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

3.33  ·  Rating details ·  744 ratings  ·  132 reviews
The inspiring true story of an indomitable librarian’s journey from Nazi Germany to Seattle to Vietnam—all for the love of books.

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,
Kindle Edition, 397 pages
Published May 1st 2019 by Little A
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A Well-Read Woman: The Life, Loves and Legacy of Ruth Rappaport

This was a book by a person who poured every possible detail about the subject between the covers. I actually got rather weary, and mixed up at times, having to back track to make sure I was on the same train as the author was. From time to time I thought I was re-reading the same chapter, but no, it really was a completely different chapter, just using a lot of the same information.

Ruth, herself, was interesting to read about – not
Jun 23, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction, biography
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 ...more
Apr 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Ruth Rappaport was not famous, but in Forest-Gumpish fashion she was around historical events. A Jew born in Germany, she was able to get to the US as a teenager, while her parents died in concentration camps. She lived in what became Israel during its formation. She didn't become a Librarian until her mid-thirties, but was a major force in expanding the military library system in Viet Nam during the war. Having spent eight years in 'Nam, she was there longer than most soldiers. Afterwards, she ...more
Chris Wolak
I completely judged this book by its title and cover. In a good way. Who could resist the title A Well-Read Woman and the picture of this sassy, knowing woman on the cover? Not me.

Ruth Rappaport lived through and participated in many of the major events and movements of the twentieth century. She served as a librarian in a war zone and at the Library of Congress. I proposed this biography to my IRL book club, which is composed primarily of librarians, and can’t wait for our discussion later this
Apr 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book was a freebie through the Amazon First Reads program; I picked it from among the month's selections because although I had not previously heard of Ruth Rappaport, she sounded from the description like the type of woman I've come to admire, and I wasn't far off. Rappaport had a truly unusual life, escaping Nazi Germany as a young girl and spending time in places as varied as Israel; Vietnam; Seattle; and Washington, D.C. Through her entire life ran a common theme: books.

At first, I was
Jennifer Burla
May 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
Hard to wade through all the library history

I loved the parts of this book that were actually about Ruth Rappaport. She was such an authentic person, who was honest about her weaknesses and mistakes, all the things that make us human. She wasn’t portrayed as a super-woman, so it was easy to relate to her amazing story. I had a really hard time getting through the material that seemed to have more to do with the history of libraries than the story of Ruth. Sometimes I just couldn’t make the
K Lowery
Apr 18, 2019 rated it did not like it
No narrative. Nothing but facts jam packed into every paragraph.
Kathy Selvaggio
May 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
oo many facts lined up, no heart.
Aug 01, 2019 rated it liked it
I enjoyed reading this book because it was about a librarian and a women. I'd never heard of Ruth before and her career was fascinating to me. A lot of parts I skimmed over because I just wanted to read about her. Honestly, this is a book I'd like to own- as opposed to borrowing it from the library. I would like to think of myself as a Well-Read Woman also.
Aug 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Ruth Rappaport was definitely worth researching and writing about. Escaping Nazi Germany before the holocaust (that claimed the lives of her parents), was amazing enough. The rest of her life how she made the very best of every situation, no matter how difficult, from setting up libraries for soldiers in Vietnam to developing a system of organization for the Library of Congress. The author layers in her personal experiences researching Ruth, sometimes this takes away from the story. The author ...more
May 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Perhaps a 3.5 star rating would be about where I land after reading. Stewart's book gave me much to chew on, and I am fascinated by Ruth Rappaport, a sociologist and librarian whose life intersected directly with Nazi Germany, the creation of the new state of Israel, the Red Scare, and the Vietnam War. Her Jewish, feminist, and Communist ties certainly added spice to an already intriguing narrative. I came away thinking it would have been fascinating to have a conversation with Miss Rappaport, ...more
Donna Hines
May 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc, netgalley
There is much to be said about a Well Read Woman and Ruth certainly fulfilled that mode of thinking.
Librarians are the backbone to the heart of any community. They provide services you simply couldn't duplicate anywhere else. They are the lifeline to many who without their services wouldn't be able to fulfill their dreams of a better life, a more educated, well rounded world.
This is the story of Ruth Rappaport during some extremely difficult times in trying to keep the love of reading and books
Bill Meade
Apr 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Well built history, a pleasure to read

Ruth Rappoport was an historical thread starting in Leipzig, running through a tapestry of horrors, distance, idealism, cynicism, culture, family, and opportunity. I've lately been reading WWII books around the edge of conventional war accounts. Histories of Sobibor, of German soldiers on the beaches at D-Day, of Allied tanks (each Sherman tank on average, consumed 5 crews). Ruth's voice added knowledge to my evolving understanding of World War II, Zionism,
Apr 22, 2019 rated it it was ok
Interesting but did bog down when discussing the intricacies of library work.
May 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
A fascinating biography of a woman with a colorful history and one with ambition.

Ruth Rappaport was a child in Nazi Germany. With Romanian origin parents and a passport which helped since it was not a German one, she was a Jew and faced great danger in Nazi Germany. She was fearless and even as a young child was daring and bold. Faced with an uncertain future, she like thousands of others was shipped to Seattle to join a family and to try to live a life without the luxury of parents or family
Jayasree B
Aug 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: my-kindle-lib, 2019
A biography includes both the personal successes and shortcomings of the person. This book shows us both sides of Ruth Rappaport.
Through her life filled with tragedy and mired with change, the one constant is her love for books. This book will be a bibliophile's joy, to read about someone else's love for books is always joyous. And there is the additional bonus of enjoying a good book as well.

