, ironically, just because of how much it hurts to read. Wally Lamb is a master of creating a character you physically hurt for after getting to know them, and Dolores Price is no different. At once a fragile girl and a hard-edged cynic, so tough to love yet so inimitably lovable, Dolores is as poignantly real as our own imperfections. Through rough edges and rougher trials, including assault, mental institutions, absentee parents and lonely adulthood, Lamb shapes a character you find yourself cursing at, wincing for, and holding close.
How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran. After she shames herself on local TV, 14-year-old Johanna Morgan reinvents herself as Dolly Wilde–a fast-talking, hard-drinking Gothic hero and full-time Lady Sex Adventurer. Watching Johanna stumble through her rebirth into a plucky more confident version of herself made me look back fondly (and lets be honest, not that fondly) on my high school years. Trying to re-brand yourself, whether it be with new fish net stockings, a streak of pink in your hair, or a new favorite band, is a rough process. How to Build A Girl highlights how surface level all of these additions are, and asks the question, how far will one really go to re-imagine themselves? I found myself wanting to hug the pivotal character Johanna, and tell her it gets better, if not by action, then by time. It seems like even if she’s struggling, Johanna is a character you find yourself egging on, and even being somewhat jealous of at times.
The Trauma Cleaner by Sarah Krasnostein. I brought this book on vacation thinking I’d enjoy a pulpy novel about crime scene clean up. I’m a true crime fan myself, and my interest in forensic science has led me down an interesting path in terms of books in the past year. This book turned out to be the opposite of pulp, and had very little to do with crime scene clean up after all. Sandra Pankhurst is a titan in the industry of Specialized Trauma Cleaning, she does her job and she does it well. Before she began professionally cleaning up their traumas, she experienced her own. First, as a little boy, raised in violence and excluded from the family home. Then as a husband and father, drag queen, gender reassignment patient, sex worker, small businesswoman, and trophy wife. The true life story of Sandra left me wounded in ways I didn’t expect. In a world that profits of making jokes of hoarders and death, this book, and Sandra, treat these people with dignity. She bags up their postcards, their books, their recipe cards tucked into binders, and saves them from the despair of dirt and mold. She returns them to their family, and gives the people effected by it hope to start their life over. She never once jokes at their expense, or teases them for their situation behind closed doors. After going through such a violent and unforgiving life, Sandra shows grace and humility, mixed in with grit and sarcasm I find comforting.
Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer. If you’re looking for a strange, otherworldly novel, that expands into two more books, then the Southern Reach trilogy is for you. A group of female scientists, ignoring the high mortality rate of the previous missions, travels into an area only known as “Area X” to research a strange phenomenon. Their mission is to map the terrain, record all observations of their surroundings and of one another, and, above all, avoid being contaminated by Area X itself. The narrator, the biologist of the group, is a strange and difficult character to get a hold on. You don’t know her motives until they uncover themselves, slowly and methodically throughout the text. She seems driven by knowledge and the unknown alone, until it’s revealed that she had a husband who also went into the reach, but who came back strange and unrecognizable. I think one of my favorite parts of this character is that she’s not a broken record throughout the story. She doesn’t repeat over and over her need to find her husband in the Reach, if anything, she loses that goal almost immediately. Her goals become more abstract, her position as a narrator is unreliable at best, which makes her all the more interesting.
Some other books with strong female protagonists worth checking out: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell, Little Women by Louise May Alcott, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson, Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle.
When a friend asked me if I wanted to go to a board game cafe (The Board Room in Middletown CT) , I pictured three mind numbing hours of pictionary, or even worse, monopoly. I have a short attention span as it is, and pretending to be a tiny banker buying properties across the board and keeping track of piles of colorful money never really engaged me. In reality, I spent the next three hours curing diseases in Pandemic, creating train tracks that spread the globe in Ticket to Ride, and trading spices in Century: Spice Roads. I was floored that board games had evolved so much since I had played as a kid, the art was more engaging, the stories richer, and the play more involved. In the months following this revelation I’ve added over thirty board games to my list, and I’ve expanded my idea of what a board game can be.
Now how does this tie in to the library you ask? Well, board games have actually gained a large following in the library world, and both librarians and patrons are starting to take notice. Board games are one of the many resources in a library that encourage community and collaboration. At a time when parents and educators are concerned about the rise in digital media and isolation, board games get people of different backgrounds engaging with each other across a table, solving problems, improving a number of practical skills, and having a good time. When you look at it that way, it’s no surprise that board games are a critical part of a libraries community, and a lifelong pursuit of learning.
If you’re new to board games, or like me, rediscovering your love of gaming, fear not. Here is a quick list of board games perfect for beginners.
Ticket to Ride is a cross-country train adventure in which players collect and play matching train cards to claim railway routes connecting cities throughout North America. The longer the routes, the more points they earn.
