5 Female-Focused Memoirs like Michelle Obama’s ‘Becoming’
Looking for an uplifting, witty and personal memoir? Here are five recommendations just like Michelle Obama’s top-rated ‘Becoming.’
Michelle Obama’s memoir of her life before, during and after life in the White House has become 2018’s best-selling book – with over a million hardback copies sold in the first two weeks alone; surpassing its predecessor, Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury, by racking up more hardback sales in the first ten days of release than Wolff’s book managed in the entire ten months since it was released.
With a resume that includes graduating from Princeton and Harvard Law, a celebrated career in law and public service, plus crushing it in Carpool Karaoke, it’s perhaps not surprising why so many people gravitated towards Obama’s eminently-quotable book. Yet it’s just the latest in a series of really fantastic female-focused memoirs released in recent months – and here are five more that might interest you.
In Pieces by Sally Field
There are few actresses who’ve managed to sustain a life-long career without succumbing to the lime-light, and perhaps none have done it so deftly as Sally Field. Recognized today as an American icon, this cute and bubbly actress from Pasadena burst onto our screens in the sitcom Gidget, and continued to star in both commercial and critical successes for the following sixty years; including Arnold Schwarzenegger’s American debut Stay Hungry in 1976, the iconic Smokey and the Bandit in 1977, Forrest Gump in 1994 and recent blockbuster roles like Mary Todd Lincoln in the 2012 biopic, and indie hits like Hello, My Name is Doris.
With the recent death of Burt Reynolds, much attention was turned to Ms. Fields given she’d had a long love affair with Reynolds and he’d once described her as ‘the love of his life.’ It was coincidental that her memoir was released that same month; achieving instant acclaim for the incredible tale it told.
Reviewer Stan Baginski gave the memoir 5-stars, writing: “The brutal honesty and objectivity that Ms Field displays in openly discovering and relating her life-long battle with self-esteem and why she’s the person that she is is refreshing and helped me to see some of the same traps I’ve also fallen into in my own life. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has come from a family that hides it’s secrets or where abuse was present. ”
Top 500 Reviewer Carylynp writes: “Field’s book is remarkable. How she handles herself, despite numerous setbacks, her ability to take care of herself and navigate a male-dominated profession, and most of all, to go after what she wanted without the assistance of two reliable parents. Now that I know her full story, I greatly admire her, not only for her shiny awards but for her personal triumphs.”
The Magnolia Story by Chip & Joanna Gaines
If your house is anything like mine, HGTV is on constantly once the kids are in school – and that means we’re very familiar with Fixer upper stars Chip and Joanna Gaines. In their top-rated memoir, which was also in the running as best-selling book of the year, the dynamic couple tell the story of their faith, family and the path of their prodigious success; while embracing many funny, hysterical and embarrassing anecdotes that clearly identify these two television icons as achingly human.
In his 5-star review, A. M. Edwards writes: “The Chip and Jo you’ve come to love on television are even more amazing when you read their story. They have shared some very personal setbacks that shaped who they are as people. I am even more in awe of this company the two of them have created because they are so passionate about it and so, so passionate about people. They truly serve others.”
Reviewer pinkmonster appreciated the uplifting tone and message of the book: “Watching Fixer Upper, they seem so successful and put together. But they were not afraid to share stories of failures, change and adaptation. Almost going bankrupt with 4 kids in tow is a big deal for anyone to struggle with. At the same time, they share stories of kindness, generosity from strangers, generosity to strangers, the belief that God has a plan, the belief that helping that one person in a small way may have life changing consequences for that person and for the giver. An overall inspiring book without any “preaching”. The take away? Be not afraid to take risks, work hard, try harder, believe in your dreams, believe in the dreams of your partner, but through all that do not forget love, joy, peace and laughter.”
Whiskey in a Teacup by Reese Witherspoon
In real life, Michelle Obama achieved incredible success as a Harvard-educated lawyer. Nearly two decades ago, actress Reese Witherspoon followed a fictional version of that story in the iconic movie Legally Blonde. Reading her recently-released biography, you’ll discover that’s not all the two have in common – as Reese’s hilarious and heartwarming memoir about growing up in the American deep south shares the self-deprecating charm, wit and wisdom of Michelle Obama’s memoir.
