US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a modern icon, a judge who has had untold positive impact on the United States’ justice system. Towards the end of last year, a biopic On the Basis of Sex was released, starring Felicity Jones and Armie Hammer, and now Bader Ginsberg’s life story is becoming a graphic novel!
Whitney Gardner. | Image via Pop! Goes the Reader.
Becoming RBG follows Bader Ginsburg’s life from her childhood in Brooklyn to her days as a student, and later, a Columbia Law School professor, as a lawyer and on to her tenure on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The book then details Bader Ginsberg’s appointment to highest court in the land and work as a Supreme Court Justice.
The writing is rather simple (it is a children’s book after all), and the art is super endearing! Great for kids, or anyone interested in history who doesn’t have the time for a full-length feature film or reading a lengthy book.
“My daughter learned to walk in a homeless shelter.”
The first line of a book sets the tone, opens the door, lights the fuse. From “My suffering left me sad and gloomy” to “Call me Ishmael” opening lines are a treasured and powerful thing in the literary community. The opening line of Stephanie Land’s new memoir, Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive is no different regarding momentous beginnings; her book epitomizes the ever-adrenalizing idea of #thegrind.
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Half a decade ago, Stephanie Land was a struggling college student. On top of being broke and ambitious, she was a single mom, with another baby on the way. With very little support from her family, she cleaned houses for nine dollars an hour to provide for her children. In a gutsy, courageous turn of events, Stephanie Land decided to defy logic: she quit the maid life and went all in on her dream of becoming a writer. Her focus turned to her studies at the University of Montana, accumulating debt as a quasi-investment in herself. Two weeks ago, Maid became #3 on the New York Times’s Nonfiction Best Seller List, right behind Educated by Tara Westover and Becoming by Michelle Obama. In an article by CNN, Land describes the moment she found this out, on a plane:
“As soon as I landed, I got a huge amount of texts, “she said. What followed was the type of tearful flood of emotion that so often follows moments of triumph. Against all odds, Stephanie Land had pulled off her own rags to riches narrative.
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The book’s narrative begins in Land’s late twenties, at a point in life where she was living in a homeless shelter with her infant daughter. At this time, cleaning houses was the only job she could find in Seattle. The memoir depicts poverty in a realistic and grounded way. Land’s situation was not caused by a lack of work ethic or moral compass. She wasn’t some lazy lay-about, undeserving of a solid paycheck. On the contrary, she probably deserved it more than some of the people she cleaned for. Being a maid isn’t glamorous, it’s not the type of job anyone would like to imagine themselves doing. But it is a job. The kind of job people take when their lives have become more about survival and love than dignity.
Before her book, Land’s life as a maid influenced an essay she wrote for Vox about the excessive number of painkillers she found in mansions she cleaned and the ways in which the people she cleaned for treated her, granting her a viral amount of attention. After college Land became a writing fellow with the Washington, DC-based Center for Community Change (which has now arranged a panel on poverty on which Land will appear).
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Stephanie Land is currently touring her memoir, reading sections of her book, defying poverty stereotypes, and inspiring people. Her book outlines the difficulties for those relying on government assistance programs while balancing a family and college life. Maid is being noticed by everyone from Amazon to Neil Gaiman.
My publisher sent an ARC of my book to your agent. I hope it is received well. I know you said the available time to read or comment on it is not of the essence but I would at least hope it’s found a home on your shelf.
Land’s story adds even more legitimacy to the following statement: Moms rock. I’m talking The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show, Michael Jackson mooning walking at Motown 25, Mick Jagger still moving with the best of them at seventy-five years young kind of rock. Mothers are motivated by an indestructible and resolute love for her children; their needs, aspirations, and happiness. Every minute of every day is brick used to build the house that is her family. #metaphors They slave over suppers and sometimes starve so that their offspring can eat.
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I, myself, have been fortunate enough to witness a magnificent number of maternal miracles in my lifetime; My mother has also dabbled in the maid life to support her family, hence my particular interest in Land’s story. Mothers like these show us that the limits placed on human beings by secular articulation are a vernacular that doesn’t mean shit. They are driven by love, using it as the needle in their compasses. Women like this can find their way home through an indefinite desert of ambiguity and still have enough gumption to lay a blanket over a freezing child. That’s the only type of work ethic and ambition that matter. While Land was able to come full circle and achieve the seemingly impossible, most unsung heroes—maids, janitors, bus drivers, service industry workers, moms…are not so lucky. Land’s story resonates with the worker, dreamer, and survivor in all of us.
