Women’s History Month: Real Life Heroes

While we all have our favorite fictional women, sometimes it’s the real life stories that are the most incredible. The women in these audiobooks are attorneys, fighter pilots, activists, or women who just march to the beat of their own drum, and we’re inspired with every step.

Cassie Chambers grew up in Owsley County: a place nestled in the Appalachian mountains, and one of the poorest counties in both Kentucky and the country. After rising from poverty to earn two Ivy League degrees and returning home to help her fellow Kentucky women, author and narrator Chambers pays tribute to the strong “hill women” who raised and inspired her, and whose values have the potential to rejuvenate a struggling region.

Florence “Pancho” Barnes was a California heiress who inherited a love of flying from her grandfather. Faced with a future of domesticity and upper-crust pretensions, she ran away from her responsibilities as wife and mother to create her own big, messy, colorful, unconventional life. Author Lauren Kessler presents a portrait, both authoritative and affectionate, of a woman who didn’t play by women’s rules who called herself “the greatest conversation piece that ever existed.”

In her searing collection of essays, author and narrator Mikki Kendall takes aim at the legitimacy of the modern feminist movement arguing that it has chronically failed to address the needs of all but a few women. Drawing on her own experiences with hunger, violence, and hypersexualization, along with incisive commentary on politics, pop culture, the stigma of mental health, and more, Hood Feminism delivers an irrefutable indictment of a movement in flux.

In the summer of 1942, twenty-two year-old Franci Rabinek–designated a Jew by the Nazi racial laws–arrived at Terezin, a concentration camp and ghetto forty miles north of her home in Prague. Franci was known in her group as the woman who lied at an Auschwitz selection, saying she was an electrician, which both endangered and saved her life. In this memoir, she offers her intense, candid, and sometimes funny account of those dark years, with the women prisoners in her tight-knit circle of friends.

At twenty-two, Cornelia Fort had escaped Nashville’s debutante scene for a fresh start as a flight instructor in Hawaii. When the U.S. Army Air Forces put out a call for women pilots to aid the war effort, Fort was one of the first to respond. She became one of just over 1,100 women from across the nation to earn her silver wings. Though congress ultimately disbanded the program, the bonds these women forged never failed, and over the next few decades they came together to fight for recognition as the military veterans they were—and for their place in history.

Author: Mary Beard
Read By: Mary Beard

Mary Beard addresses in one brave book the misogynists and trolls who mercilessly attack and demean strong women the world over, including Mary herself. In Women & Power, she traces the origins of this misogyny to its ancient roots. With personal reflections on her own online experiences with sexism, Beard asks: If women aren’t perceived to be within the structure of power, isn’t it power itself we need to redefine? And how many more centuries should we be expected to wait?