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My Life on the Road

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Gloria Steinem—writer, activist, organizer, and one of the most inspiring leaders in the world—now tells a story she has never told before, a candid account of how her early years led her to live an on-the-road kind of life, traveling, listening to people, learning, and creating change. She reveals the story of her own growth in tandem with the growth of an ongoing movemen Gloria Steinem—writer, activist, organizer, and one of the most inspiring leaders in the world—now tells a story she has never told before, a candid account of how her early years led her to live an on-the-road kind of life, traveling, listening to people, learning, and creating change. She reveals the story of her own growth in tandem with the growth of an ongoing movement for equality. This is the story at the heart of My Life on the Road.


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Gloria Steinem—writer, activist, organizer, and one of the most inspiring leaders in the world—now tells a story she has never told before, a candid account of how her early years led her to live an on-the-road kind of life, traveling, listening to people, learning, and creating change. She reveals the story of her own growth in tandem with the growth of an ongoing movemen Gloria Steinem—writer, activist, organizer, and one of the most inspiring leaders in the world—now tells a story she has never told before, a candid account of how her early years led her to live an on-the-road kind of life, traveling, listening to people, learning, and creating change. She reveals the story of her own growth in tandem with the growth of an ongoing movement for equality. This is the story at the heart of My Life on the Road.

30 review for My Life on the Road

  1. 4 out of 5

    Esil

    4 very high stars. I loved reading this book. It's a bit disorganized and chaotic, but it's full of great anecdotes, thoughtful ideas on activism and engagement, and quotable bits and pieces. I came to this book thinking of Steinem as an icon of American feminism, but someone I didn't actually know much about. The experience of reading My Life on the Road made me sit up and pay attention. And not because Steinem delivers a specific political message or because she builds herself up as a heroic f 4 very high stars. I loved reading this book. It's a bit disorganized and chaotic, but it's full of great anecdotes, thoughtful ideas on activism and engagement, and quotable bits and pieces. I came to this book thinking of Steinem as an icon of American feminism, but someone I didn't actually know much about. The experience of reading My Life on the Road made me sit up and pay attention. And not because Steinem delivers a specific political message or because she builds herself up as a heroic figure, but because in fact she does the very opposite. She has written a down to earth book about places she's been, people she's met, and what's mattered to her over the years. She starts with a chapter describing her father, and his inability to stay put in one place. As a kid, at times she traveled with him and at other times she stayed behind with her mother. But she speaks of her father with love, understanding and respect, and a deep gratitude for his kindness. And this seems to inform her approach to activism and people throughout her life. The book consists of a few chapters loosely organized around Steinem's travels -- mostly in the US -- and the many, many people she has met and spoken to, and their stories. She describes conversations with taxi drivers, flight attendants, college students at elite colleges and college students at low income state schools,truck drivers, waitresses and many others. There's also a chapter dealing with her time on the road campaigning for different political candidates -- including a great segment of the Clinton/Obama face off. And through these stories and anecdotes, she conveys her observations about injustices she has seen, surprising connections with people, and sources of strength and change. There's an underlying joy and wonder and respect for people. There's a fearlessness about being in difficult situations, and engaging with people that I found really moving. And mostly there are many really good stories about the people she has met in her travels -- how they have touched and inspired her. In a way, this book is the opposite of what one might expect from an icon -- it's not about Steinem and her achievements, but rather about other people and how they have inspired her. Which I found very inspiring. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an opportunity to read an advance copy.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Debbie "DJ"

    Wow, this was quite the read! Steinem starts by talking about her early upbringing, which I found not only surprising, but fascinating. From there, she is all over the map (quite literally). It's like sitting down with an old friend as she recounts important life events. Often, the events had no particular order, yet they all held my full attention. Steinem included so much in this book, it's hard to review without giving anything away. While she talks of feminism, it is current, and seen throug Wow, this was quite the read! Steinem starts by talking about her early upbringing, which I found not only surprising, but fascinating. From there, she is all over the map (quite literally). It's like sitting down with an old friend as she recounts important life events. Often, the events had no particular order, yet they all held my full attention. Steinem included so much in this book, it's hard to review without giving anything away. While she talks of feminism, it is current, and seen through a new lens. One quote I found interesting was this " We might have known sooner that the most reliable predictor of whether a country is violent within itself or will use military violence against another country-is not poverty, natural resources, religion, or even degree of democracy; it's violence against females. It normalizes all other violence." Steinem speaks of everyone from JFK to Martin Luther King to several important figures I had never heard of. And, who knew Clarence Thomas had such an impact on women's rights? Her alliance with Black and Native American cultures also taught her a lot, and she believes whole-heartedly "talking circles." Detailing their history and how vital they are to all of us. Steinem has definitely lifted a big life, one I thoroughly enjoyed reading about!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    There are so many good stories in this book! This memoir focuses on Steinem's travels around the world, and her political and activist experiences in the United States. When people ask me why I still have hope and energy after all these years, I always say: Because I travel. For more than four decades, I've spent at least half my time on the road. I've never tried to write about this way of life, not even when I was reporting on people and events along the way. It just seemed to have no category There are so many good stories in this book! This memoir focuses on Steinem's travels around the world, and her political and activist experiences in the United States. When people ask me why I still have hope and energy after all these years, I always say: Because I travel. For more than four decades, I've spent at least half my time on the road. I've never tried to write about this way of life, not even when I was reporting on people and events along the way. It just seemed to have no category. I wasn't on a Kerouac road trip, or rebelling before settling down, or even traveling for one cause. At first I was a journalist following stories, then a sometime worker in political campaigns and movements, and most consistently an itinerant feminist organizer. I became a person whose friends and hopes were as spread out as my life. It just felt natural that the one common element in that life was the road. Steinem has had a fascinating life, and I was very engaged with her writing. Her experiences around the world usually involved talking with groups of women, hearing their tales and troubles, and seeing how the situation could be improved. I loved her stories about her travels in India, her activism on college campuses, and her role in various political campaigns. I was also surprised to learn that she dreads public speaking, despite it being a regular part of her commitments. This is a hard book to summarize, but I mean that in a good way. It's almost as if Steinem didn't want her book lumped into a category in the same way she doesn't want women stereotyped and held back because of gender. I listened to this on audio, read by Debra Winger, which was a delight. Highly recommended. Favorite Quotes "What we're told about this country is way too limited by generalities, sound bites, and even the supposedly enlightened idea that there are two sides to every question. In fact, many questions have three or seven or a dozen sides. Sometimes I think the only real division into two is between people who divide everything into two, and those who don't." "[T]he first reason for this book is to share the most important, longest-running yet least visible part of my life ... My second purpose is to encourage you to spend some time on the road, too. By that, I mean traveling — or even living for a few days where you are — in an on-the-road state of mind, not seeking out the familiar but staying open to whatever comes along. It can begin the moment you leave your door." "It was the first time I witnessed the ancient and modern magic of groups in which anyone may speak in turn, everyone must listen, and consensus is more important than time. I had no idea that such talking circles had been a common form of governance for most of human history, from the Kwei and San in southern Africa, the ancestors of us all, to the First Nations on my own continent, where layers of such circles turned into the Iroquois Confederacy, the oldest continuous democracy in the world. Talking circles once existed in Europe, too, before floods, famines, and patriarchal rule replaced them with hierarchy, priests and kings. I didn't even know, as we sat in Ramnad, that a wave of talking circles and "testifying" was going on in black churches of my own country and igniting the civil rights movement. I certainly didn't guess that, a decade later, I would see consciousness-raising groups, women's talking circles, giving birth to the feminist movement. All I knew was that some deep part of me was being nourished and transformed right along with the villagers."

  4. 4 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    3.5 Grew up hearing about this amazing woman, reading MS magazine and cheering her on from afar. Yet, never knew the personal details of her life, what made her whom she is nor how she came to be such a staunch advocate for many whom had few rights. This book filled that in for me and I loved reading about her early life, somewhat surprising and how she started in her career. Her life on the road, the many people she met, her stay in India and the many well known people she has met. Little incid 3.5 Grew up hearing about this amazing woman, reading MS magazine and cheering her on from afar. Yet, never knew the personal details of her life, what made her whom she is nor how she came to be such a staunch advocate for many whom had few rights. This book filled that in for me and I loved reading about her early life, somewhat surprising and how she started in her career. Her life on the road, the many people she met, her stay in India and the many well known people she has met. Little incidents and big moments. The convention in Houston that for her was life altering. What she has done and what she has accomplished is truly amazing. Loved the candidness of her writing, the good and the bad but there was a serious lack of organization in this book and some repetitiveness. My nerdy brain had a hard time overcoming this. Still this book is very much worth reading and what bugged me may not phase you at all. We owe woman like Steinem a debt of gratitude, women who fought hard for a long time with slow or no results. But without them where would we be?