The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books is the largest literary gathering in the country, attracting over 150,000 people to a massive celebration of culture. Categories include First Fiction, Current Interest, Biography, Fiction, Poetry, Graphic Novel, Thriller, History, Science & Technology, and Young Adult Literature. This year, the nominations are as exciting as they are nerve-wracking—not all of them can win! Here’s the conundrum: they all deserve the prize. Don’t believe it? Let’s take a look at some of our most distinguished nominees.
Image Via The Chicago Tribune
Michelle Obama’s Becominghas already become a staggering success. Penguin Random House paid over $65 million for the rights to Michelle and Barack’s autobiographies, making it one of the most expensive book deals of all time. This figure is also unprecedented among other presidential figures: Bill Clinton earned an advance of $15 million for his own autobiography, which, as you might have noticed, is less than half of that sixty-five. Critics have called Barack Obama “that rare politician who can actually write,” and The New York Times reviewed Dreams From My Fatheras a literary masterpiece rather than another ghostwritten memoir. But Michelle isn’t doing so bad—Becoming sold a record-breaking two million copies in only fifteen days, and it went on to become the best-selling book of 2018. (And yes, Barack put his wife’s book on his famous reading list.)
Other titles in the category include Michael Lewis’ incisive The Fifth Risk, which critically examines the Trump administration. Given increased visibility regarding issues of immigration, human rights, and the possible border wall, Francisco Cantú’s The Line Becomes a Riveris also a timely inclusion.
Image Via The International Anthony Burgess Foundation
Though Becoming is a memoir, judges have classified it within the Current Interest category—which means, fortunately, that it isn’t competing against Tara Westover’s Educated, a memoir of triumph, persistence, fanaticism, and violence that earned the world’s attention in 2018. USA Today called it the best memoir in years, and with good reason: it’s been a finalist for just about everything. (Of course, it was also on Barack Obama’s reading list.) The memoir chronicles Tara Westover’s journey from beneath Buck’s Peak, the mountain that looms in her childhood as enormous as the influence of her father’s survivalist views. By the age of seventeen, Westover had never seen a doctor nor set foot in a classroom—in fact, until her teenage years, there was no record of her birth at all. Westover has since received a PhD from Cambridge. While there are other books in this category, this is certainly a contender.
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Other titles in the running for various L.A. Times prizes carry serious weight—Elizabeth Acevedo’s YA novel The Poet Xis up for a prize after having won the National Book Award. Acevedo’s diverse novel explores poetry as means for personal freedom in an immigrant community with traditional (read: sexist) values. Particularly interesting nominations in other categories include Science & Technology’s Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted Americaby Beth Macy, a notable book in the wake of the opioid epidemic.
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Tayari Jones’ An American Marriage: A Novel, a nomination for the Fiction category, was among Oprah’s 2018 book club picks and also featured on Barack Obama’s 2018 reading list. Of course, it has some fierce competition: Rebecca Makkai’s The Great Believers, an evocative depiction of the AIDS crisis, is also in the running. Renowned comedian Amy Poehler is currently optioning the novel for a TV adaptation—if that’s not good enough, it’s also one of the NYT‘s top ten books for 2018.
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There are too many excellent titles to list: with ten categories and five nominees in each, you could finish reading one by the time we described them all. Take a look at the 2019 finalists, and decide which one would be a winner on your bookshelf.
Mitch Albom, bestselling author of Tuesdays With Morrie, will release the nonfiction story Chika: A Little Girl, an Earthquake, & the Making of a Family through HarperCollins in November of this year.
Only a few days before the 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti, a little girl named Chika was born and transferred to an orphanage in Port Au Prince—the same orphanage run by Mitch Albom and his wife.
IMAGE VIA MITCHALBOM.COM
Chika remained at the orphanage until she was five, when she was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and Albom and his wife decided to bring her with them to the U.S. in search of a cure. Tragically, Chika passed away in 2017 at the age of seven. Albom’s book Chika will commemorate the way in which her short life will forever impact Albom and his wife.
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Albom remarked on Chika’s legacy in an interview with the Free Press:
We learned so much from Chika’s journey with us, the incomparable joy of children and the amazing lessons of parenting. The book is an upbeat celebration of an incredible kid and her lucky-to-have-her guardians, even if it was written through a few tears.
The book is sure to be a tear-jerker, but it’s also sure to be a moving story that will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page.