- Ticket To Ride suggests 2-5 players ages 8 and up with 45 minutes of play time.
Tsuro – Create your own journey with Tsuro: The Game of the Path! Place a tile and slide your stone along the path created, but take care. Other players’ paths can lead you in the wrong direction—or off the board entirely! Paths will cross and connect, and the choices you make affect all the journeys across the board. Find your way wisely and be the last player left on the board to win!
- Tsuro suggests ages: 8+ , with 2-8 players, and up to 20 minutes of play time.
Sushi Go! – Pass the sushi! In this fast-playing card game, the goal is to grab the best combination of sushi dishes as they whiz by. Score points for making the most maki rolls or for collecting a full set of sashimi. Dip your favorite nigiri in wasabi to triple its value. But be sure to leave room for dessert or else you’ll eat into your score! Gather the most points and consider yourself the sushi master!
- Sushi Go! suggests ages 8+, with 2-5 players, and up to 15 minutes of play time.
Just like the rest of the library, board games are designed to challenge your current pattern of thinking and keep your brain young. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that playing board games was associated with a reduced risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Board games are also great for those with anxiety as a way to step out and make new friends within a structured setting, allowing friendships to build over a collaborative goal. But, just like any other program in the library, it needs participants to thrive and grow.
Lucky for you, there’s a new board game club opening at the Cheshire Public Library this February! This club will be hosted on the first Thursday of the month, and each month will feature a new board game. Come and enjoy our freshly re-modeled third floor, have a hot chocolate and re connect with old friends, or make some new ones!
Can summer be here already? It’s our busiest time at Cheshire Library – sign up now & don’t miss out on the terrific programs we have lined up. See our June Event Calendar for more!
PART 1 : Wednesday Jun 7, 2017, 2:00 – 3:00 PM
PART 2 : Wednesday Jun 14, 2017, 2:00 – 3:00 PM
In Part 1, we will introduce you to the Internet and explain the basic elements of a Web page. Learn about Web browsers and how to access different web pages, identify hyperlinks and navigate web pages using the back, forward and refresh buttons. In Part 2, you will learn how to find information on the Web and how to use search engines. Learn how to mark a web site as a Favorite and how to print an entire web page, or a part of a web page using print preview option. Registration is required.
Thursday Jun 8, 2017, 6:00 PM
With so many ways to book travel how do you know the best? What is the difference between booking with a traditional travel agency, an online travel agency or the supplier directly? With over 30 years of travel industry experience, Katie Relkin is the founder of JourneyBusters.com, a consumer friendly travel education company. She will share a wealth of travel tips in this program. Registration is required.
Wednesday Jun 14, 2017, 6:30 – 8:00 PM
Since the 1980s when near death experiences became part of the public consciousness, they have held endless attractions for people. Why do they resonate so powerful within us? Join Dr. Matthew Raider, hear the latest medical research and discover a simple, natural way to connect with the inner light talked about by those who’ve experienced an NDE. Through a simple time-honored method of meditation, you can explore those realms of peace within you. Registration is required.
Friday Jun 16, 2017, 12:00 – 4:00 PM
Join us for your one stop shop to acquire* or renew your passport.
Please bring the following:
- Passport Application
- Evidence of Citizenship
- Two Forms of ID
- Payment (2 checks for renewals)
Please direct all questions regarding Passports to the The National Passport information line at 1-877-487-2778 or visit Travel.State.Gov. This service provided by the United States Postal Service. *Please be advised to receive your completed passport by mail can take several weeks. Please see Travel.State.Gov for more information.
Fridays in June, 12:30 – 3:00 PM
Take a tasty tour around the globe with movies associated with international snacks. Please register individually for each movie.
- Friday – June 02 – No Reservations
- Friday – June 09 – The Mistress of Spices
- Friday – June 16 – Julie and Julia
- Friday – June 23 – Love’s Kitchen
Cut the Cord – Life Without Cable TV
This seminar presented by James Gifford will discuss how cable customers can get rid of high-priced cable services. Learn how to switch to options that give better entertainment value and review phone service choices at much lower costs, even if you’re not a tech whiz. Registration is required.
Wednesday Jun 21, 2017, 6:00 – 7:30 PM
- Dinner 6:00-6:30 pm
- Parent class 6:30-7:30 pm
- Childcare provided
Thursday Jun 22, 2017, 1:30 – 2:30 PM
Come learn how to keep your brain fit. Studies show that those who engage in regular cognitive activities (such as attending educational seminars, discussion groups or learning a new language) had higher levels of brain functioning and lower rates of Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and other forms of cognitive impairment. The brain is a muscle like any other and benefits from regular exercise. Light refreshments will be served. Please register early.