  5. 5 out of 5

    Trudi

    A note about the audiobook -- I started listening to this one and it wasn't quite grabbing me. The text was falling flat for some reason and my mind wandered a little too much. Debra Winger has a lovely delivery as the reader, but the audiobook just didn't work for me this time. So I abandoned it for the hardcover -- and finished it in one sitting I became that engrossed and enthralled, moved and inspired. In June of 2015 I was lucky enough to attend the American Library Association conference h A note about the audiobook -- I started listening to this one and it wasn't quite grabbing me. The text was falling flat for some reason and my mind wandered a little too much. Debra Winger has a lovely delivery as the reader, but the audiobook just didn't work for me this time. So I abandoned it for the hardcover -- and finished it in one sitting I became that engrossed and enthralled, moved and inspired. In June of 2015 I was lucky enough to attend the American Library Association conference held in San Francisco that year. Not only was it a thrill to be surrounded by 20,000 librarians from all corners of the library world, but the City by the Bay had been on my bucket list for years. It was a week of great food and much adventuring (including a day trip to Alcatraz), with thankfully no earthquakes. But the absolute highlight of the entire shebang was getting to see Gloria Steinem speak in person. Let me just say that at 81 years old, this woman has lost none of her charisma, style, and magnetic presence. She is as strikingly beautiful as she has ever been, and her generosity of spirit and kindness beam from her person like the warmth of a thousand suns. Her latest book is a compilation of memories and reflection of a life lived on the road and what it means to be an "organizer" -- of social justice movements, of rallies, of connecting others. When most people think of Steinem they think "feminist" and "speaker" and "leader" but what she's spent most of her life doing is listening and that is what has made her so good at being all of those other things. To be a great organizer, you need to first listen, and from the listening will come empathy, understanding, knowledge, and new ideas. Now into her eighth decade, Steinem continues to listen, never one to believe she has learned all there is to know, or is now someone who carries all the answers to truth and justice and gender equality. I was surprised to learn that Steinem is a nervous public speaker, and though she has spent a life doing it, still gets butterflies before getting up in front of a group of people. I can't imagine a life on the road as she has lived it, so very untethered. I am too much of a homebody to have ever been called to such a nomadic life, but there is a part of me that wonders what I've missed in the way of human connection and adventure. When she turned 50, Steinem finally purchased a home and began to nest, and though her nomadic adventures would persist at least now she had a place to return and rest and refuel. Maybe when I turn 50 I'll do the opposite and take to the road! It's the surprise, the unexpected, the out of control. It turns out that laughter is the only free emotion--the only one that can't be compelled. We can be made to fear. We can even be made to believe that we're in love because, if we're kept dependent and isolated for long enough, we bond in order to survive. But laughter explodes like aha! It comes when the punch line changes everything that has gone before, when two opposites collide and make a third, when we suddenly see a new reality. Einstein said he had to be very careful while shaving, because when he had an idea he laughed -- and he cut himself. Laughter is an orgasm of the mind. ~Gloria Steinem, My Life on the Road

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jacki (Julia Flyte)

    Editor: Ms Steinem, we think it's time you wrote another book. Gloria Steinem: Hmm. It's all been fairly extensively mined. Oh, but I do have a couple of good stories about taxi rides. Editor: That sounds good. Maybe we could devote a chapter to taxi stories. Gloria Steinem: And I met an interesting woman on a plane once. Editor: Ok, it sounds like grouping it around a travelling theme might pull it all together nicely. Gloria Steinem: Can I write about my Dad too? Editor: That sounds good. Anythin Editor: Ms Steinem, we think it's time you wrote another book. Gloria Steinem: Hmm. It's all been fairly extensively mined. Oh, but I do have a couple of good stories about taxi rides. Editor: That sounds good. Maybe we could devote a chapter to taxi stories. Gloria Steinem: And I met an interesting woman on a plane once. Editor: Ok, it sounds like grouping it around a travelling theme might pull it all together nicely. Gloria Steinem: Can I write about my Dad too? Editor: That sounds good. Anything else you'd like to cover? Hillary Clinton is very topical. Gloria Steinem: I'd like to talk about all the campaigning I've ever done and I can write about Hillary as part of that. Oh and I want to write about Native Americans as well. I've got some stories that I've been drafting over the last 10 years or so. I don't think people realise what an amazing culture they have or that the US Constitution is based on the Iroquois Confederacy. Editor: Ok...doesn't quite fit with the travelling theme but maybe we can put that all in the second half and people won't notice. They always love what you write, you know that. It'll be terrific!

  7. 5 out of 5

    El

    I want to be Gloria Steinem when I grow up. I went to a women's college for my undergraduate degree, and while I have a lot of complaints about the particular experience I had, one thing I appreciated was the communal existence. I didn't live in a dorm, but it didn't matter - the classes were small, there was relatively open communication between the students and the professors, you could basically just walk into any professor's office and take a seat and chat for a while. The classes, for the mo I want to be Gloria Steinem when I grow up. I went to a women's college for my undergraduate degree, and while I have a lot of complaints about the particular experience I had, one thing I appreciated was the communal existence. I didn't live in a dorm, but it didn't matter - the classes were small, there was relatively open communication between the students and the professors, you could basically just walk into any professor's office and take a seat and chat for a while. The classes, for the most part, had a conversational tone to them, which means sometimes you learned without realizing you were learning. There's a magic in that. Since I graduated, I haven't had quite the same experience in any other part of my life where groups of women get together and talk about their lives or their beliefs or how they feel just walking down the street. I work primarily with women, and yet we don't have those conversations. No one really talks about what it's like to be a woman (besides the coworker who recently is trying to get us all to buy these cami things from her friend's business because they're more comfortable than bras or something), and yet the environment is so very much female. We've all had very different experiences in life, and yet no one really talks about it, about the one thing that we all have in common in spite of our differences: the fact that we are women. Reading Gloria Steinem's book made me miss that sense of community. She talked about things I always want to discuss with people, but others don't always want to have those talks, and still there's often this overriding "This is how it is" tone to those discussions that might come up. At 81 years of age, Steinem is still quite the firecracker. I've always especially appreciated her because she's a relatively quiet source of strength. She may not always have been the most verbal, she gets anxious in public speaking situations, and yet she says so much that I either already agree with or hadn't quite thought out myself yet, or didn't realize I already agreed with. In this book, she talks about her life on the road. She grew up in a nomadic environment, and for so long "on the road" was home for her. Her way of rebelling against that was wanting to one day own a home and have a stable place to land; but she found herself just as much on the road as an adult as she had been as a child. She felt comfortable there, without even realizing it, and the existence works for her. She spent time trying to reconcile that in her mind - where is home, what is home, how can one feel at home without actually being a traditional home? I love the way she discusses the various ways one can be on the road, whether traveling to other countries, within one's own country, or just within one's own town. She is a non-driver (as am I) and says that adventure begins the moment you leave your door. I adore that. She writes in a conversational, anecdotal tone that is very engaging and enjoyable to read. She is the friend everyone wishes they have. She's down-to-earth, but has this wealth of experience from a lifetime of traveling and learning, and sharing those experiences with other like-minded people. It makes me want to find that in my world now more than ever, in a way that I didn't even quite realize I was missing since graduation until just more recently, partly in thanks to Ms. Steinem. So, yeah, I do want to be Gloria Steinem when I grow up. The good news is she made me feel like I already am.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Reads Ravenously

    4 stars! “You're always the person you were when you were born. You just keep finding new ways to express it.” I've always been interested in learning more about Gloria Steinem. She was mentioned a lot in my college history courses, but never anything specifically about her was covered. This was also a book selected in Emma Watson's feminist book club, so I bought a copy and it say on my nightstand for two years. Now that I am into audiobooks on my commute, I decided to listen to this book.. 4 stars! “You're always the person you were when you were born. You just keep finding new ways to express it.” I've always been interested in learning more about Gloria Steinem. She was mentioned a lot in my college history courses, but never anything specifically about her was covered. This was also a book selected in Emma Watson's feminist book club, so I bought a copy and it say on my nightstand for two years. Now that I am into audiobooks on my commute, I decided to listen to this book.... on the road. See what I did there???? I know, I'm lame. Lots of thoughtful ideas on activism. It's not a super cohesive book, much of it is out of sequence, flipping back and forth in time. I loved the stories, though. So many great quotes and moments while listening to this book. Instead of a straightforward biography, this is like having several conversations with a new friend and learning key moments of their life. A very inspiring book for me, I wish more people had open minds and open hearts like Steinem. “Decisions are best made by the people affected by them.” Follow me on ♥ Facebook ♥ Blog ♥ Instagram ♥ Twitter ♥

