Smithies Lead (as the slogan goes) interesting and influential lives. For the first item in the 2018 #SmithiesRead challenge, here are the lives of 10 Smith women in memoir and biography form, from the names you know to some you’ve probably never heard before. Presented in no particular order…

MOLLY IVINS: A REBEL LIFE by Bill Minutaglio and W. Michael Smith. A biography of celebrated journalist Molly Ivins ’66, who died at the much-too-young age of 62. We can only imagine what she would have to say about our current political morass.

POSTCARDS FROM COOKIE: A MEMOIR OF MOTHERHOOD, MIRACLES AND A WHOLE LOT OF MAIL by Caroline Clarke ’85. “Award winning journalist Caroline Clarke’s moving memoir of her surprise discovery of her birthmother—Cookie Cole, the daughter of Nat King Cole—and the relationship that blossomed between them through the heartfelt messages they exchanged on hundreds of postcards.”

GOD IS NOT A BOY’S NAME: BECOMING WOMAN, BECOMING PRIEST by Lyn G. Brakeman ’60. At 40 years old, in the face of a looming divorce and a Bishop who voted against the ordination of women in the Episcopal church, Lyn Brakeman ’85 decided to become a priest. “Brakeman offers no easy answers but tackles difficult issues—addiction, death and grief, divorce, the nature of priesthood, church politics, Christian feminism, and Jesus the Christ—with candor.”

EKATERINOSLAV: ONE FAMILY’S PASSAGE TO AMERICA: A NOVEL IN VERSE by Jane Yolen ’60. Prolific, award winning author Jane Yolen pieces together her family’s lost history and what it means for her in this book-length memoir in verse. A taste:
All those years Ekaterinoslav
was lost to me, when I could have celebrated
Ukrainian winters, learned words of love,
fashion, passion, paternity;

how to season the fish with pepper, not sugar;
how to cut the farfl from flat sheets of dough.
All I had was New Haven.

MY LIFE ON THE ROAD by Gloria Steinem ’56. Part memoir, part manifesto, this bestseller chronicles Steinem’s travels from childhood on. “In prose that is revealing and rich, Gloria reminds us that living in an open, observant, and “on the road” state of mind can make a difference in how we learn, what we do, and how we understand each other.”

VERY MUCH A LADY: THE UNTOLD STORY OF JEAN HARRIS AND DR. HERMAN TARNOWER by Shana Alexander. Jean Harris ’45 made national news in the early ’80s when she was tried and convicted of murdering her longtime boyfriend, a well-known and wealthy cardiologist. “In this incredible book, acclaimed journalist Shana Alexander [Vassar ’45] exposes the dark truth behind the killing, the high drama of a sensational trial, and the fate of a complex woman doomed by her love and her own desire.”

MY LIFE IN FRANCE by Julia Child ’34 with Alex Prud’homme. Julia’s own account of her years spent learning the French language, French culture, and–of course–French food.”Julia’s unforgettable story … unfolds with the spirit so key to Julia’s success as a chef and a writer, brilliantly capturing one of America’s most endearing personalities.”

A PEARL IN THE STORM by Tori Murden McClure ’85. McClure was the first woman to row solo across the Atlantic, but this memoir is more of a chronicle of her first, failed attempt. Veronica Oberholzer ’17 writes “Smithies will sympathize with Tori as she agonizes over whether to pull her emergency beacon, unsure whether to give up her dream – or whether she should ask others to risk their lives to rescue her.”

ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK by Piper Kerman ’92. “Convicted and sentenced to fifteen months at the infamous federal correctional facility in Danbury, Connecticut, the well-heeled Smith College alumna is now inmate #11187–424—one of the millions of people who disappear “down the rabbit hole” of the American penal system.” The original source material for the hit Netflix series.

BONNET STRINGS: AN AMISH WOMAN’S TIES TO TWO WORLDS by Saloma Miller Furlong AC ’07. After a year away from her Amish home community, Saloma Miller was taken back into the fold. This memoir chronicles her struggle to reconcile her two identities. “…A true story: of woundedness and healing, of doubt and faith, and of the often competing desires for freedom and belonging.”

Have we missed a favorite of yours? What will you be reading for this item in the #SmithiesRead challenge? Let us know in the comments!