Book Clubs

“I think about [my great aunt], and about my own mother, about women whose pictures you see in other historic photographs, and the women whose lives and life’s work have gone unrecognized—even in their own homes at times—and I feel I’m here on the backs of so many who have come before. We all are. If we want our girls to benefit from the courage and wisdom of the women before them, we have to share the stories.”

Shireen Dodson, Author of The Mother-Daughter Book Club

IDEAS TO LIVEN UP YOUR BOOK GROUP EVENING:

• Invite members to bring old family photos to share.

• Create a shrine to the women who have been important in your own lives—include photos, symbolic items, favorite treats, poetry, or flowers.

• Share old family recipes or bring along food made with recipes from moms and grandmas.

• Bring along a treasured heirloom from a woman in your family.

• Share a favorite quote from a woman in history.

• Bring along other books of women’s history to share with people in the group who are looking for another good women’s history read.

• Invite older women to join the discussion and to talk about their youth and how they have experienced changes in all areas of their lives.

• Invite women or girls that are not from your generation to join the discussion.

• Invite the authors to attend your meeting (in the Washington, DC area), or set up a conference call on speakerphone so that they can contribute to your discussion.

• Work with your local bookstore to set up a “Women’s History Night” to widen your book group’s influence.

• Tell the group about a time when your own life intersected with a larger historical event (ie: 9:11).

• Research and tell the group about women who are making a difference today—both in America and the world.

SUGGESTED QUESTIONS FOR READING GROUPS


Which woman in the book would you most like to meet?

Think about the ways you learned history in school. How is this history different?

Were there moments in your reading that echoed your own life or experiences?

How might a greater knowledge of women’s history alter your understanding of women in the present?

Are there any historical periods that you find particularly fascinating?

Which stories from the book stand out in your mind?

Have you found any new heroines in the book? Women you might try to be like in some way?

Has your reading changed the way you view your everyday activities?

What was your favorite bit of trivia?

Did you notice points in history where women made great strides forward and other times where they lost ground?

The authors decided to trace beauty as a theme throughout the book. How have cultural expectations of beauty affected your life? And how might the history of beauty shed light on your own beauty practices?

Has reading this book changed the way you view your mother or grandmother in any way?

Which stories or portions of the book did you find the most amusing, sobering, disturbing, or enlightening?

If you were going to nominate one woman to a women’s hall of fame for her lasting impact on the lives of women today, who would that be?

The authors chose to include their mother (p. 309), grandmother (p.229), and some of their friends in their book. Where would you have placed your own story or the stories of your family members?

Margaret Sanger said, “It is ever a privilege to be a part of something unquestionably proved of value, something so fundamentally right.” Can you think of any causes or activities you have been involved in where you have felt this way?

Where do we go from here?