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jaylia3

    Reading this lively memoir of the vagabond life Gloria Steinem has led--first by necessity and then because she embraced it--made me want to hit the road myself in the hope that I could have even a fraction of her experiences. The varied places and people she’s encountered in her travels give her rich, interesting perspectives on the history and zeitgeist of the times she writes about, which extend from the later years of the Great Depression until today. It makes the book a fascinating, even in Reading this lively memoir of the vagabond life Gloria Steinem has led--first by necessity and then because she embraced it--made me want to hit the road myself in the hope that I could have even a fraction of her experiences. The varied places and people she’s encountered in her travels give her rich, interesting perspectives on the history and zeitgeist of the times she writes about, which extend from the later years of the Great Depression until today. It makes the book a fascinating, even inspiring combination of personal story and history that’s a lot of fun to read--and because this is Gloria Steinem, readers also get an enlightening front row seat for the burgeoning women’s movement of the 1960’s-70’s and its continuing development. When she was a young child Steinem’s father ran a lakeside music venue in the summer, but once fall came he’d pack everyone in the car to spend the rest of the year driving around the country buying and then selling junk or antiques or whatever, earning enough of a profit to make it to the next town--an enterprise in which the whole family participated. Steinem thought she longed for a permanent home, but when she reached adulthood that didn’t happen. After college Steinem got a 2-year fellowship to study in India, but when she showed up at the ashram of Vinoba Bhave, one of the leaders in the land reform movement inspired by Gandhi, almost everyone was gone. Caste riots had broken out in nearby, now cordoned off villages, so the ashram residents had formed teams to slip under police barriers and travel from village to village hoping to help contain further violence. One more team wanted to go out, but they needed a women so Steinem was drafted, her first experience of traditional talking circles and modern community activism. Working as a journalist back in the US, Steinem was dismissed by some of her male colleagues as a token “pretty girl” which helped lead her to the women’s movement and a continued life of organizing, activism, and travel. If you are expecting something dour and humorless, that’s not what you’ll find in this book. Steinem comes across as warmhearted, eager to learn from the people around her, and open to new experiences, all of which makes her wonderful company. I enjoyed learning more about mid-century politics and the growth of the women’s movement, but I also loved the personal glimpses she gives of people as diverse as Cherokee Nation chief Wilma Mankiller, who was a personal friend, and Frank Sinatra, who Steinem spent one awkward Thanksgiving dinner with--he didn’t talk much to anyone but he did let them watch while he put on an engineer’s hat and ran his toy trains around an elaborate track. Steinem even works in interesting bits of older history, mentioning for instance that the American Constitution is partially modeled on the Iroquois Confederacy, but when Benjamin Franklin invited two Iroquois men to the Constitutional Convention to act as advisers, one of their first comments was something like--why aren’t there any women at this meeting? Good question.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Louise

    The understated prose may make this seem like a light volume of reminiscences, but it demonstrates her main point: you have to listen. If you listen to everyday people, not politicians or pundits, you can see what is really going on in the world. After introducing who she is by way of describing her father and his independent traveling spirit and her unwell mother who admired the Roosevelt’s, she shares what she has heard over the years and what she has learned from it. Living in India for two ye The understated prose may make this seem like a light volume of reminiscences, but it demonstrates her main point: you have to listen. If you listen to everyday people, not politicians or pundits, you can see what is really going on in the world. After introducing who she is by way of describing her father and his independent traveling spirit and her unwell mother who admired the Roosevelt’s, she shares what she has heard over the years and what she has learned from it. Living in India for two years, Steinem came to understand Gandhian principles and started to learn to listen. She notes “talking circles” as ways to mediate and inform. She shares the fruit of her listening be it through meeting native Americans, through listening in taxis, through young people on campus who pick her up at the airport or in listening to the audiences wherever she speaks. When she spends a weekend with corporate CEOs there is little to report. You learn about the life of an activist. She is traveling: spending 8 days at home is a record. She gets stage freight and often thinks of what she should have said later. There are great anecdotes, for instance speaking at Harvard Law School where one of the faculty rises to tell her she doesn’t understand the traditions of HLS in a manner so out of control that he proved her point; another a former truck driver who showed her the truck driving world; another a young boy, who as a child was used as a girl. Her observations are food for thought, for instance the animosity achieving women have for Hillary Clinton may be based on their sense of an inequality in their own marriages; Some who condemn her for “not throwing the bum out” have accepted infidelity in their own marriage and want her to “punish” their husband through her punishing Bill. Another observation is that almost all abortion clinics have served a woman who protested against the clinic the the day before and went back to protesting the day after. Steinem notes that these women often have no access to birth control are frequently pregnant, they need an abortion and then feel guilty about it. Steinem has a lot to be proud of. She was foundational, perhaps pivotal, in a movement that improved lives for women. She faced down the establishment that wouldn’t allow women in professional schools (a waste of money and time, they said), police forces, the military etc. Rape is now treated like the crime that it is and sexual harassment is no longer a joke. She doesn’t rest on those laurels. Campuses where she once pushed for a women’s study course, now have a major, but she looks to increase the number of tenured faculty. As an interesting aside, three of the subjects of the last four biographies I've read don’t/didn’t drive. Gore Vidal and Gary Gygax (creator of Dungeons and Dragons) and Steinem. Steinem devotes a whole chapter to it noting that being free from the wheel leaves her freer to listen and observe. I highly recommend this book, but note, it is understated. Names are not dropped and there is only one celebrity anecdote (Thanksgiving dinner at Frank Sinatra’s). There is little on the outright hostility she faced. Some readers will be disappointed that there is no tell all: Nothing on her high profile boyfriends/dates, nothing on her brief marriage to the father of a Hollywood star, no backstory about her undercover “Playboy” article. She continues to lead a full life and while the glimpse of it she gives the reader seems light, there is a lot in this short book.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Book Riot Community

    I had never read a book by Steinem before, and was really surprised by how much I enjoyed this wonderful memoir. She recounts how a significant part of her life has been lived on the road, starting with her early years spent wandering the country with her traveling salesman father and deeply unhappy mother, to her travels around the world related to her work. This is an amazing look into the mind of one of America's most famous feminist icons. Tune in to our weekly podcast dedicated to all thing I had never read a book by Steinem before, and was really surprised by how much I enjoyed this wonderful memoir. She recounts how a significant part of her life has been lived on the road, starting with her early years spent wandering the country with her traveling salesman father and deeply unhappy mother, to her travels around the world related to her work. This is an amazing look into the mind of one of America's most famous feminist icons. Tune in to our weekly podcast dedicated to all things new books, All The Books: http://bookriot.com/category/all-the-...

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ilana

    Some book come to us when we are ready and need to hear their message most. This is one of them. Now, at fifty, and finding myself at this particular juncture, where my feminist roots are helping make sense of a world gone completely out of balance, it is good to discover myself sharing so many affinities with a feminist icon who was little more than a name to me until now, but who obviously influenced me and my thinking throughout my life in ways I can barely begin to imagine. Just last night, Some book come to us when we are ready and need to hear their message most. This is one of them. Now, at fifty, and finding myself at this particular juncture, where my feminist roots are helping make sense of a world gone completely out of balance, it is good to discover myself sharing so many affinities with a feminist icon who was little more than a name to me until now, but who obviously influenced me and my thinking throughout my life in ways I can barely begin to imagine. Just last night, it was January first, and I’d invited a man I’d been seeing on and off for a couple of years for a New Year’s dinner. We had often had disagreement on matters of principle. Until now, I’d wavered, thinking my temper clouded my judgment. This time, when I got upset over “sexist” attitudes I found unacceptable, I understood clearly my perceptions were not deceiving me. That I could call it by many other names, other than his so-called “sexism” or my so-called “feminism” and it would still not fly with me, because I had found my centre, and I was no longer willing to negotiate on that terrain. I knew this strength had come to me from my own experiences and reflections, but what helped me most was having Steinem’s spirit so close by, informing me that my intuition was a powerful tool and that anyone trying to convince me otherwise could not have my wellbeing in mind. The night almost ended disastrously. But I decided there was no point in a bitter separation and that I would put anger aside, accept that we were incompatible, and part on good terms, though he was not necessarily aware of my resolve to end things definitely. Feminism starts by not accepting oppression by those we let into our homes and our hearts. Feminism could simply be called: self-respect. And so, today, I am grateful. Not in the least bitter to have started the New Year on such a note, that is, by ending a relationship that was already on its last legs. On the contrary, this is a fresh start. Always be grateful to people for showing themselves as they truly are. Then you are free to choose to keep them in your life because they empower you, or let them go with a kind wave and goodbye because they take your light away. Steinem has given me much more than that . But if only for helping give me clarity on this relationship that has taken so much of my energy and made me question everything again and again, this book is worth all the stars.