If your Valentine’s Day was more of a Valentine’s Disaster, there are plenty of healthy ways to cope with the emotional fallout. There are also plenty of unhealthy ways, but we’re sure you already have those figured out. Whether you’re sick of being single, heartbroken over a relationship (this includes relationships that never happened), or just ruminating on your own limitless potential for destruction, why not take a break with a book? A book, at the very least, will never mooch off your rent money or lie about working late. These 7 books will help you on your journey to healing… or they’ll offer a pleasant distraction.
Juliet Takes a Breath
The most infuriating pieces of wisdom are often the most accurate. For instance, as we get older, we’ve realized the advice to get some sleep is actually pretty valid (even if we still don’t listen). An even more annoying piece of truth is this one: before you love someone else, you have to love yourself. Does that mean you’re completely un-depressed and think your body is flawless? No. It just means understanding your own needs before adding someone else’s into the mix. Juliet Takes a Breathby Gabby Rivera is the perfect novel for high hopes and heartbreak, focusing on a character’s self-development and personal growth after the end of a relationship.
Juliet Milagros Palante is leaving the Bronx and headed to Portland, Oregon. She just came out to her family and isn’t sure if her mom will ever speak to her again. But Juliet has a plan, sort of, one that’s going to help her figure out this whole “Puerto Rican lesbian” thing. She’s interning with the author of her favorite book: Harlowe Brisbane, the ultimate authority on feminism, women’s bodies, and other gay-sounding stuff.
Will Juliet be able to figure out her life over the course of one magical summer? Is that even possible? Or is she running away from all the problems that seem too big to handle?
With more questions than answers, Juliet takes on Portland, Harlowe, and most importantly, herself.
Look! It’s that Guillermo del Toro movie about the sexy fish man, now in book form. Just kidding. While this book is also extremely weird, it’s weird in a different way. Strange, smart, and erotic, Melissa Broder‘s The Pisceswill offer a fun distractions—while also commenting on the nature of why we seek out such distractions (a.k.a. calling us out).
Lucy has been writing her dissertation about Sappho for thirteen years when she and Jamie break up. After she hits rock bottom in Phoenix, her Los Angeles-based sister insists Lucy housesit for the summer—her only tasks caring for a beloved diabetic dog and trying to learn to care for herself. Annika’s home is a gorgeous glass cube atop Venice Beach, but Lucy can find no peace from her misery and anxiety—not in her love addiction group therapy meetings, not in frequent Tinder meetups, not in Dominic the foxhound’s easy affection, not in ruminating on the ancient Greeks. Yet everything changes when Lucy becomes entranced by an eerily attractive swimmer one night while sitting alone on the beach rocks.
Whip-smart, neurotically funny, sexy, and above all, fearless, The Pisces is built on a premise both sirenic and incredibly real—what happens when you think love will save you but are afraid it might also kill you.
The Lovers’ Dictionary
Told entirely through dictionary entries, this boldly creative novel tells the story of an ill-fated relationship. (That’s not a spoiler, but isn’t it more reassuring when you know something’s going to end?) Concise, blunt, and honest, David Levithan‘s The Lover’s Dictionary Since Levithan never reveals the gender of the protagonist’s partner, it’ll be even easier for you to find catharsis in seeing fragments of what might have been your own love story. Bonus: there are some particularly spicy passages condemning infidelity if that’s, uh, relevant to your current predicament.
There has to be a moment at the beginning when you wonder whether you’re in love with the person or in love with the feeling of love itself.
If the moment doesn’t pass, that’s it―you’re done. And if the moment does pass, it never goes that far. It stands in the distance, ready for whenever you want it back. Sometimes it’s even there when you thought you were searching for something else, like an escape route, or your lover’s face.
How does one talk about love? Do we even have the right words to describe something that can be both utterly mundane and completely transcendent, pulling us out of our everyday lives and making us feel a part of something greater than ourselves? Taking a unique approach to this problem, the nameless narrator of David Levithan’s The Lover’s Dictionary has constructed the story of his relationship as a dictionary. Through these short entries, he provides an intimate window into the great events and quotidian trifles of being within a couple, giving us an indelible and deeply moving portrait of love in our time.
Tiny, Beautiful Things
It’s hard to imagine tiny, beautiful things when you can only think of enormous, terrible ones instead. Though not explicitly about romantic love, Cheryl Strayed‘s Tiny Beautiful Things is certainly about personal growth and using your own strength to overcome whatever struggles you’re going through (in this case, heartbreak). Topics range from coming out, to sexual fetishes, to topics that have nothing to do with falling in love and everything to do with loving yourself. The two are more connected than you may think.
