Reads, Ranked: Memoirs of The Best and Brightest Businesswomen

Though I tend towards fiction, when in search of an engaging and inspiring read, I’ll hit the memoirs section. Whether or not this is subconscious I am unsure, but I always end up picking up autobiographies of women. Perhaps it’s because I find the tale of, say, Tamara Mellon, more relatable and in line with my ultimate aspirations than that of Andre Agassi [though my brother, who is hardly a reader, did love Open].  Regardless, I am never disappointed with my choices. Below is a list of my favorite reads in the aforementioned category. Enjoy!

1. In My Shoes, Tamara Mellon

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I used to be the camp counselor for Tamara Mellon’s lovely daughter, Minty, so I was naturally intrigued when I came across her memoir in my Amazon recommendations. I knew little of her background apart from her role in founding Jimmy Choo. The book is a fascinating account of her rise from dropout-addict to entrepreneur, and her experiences with all of the men in the fashion business [particularly Jimmy Choo himself] who wished to take her down. The book is super quick, fascinating read whether or not you are interested in fashion. I was impressed to learn that Tamara’s life, painted frequently by the press as a pinnacle of high-fashion and glamour, is 95% work and 5% play. In a world where startups are now ubiquitous, Mellon offers a cautionary – but ultimately rewarding – tale on building a brand from the ground up.

2. #GIRLBOSS, Sophia Amoruso

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When the founder and [now former] CEO of popular online shopping destination Nasty Gal released a memoir, I was initially skeptical. I haven’t purchased much from the site, and I found the title a bit gimmicky for my tastes. However, following a heavy rotation of fiction books, I was in need of an autobiographical break, and, given all the positive reviews, I decided to bite the bullet. I am thrilled that I did; I read the entire book in one sitting. It’s easy to digest and chock-full of quotable soundbites and business wisdom. Sophia’s story, much like the author herself, is pretty wild – albeit in a good way. Before founding NastyGal, she was a “freegan” – a term I didn’t know existed prior to the purchase of this book, but is essentially a euphemism for “serial shoplifter.” She had almost no money until she decided to start selling vintage clothes on eBay, a shop that laid the foundation for the NastyGal business. I don’t want to reveal her entire story, but I do want to share a few quotes that reflect the book’s signature melange of wit and wisdom:

“Know when to throw the punches and when to roll with them”

“You don’t get taken seriously by asking someone to take you seriously. You’ve got to show up and own it. If this is a man’s world, who cares? I’m still really glad to be a girl in it.”

3. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), Mindy Kaling

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This is far and away the funniest memoir I have ever read. I bought it on my Kindle Cloud Reader and would read it during dull classes [sorry, Professor]; let’s just say it had me laughing out loud at inappropriate moments. Mindy is hilarious, and despite her self-deprecating disclaimers, as a graduate of Buckingham Browne & Nichols and Dartmouth, the foremost female writer on The Office and the creator of The Mindy Project [all of which she accomplished by her thirties], she is most certainly someone whose advice I welcome. I am also not going to include quotes, because it’s better if you discover them for yourself. If there’s one book on this list I would recommend to anyone [though maybe not boys; but this post is #forthegirls anyways], it’s this.

4. Bossypants, Tina Fey

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I don’t even think this needs a recap because everyone and their mother has read it. That being said, it is hilarious, and you can read it in two hours [I read it years ago at a track meet in high school; I was supposed to run in an event but I was too absorbed in the book so I hid in the bathroom to avoid it #Rio2016?]. Tina Fey/Tina Fey as Liz Lemon for President. Amy Poehler’s Yes Please is hilarious as well, but a little bit sad. I enjoyed both, but preferred Bossypants. 

5. The Woman I Wanted to Be, Diane Von Furstenberg

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I’ll be honest, this book surprised me. When I first went to the bookstore to pick up this book, it looked a bit heavy for a memoir about a woman who designed a wrap dress and called it a day – or so I thought. My assumptions about Diane Von Furstenberg’s life were entirely inaccurate. This story, instead of an inspiring tale about how to break into the fashion industry, is a detailed description of nearly everything that has happened in DVF’s life. She is an unconventional woman, a world traveler with an insatiable appetite for life and love, who has conquered death, debt, and cancer. The Woman I Wanted to Be is equal parts candid memoir interspersed with sometimes-cliché, sometimes-excellent proclamations on being the master of your business and your life. Diane remains forward-thinking and fabulous despite her age; the book is an excellent account of a life well-lived.

Also notable: My Paris Dream (previously reviewed), Grace by Grace Coddington, Everything’s Perfect When You’re a Liar by Kelly Oxford, and every single Chelsea Handler book if you want to laugh so hard you cry.

I will be back with a post on a more substantive book [currently in the middle of a good one] soon!

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  1. Pingback: Covers to Covers

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