  13. 5 out of 5

    RitaSkeeter

    This was an inspirational read. Although it's a memoir-y type book, the focus is really on Steinem's learnings and the people she has met on the road rather than about her per se. There is a lot we can all learn from this book, but things that particularly stood out to me were the power of listening, and of hearing people's stories. Of taking away the filters we view the world through to open our eyes to new ideas and new realities. Steinem quotes a young taxi driver she meets who was embargoing This was an inspirational read. Although it's a memoir-y type book, the focus is really on Steinem's learnings and the people she has met on the road rather than about her per se. There is a lot we can all learn from this book, but things that particularly stood out to me were the power of listening, and of hearing people's stories. Of taking away the filters we view the world through to open our eyes to new ideas and new realities. Steinem quotes a young taxi driver she meets who was embargoing all reading (against the Goodreads code I know!), all media, and so on after his partner had challenged him to think about ideas in a way that was unfiltered by his world view. Steinem quotes him as saying “Filters let in a cup of water, but keep out the ocean." a fascinating idea; not something I could do, but it does make me wonder how can I be more critical in my thinking? How can I let go of my lens to see the world differently? What might I learn if I did? Steinem, of course, has much to say on the topic of feminism. I particularly appreciated this quote from Paula Gunn Allen "Feminists too often believe that no one has ever experienced the kind of society that empowered women and made that empowerment the basis of rules and civiliszation. The price the feminist community must pay because it is not aware…is necessary confusion, division and much lost time”. And “The root of oppression is the loss of memory”. The same idea was summed up succinctly by Rayna Green “feminism is memory”. Steinem's words are particularly resonant with me when she speaks of schools teaching all about Ancient Greece, Rome, and Egypt but not of the indigenous peoples of our own lands whom we can learn so much from. A fascinating book, I'd like to re-read it.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Nat K

    ”If you want people to listen, you have to listen to them. If you hope people will change how they live, you have to know how they live. If you want people to see you, you have sit down with them eye-to-eye.” Why have I never read any of Ms Steinem’s books before? While being aware of her background and involvement with the women’s movement, workplace equality, and co-founding ”Ms."magazine, I’d simply not read any of her writing from “cover to cover”. For which I am now kicking myself. The stori ”If you want people to listen, you have to listen to them. If you hope people will change how they live, you have to know how they live. If you want people to see you, you have sit down with them eye-to-eye.” Why have I never read any of Ms Steinem’s books before? While being aware of her background and involvement with the women’s movement, workplace equality, and co-founding ”Ms."magazine, I’d simply not read any of her writing from “cover to cover”. For which I am now kicking myself. The stories Ms Steinem relays in this book had my absolute attention. They are diverse, well told, interesting, and I had many “ah ha” lightbulb moments reading them. What an amazing journey she’s had. Starting with a childhood “on the road” thanks to a father with a vagabond soul, this theme has continued into her adult life. Always on the move, learning, having an open mind. The people she’s met, spoken and listened to is amazing. The socially significant events she’s been part of are also incredible to consider. Imagine being present to witness Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous speech? The various lobby groups and organisations she’s been involved with to bring about positive change. Not just for feminist issues, but also to end racial and sexual discrimination. The constant work, the constant travel, the constant hustle. I can’t count the number of times that I started to tear up reading this, as there were just so many poignant moments. Gloria Steinem’s warmth, wit, intelligence and compassion shine through on these pages. A must read for anyone with a heart who is interested in learning about their fellow human beings.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lynne

    In this well written memoir we learn both how far we've come yet how far we have to go. The many stories had me laughing and crying! She has a strong sense of right and wrong and the wherewithal to make good use of her intuition. It was an honor and a priveledge to read this book. Thank you NetGalley for the ARC and thank you Gloria for all your efforts to advance gender equality. In this well written memoir we learn both how far we've come yet how far we have to go. The many stories had me laughing and crying! She has a strong sense of right and wrong and the wherewithal to make good use of her intuition. It was an honor and a priveledge to read this book. Thank you NetGalley for the ARC and thank you Gloria for all your efforts to advance gender equality.

  16. 5 out of 5

    monica kim

    This is an important book. Despite it being titled "My Life on the Road," it's really more a book about the modern feminist movement than about Steinem alone (although, can you discuss one without discussing the other?). I'm leaving it knowing more about the growth of feminism and the often hidden impact of women in history. And I think the big message of this book is how feminism can't live in a silo - that no equality movement can. The fight for women's rights is tied to socio-economic equalit This is an important book. Despite it being titled "My Life on the Road," it's really more a book about the modern feminist movement than about Steinem alone (although, can you discuss one without discussing the other?). I'm leaving it knowing more about the growth of feminism and the often hidden impact of women in history. And I think the big message of this book is how feminism can't live in a silo - that no equality movement can. The fight for women's rights is tied to socio-economic equality is tied to racial equality etc. It's all connected. And Steinem does a fantastic job helping the reader understand this through real examples and stories. However, I have to also acknowledge that this book is not without its faults - the biggest one being the exclusion of trans women. Especially, considering Steinmen's (and the feminist movement in general) problematic history with the trans community.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tegan

    So yeah, I'm going to be a dissenter, that's fine. I was struggling to get through this book before some current statements were made. I am highly disappointed in someone that is so pivotal in feminism. Calling women that are supporting Bernie Sanders "attention seekers", regardless of your political views, totally goes against what you're teaching. This is a step back from what you're trying to do. Aren't we trying to build women up, and not only want men and women to be treated equally, but fo So yeah, I'm going to be a dissenter, that's fine. I was struggling to get through this book before some current statements were made. I am highly disappointed in someone that is so pivotal in feminism. Calling women that are supporting Bernie Sanders "attention seekers", regardless of your political views, totally goes against what you're teaching. This is a step back from what you're trying to do. Aren't we trying to build women up, and not only want men and women to be treated equally, but for WOMEN to treat each other equally? Well you went WAY off track Gloria. I will not be finishing your book.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Donna Davis

    Feminist heroes are everywhere, but if I had to name half a dozen women that were at the core of the feminist movement that followed closely on the heels of the Civil Rights movement and the movement to end the US war in Vietnam, Steinem’s name would be among them. In fact, hers might be the first name out of my mouth. It was she who coined the salutation “Ms”, and who founded Ms. Magazine. When I saw she had written a memoir, I knew I had to have it, and when Net Galley and Random House gave me Feminist heroes are everywhere, but if I had to name half a dozen women that were at the core of the feminist movement that followed closely on the heels of the Civil Rights movement and the movement to end the US war in Vietnam, Steinem’s name would be among them. In fact, hers might be the first name out of my mouth. It was she who coined the salutation “Ms”, and who founded Ms. Magazine. When I saw she had written a memoir, I knew I had to have it, and when Net Galley and Random House gave me the DRC, I was delighted. But this is one of the few books that if I’d had to, I’d have been willing to pay full jacket price in order to read. Heroes are thin on the ground these days, and we treasure those that still walk among us. My reading records, some three years of documentation, reflect over 300 biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs I’ve read, and I didn’t even start listing them until about 3 years ago, so who knows how many? The one thing I know to expect, when someone really famous sits down to tell us about her life, is that the ego will be there. It might be veiled, especially if the person is famous for writing as opposed to something else, or it might be big and bold. Once in awhile it’s been so bald-faced that I came away wishing I hadn’t read the book so I could go on liking the author. So for one of the most famous of living feminists, I was braced and ready. And this icon’s ego isn’t there. I don’t mean she hides it well; I just don’t find it. And it appears as if large amounts of time spent among Native sisters in struggle—Wilma Mankiller foremost among them—taught her so much about focusing on the circle, rather than a table that has someone at its head, a big-boss type, that she let go of whatever ego she might have been thinking about building. For example, when she works as an organizer, she dreads public speaking, but looks forward to the place at which one part of the auditorium begins to answer the questions from another part, and she knows a circle has formed, one in which she becomes just another person present. I was blown away! Steinem began her career in journalism, and she is one of the finest writers whose work I have read. For a brief time in years gone by, I dismissed her because of her sometimes-attachment to Democratic party candidates, but the sum of her contributions has been so much more that I missed the forest for the trees during that time of my life. Now I want to read everything she ever wrote. Travel is a great metaphor, but it’s also a material fact for Steinem. She grew up with a father who was a traveling salesman, and unlike most such men, he took his family with him. For most of her childhood, there was no home, merely a series of stop-overs. This rootless existence would leave some children traumatized. Kids thrive on routine, and not all would be able to translate constant travel into a sense of the usual. But Steinem mostly remembers it as a positive attribute, and credits her parents for their capacity to question social norms during a time most Americans were madly conforming. The fact that she continued to live out of a suitcase once she was grown and on her own is the greatest testament of all to her upbringing, and to her response to it. There are oh, so many stories, some of which made me laugh out loud, and others that made me think. You can go winnow those out for yourself. And of course, my favorites may not be yours. But the one thing I can promise you is a really great read, one with depth, yet not difficult to access. It’s friendly and feels as if we are having coffee with an old, dear friend, right at the table with one another. A circular table. You have to read this book. It will be available in stores October 27, or you can pre-order it now.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly

    I wasn't sure what to expect with this book. I'm trying to broaden my horizons this year, and reading more non-fiction by women writers is part of that effort. My book diet to date has been sadly bereft of this type of writing and I'm aiming to improve. This book came highly recommended and did not disappoint. I found this book to be a cross between a memoir and a history book, aka required reading. I knew so little about the author herself, let alone about the various people, places, and topics I wasn't sure what to expect with this book. I'm trying to broaden my horizons this year, and reading more non-fiction by women writers is part of that effort. My book diet to date has been sadly bereft of this type of writing and I'm aiming to improve. This book came highly recommended and did not disappoint. I found this book to be a cross between a memoir and a history book, aka required reading. I knew so little about the author herself, let alone about the various people, places, and topics she discussed. Her story began with her itinerant father who, while perennially absent, provided her with strong parental guidance and instilled in her a love for travel. From there, her story meanders back and forth in time covering various hot spots in history, as well as touching on turning points in Gloria Steinem's life. Sometimes the two intersected and often provided teachable moments, both for the author and the reader. I quite enjoyed this book. I found myself Googling various events that Gloria discussed as I sometimes had little, if any, knowledge about them and I wanted to learn more. She really seems to have had a remarkable life, and I'm glad that she has decided to share her experiences.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

