By Holly Scudero
December is traditionally a time for looking back, hopefully with fondness, on what the previous year has brought. We think of what we’ve accomplished, the state of the world, the good and the bad, and analyze. And December is also a time for looking forward, with hope for a promising future. We think of what we’d like next year to bring, the dreams we’d like to see realized, the beautiful twists and turns life may take. A good book can help us with both of these goals, letting us both think on history and dream for the future. Read on for some of December’s best biographical offerings.
Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years
By Julie Andrews
$30.00, 352 pages, Hard
Beloved performer Julie Andrews has continued the story of her life in Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years. In it, Andrews discusses her life as an actress, going into detail about how she quickly became famous from some of her earliest and most enduring films and the challenges that brought to her life. Andrews also talks about motherhood, the end of her first marriage, adoption, and her love for Blake Edwards. Fans of Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music will love getting this in-depth look at the wonderful Julie Andrews and her fascinating life.
Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets & Advice for Living Your Best Life
By Ali Wong
$27.00, 240 pages, Hard
Comedian Ali Wong captured the national spotlight with her recent Netflix comedy special, and her momentum continues with Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets & Advice for Living Your Best Life. Ostensibly a series of letters addressed to her own daughters, these pieces will resonate on some level with nearly anybody who picks up Wong’s book, as she talks very candidly on a wide variety of topics: parenting, marriage, her own ethnic background, and the pains of being a working mom. This hilarious and insightful collection is a must-read.
The Education of an Idealist: A Memoir
By Samantha Power
Dey Street Books
$29.99, 592 pages, Hard
Anyone who has followed politics over the past decade or so will likely recognize the name Samantha Power. While she may be most widely known for her work as US Ambassador to the United Nations, she has a long history of activism, and The Education of an Idealist takes readers along on the journey of her life. We hear about her childhood Dublin, her time spent in Bosnia, and her eventual rise to a position in the White House. It’s a fascinating story, and really brings home the idea that one person really can do a lot if they’ve got the drive to do it.
Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For
By Susan Rice
Simon & Schuster
$30.00, 544 pages, Hard
Scholar and diplomat Susan Rice is perhaps most closely associated with Benghazi in the minds of most Americans, but she has been a political force for the past three decades, and has been involved with a number of incredibly complex issues that the United States has had to deal with. In Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For, Rice gives readers fresh insight into these issues, telling her role in the political front line with vivid clarity. Readers will emerge from the pages with a fresh drive to keep American from falling victim to domestic partisan squabbles.
The Mutual Admiration Society: How Dorothy L. Sayers and her Oxford Circle Remade the World for Women
By Mo Moulton
$30.00, 384 pages, Hard
Novelist Dorothy L. Sayers is famous for her detective series starring Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane, but this early-twentieth-century author made waves in British society long before that by daring to enroll at Oxford University. As one of the few women to have been admitted, Sayers naturally gravitated toward her fellow female classmates, and together they formed a club of sorts known as the Mutual Admiration Society. This book explores the lives of Sayers and her friends, and the many ways in which they fought to change women’s place in the modern world.
AOC: Fighter, Phenom, Changemaker
By Prachi Gupta
Workman Publishing Company
$14.95, 144 pages, Trade Paperback
Before her name was a nationally-recognized abbreviation, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was a bartender, as the stories go. But what drove this fierce, outspoken women to run a wildly successful Congressional campaign powerful enough to defeat a ten-term incumbent and become the youngest woman ever elected to Congress? In this book, author Prachi Gupta explores AOC’s roots, from her childhood in Westchester County, New York, through her education at Boston University and onward.
Sontag: Her Life and Work
By Benjamin Moser
$39.99, 832 pages, Hard
In twentieth century America, Susan Sontag was a force to be reckoned with. From her first major essay in 1964 until shortly before her death in 2004, Sontag wrote and wrote and wrote about a wide variety of topics, primarily in the form of essays and novels. Sontag especially focused on controversial topics like war, popular culture, human rights, illness, and sexuality, and she also wrote extensively about photography. Sontag: Her Life and Work offers readers the most in-depth vision of Sontag ever published, examining her body of work in detail while also providing context about Sontag’s life via interviews and photographs.
If cold, gloomy winter weather has you down, the time is right to pick up a great book on an interesting, influential woman. These selections offer great opportunity to learn about people from our past and present, and to be inspired for the future. Have you read any of these biographies? Let us know what you think in the comments below!