Love Mrs. Maisel? Five Totally Binge-Worthy Badass Women's Books You'll Love, Too!

One of our #30Days to Living Your Best Badass life prompts was to binge-watch a show about a badass woman.  From all the posts our members shared, a clear crowd favorite quickly emerged – “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”!

If you haven’t yet watched this show I cannot recommend it highly enough! Both Seasons 1 and 2 are available on Amazon Prime.   Quick summary:  Late 1950s New York City, Upper West Side.  Midge Maisel’s husband has dreams of a standup comedy career.  Midge, a committed supporter of his dream and cheerleader of his lackluster talent, nonetheless finds herself alone when he leaves her and moves in with his secretary.   But, guess what?  Turns out Midge was the funny one all along – and she gets the last laugh (literally) as she embarks on her own journey to become a standup comedian.  Midge, her manager, Susie, and even her mom, Rose, take turns tapping into their own personal and professional badassness as they navigate life, love, careers, and comedy.

From women comedians, to divorce revenge, to all the gloriousness of New York City, here are five books to entertain you until Midge arrives for the next season!

 
 

Is it possible to write a sidesplitting novel about the breakup of the perfect marriage? If the writer is Nora Ephron, the answer is a resounding yes. For in this inspired confection of adultery, revenge, group therapy, and pot roast, the creator of Sleepless in Seattle reminds us that comedy depends on anguish. The fact that this fiction story is not-so-loosely based on Ephron’s own divorce from journalist Carl Bernstein is just the metaphorical icing on the cake.

Seven months into her pregnancy, Rachel Samstat discovers that her husband, Mark, is in love with another woman. The fact that the other woman has "a neck as long as an arm and a nose as long as a thumb and you should see her legs" is no consolation. Food sometimes is, though, since Rachel writes cookbooks for a living. And in between trying to win Mark back and loudly wishing him dead, Ephron's irrepressible heroine offers some of her favorite recipes. Heartburn is a sinfully delicious novel, as soul-satisfying as mashed potatoes and as airy as a perfect soufflé.


 
 

There has been much speculation that the character of Midge Maisel was loosely based on the life of Joan Rivers. Rivers was more than a legendary comedian; she was an icon and a role model to millions, a fearless pioneer who left a legacy of expanded opportunity when she died in 2014. Her life was a dramatic roller-coaster of triumphant highs and devastating lows: the suicide of her husband, her feud with Johnny Carson, her estrangement from her daughter, her many plastic surgeries, her ferocious ambition and her massive insecurities. But Rivers' career was also hugely significant in American cultural history, breaking down barriers for her gender and pushing the boundaries of truth-telling for women in public life.

A juicy, intimate biography of one of the greatest comedians ever-a performer whose sixty-year career was borne, simply, out of a desire to make people laugh so she could feel loved, “Last Girl Before The Freeway” delves into the inner workings of a woman who both reflected and redefined the world around her.

 
 

From live comedy to television and bestseller lists, women rule the comedy industry―and, as this fascinating oral history shows, they have fought long and hard to make their way to the top. In We Killed, Yael Kohen assembles America's most prominent comediennes―along with the writers, producers, and nightclub owners in their orbit―to piece together the rise of women in American comedy. Beginning with the emergence of Phyllis Diller and Joan Rivers in the fifties and moving forward to the edgy intelligence of Elaine May and Lily Tomlin on to the tough-ass stand-ups who would take SNL by storm, Kohen chronicles the false starts, backslides, and triumphs of female comedians. With a chorus of more than one hundred creative voices, We Killed takes us backstage to tell the story of the revolution that brought us Tina Fey, Sarah Silverman, and Chelsea Handler―and a world where women can be smart, attractive, sexually confident, and flat-out funny.

 
 

From female pop culture powerhouses dominating the entertainment landscape to memoirs from today’s most vocal feminist comediennes shooting up the bestseller lists, women in comedy have never been more influential.

Marking this cultural shift, The Girl in the Show provides an in-depth exploration of how comedy and feminism have grown hand in hand to give women a stronger voice in the ongoing fight for equality. From I Love Lucy to SNL to today’s rising cable and web-series stars, Anna Fields’ entertaining retrospective combines amusing and honest personal narratives with the historical, political, and cultural contexts of the feminist movement.

With interview subjects like Abbi Jacobson, Molly Shannon, Mo Collins, and Lizz Winstead among others—as well as actresses, stand-up comics, writers, producers, and female comedy troupes—Fields shares true stories of wit and heroism from some of our most treasured (and under-represented) artists. At its heart, The Girl in the Show captures the urgency of our continued struggle towards equality, allowing the reader to both revel in—and rebel against—our collective ideas of “women’s comedy.”

 
 

New Yorker cartoonist and NYT bestselling author Roz Chast, native Brooklynite-turned-suburban commuter deemed the quintessential New Yorker, has always been intensely alive to the glorious spectacle that is Manhattan--the daily clash of sidewalk racers and dawdlers; the fascinating range of dress codes; and the priceless, nutty outbursts of souls from all walks of life.

For Chast, adjusting to life outside the city was surreal--(you can own trees!? you have to drive!?)--but she recognized that the reverse was true for her kids. On trips into town, they would marvel at the strange visual world of Manhattan--its blackened sidewalk gum-wads, "those West Side Story-things" (fire escapes)--and its crazily honeycombed systems and grids.

Told through Chast’s singularly zany, laugh-out-loud, touching, and true cartoons, Going Into Town is part New York stories (the "overheard and overseen" of the island borough), part personal and practical guide to walking, talking, renting, and venting--an irresistible, one-of-a-kind love letter to the city.

 

Gina Warner