    3.5 out of 5 stars (I feel like I give half star ratings way too frequently but whatever.) THIS book was really interesting and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Not that I expected not to enjoy it, just that I liked it more than I thought I would. . Going into it, I didn't know that much about Gloria Steinem so it was great to learn more. I uploaded my review of this book on my YouTube channel so if you are interested then you should definitely check it out- https://youtu.be/Cv0F7O8SNGk 3.5 out of 5 stars (I feel like I give half star ratings way too frequently but whatever.) THIS book was really interesting and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Not that I expected not to enjoy it, just that I liked it more than I thought I would. . Going into it, I didn't know that much about Gloria Steinem so it was great to learn more. I uploaded my review of this book on my YouTube channel so if you are interested then you should definitely check it out- https://youtu.be/Cv0F7O8SNGk :)

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jeannot

    If I'm completely honest this book was a bit hard to go through, but I'm glad I know more about Gloria Steinem. Her story is very powerful and empowering. If I'm completely honest this book was a bit hard to go through, but I'm glad I know more about Gloria Steinem. Her story is very powerful and empowering.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Maria

    I stopped reading for a moment. Gloria Steinem's melodious voice faded into quietness and all I could hear was the silence surrounding me. I remember thinking, how is it possible to be so quiet when there's a revolution going on inside my head? Then I realized I had yet to speak up. My Life on the Road is an extraordinary journey. More than a book of hope, it's a book of possibilities. Not only are we told stories that make us believe that equality is possible, we are shown proof that equality wa I stopped reading for a moment. Gloria Steinem's melodious voice faded into quietness and all I could hear was the silence surrounding me. I remember thinking, how is it possible to be so quiet when there's a revolution going on inside my head? Then I realized I had yet to speak up. My Life on the Road is an extraordinary journey. More than a book of hope, it's a book of possibilities. Not only are we told stories that make us believe that equality is possible, we are shown proof that equality was once a reality. As Rayna Green would say, "Feminism is a memory". I find the way equality was discussed in this book absolutely wonderful. It's refreshing to read someone writing about how it is truly difference, its acceptance and the respect for it, and by it. Difference is indeed one of the characteristics we all have in common. "When humans are ranked instead of linked, everyone loses." We might have a similar shade of brown eyes, but we all see the world differently. And one specific way is not better than the other, it's just different. This fact only makes the world a richer place. It's something we should celebrate. "If you want people to listen to you, you have to listen to them. If you hope people will change how they live, you have to know how they live. If you want people to see you, you have to sit down with them eye-to-eye." I had never heard of Gloria Steinem before. However, while reading this book, her voice felt familiar, like one of an old friend that you haven't seen in years. Suddenly you run into each other and it's like you were never apart in the first place. I am so grateful for this intimate tone, for her delicate presence. "In fact, many questions have three or seven or dozen sides. Sometimes I think the only real division into two is between people who divide everything into two, and those who don't." This book is a lesson. A lesson on history, on humanity, on hope and possibilities. It's a lesson one shouldn't skip, a lesson told by one's favourite professor. All you have to do is listen. Then raise your hand and speak. "I could leave – because I could return. I could return – because I knew adventure lay just beyond an open door. Instead of either/or, I discovered a whole world of and." Gloria Steinem's memories are so alive. It was a pleasure to walk, arms linked, down her memory lane. I hope more people decide on taking this path. I hope more people fall in love with the idea that one can travel wherever they are, even if they have been in the same place their whole lives. Oh, and never forget to ask the turtle. You may think you know where it wants to go, but you will never be sure until you ask it.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Bloodorange

    I started reading this book on Carol's recommendation, with only a dim awareness of who Gloria Steinem is. I knew her as a Ms. founder/editor, the "pretty feminist" attractive enough to become, and write about the plight of, a Playboy Bunny, and remembered some comments of "seasoned" feminists I encountered stating that Steinem was "privileged". The book does not even mention the Bunny episode, and effectively dispels any myth of financial privilege; Steinem's childhood was full of adventures ca I started reading this book on Carol's recommendation, with only a dim awareness of who Gloria Steinem is. I knew her as a Ms. founder/editor, the "pretty feminist" attractive enough to become, and write about the plight of, a Playboy Bunny, and remembered some comments of "seasoned" feminists I encountered stating that Steinem was "privileged". The book does not even mention the Bunny episode, and effectively dispels any myth of financial privilege; Steinem's childhood was full of adventures caused by her parents' maladjustments and their attempts to survive when money was scant. For a person like me - a curious European - this book was a great introduction into some more secret parts of America: distant homelands in the north part of the country, where the police do not dare enter (these are just mentioned, but how!), its prisons, and regions of the country inhabited by Native Americans. It also is a great primer on race issues and organizing - the social/ activist kind - and I would heartily recommend it to anyone who sees their future in activism. Things I loved: 1) Common sense: I remember an African American woman judge in a night court who refused to hear charges against any woman accused of prostitution until her customer was arrested, too. It was amazing how fast those charges melted away.2) ...and its subversive applications: people should have sued for being culturally deprived in a white ghetto. When humans are ranked instead of linked, everyone loses.Describing the practice of directing welfare mothers from Nevada to a legal, licensed brothel (1971) on penalty of losing welfare/unemployment checks:I am discovering that words have consequences (...) If prostitution is "sex work", a job like any other, then women can be required to do it. Men, too.3) Useful pieces of trivia:...the Catholic Church not only didn't oppose abortion but actually regulated it until the mid-nineteenth century. It was made a mortal sin mostly for population reasons. Napoleon III wanted more soldiers, and Pope Pius IX wanted all the teaching positions in the French schools - plus the doctrine of papal infallibility - so they traded. ... ...as we explained our idea of teaching Gandhian tactics to women's movements, [Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay, a rare woman leader during the independence struggle] listened to us patiently, sitting and rocking on her veranda, sipping tea. When we were finished, she said, "Well, of course, my dears. We taught him everything he knew."4) Steinem's penchant for one-liners:Surrealism is the triumph of form over content. -so true of our political situation at the moment!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

    "[...] yet I was traveling and making the discovery that ordinary people are smart, smart people are ordinary, decisions are best made by the people affected by them, and human beings have an almost infinite capacity for adapting to the expectations around us- which is both the good and the bad news." Τελειώνοντας αυτό το βιβλίο έμεινα με ένα πολύ όμορφο συναίσθημα: έμαθα πολλά πράγματα και μου άνοιξε την όρεξη για να μάθω ακόμη περισσότερα! Η Gloria Steinem αφηγείται ιστορίες από τα ταξίδια "[...] yet I was traveling and making the discovery that ordinary people are smart, smart people are ordinary, decisions are best made by the people affected by them, and human beings have an almost infinite capacity for adapting to the expectations around us- which is both the good and the bad news." Τελειώνοντας αυτό το βιβλίο έμεινα με ένα πολύ όμορφο συναίσθημα: έμαθα πολλά πράγματα και μου άνοιξε την όρεξη για να μάθω ακόμη περισσότερα! Η Gloria Steinem αφηγείται ιστορίες από τα ταξίδια της και σιγά-σιγά ξεδιπλώνει μια ολόκληρη ζωή στο δρόμο, δίπλα σε ανθρώπους πολύ διαφορετικούς μεταξύ τους, οι οποίοι τη βοήθησαν να ανακαλύψει ένα σωρό πράγματα για τη διαφορετικότητα, τον κόσμο, τους ανθρώπους, την ιστορία και με τη σειρά της να βοηθήσει εμάς να τα ανακαλύψουμε. Εκτίμησα πάρα πολύ τη συνεχή αναφορά σε βιβλία και συγγραφείς, έχω ήδη βάλει στη λίστα μου πολύ υλικό. Δεν σταμάτησα να σημειώνω καθ'όλη τη διάρκεια της ανάγνωσης. Όταν ένας τόσο έξυπνος, δοτικός και παθιασμένος άνθρωπος, που έχει υπάρξει μάρτυρας σε ορισμένες από τις σημαντκότερες στιγμές της σύγχρονης (αμερικάνικης κατά βάση,αλλά με παγκόσμιες προεκτάσεις) ιστορίας και έχει συμβάλλει αποφασιστικά στη διαμόρφωση κάποιων από αυτών αποφασίζει να μοιραστεί τις εμπειρίες και τα συμπεράσματά του, δεν μπορείς παρά να επωφεληθείς!! Το αγαπημένο μου κεφάλαιο ήταν αναμφισβήτητα το τελευταίο, που είχε να κάνει με τους αυτόχθονες Αμερικανούς, την κουλτούρα τους, το πόσο μπροστά ήταν τόσο σε κοινωνικά (αντιμετώπιση της γυναίκας,δημοκρατική κοινωνία στη οποία βασίστηκε και η δημοκρατία των ΗΠΑ) ), όσο και σε πρακτικά θέματα (τρόποι καλλιέργειας) και τον απαράδεκτο τρόπο με τον οποίο αντιμετωπίζονται ακόμη και σήμερα. Σε πολλά σημεία του βιβλίου συγκινήθηκα πολύ, σε άλλα θύμωσα κι έμεινα έκπληκτη με τη σκληρότητα και την αδικία των ανθρώπων- στο τέλος ένιωσα ευγνωμοσύνη για όσους αγώνες δόθηκαν για μένα, πριν από μένα, ώστε να μπορώ εγώ σήμερα να διαβάζω με έκπληξη όσα ήταν αναμενόμενα για τις γυναίκες στο παρελθόν και ελπίζω να έρθει σύντομα η μέρα που η ισότητα θα είναι γεγονός σε όλα τα σημεία του πλανήτη και για όλους κι όλες. " I was angry about the human talent that was lost just because it was born into a female body, and the mediocrity that was rewarded because it was born into a male one." Κλείνω με αυτό: " No wonder oral history turns out to be more accurate than written history. The first is handed down from the many who were present. The second is written by the few who probably weren't. " [Readathon17: 6/52, "μία βιογραφία ή απομνημονεύματα"]

