Celebrating Women’s History Month with HPB’s Leading Ladies

Since March is Women’s History Month, we thought it would be a great time to check in with some of our fearless women leaders here at Half Price Books. They spoke with us about the women who’ve inspired them in literature, music and their personal lives.


Sharon Anderson Wright, President and CEO
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Favorite Woman Author – Barbara Kingsolver

Dream Book Club Guest – My mother, Pat Anderson (and co-founder of Half Price Books)

Favorite Woman Musician – I can’t pick just one, so I’ll say Aretha FranklinBonnie Raitt and Carole King.

Which woman has inspired you the most in your personal life? Kathy Doyle Thomas, HPB’s Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer.

Ellen O’Neal, Chairperson of the Board
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Favorite Woman Author – My favorite author is Alice Munro. Her characters are historical, but she never implies that. There is a short story about ice skating on a barren pond that makes me feel the cold and loneliness she is conveying in her writing. But I also like other Alices – AdamsHoffman and Walker.

Favorite Woman Musician – Joni Mitchell, of course. An episode of Parenthoodreferred to the 9th song on the Blue album. I just started singing Case of You. I also love Adele because of her wisecracking and normal looks/ clothing.

Which woman has inspired you the most in your personal life? My mom, Pat Anderson, is my favorite woman. We laughed together so much when I was an adult. I remember things she said like “Men are like buses, when you miss one, another comes along.” I know she didn’t write it, but when she said it when you were feeling heartbroken, it just made you laugh and fall in love again.

Kathy Doyle Thomas, Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer
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Favorite Woman Author – I’d have to say J.K. Rowling because she influenced so many new readers, both young and old.

Dream Book Club Guest – Coco Chanel. She is a fashion icon, and, at the time, her new refreshing style liberated women from wearing corsets.  She lived a fun, wild life full of romance and intrigue. Plus, she was a great businesswoman who achieved success in the 1920s when women usually stayed home and cared for their families.

Favorite Quote – I have a few.
“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” –Ayn Rand
“Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.” –Eleanor Roosevelt

Favorite Woman Musician – I’d say Tina Turner and Loretta Lynn. They remind me of high school and make me smile.

Which woman has inspired you the most in your personal life? My mom – not because she was a career woman, but because she always pushed me to push myself.

Crystal Reyes, Director of Sales & Wholesale Operations at Texas Bookman
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Favorite Woman Author– I’m going to say J.K. Rowling.  Sure, she created an entire universe with Harry Potter that has transcended beyond books, but the real reason is because she never gave up her dream of writing that first book even after being told no multiple times.  It just proves that you don’t give up if it’s something you really want to do.

Dream Book Club Guest – I have no idea!  As long as they are entertaining and fun to be around, they can always come to my book club.

Favorite quote – “A well-read woman is a dangerous creature.” – Lisa Kleypas

Favorite Woman Musician – I absolutely cannot pick one, so I’ll say Chrissie HyndePatti Smith and Kim Deal.  If you have to even ask why these are on my list you should just go and buy some records right this moment.

Which woman has inspired you the most in your personal life? She’s not a woman yet, but my daughter.  In just a few short years of being with us, she’s taught me how to love unconditionally, how to be kind both to all animals and people you cross paths with in life, how to find the humor in nearly every situation and how incredibly exciting seeing a fire truck can actually be.  She’s taught me to find joy in the little things we tend to overlook in our busy lives.  I’m eternally grateful for her personality and spirit.

Monica Schultz, Texas Regional Manager
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Favorite Woman Author – It’s a three way tie between Gertrude Stein, Margaret Atwood and Jeanette Winterson. I guess Gertrude. I love her writing style.

Dream Book Club Guest – Jane Goodall. Her life work inspires me and she seems to possess such wisdom. She is my hero.

Favorite Quote – “The day may be approaching when the whole world will recognize woman as the equal of man.” Susan B. Anthony

Favorite Woman Musician – It’s a tie between Joan Armatrading and Aimee Mann.

Which woman has inspired you the most in your personal life? My Aunts Susan and Molly continue to inspire me to this day, even as they are in their 80s. They inspire me to live adventurously, with lots of humor and not to take yourself too seriously. One day I hope to realize it.

Nancy Woeste, Northeast Regional Manager
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Favorite Woman Author – Temple Grandin – Animals in Translation

Dream Book Club Guest – I am truly torn about this, as there are so many amazing women throughout history.  In the end, I would invite Nellie Bly. She led a phenomenal life defying the constraints put on women during her time, and even in today’s society she would be a stand out individual. I would love to hear the tales she could tell.

Favorite Quote – “If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.” – Katherine Hepburn

Favorite Woman Musician – If I have to choose just one, then it would be Adele.

Which woman has inspired you the most in your personal life? My mother. The strength and courage she possessed to raise 9 successful children by herself after the death of my father has always amazed me.

Becky Gomez, Marketing Director

Favorite Woman author – Willa Cather – I read My Ántonia in high school and fell in love with her appreciation of the story of the American West and immigrant pioneers.

Dream Book Club Guest – After watching “Pretend It’s a City,” how could I not invite Fran Lebowitz?

Favorite Quote – “What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. Don’t complain.” – Maya Angelou

Favorite Woman Musician – I was a liberal arts major in the early 90s who taught myself how to play acoustic guitar, therefore, I feel obliged to say Indigo Girls. What GenX college student hasn’t sung “Closer to Fine” at the top of their lungs at a late-night campfire?

Which woman has inspired you the most in your personal life? Aside from my relatives, the writer or artist that has inspired me the most is Maya Angelou. I carried Wouldn’t Take Nothing For My Journey Now with me like it was a religious text in my late teens and early twenties. Somehow Maya Angelou’s collection of personal essays reached deep into me with words of strength, survival and self-actualization. I had never heard her actual voice, then did for the first time in the broadcast of the 1993 Presidential Inauguration; she simply shook my spirit even more. Her wisdom was born through tremendous life experiences, and her words preach to the power of the independent, modern woman.


What about you? Let us know some of your favorite leading ladies in books and music in the comments!