For more book reviews, visit Frost At Midnite.
Jan Lynch
Jun 21, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography-memoir
A Jewish teen who engineered her own escape from Nazis as they rose to power, who navigated bureaucratic intricacies to emigrate to the United States and later become a citizen; a young woman who advocated for and sacrificed for causes she believed in--particularly Zionism; a woman unafraid to dodge bombs and bullets to establish an uncensored library system for soldiers in Vietnam; a woman who continued to live out her love of books through a long career with the Library of Congress; an older ...more
Jan 14, 2020 rated it liked it
I have a feeling that I would've been fast friends with Ruth Rappaport.
Janette Fuller
Apr 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Ruth Rappaport was not famous but she lived an extremely courageous and distinguished life. Ms. Stewart used diary entries, letters, and archives to describe Ruth's "life, loves, and legacy." She visited many of the locations where Ruth lived to give the reader a clear understanding of the world as Ruth saw it.

I was especially interested in the years that Ruth spent in Vietnam setting up libraries for the soldiers and sending out packets of books/magazines to the front lines. She traveled in
Apr 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Interesting Concept

The title of this book began with "A Well-Read Woman..." yet there was very little discussion/description regarding any of the books Ruth read. This was a chronicled telling of her life, which I found confusing at times because the author would add tidbits about her own life, and it would take me a bit to realize we'd left Ruth's story.

I also felt that the book would have benefited with more "showing" and less "telling." As a reader I was never allowed to be drawn in by any
Jul 01, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ruth Rappaport was a Jewish teenager living in Germany when WWII started, although she and her older siblings managed to escape to different countries before her parents were sent to the camps.

She loved books, and while it took her years to graduate from college, she eventually moved on from being a typist to being a librarian. Along the way, she lived in the United States, Israel (before it officially was Israel,) France (for at least a few months,) and Vietnam during the war.

I really wanted
Jun 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
What is there not to like about librarians? This is a biography of Ruth Rappaport, an ordinary woman who did extraordinary things.
Jill B
Apr 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Really interesting book! Ruth may not have become famous but she lead an interesting life despite some set backs. The Nazi's and the Swiss definitely had major impacts but she also got in her own way as well. She's a flawed person, as are we all, but she still made a difference to the people she knew and to how we all can find the books we need.

It's also a great look at libraries and the importance of librarians, written by a librarian.
T.B. Cooper
Jul 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I felt going into this read as though I had heard of Ruth Rappaport before… maybe I did? Maybe I didn’t? Either way, I am so glad I’d chosen this as one of my First Reads Picks, and here’s why…

(From her Amazon Author Profile) Kate Stewart is a third generation librarian whose work has included working at the Library of Congress (just like Ms. Rappaport did until she retired). After an invite to an estate sale (that of Ruth’s home after her death), Ms. Stewart finds a slightly obsessive need to
Maria Wroblewski
May 29, 2019 rated it liked it

The subject, Ruth Rappaport, was a very interesting and accomplished woman. She lived a very adventurous life on her own terms with little fear and regret. Then, how does the author make this book on her life a very tedious read? Kate Stewart, the author, does this by not delving into the situations that Ruth experienced and the family, lovers and friends that were very important to Ruth. Instead Kate gives the reader details that hinder the narrative, such items as who ran which of the many
Rachel (Life of a Female Bibliophile)
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This book is a long, detailed narrative about the life of Ruth Rapport who found her life’s calling in librarianship. The book gives a inside account her life compiled of information gathered from diary entries, newspaper articles, photographs, etc.The books begins at her childhood in Germany and living under Nazi occupation until she retired from working at the library in her latter years.

She was admirable in her efforts
Jun 30, 2019 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 22, 2020 rated it liked it
I wanted to love this book as it had so many story lines that I am a drawn to and the title is fantastic. Ruth Rappaport was born in Germany but wasn't considered German because her Jewish father was born in Romania. That small detail served her well as she got a Romanian passport which was her ticket out of Nazi Germany.

After a year in Switzerland she emigrated (alone as a young teen) to the US. As a life long lover of books, she held the career as a librarian as a goal. After a stint in the
Oct 19, 2019 rated it liked it
I gave this book a 3 star rating due to the disappointment in the content. It is a good biography of a former Library of Congress librarian who escaped Nazi Germany as a teenager. She came to America to live with an aunt and uncle. While her story was interesting I was expecting more of her life in reading.
I read a print book not the Kindle version.
The inspiring true story of an indomitable librarian’s journey from Nazi Germany to Seattle to Vietnam—all for the love of books.

Growing up under
Emi Bevacqua
May 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Librarian-centric biography of Ruth Rappaport, growing up Jewish with Ukrainian roots in Leipzig Germany, fleeing the Nazi reign of terror, and following her intrepid, international career path. Kate Stewart, author and librarian, writes well and researches tremendously; from the beginning I was struck by how contemporary-sounding teenaged Ruth's diary translations came across, for example "I think my dad was a little bit of a control freak." I think that was a gamble that really paid off in ...more
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I’m proud to be a third-generation librarian, carrying on a family tradition of sharing books and connecting people to information. I was born in Stillwater, Oklahoma, and raised in Kansas City. I graduated from Vassar College with a BA in history and women’s studies and from the University of Iowa with master’s degrees in history and library science. For ten years I worked in Washington, D.C., as ...more
“when you do marry, don’t marry a man to change him, marry a man whom you think you can like as well as love, and one who shares your opinions on such basic matters as politics, religion (or the lack of it) and the place of women in society.16” 1 likes
“Ruth, it is very difficult to live with anyone who has views diametrically opposite to yours on politics or any kind of issues which excite great emotional overtones and loyalties.” 0 likes
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