  25. 4 out of 5

    Katelyn

    Gloria Steinem's life experiences have been so many and so varied, My Life On The Road reads like a collection of short stories. In many ways it is, because she shares personal adventures alongside second-hand accounts. Steinem's greatest asset as an organizer and writer is her efforts in simply listening. This book is the result of all those years of listening and learning. Steinem organizes her chapters by theme and discusses events with only a loose chronology. Dates are always provided, howev Gloria Steinem's life experiences have been so many and so varied, My Life On The Road reads like a collection of short stories. In many ways it is, because she shares personal adventures alongside second-hand accounts. Steinem's greatest asset as an organizer and writer is her efforts in simply listening. This book is the result of all those years of listening and learning. Steinem organizes her chapters by theme and discusses events with only a loose chronology. Dates are always provided, however, so the reader does not get lost. Not to mention, so many of her experiences, particularly in Chapter V When the Political Is Personal, are iconic and distinctive in American historical memory. These events are constructed anew from the point of view of a woman, feminist, writer, and organizer. As a first book for Emma Watson's book club Our Shared Shelf, it provides a detailed and helpful description of important checkpoints in American feminist history for an international cohort of readers. There are places where Steinem conflates the privilege and the necessity of travel (which in some cases might merely be termed geographical movement, quite frankly—is travel a term of luxury?). She references the migrant Roma people as an example after stating that "an addiction to travel can exist anywhere" in the Introduction. She also romanticizes traveling in her claims that some lessons "can be learned only on the road" (Prelude). Despite how she essentializes travel, the road, etc., at the front end of the book, she remedies this with greater specificity later on—many of these lessons are hard won, and many of them are not realized until years after the fact. The book begins with reminiscences of childhood adventure and ends with the loss of a beautiful life. The book moved me to laughter (an escape) and tears (of both sadness and anger). Steinem writes not for herself, not as if she is writing in a journal, but she writes to each of us, encouraging and, despite her many accomplishments and the joy she clearly takes from describing her life's work, hardly self-indulgent. I recommend this book to any young woman who is looking for her next meaningful adventure. "I could leave—because I could return. I could return—because I knew adventure lay just beyond an open door."

  26. 5 out of 5

    Emily Williams

    I actually listened to this from audible when walking to and from work. Not sure how it would read, but I found it really inspiring as an audiobook. Gloria Steinem wrote beautifully on travel, feminism, organizing, race, and friendship. Some of my favorite moments were small descriptions of chance encounters with cab drivers or attendees of an event. Personal and moving, you can tell she can connect deeply with people. Don't know how it reads as a book, but I'm glad I "read" it. I actually listened to this from audible when walking to and from work. Not sure how it would read, but I found it really inspiring as an audiobook. Gloria Steinem wrote beautifully on travel, feminism, organizing, race, and friendship. Some of my favorite moments were small descriptions of chance encounters with cab drivers or attendees of an event. Personal and moving, you can tell she can connect deeply with people. Don't know how it reads as a book, but I'm glad I "read" it.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Renée

    This is such a wonderful record by a public figure I treasure; however, the writing is repetitive and the organization is chaotic. It's still highly readable and quite moving, but I wish time had been taken for better editing of this important memoir. This is such a wonderful record by a public figure I treasure; however, the writing is repetitive and the organization is chaotic. It's still highly readable and quite moving, but I wish time had been taken for better editing of this important memoir.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Antonomasia

