At the Library: 'The Only Woman in the Room' is the 2019 Yakima Valley Reads selection

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“The Only Woman in the Room” by Marie Benedict is this year’s Yakima Valley Reads selection.

It’s that time of year again, when Yakima Valley Libraries encourages adults throughout the Yakima Valley to read the same book during our annual communitywide reading event: Yakima Valley Reads.

Aside from the fun of getting hundreds of our patrons, friends, neighbors and strangers to read the same book at the same time, the goal of the Yakima Valley Reads program is to encourage folks not only to read the same book, but to also discuss and engage with that book.

In short, Yakima Valley Reads is all about building community connection, inspiring each other to read outside of our norms, and providing pathways for adults to re-ignite their interest in reading for recreational and social enjoyment.

This year, our featured title is Marie Benedict’s bestselling historical novel, “The Only Woman in the Room,” a fictionalized account of the life of Hedy Lamarr, the 1940s actress, glamour icon and scientist whose groundbreaking invention — a radio system that is now considered the basis of Bluetooth technology — revolutionized modern communication and helped change the world.

Yakima Valley Reads events and activities will begin in earnest on Oct. 1 — which is also when you can pick up a free copy of the book at your nearest community library, thanks to the generous sponsorship of the Yakima Valley Libraries Foundation.

Alternatively, if you prefer to read digitally, no worries: From Oct. 1-31, the e-book will be available through the library’s OverDrive platform as a simultaneous download, meaning you can avoid the holds waitlist for the e-book!

Yes, I know that Oct. 1 is still a few weeks away, but I wanted to give you a heads-up, for a few reasons: first, so you can bump “The Only Woman in the Room” up to the top of your to-read list; secondly, so you can mark your calendar for the keynote event — featuring Marie Benedict!

You’re invited to join us at The Seasons Performance Hall at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 7 to hear Benedict talk about her work, fascinating research and real history that inspires her stories, followed by a book signing with the author. As always, admission is free.

For more information about the Yakima Valley Reads program, including film screenings, guest speakers, and book discussions, visit

In the meantime, if you’re interested in more books by Marie Benedict or other titles related to the life and work of Hedy Lamarr while you wait to get your hands on a copy of “The Only Woman in the Room,” you can try:

■ “The Other Einstein” by Marie Benedict. The story of Albert Einstein’s first wife, who was also a physicist, and the role she might have played in the development of his world-famous theories.

■ “Carnegie’s Maid” by Marie Benedict. A fascinating, fictionalized novel about a maid with a deep secret who finds herself torn between protecting her family and the growing influence she has on Andrew Carnegie, one of the wealthiest and most powerful men of the late 19th century.

■ “Beautiful: The Life of Hedy Lamarr” by Stephen Shearer. Summary adapted from the publisher: A well-researched account of Hedy Lamarr’s life, marriages, children, radio roles and scandalous headlines; a fascinating biography that recreates Hollywood’s Golden Age of Glamour.

■ “Hedy’s Folly: The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, the Most Beautiful Woman in the World” by Richard Rhodes. From the publisher: Describes the lesser-known technological talents of actress Hedy Lamarr and the collaborative work with avant-garde composer George Antheil that eventually led to the development of spread-spectrum radio, cellphones and GPS systems.

• Krystal Corbray is programming and marketing librarian for Yakima Valley Libraries. Learn more at

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