Life can be hard: your lover cheats on you; you lose a family member; you can’t pay the bills—and it can be great: you’ve had the hottest sex of your life; you get that plum job; you muster the courage to write your novel. Sugar—the once-anonymous online columnist at The Rumpus, now revealed as Cheryl Strayed, author of the bestselling memoir Wild—is the person thousands turn to for advice.
Tiny Beautiful Things brings the best of Dear Sugar in one place and includes never-before-published columns and a new introduction by Steve Almond. Rich with humor, insight, compassion—and absolute honesty—this bookis a balm for everything life throws our way.
The Post-Birthday World
We’re all inclined towards our own ‘What-Ifs,’ the unanswerable questions that we stubbornly attempt to answer with a million different—and, more importantly, fictional—mental scenarios. What if I had tried harder? What if they had lived closer? What if we were both two completely different people from the people we actually are, falling head over heels into a love we never actually shared? Lionel Shriver‘s The Post-Birthday World will help you consider these questions in a healthy way or, at least, in a way that’s probably healthier than whatever you’re currently doing.
Children’s book illustrator Irina McGovern enjoys a quiet and settled life in London with her partner, fellow American expatriate Lawrence Trainer, a smart, loyal, disciplined intellectual at a prestigious think tank. To their small circle of friends, their relationship is rock solid. Until the night Irina unaccountably finds herself dying to kiss another man: their old friend from South London, the stylish, extravagant, passionate top-ranking snooker player Ramsey Acton. The decision to give in to temptation will have consequences for her career, her relationships with family and friends, and perhaps most importantly the texture of her daily life.
Hinging on a single kiss, this enchanting work of fiction depicts Irina’s alternating futures with two men temperamentally worlds apart yet equally honorable. With which true love Irina is better off is neither obvious nor easy to determine, but Shriver’s exploration of the two destinies is memorable and gripping. Poignant and deeply honest, written with the subtlety and wit that are the hallmarks of Shriver’s work, The Post-Birthday World appeals to the what-if in us all.
Listen, we know that your breakup was all your ex’s fault—but on the off chance that you had anything to do with it, maybe it’s time to consider the reason why. Mandy Stadtmiller‘s Unwifeable is an unflinchingly honest memoir of self-destruction that will encourage you to really look at yourself (or possibly your messed-up hungover reflection) and face the truths you might want to deny.
Provocative, fearless, and dizzyingly uncensored, Mandy spills every secret she knows about dating, networking, comedy, celebrity, media, psychology, relationships, addiction, and the quest to find one’s true nature. She takes readers behind the scenes (and name names) as she relays her utterly addictive journey.
Starting in 2005, Mandy picks up everything to move across the country to Manhattan, looking for a fresh start. She is newly divorced, thirty-years-old, with a dream job at the New York Post. She is ready to conquer the city, the industry, the world. But underneath the glitz and glamour, there is a darker side threatening to surface. The drug-fueled, never-ending party starts off as thrilling…but grows ever-terrifying. Too many blackout nights and scary decisions begin to add up. As she searches for the truth behind the façade, Mandy realizes that falling in love won’t fix her—until she learns to accept herself first.
I am not myself these days
Some relationships are toxic from the start. (Of course, we mean all relationships are toxic, and love is a lie, and Valentine’s Day is a sham. Whatever consolation your broken heart needs.) But, to quote Bojack Horseman, “when you look at someone through rose-colored glasses, all the red flags just look like flags.” I Am Not Myself These Days: A Memoir chronicles Kilmer-Purcell‘s time in a relationship that should have come with a warning label… though it basically already did. Perhaps this read will help you take a look at your relationships with a more critical, discerning eye.
The New York Times bestselling, darkly funny memoir of a young New Yorker’s daring dual life—advertising art director by day, glitter-dripping drag queen and nightclub beauty-pageant hopeful by night—was a smash literary debut for Josh Kilmer-Purcell, now known for his popular Planet Green television series The Fabulous Beekman Boys. His story begins here—before the homemade goat milk soaps and hand-gathered honeys, before his memoir of the city mouse’s move to the country, The Bucolic Plague—in I Am Not Myself These Days, with “plenty of dishy anecdotes and moments of tragi-camp delight” (WashingtonPost).