    [3.5] A few days ago I became fascinated by the phenomenon of the Our Shared Shelf group: then less than a week old, and a testament to the pull of the right celebrity, it had become the biggest group on Goodreads in only a few days, and at time of writing (18-19 Jan), with 93 000+ members, is nearing twice the size of the next biggest group. There may be no way to say this without sounding like a class-tourist hipster, but that group right now is the reallest fucking thing I've ever seen on Goo [3.5] A few days ago I became fascinated by the phenomenon of the Our Shared Shelf group: then less than a week old, and a testament to the pull of the right celebrity, it had become the biggest group on Goodreads in only a few days, and at time of writing (18-19 Jan), with 93 000+ members, is nearing twice the size of the next biggest group. There may be no way to say this without sounding like a class-tourist hipster, but that group right now is the reallest fucking thing I've ever seen on Goodreads. If I read a bunch of reviews of popular YA or Romance or something to try and get at "realness", "ordinariness", it's futile as they soon sound as insular and self-referential as any geek fandom echo-chamber, and it's overwhelmingly North American. Whereas the 'Our Shared Shelf' people are mostly new, they don't know each other, they're not, as a group, specialists in anything - they mostly want to learn about feminism rather than expound pre-existing detailed opinions - and they really are from all over the world, *and* talking to one another, not living in little separate clique-pockets the way Goodreads usually operates. It's far closer to a real worldwide perspective than some Global North Anglo student or graduate theorising about opinions and experiences are in the rest of the world on the basis of articles, blogs and books they've read. (Of course I am totally that person as well: just another patchily-informed secondary source.) Another fascination was with the the potential carcrash aspects of the group, wondering which way it would go: Its initial chaos and lack of monitoring, followed by the appointment of a couple of mods, brand new to Goodreads, and without the detailed knowledge of different forms of feminism that large numbers of long-term site members have, those people who regularly write detailed responses to feminist books. (At least some of whom presumably have the objectivity to direct others to material that isn't their own favoured form of feminism.) And shouldn't a group this size, with this kind of celebrity/media connection, have paid mods? There isn't exactly a shortage of social-media literate people with a good grasp of feminisms and their history who'd be able to do it. People who get that it's not feminism, but feminisms plural, containing huge varieties of opinion. Not confidently opining that something "isn't feminism" when, with a wee bit of general knowledge it would take about 30 seconds to find a radical feminist site saying that thing very much is.) Then there's the first book selection, a recently published memoir by a second wave white US feminist, relatively expensive to buy, already out on loan from many members' libraries, hard to get hold of legally in many non-Anglo countries, and certainly not translated into other languages yet. I've no strong opinion about Emma Watson; she evidently means well and seems like a nice person. I'm not a massive fan of Harry Potter (which wasn't even out until I was at university; I stopped reading after book 4), but I'm grateful that her portrayal of Hermione in the early films provide a convenient shorthand to describe the sort of smartarse kid I was at that age. Alongside presumable inspiration from Zuckerberg, it seems as if Watson was prompted to start the book group by reading about feminism she'd been doing for her UN work. Gloria Steinem's memoir is perfect for someone in Watson's role: the author is a famous white woman from a prosperous country, she travels a lot, she's concerned with learning the perspectives of other people from different backgrounds and including and empowering those people; and even if she didn't get a freebie from a publisher, not being able to afford the book was never going to be an issue. It's the kind of situation I'd have expected popular book sites with diversity and social justice concerns, BookRiot for example, to jump on, but there doesn't seem to be any comment on the difficulties outside of Twitter. (It also feels invisible elsewhere on Goodreads, though a couple of my GR friends have joined.) Presumably there's such goodwill towards Watson that the media are allowing time to sort out the situation before they consider criticism. I think the choice of the next book is critical: there's speculation that it might be Patti Smith's Just Kids; a personal favourite of mine, but completely the wrong choice for that group: another memoir by an American white woman of retirement age. Yes, there's absolutely the queer aspect, that's a lot of why I love the book, but there's the whole rest of the world out there. I don't think individuals should be made to feel guilty for choosing books they connect with, something that can be a side effect of campaigns for 'diverse' reading - but this isn't about an individual's personal choices: it's about selecting a book for a huge group of people from dozens of countries, and books from different places should absolutely, unquestionably be a priority there. Looking through the threads at the end of last week, one title that kept coming up more than any other, one that's translated into multiple languages, is readily available second hand and to borrow, and of interest to many of the users, is I Am Malala. I think that would be the most sensible choice next - and one that should be the lesson of reading Steinem's book, with her stories of listening to grassroots activists, and the essence of her book that surely rings true with anyone who's ever enjoyed travelling independently: taking to the road, by which I mean letting the road take you. Not to mention, in her reflections on fundraising, finding myself in an elegantly furnished room that could pay for dozens of the projects I'm working with ... wealth next to poverty is surrealistic. If I'd made one of those 2015 on Goodreads posts, the main topic would have been successfully cutting down on buying books; and, related, the way that not enough notice is taken in the book blogging and online reviewing communities of books as commodities, that plenty of people reading these posts can't afford to, or really shouldn't be, spending the money that's needed to read like some of these people, especially those who get lots of limited access review copies. Other types of 'privilege' are foregrounded in literary discussion, but the privilege of having access to books, especially new, obscure or academic titles, (a fundamental issue which attracted 153 posts in one thread the new group than did the 'intersectionality' topic with 48 posts across 3 threads), an issue that usually goes forgotten among gleeful declarations which are basically highbrow haul posts, and the impossibility of not buying books is an ever-present trope. (And when buying is to be resisted, it's the complete 'book buying ban', the crash diet frequently followed by binges, rather than a permanent reduction to buying only what one is immediately going to read, and learning to ignore many of those urges to buy.) One is more likely to hear about the need to support small publishers than about all the people who have more limited options than those publishers would if they had to give up or go part time on their book businesses. There is some overlap between 'the book industry' and 'the readers' which inevitably gets in the way here, but I think that those who write about books non-professionally don't do enough to suggest or imply that readers should look after themselves by not buying excessively, nor to model reading affordably without waving a largesse of hard-to-get ARCs in the public's faces. (There would always be the constraint of differing library stocks, and subscription access varying between countries - a difference that can't be helped.) The format of book discussion, the newsfeed or the RSS feed, is essentially an advertising structure, although we're using it to be sociable. A lot of active resistance is required to learn to say no and keep saying it: to say that actually it might be possible to not buy a lot of books; accepting that one may never read something is made to seem heretical, but that is one of the biggest ideas that helped me crack the overacquisition of books, alongside 'Bookseller X / Author Y is not a charity, do they really need this money more?' (The latter isn't for the comfortably off who have no reason to believe they won't always be comfortably off.) People who can't afford a book, or who need to prioritise other expenses, aren't just pictures in some news report about welfare claimants or aid work in an African country; they are also here, online, reading and talking, (they are not just a talked-about other - a rarely talked about other) and, albeit in differing proportions, they are in practically every country. I don't have a clue what it's like never to have been able to afford books, or no more than a handful a year through your whole life; I am talking with the zeal and regret of the convert. Through my teens and adult life I must have spent thousands on books I didn't read, couldn't feasibly get round to reading, or wasn't sure about. I had it in the first place, unlike many, but I should have been saving most of it for these years of rainy days. I shouldn't have been spending much of it on books during these years of rainy days. I haven't forgotten my own attitude to "being told what to read" for other political reasons, or that enjoyment and solace, so important when life is difficult, seem to be denigrated when people are harangued to read more books by a given social group. It's more that when people are parading their social conscience about other book-related topics, they conveniently forget this one. If I had a blog, I would, as of the start of this year, be a pious git who had stopped requesting or reviewing ARCs that weren't available to all, and made a point of having a very small book budget and buying within, preferably below it. I was one of the fortunate few who could access this book without having to pay extra. (That's the only reason I'm writing this. And I'm writing this here because I don't really know how to be in that kind of group without walking in with my sleeves rolled up, trying to manage it; because being in a group like that and being that way is something I could only imagine doing via a freshly ironed 'work self' disconnected from all the years of crud and words and disagreeableness built up on this profile and that's not how life works in social media; realistically it's a waste of energy, spitting in the wind, to go on at length in such a large group, probably boring to the handful who see it before it's quickly subsumed. Easier just to tell a handful of GR friends who can be arsed to read this essay-sized review.) But I did have to use an audiobook. I'm not very good at taking in audio, but it seems that a travel-focused memoir is easier than fiction which is all new information, or more heavy-duty fact- and argument-packed non-fiction. I missed bits, I didn't always know what year it was or who an anecdote was about, but I sometimes typed out the odd quote, and what I definitely picked up was an ethos. She knows the buzz of travelling alone and meeting random people, and also of getting stuck in and wanting to do something about stuff. How great to combine the two. It's been a relief to notice other posters saying the memoir is disorganised and skips about; large chunks of non-interactive audio tend to feel that way in my head anyway, but it was also obvious that My Life on the Road goes back and forth across time in non-systematic ways, which didn't help. It was likeable but earnest (I only laughed once* in nine hours of listening) and always felt like a massively extended anecdote from somebody I'd met on a yoga course, back when I used to do those. A really nice person who'd done some great stuff, absolutely fine to talk to for an hour or two, but at this length just a bit too serious and too free with the unsubstantiated claims about sociology, history and spirituality. Maybe the print edition has references; these statements range from the very probable, like the Iroquois Confederacy as inspiration for the US constitution, and Ho Chih Minh's time living in New York, through various statistics that don't feel right or as if they were collected using deliberately biased questions, to ideas I know to be academically incorrect, like the quasi-Marija Gimbutas stuff. And some of her stories of inspirational friends, although these evidently were great people, spill over into motivational-poster syrupiness. But at least, unlike said yoga people, she doesn't go on about The Power of Now. (Which overemphasises internal locus of control. One of my issues with the online-SJW movement is that it conversely overemphasises external locus of control. Steinem has a realistic and perceptive balance between the two.) Some article or book I read in my teens described Steinem and Dworkin as emblematic of opposite sides of feminism: I always knew I preferred the Steinem side, but this is the first time I'd read a whole book of hers. And it's great reading a memoir rather than a polemic - most feminist polemics, with their sweeping generalisations, feel like they say nothing to me about my life and my experiences, not to mention a family history peppered with women described as 'formidable' and 'intimidating', several of them aggressive to meek, kind husbands in ways Last of the Summer Wine wouldn't have been able to use as comedy, and some in careers 'ahead of their time'? I'm from a different planet, with a different set of problems on which there's very little ready-made guidance aimed at women, who are often assumed to be downtrodden, not [potential] downtreaders. But Steinem's memoir isn't about sweeping generalisations: it's packed with real, solid examples of problems that exist[ed] in specific places and what was done about them. She also epitomises the optimal Belbin 'Co-ordinator' management style of listening and delegating, rather than dictating to others. [Shaper/M-E/Plant/R-I here, and it's showing in this post.] This book is a pretty good place to learn some history of second-wave US feminism with an engaging and friendly narrative, and other posts show it has been enjoyed by people who agree less with Steinem than I do. There were odd sentences here and there I'd take issue with, but it seems like audio is about the forest more than the trees. The only extended section of the book I didn't get on with is Steinem's Hillary Clinton fandom. Whilst I would absolutely love to see a Clinton/Fiorina presidential race, something which looked possible for a while in autumn 2015, if I were American I wouldn't want to vote for Clinton (and in case it's not obvious, I wouldn't be a Republican either). Hearing Steinem sell Hillary's campaigns at least made me realise the reasons for my rather unforgiving view of the politician. I say 'unforgiving' but this is a question of the first woman president of the fucking United States. You have to be really, really good. Someone with the presence and authority of Thatcher and Merkel. Steinem tries to promote Hillary as 'friendly' and 'would make a good girlfriend' - in the US platonic sense - but that is just not what I admire in a female politician. Probably the aforementioned ancestry is showing, but I like the idea of a formidable Thatcher of the left, and conversely of approachable, down-to-earth, but equally strongly principled male politicians like Corbyn. Nearly all of the time I'm in favour of people being able to put the past behind them and change, that they might be able to be someone different now. But this is such an exceptionally important role, and as far as I'm concerned Hillary permanently trashed her sense of authority by a) not continuing to work independently as a lawyer rather than being a full time First Lady (compare with Cherie Blair) and b) not leaving Bill at the first signs of unethical behaviour in office. For this job, one must be an independent actor, not a 'Stand By Your Man' appendage, still standing by him now (and therefore implicitly by the questionable parts of his presidency); it's not like it was the 1890s when leaving would have been much more difficult to imagine and do. I'm not a great fan of sheepish party line-toers, and that's what staying with Bill to help maintain the Presidency was. Just about anyone else I'd be saying it was ludicrous and unfair to hold them to similar decisions they'd made twenty years ago, but this - especially as it's framed as the election of an individual - is one of the few things that's just too big. Maybe if she'd divorced him after his term in office I'd have more respect. Though if I were American and she ended up as the Democrat candidate, I might feel obliged to vote for her, grudgingly, anyway. It's not like there are any other viable parties I'd consider. Steinem may be in her eighties but she has moved admirably with the times: this book really wants to be inclusive and intersectional and gives a lot of space to partnerships with, and the achievements and ideas of, black womanists (and black male activists including Baldwin & MLK) and American Indian feminists. It is, though, very much about the USA and not about international feminism, other than her ahead-of-their-time gap years to India in the 1950s, during which she says she learned a lot from Gandhi's approach of 'walking among villages'. Gandhi has been subject to some revisionism recently, but here he's presented as inspirational to feminists internationally and in India. It was great to be reminded of an important idea I'd previously half thought of and forgotten: that disability should be seen as pertinent to everyone and not just as a minority interest-group: it's a state that people both enter and leave, and most people are in at some stage of life (via ageing, and/or significant injuries such as broken limbs). And she is continually aware of poverty; she grew up relatively poor, but not like some of the Native American communities she worked with in the 60s and 70s who didn't even have running water in their villages. This was a book that even a week ago, I never thought I'd read. I'm surprised to have got through a whole feminist text without getting wound up and wanting to rant, but this format really agreed with me and is the sort of thing I'd hoped to see more of in feminist writing: Steinem's focus on specific people, communities and problems and on poverty issues means that the reader typically alienated by generalisations that don't bear out in her own life is instead thinking about other people and how and why they are or were less fortunate. And needless to say, I loved the travel stories and the witnessing of history because I always like those things. Interesting book for me - and interesting to have a go with audio - just unfortunately not the most accessible choice for that group. * It was someone else's joke, too. This is among 1970s feminists...An American Indian activist, Wilma Mankiller, had a hereditary surname related to a family duty of protecting the village from intruders. Having been asked about the name too many times, she now deadpanned, "I earned it." [I think there are too many feminist jokes about violence to men, but the delivery, and the life this woman had had made it seem different. It was just funny.]

