cover image The Women I Think About at Night: Traveling the Paths of My Heroes

The Women I Think About at Night: Traveling the Paths of My Heroes

Mia Kankimäki, trans. from the Finnish by Douglas Robinson. Simon & Schuster, $27 (416p) ISBN 978-1-9821-2919-4

Finnish author Kankimäki profiles in this astute, entertaining work 10 daring female writers and artists who took risks in their quest toward fulfillment. At 42, Kankimäki sold her apartment and quit her job to travel and write (“I have no husband, no children... I’m free, but an outsider”), a decision she credits as being inspired by the women she writes about here. The women—all “guardian angels” who overcame sexism, oppression, or money woes to live out their dreams of traveling and creating art—include Italian Renaissance artist Artemisia Gentileschi, who was raped at 17 then became a renowned painter of “female-dominated” works; Isabella Bird, a depressed 19th-century British spinster who, at 40, revitalized her life when she took a trip around the world and wrote about her destinations; and Danish-born Karen Blixen, who started a coffee farm in British East Africa, lost her money, and moved in with her mother at 46 before writing the bestseller Out of Africa. Along the way, Kankimäki, a spirited narrator, highlights her own travels—to Tanzania, Italy, Japan—and shares advice (“Don’t give a damn what other people think”). This insightful book will appeal to adventure enthusiasts and be an inspiration for those with an eye on hitting their stride later in life. (Nov.)