by Mary Reynolds
The Tour de France Femme starts Sunday, July 23; read the book by Kathryn Bertine, who fought to bring the race back for women. Inspiring athletes and adventurers, past and present, make up my summer reading list. And one musician biography, for those who remember the ’80s.
Athlete and activist Kathryn Bertine wrote Stand: A Memoir on Activism, and she lives in Tucson! Although this book is a couple of years old, Bertine’s message is critical for anyone trying to change patriarchal systems, also known as “we’ve always done it this way.” Bertine gathered a small team of professional female athletes to challenge the Tour de France organizers, gathered hundreds of thousands of signatures on a global petition, and worked behind the scenes to get to the 8-day stage race we will cheer for next week. There’s still work to be done to make it 21 days to equal the men’s race.
Kathrine Switzer is Marathon Woman, and she shares her story of becoming the first woman to run the Boston Marathon and the fight to include women in the race. A classic book combining feminist activism with the hard work of marathon training.I love hiking and biking in northern Arizona and Ladies of the Canyon, by Lesley Poling-Kempes, shows what it was like to hike and ride horses through this region in the mid-19th century. The author took a deep dive into the archives and uncovered stories of women who traveled into canyons and across Monument Valley. Women with long skirts and cinched waists ride cowboy style through the desert heat, creating lives for themselves in the wild west.
The Forgotten Botanist: Sara Plummer Lemmon’s Life of Science and Art, by Wynne Browne, tells another adventure story from the 1800s. Sara taught herself botany and explored the southwest with her husband. She scaled cliffs and crossed deserts to collect and name new plant species in Arizona, California, Oregon, and Mexico. She was also an activist in women’s suffrage and forest conservation. The famous cycling climb in Tucson is up to the top of Mount Lemmon, named after Sara who was the first white woman to reach the peak (hiking, not cycling).
In Why Sinéad O’Connor Matters, Allyson McCabe, looks at the life, music, and complex public image of the artist. After a childhood of family abuse, a teacher/nun introduced O’Connor to the guitar. She took control of her own music before she was 20 years old, and famously criticized the Catholic church for hiding child abuse (denied at the time, and later proved to be true). Her song writing and voice won awards, but popular opinion often turned against her. McCabe argues O’Connor was held to a different standard than the male musicians of her time. Read while listening to “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”
Mary Reynolds writes and bikes in Tucson, AZ, and is writing a book “The Quake That Drained the Desert.”