Making it very different, however, are the plethora of full-color illustrations and additional details that provide an infinite array of ‘easter eggs’ to discover with each page you turn. It’s as much a how-to as a what-did, and readers of all ages have been charmed.
“Reading it is like cheerfully walking down Familiar Lane; pleasant and homey with an emphasis on family and the good times,” writes reviewer Sadie’s Nest. “It reminds me of a single volume of an annual subscription of Southern Living Magazine through the life and eyes of Reese Witherspoon. She gives family recipes (which I always appreciate) and party menu lists for year round celebratory occasions. Do I want to have a Kentucky Derby Party complete with pretty dresses and oversized hats? Yes, I do. And I want to serve Reese’s suggested Mint Juleps and Chocolate Derby Pecan Pie. She includes entertaining anecdotes from her childhood and endearing memories of her grandparents, mom, brother, family and friends. She made me want to put on my pearl necklace and get a dog. Reese had me reminiscing about my own grandparents’ huge garden and my grandpa’s work habits, from dawn to dusk even after retirement.”
In their 5-star review, Booklover writes: “Reese recounts stories from her childhood, of her parents and grandparents, and those closest to her, all mixed in with some really funny anecdotes. Interspersed throughout are menus and recipes, I’ve tried the Summer Squash Casserole and it was SO SO GOOD!!! Also made the Refresher Cocktail (ahem, the alcohol version), also delicious!”
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara
While this 2018 memoir – a New York Times Bestseller and described by Stephen King as “propulsive, can’t-stop-now reading” – is far from the uplifting tale of Michelle Obama, its equally compulsive and well-written; telling the tale of true crime journalist Michelle McNamara, as she follows a thirty-year-trail of growing-colder clues to uncover the identity of California’s infamous Golden State Killer – a trail that was later picked up by her husband, Patton Oswalt.
In her 5-star review, Katie writes: “This is not your normal true crime book. Those books have already been written and this fact is addressed by Michelle numerous times. This book is about Michelle’s time spent researching this case. So, of course, this book jumps around because it follows her and her research. She started this as notes for her website or podcast, and it grew from something she happened upon to something that she couldn’t stop focusing on. She is a beautiful writer, and I was drawn into the story from the first page. The portions about her, including her childhood, at times feel like the reprieve from the darkness they were meant to be, but are not any less interesting. I would read an entire book about the crime she referenced from her childhood. That brings me to why this book was at times hard to read, besides the obvious darkness of the subject matter.”
Vine Voice reviewer JoAnne Goldberg writes: “I found the story behind the story equally captivating, especially Michelle’s description of her own obsession and her willingness to go above and beyond to seek out evidence, talk to witnesses, befriend detectives, and bring new perspectives to well-trodden investigations. Her husband’s determination to complete her work only underscored the significance of her efforts.”
My Own Words by Ruth Bader Ginsburg
With the Supreme Court getting everybody’s attention in recent months, and a blockbuster bio-pic about to hit the silver screens, its perhaps no surprise that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s biography – containing 36 pieces written by herself, plus others by different notable writers – is getting re-released; and many people are thrilled to hear it.
A true pioneer in the field of law and gender equality, and undeniably one of the most influential women in America, Bader Ginsburg today holds a position that she herself had to carve out of a male-dominated, patriarchal past; and it makes for thrilling reading.
Reviewer Ronald H. Clark gave the biography 5-stars, writing: “The book has many merits. It affords an insight into how the Supreme Court operates and decides cases; provides us with highly personal and quite moving profiles of Chief Justice Rehnquist and her great friend–and adversary–Justice Scalia; reminds us of her pioneering role as the champion of women’s rights as author, professor, and deadly litigator; and not least, helps us understand the private Ginsburg through several appearances by her late husband, tax lawyer Marty Ginsburg.”
Reviewer David Allan also gave the book 5-stars, alerting potential readers not to be put off by the potential political implications. “I’m a moderate in my political views and with this book you do not need to be a liberal to enjoy it. I’ve been a fan of Ruth Ginsburg since her appointment in the 90s. Her tale of being the 2nd woman appointed and her relationship with Justice O’Connor and the friendship with the late Justice Anthony Scalia. There are funny parts to the book detailing her wit and charm. It was amazing to find out that she sleeps very little when in court is in session and that she doesn’t cook (her family prepares homemade frozen entrees for her). The book is 400 pages long but well laid out and allows the reader to skip around and read at your leisure.”