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A Well-Read Woman: The Life, Loves, and…

A Well-Read Woman: The Life, Loves, and Legacy of Ruth Rappaport

by Kate Stewart

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764246,775 (2.86)2
"Growing up under Fascist censorship in Nazi Germany, Ruth Rappaport absorbed a forbidden community of ideas in banned books. After fleeing her home in Leipzig at fifteen and losing both parents to the Holocaust, Ruth drifted between vocations, relationships, and countries, searching for belonging and purpose. When she found her calling in librarianship, Ruth became not only a witness to history but an agent for change as well"--|cProvided by publisher.… (more)



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Got this as a freebie from Amazon First Reads, thought it sounded interesting. In fairness the book was interesting but after reading I thought why? The author never met Ruth Rappaport and relies on a lot of research of a relatively not famous person so the stories, antidotes and facts are thin. The author does well to try to put together a story but there are lots of unknowns and leaps of faith to make this story of Ruth. Personally I found the most interesting is Ruth's work in building a whole library infrastructure in Viet Nam during the 60s. Who even knew we had libraries in Viet Nam? Again I feel why did I read this? Still don't know. ( )
  rayski | Oct 15, 2019 |
I believe this was an Amazon first reads pick but I'm not entirely sure of that. I do remember thinking it would be interesting to read about a librarian--but the book really didn't touch on being a librarian as much as I thought it would--and I think by the time it did, there was so much information that I just found it tedious.

I do remember that Rappaport seemed to come to library science later in her life. She seems to have had an interesting library career. It seemed she never quite got the feel for following the rules though she also had a social side that could charm people. ( )
  JenniferRobb | Jul 13, 2019 |
A mid-ranking staffer at the Library of Congress would not ordinarily be the subject of a biography, but Ruth Rappaport led an eventful life: as a teenager, Ruth fled Nazi Germany and eventually found asylum in the United States. She then worked as a newspaper editor in Seattle before an ill-fated stint as a photographer in a newly independent Israel, qualified as a librarian and spent several years organising the U.S. military's libraries in Vietnam, before returning to the States and working as a librarian and cataloguer at the Library of Congress. While never famous, Rappaport was therefore an eye-witness to some fascinating historical events.

Kate Stewart has all the ingredients here for a fascinating biography, but A Well-Read Woman never quite takes off as a book. I think it's because Stewart falls prey to that flaw which so often afflicts researchers who've spent a long time immersed with the object of their study: why it's important seems so very obvious to them that they forget to explain that importance to the reader. The result is a rather limp book lacking in a sense of tension or stakes. A pity, because one gets the distinct impression that Ruth Rappaport was not the kind of woman who ever wanted her worth to be overlooked. ( )
  siriaeve | Jun 23, 2019 |
Although I found the life of Ruth Rappaport very interesting, the author kept inserting herself in the narrative. It distracted from the compelling story. ( )
  Amusedbythis | Apr 20, 2019 |
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For the librarians, including Jack, my grandfather Silvia, my aunt Alice, my mother and Peter, my friend
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I was working at the American Folklife Center reference desk at the Library of Congress, or LC as we librarians often call it, when my coworker Peter Bartis stopped by to invite me to an estate sale.
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