I finished two books in the past week that I thoroughly enjoyed. Both are about women now in their early 70s who have been in the news over the years.
"Elizabeth and Hazel: Two Women of Little Rock," by David Margolick
Will Counts' iconic Sept. 4, 1957, photo of black teenager Elizabeth Eckford walking to Little Rock Central High School while being taunted by a white student, Hazel Bryan, is one of the iconic images from the Civil Rights era. Eckford was one of the Little Rock Nine that led that way for school desegregation in the South following the Supreme Court's landmark Brown vs. Board of Education decision.
In rich detail, Margolick tells the rest of the story about the two women in the photo, weaving it right up through 2011. Both women, who still reside in the Little Rock area, and their lives crossed paths in a momentous way just over 40 years after Counts' famous photo appeared on the front page of the Arkansas Democrat and newspapers around the world.
I couldn't put this book down after I checked it out of the Albany Public Library two weeks ago. It tells so much about how far we've come on the issue of race in our country and how we still wrestle with it today.
"A Natural Woman," a memoir by Carole King
Carole King's "A Christmas Carole" came out in 2011 and it quickly rose to the top of my favorite holiday albums. When I saw her memoir at a bookstore last year, I immediately bought it. This great singer-songwriter -- "Tapestry" was one of the best albums recorded in the 1970s -- and actress is also a fine writer.
"A Natural Woman," she says in her author's note," includes stories to the best of my recollection about my life and my music, with occasional observations about how I perceived the cultural context for both. Just as I can only fit so many songs into one concert, I could only fit so many stories into this book."
They're wonderful stories, from growing up in a modest Brooklyn home to collaborating with many of the world's greatest pop and rock musicians.
The one story I wish she had included was the one about her hugely successful "Troubadour Reunion Tour" with her good friend James Taylor in 2010.
She hints that she might write a book about the tour. I'd buy that one, too.