Book Review: A Well-Read Woman by Kate Stewart

A Well-Read Woman is a biography of Ruth Rappaport’s life by Kate Stewart. Kate Stewart is a librarian who became compelled to write Ruth’s story after attending her estate sale. Though Kate only bought a few of Ruth’s belongings, she walked away with much more than that. After learning about Ruth’s incredible story, Kate became invested in telling it.

In A Well-Read Woman, Kate chronicles the life of Ruth Rappaport as well as her journey telling it. With the use of Ruth’s journal entries and Stewart’s research, readers get an inside look into Ruth Rappaport’s compelling life. Ruth Rappaport was just 10 years old when the Nazi Party reigned power over Germany. Determined to leave Germany, Ruth jumped off a train in Switzerland at fifteen.

Though Ruth escaped Nazi Germany, there were many difficulties and uncertainties about her future as a young Jewish refugee. As Ruth worried about the safety and freedom of her family in Germany, she desperately tried to find her own. While she wasn’t under the control of the Nazi Party, freedom still didn’t come easy for her. Despite working many jobs and living in several different places, Ruth struggled to find her place in any of them. However, through everything, Ruth always had her books. “Books were the one constant in a life full of trauma and turmoil, and she always turned to them for reassurance, renewal, and solace when she had no one and nothing else.”

Ruth’s love of books eventually turned into a career as a librarian. “Since childhood, I have been an avid reader, and perhaps because of my experiences living in Nazi Germany, where books were burned and banned, I have had a profound feeling and respect for books and their value all my life.”

While the book is about Ruth Rappaport, I like how the author inserts some of her life into it. It shows how two people from two different worlds can have one tie that bonds them together. The parallel is interesting, and unlike some readers, I don’t find it confusing or unnecessary. I think it also shows Stewart’s dedication in telling Ruth’s story. My only complaint is that I think the book could have been a bit condensed.

Ruth Rappaport’s life is fascinating, and Kate Stewart’s book is the next best thing to being able to have a conversation with Ruth herself.  It’s a privilege to read Ruth’s diary entries. Her journal entries aren’t just historical, they are snarky, thoughtful and full of wisdom. A Well-Read Woman not only pays tribute to Ruth Rappaport, but to librarians, readers, and writers everywhere. It acknowledges the significance of words and the freedom to be able to read, write, and speak them.

A Well-Read Woman is available for purchase on Amazon and is currently free to read with Kindle Unlimited.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for a review. However, all opinions are my own.*

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