Herstory: A Book Club that Empowers Women

Club sponsors and two members discuss the book club that gives a voice to female writers and protagonists


Herstory is a book club centering books written by women with female protagonists. The novels center diverse women from various points in history. It was founded in 2021 by Claire Gallagher (now retired) and Valeria Austin.

The club meets once every two months to discuss their current book and sip tea and hot chocolate. “We always have pastries and delicacies…It’s a modern day salon,” said Austin, Tuscarora’s AP Government, AP Human Geography, and African American History teacher.

This year, the five books are focused on experiences of women and girls with a global impact.

To choose books, Austin explains, “Ms. Schain does the research for us and then we ask the committee members what their thoughts are.”

Katy Schain, one of Tuscarora’s reading specialists and the co-sponsor of Herstory looks for books that “… promote the voices of women throughout history… and get students interested and excited about reading.”

And students are getting excited! “It’s really fun and a chill environment.” explained Carlin Lacques, a second year member of Herstory. “When we talk about the book, we end up talking about how those issues relate to real life. It creates really insightful discussions and we learn a lot from each other.”

Another member, Sydney Nicklas agrees, “It’s a fun club and you get to talk about books… or just listen to what others have to say.”

The club is currently reading Firekeeper’s Daughter, by Angeline Boulley, which follows Daunis Fontainean, an unenrolled tribal member who witnesses a murder and goes undercover to help protect her tribe.

“We don’t really talk about or look at literature from a native person’s perspective,” said Ms. Schain, “So it was really kind of interesting… the implications of a part of our world that we don’t really focus on.”

Although Herstory is a book club centering stories about and by women, anyone is welcome to join. “I taught history for a long time and you tend to see history as this view from dead white men,” said Schain, “So having that opportunity to look at things from a different viewpoint, especially from women, I think boys, guys, jocks, all of us need…”

As Austin said, “Anyone who wishes to be exposed to women’s issues globally through the reading of novels and discussions is welcome to join us, whether you be man, woman, child or beast.”