Look no further than Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg if you’re hungry for inspiration in difficult times. The authors, Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik, pull together stories, photos, drawings, and even text from Supreme Court decisions.
The whole project began on Tumblr, so the book has a blog or social media feel to it. At the same time, it’s respectful of Ginsburg and her accomplishments. In fact, there are big moments and small details of RBG and her life. Whether it’s her relationship with her husband, or the way she treats her law clerks, you have a small window into her personality. And then the legal content reminds you just how brilliant this Supreme Court Justice actually is.
Ginsburg started busting through norms and social mores back before it was cool. She went to law school in the late 1950s, when women were more likely to follow Lucille Ball than complex legal arguments. And then RBG began teaching law and working part-time for the ACLU. Her ideas and influence changed the way we see gender equality today. And had she never become a judge; this would have been enough. But her goals were more ambitious and look where they took her.
Notorious RBG was both light-hearted and acutely intellectual. The authors balance the two mindsets perfectly. Interspersing legal history with fan art is genuine genius. Honestly, if every biography was written like this, people would read many more each year. Especially young people who are looking for heroes and achievers to respect.
In my circle, we often say, “RBG better be taking good care of herself. She’s got to make it until 2021.” This book convinced me that she’ll do everything in her power to keep working as a Supreme Court Justice. I loved the chapter on her workout and might even incorporate some of her moves into my own exercise routine.
I recommend this book if you’re curious about Ginsburg and the hurdles she crossed on her way to the highest court in the land. Don’t worry about legalese, you’ll survive. I promise.
Pair with the memoir of another female law professor who’s now in Washington, Elizabeth Warren. Or explore the brilliant Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.