Author: Karen Karbo
Source: TLC Book Tours
Summary: An engaging, inspiring collection where I enjoyed learning about amazing modern women and was left wanting to learn more.
This beautiful book, with its gorgeous cover, delightful illustrations, and scalloped pages, is an ode to women author Karen Karbo admires for being ‘difficult’. She defines a difficult woman as someone who believes her own desires and aspirations matter and who doesn’t let social expectations confine her. Something that made this book stand out from the many other wonderful collections about women in history is that the women were all from recent history. I don’t think any of them were born before the 1900s and quite a few are still alive today. While there is value in knowing that women have been doing awesome things since long before they were getting the credit, there was something special and inspiring about seeing these women celebrated for achievements that are so relevant today.
Something I loved about this book was the diversity of women Karbo describes. She describes women who are famous as authors, artists, and actresses and others who achieved success in science or politics. Not all of the women are from the US, fully 20% identify as LGBT+, about 20% are women of color and those three groups are not mutually exclusive. There are women who were ‘difficult’ by being loud and uncompromising. There were also women those of us who are introverts might more easily aspire to be like. These women said what they needed to say to keep the peace and then did what they wanted anyway.
I also loved the tone in which these stories were told. It was clear that these are women the author passionately admires. She was sometimes casual and often funny, but her casual tone didn’t detract from the quality of her writing. It did help sweep me up in her enthusiasm. It was inspiring seeing these women celebrated for traits that are often only praised if a man has them (ambition, passion, strong sense of self). I liked that the author finished each chapter by pointing out traits she admired about these women that others might consider bringing into their own lives.
It was also particularly wonderful seeing the author acknowledge that sometimes these women were flawed and that this doesn’t mean we can’t admire them for their strengths and their achievements. She seemed less likely to point out the flaws of people still living (Lena Dunham, JK Rowling, Hillary Clinton, etc), but perhaps that’s a reasonable kindness. That’s really my only very small complaint about this delightful book. I’ll definitely be giving this book pride of place on my shelves, revisiting it, and potentially picking up some of the other sources the author recommends for learning more about each of the awesome women she featured here.
For some other perspectives, check out the other stops on the tour.