Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves: Women in the Kitchen

There’s that old patriarchal saying that “a woman’s place is in the kitchen,” but in an industry dominated by men, it’s actually a lot harder to “get in the kitchen.” Just last year the Department for Labor Statistics showed that only 19.7 percent of restaurant kitchens are run by women. Things are changing, but it’s a cultural shift – kitchens have been notoriously unfriendly places for women between sexual harassment, long work hours, and lack of parental leave.

Here are two memoirs of women who have pushed against the norm and are changing the way we think about food.

Give a Girl a Knife by Amy Thielen

I’ve been finding myself craving the places my mom and I occupied – that female energy. The house I was raised in with that tiny kitchen where she taught me how to cook and bake. The kitchen at my aunt’s house, where all the holidays take place, filling up with all the women in my family and all the food. This book just felt like home to me, but also parts of my dreams too. Amy Thielen takes that leap to learn more about what she loves by attending cooking school in New York City then falls back into a familiar escape, her home in rural Minnesota, to make those meals for the people she creates her home with. Too often we put women in a box – if they want it all we shame them or if they want a simpler life we shame them, too. I feel like Amy really turns that on its head with a little bit of both. We can have roots and wings – Amy’s memoir is just that.

Want more Amy? Check out her cookbook The New Midwestern Table:200 Heartland Recipes and her show on food network Heartland Table!

Killing It: An Education by Camas Davis

After being laid off and ending a 10 year relationship, Camas maxes out her credit card to learn butchery in France. Camas is honest about who she is even while still trying to figure herself out, which was refreshing. She challenges not only herself, but us as readers to create a healthy relationship with our food and understand where it comes from and the sacrifice the animal is making. We also get to learn about the people she meets along the way who are breaking against the norm. She is very respectful and present, and asks that of others as well. Truly an education on ethical eating, this book confronts Americans’ preconceived notions and unhealthy relationships with food.

Want more Camas? You can find her teaching at the Portland Meat Collective and working with her non-profit the Good Meat Project!

~posted by Kara P.

Library Reads: New books for February 2018

This month’s Library Reads includes a book by a Washington author (The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah), a novel set in a library (Summer Hours at the Robbers Library by Sue Halpern), and a memoir reviewed by one of our librarians (Educated by Tara Westover). Time to place some holds!

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
Leni and her troubled family embark on a new way of life in Alaska’s wilderness in 1974 – hoping this is finally the solution for her troubled, POW father. In Alaska, Leni and her family are tested and when change comes to their small community her father’s anger threatens to explode and divide the town. This is a beautifully written novel, descriptive and engaging with well-developed characters and a strong sense of place. ~ Alissa Williams, Morton Public Library, Morton, IL


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The Vietnam War: Essential Accounts

There is no single story of the Vietnam War. In our second of four lists commemorating the premiere of Ken Burns’ and Lynn Novick’s ten part documentary series on the Vietnam War, we feature twenty-five memoirs and personal accounts of the War and its aftermath, representing a wide array of experiences and voices. Here are some highlights.

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Inside the Story: Immersive and Personal Journalism

Memoir tends to be subjective, while journalistic writing aims at objective treatment of a topic. Then there are those books that combine these strengths, exploring a topic of interest from within, either through the eyes of someone whose experience gives them a revealing perspective, or a journalist who immerses themselves in the world they’re writing about. In both cases, the results can be both highly informative and deeply moving.

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Sexual Assault Awareness Month

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. While a difficult and uncomfortable topic for many to discuss, rape is a deep-seated and prevalent issue that has the ability to harm society just as much as any individual victim. Sexual assault affects everyone; no gender, class, ethnicity, or education can ensure absolute safety. Trauma narratives are as varied and unique as the people that tell them, and in this way, have the opportunity not only to allow survivors a chance to externalize and make sense of their own experiences, but also allow for those experiences to find themselves in a larger framework, eventually leading to a broader understanding about the very real and long term psychological effects of sexual assault.

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