  29. 5 out of 5

    Richard Jespers

    In 1972, when I’m a graduate student at Southern Methodist University, I attend an event in which Gloria Steinem speaks to the student body. Her address, along with an inter-term class entitled Women in the Church and Society, converts me almost overnight from a chauvinistic twenty-three-year-old seminarian, who can’t lift a finger to help out his working wife, to a young man who begins to mend his ways. The month-long class precipitates a metamorphosis that ends in my coming out as a gay man an In 1972, when I’m a graduate student at Southern Methodist University, I attend an event in which Gloria Steinem speaks to the student body. Her address, along with an inter-term class entitled Women in the Church and Society, converts me almost overnight from a chauvinistic twenty-three-year-old seminarian, who can’t lift a finger to help out his working wife, to a young man who begins to mend his ways. The month-long class precipitates a metamorphosis that ends in my coming out as a gay man and deciding the Church will not be a very felicitous place for me to work for the rest of my life. Feminism saves my life. The same philosophy that frees millions of women from sex roles also frees men from those passed on to them by their fathers, whether they want to be like their fathers or not. Steinem begins with a dedication that is more like a confession. She thanks, posthumously, the British doctor, who performs an abortion for her twenty-two-year-old personage. She promises not to tell anyone about the procedure but also promises to do what she wants with her life. She says, “I’ve done the best I could with my life. This book is for you.” Almost immediately, Steinem leaves England for India, where she spends two years helping women to organize. But first she takes the reader back to her childhood in Toledo, Ohio. Because she attends Smith College, I always assume she’s had a rather privileged childhood. Not so. Her father is an antique dealer, who packs up his family in a car every summer to search for treasures and adventures. Her mother, however, suffers from depression, more than likely for having never achieved the things that she would have liked, asserts the author. When my own mother suffers like the very women that Betty Friedan documents in her book The Feminine Mystique, I don’t have much sympathy for her. It seems like a choice she happily makes, come what may. She doesn’t anticipate that her first child will be mentally challenged or that because of her three needy children, she won’t be able to have a career in teaching, the one for which she’s trained, earned a degree. Of course, I every now and then experience a pang of guilt for not being as sensitive to my mother’s struggles as I could be. She devotes forty largely thankless years to the care of my sister. After fifty-six years of marriage, my father exclaims upon her death, “I never realized how much she did for me.” Me, either. Steinem’s travels include work as a journalist in the 1960s; her most famous article may be one in which she gets hired as a Playboy Bunny and writes a scathing exposé of the Bunnies’ working conditions. She helps to organize the 1977 National Women’s Conference in Houston, and extends her travels to help Native women organize on their reservations—places where largely non-tribal men rape females with impunity. She develops lifelong relationships from coast to coast and around the world. This tome treats women’s issues with wisdom, humor, and a devotion that is unmatched. Like her five previous books, this one should be read by men and women alike. Steinem is a national treasure because of her courage and devotion to improving the lives of women everywhere, and we should never forget it. Some golden nuggets from Ms. Steinem’s book: “I could see that, because the Gandhians listened, they were listened to. Because they depended on generosity, they created generosity. Because they walked a nonviolent path, they made one seem possible. This was the practical organizing wisdom they taught me: If you want people to listen to you, you have to listen to them. If you hope people will change how they live, you have to know how they live. If you want people to see you, you have to sit down with them eye-to-eye” (37). “We might have known sooner that the most reliable predictor of whether a country is violent within itself—or will use military violence against another country—is not poverty, natural resources, religion, or even degree of democracy; it’s violence against females” (43). “If someone called me a lesbian—in those days all single feminists were assumed to be lesbians—I learned to say, “Thank you.” It disclosed nothing, confused the accuser, conveyed solidarity with women who were lesbians, and made the audience laugh” (51). “When I was campaigning on the road and meeting with Republican or independent women, what I tried to say was: You didn’t leave your party. Your party left you. Forget about party labels. Just vote on the issues and for candidates who support equality” (47). Speaking of early-day airline requirements for female flight attendants: “. . . their appearance was prescribed down to age, height, weight (which was governed by regular weigh-ins), hairstyle, makeup (including a single shade of lipstick), skirt length, and other physical requirements that excluded such things as a ‘broad nose’—only one of many racist reasons why stewardesses were overwhelmingly white” (89-90). “A journey—whether it’s to the corner grocery or through life—is supposed to have a beginning, middle, and end, right? Well, the road is not like that at all. It’s the very illogic and the juxtaposed differences of the road—combined with our search for meaning—that make travel so addictive” (179). Or perhaps this sounds familiar: “The name of the Vatican body investigating the nuns is the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the same body that conducted the Inquisition, which came to be known as the Holocaust of Women because as many as eight million women healers and leaders of pre-Christian Europe were killed by torture and burning at the stake over more that five hundred years. Chief among their sins was passing on the knowledge of herbs and abortifacients that allowed women to decide whether and when to give birth” (208). On the Church’s complicity with slavery: “From 1492 to the end of the Indian Wars, an estimated fifteen million people were killed. A papal bull had instructed Christians to conquer non-Christian countries and either kill all occupants or ‘reduce their persons to perpetual slavery.’ From Africa to the Americas, slavery and genocide were blessed by the church, and riches from the so-called New World shored up the papacy and European monarchs. Whether out of guilt or a justifying belief that the original occupants were not fully human, history was replaced by the myth of almost uninhabited lands” (215). Quoting Wilma Mankiller, tribal leader: “Wilma said many Native people believed that the earth as a living organism would just one day shrug off the human species that was destroying it—and start over. In a less cataclysmic vision, humans would realize that we are killing our home and each other, and seek out The Way. That’s why Native people were guarding it” (239).

  30. 5 out of 5

    Laura Noggle

    *Wandering, like the road.* This was my first real introduction to Gloria Steinem. As a memoir/autobiography, it was pretty decent. There were pockets of beauty, and an underlying current of hope—not to mention she's a feminist icon. As far as faults, it was a bit disjointed and random. The chapters are loosely tied together, and like the road, often rambling. Still, she paints an evocative portrait of life as an advocate, wanderer, and journalist. Steinem is an inspiring woman who has spent her l *Wandering, like the road.* This was my first real introduction to Gloria Steinem. As a memoir/autobiography, it was pretty decent. There were pockets of beauty, and an underlying current of hope—not to mention she's a feminist icon. As far as faults, it was a bit disjointed and random. The chapters are loosely tied together, and like the road, often rambling. Still, she paints an evocative portrait of life as an advocate, wanderer, and journalist. Steinem is an inspiring woman who has spent her life as a champion for the rights of the under represented. I will definitely read more of her work. "When I began to travel as an organizer and was plunged into irrational juxtapositions on the road, I finally understood why laughter is a mark of wanderers, from the holy fools of Old Russia to the roadies of rock music. It turns out that laughter is the only free emotion—the only one that can't be compelled. We can be made to fear. We can even be made to believe we're in love, because, if we're kept dependent and isolated for long enough, we bond in order to survive. But laughter explodes like an aha! It comes when the punch line changes everything that has gone before, when two opposites collide and make a third, when we suddenly see a new reality. Einstein said he had to be very careful while shaving, because when he had an idea, he laughed—and he cut himself. Laughter is an orgasm of the mind." “You should write about take no-shit women like me. Girls need to know they can break the rules."

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