Thursday Jun 22, 2017, 6:30 PM
Get ready for a solo travel adventure! More and more people are heading out on trips alone and they aren’t just singles. Whether you are an experienced solo traveler or new to solo travel, join Travel Artisan Nina Lesiga for an evening of fresh ideas on how to achieve vibrant, authentic and fun experiences. Registration is required.
Facilitator: Dr. Jian Cao, Associate Research Scientist, Yale University. Co-developer of a Gene-Editing Toolbox.
STEM Coffee Hours are designed for adults who are interested in learning more about a particular science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) topic. The general format is an informative presentation followed by group discussion. Please register HERE (password CheshireSTEM).
Parenting Workshop: Positive Discipline
Monday Jun 26, 2017, 6:00 – 7:30 PM
This is an eight-session workshop for parents who are looking to learn how to develop relationships with their children based upon mutual respect, personal responsibility, and problem-solving skills for successful living. Come work with other parents finding practical solutions to children’s most challenging behaviors. Open to parents with children ages birth to 5 years old. Free childcare provided.
A Certifed Positive Discipline Parent Educator will conduct 8 weekly evening sessions that include:
- Free Dinner 6:00-6:30 pm
- Parent class 6:30-7:30 pm
- Free children’s books
This program meets 8 times: June 26, July 3, 10, 17, 24, 31, August 7 and 14. You only need to register once to attend all 8 sessions.
Registration required. This program is open to Cheshire residents to register starting May 22 all others may register starting June 23 if space is available.
Traveling Lantern Theatre Company
Wednesday Jun 28, 2017, 1:00 PM
Play: The Ribbles Build a Residence. Soon after their lovely insect nuptuals Mr. and Mrs. Ribble are expecting a baby Ribblet, and they need a new home for their family! Mr. Ribble wants a to go big with a four grasshopper garage, but Mrs. Ribble convinces him to build a dream home that is more environmentally and neighborhood friendly. Best for ages 4+, No registration required.
Summer Reading Kickoff!
Friday Jun 30, 2017, 5:30 PM
Join us for our adult and children’s summer reading kickoff. The library will be opening at 5:30 pm to host events for children, families, and adults. At 7:00 pm the Lost Acres String Band will be performing. Bring a picnic or purchase pizza (from Cheshire Pizza and Ale) and drinks from our Friends of the Library. All ages welcome, no registration required.
Way back when, when actors were still called entertainers, Hollywood stars were multi-talented individuals who sang, danced, and acted well – your Shirley Temples, Judy Garlands, Gene Kellys, and so many more. Studios knew they could not only rake in money off the films, but a Christmas album was a sure winner, and possibly even a touring performance.
Today, most actors are carefully pigeon-holed into one role, and there are very few “entertainers” who can successfully cross bridges in the industry. Some actors are talented musicians – Hugh Laurie plays a mean jazz piano, and Charo – yes, Charo the cuchi cuchi girl – was, at least at one point, one of the top three flamenco guitarists in the world. You have to see it to believe it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XmNPXqG6ovg. Some comedians are excellent dramatists – Robin Williams for one. But some agents push actors with no talent into music, with embarrassing results. Ever listen to Clint Eastwood sing? Or William Shatner? Save yourself, and don’t Google Hulk Hogan singing.
But every now and then you hit the jackpot, and Kiefer Sutherland is one of them. Yes, That Kiefer Sutherland, whether killing as a vampire or saving people in under 24 hours, the Kiefer Sutherland whose father runs Pan Em and praises orange juice, second-generation Hollywood. The man can Sing.
Sutherland’s debut album is called Down in a Hole, and although it’s labeled country (and the steel guitars on a few tracks clinch it), the album is the closest thing I’ve heard in ages that resembles good old-fashioned rock and roll, the kind you can’t find on the radio anymore. Do NOT disregard the album because you don’t like country – it is well worth a listen. Sutherland has a rough and ready voice, Joe Cocker after four packs of unfiltered Camels – no polished music-school certificates here.
My favorite, I think, is “Going Home,” which has that glorious old rock feel. “Shirley Jean” is a tear-jerker, but almost more folk than country, not out of place in a Pete Seeger repertoire. “Not Enough Whiskey” isn’t my favorite, but it has a sweet rolling beat that just won’t let go. “I’ll Do Anything” is probably the most “country” song, steel strings twanging and pearl snaps shining. “All She Wrote” sounds like it was a track that didn’t make the final cut of a Sons of Anarchy album – you can almost hear the leather creaking.
Not too many singers/bands are successful at crossing the country/ rock line – The Eagles are probably the best example, maybe the Allman Brothers, with some singers – Dolly Parton (9 to 5), Kenny Rogers (The Gambler), Glen Campbell (Southern Nights, Rhinestone Cowboy), and Shania Twain kicking occasional songs onto both country and pop charts at once. Kiefer Sutherland is another to watch – and the fact he has a severe hearing loss makes it all the more amazing. This is his debut album, and I cannot wait for the next one.