The Memoirs Of Famous Women With Brown Hair

A slide presentation.

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As much fun as it is to get drunk on Zoom, I appreciate it when “party” hosts get creative. Theres something about uniting around a common task that makes hanging out at a distance feel less crappy. My friend Jaime is one such host, recently gathering a multicoastal group of women together for a Powerpoint Party, an idea I appreciated very much. The premise is simple: Each person prepares a 3–5 minute slide presentation on any topic they want. Truly any topic—which in itself is just exciting to look forward to. Essentially it’s the world’s most informative drinking game and I think it’s an outstanding idea.

While I’ll admit my initial plans were to delve into a brief history of sequins, I decided to fill my slides with research I’d already done because I don’t actually like homework that much. I read a lot of memoirs by famous women with brown hair, and so they became the subjects of my slides. An added bonus of my presentation is tangible takeaways, and I like leaving people with to-do lists.

I read the blondes too, of course, but I find myself more strongly connected to the brunettes, perhaps by default. Also they just seem to be absolute goddesses with the way they unapologetically tell the truth. Feeling so proud of myself following completion of my presentation, I decided to place it here for posterity and also because it makes an outstanding quarantine reading list. What follows are my personal favorite memoirs of women with brown hair, though that is a list ever-growing. Enjoy.

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I do want to point out that all of the other presentations were far more beautiful than mine, but I hope I make up in content what I lack in graphic design ability.

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This is a book about beautiful people, and beautiful souls, coming together because they were clearly destined to. I treasure this book, I bought it used and the pages are falling out, which I somehow think would make both of them happy. Patti Smith is one of my favorite writers, her work kind of consumes you, folding you into a little bandana bundle that she carries around on a stick. It should be noted that following this book with M Train, also by Patti Smith, is required.

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What a fascinating life to peer into. Someone once told me I look like Anjelica Huston, photo below so that you can make your own judgments, but that was easily the best compliment of my life. I love the sheer badassery in only including a portion of your life in a memoir, acknowledging that you’ve simply lived so much that what you have to say can’t possibly be contained in just one volume. Both of Anjelica Huston’s memoirs are outstanding, so full of detail I’m quite honestly a bit jealous of this woman’s memory. A Story Lately Told begins in Anjelica’s childhood and takes you right before she started performing in her most famous roles. I’m pretty generous about giving books away to friends but both of her books are part of my permanent collection.

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Self Portrait, 2018

I mean, I don’t not see it.

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Truly, this is one of my favorite books, of any genre. I might even like it more than the actual Bell Jar! This is Elizabeth Winder’s biography of Sylvia Plath, specifically during the summer she spent working at Mademoiselle magazine in New York, the time that would inspire Sylvia to write The Bell Jar. The research includes letters from women who knew Sylvia during this time, which I find fascinating, but also I love kind of escaping into a version of the world that in many ways no longer exists. Also part of my permanent collection. Get your own.

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I’m not sure I can stress the importance of this book enough. After a friend read it on my recommendation, she called to ask me why I connected so thoroughly with Jessica Simpson. I’ll tell you why. She lived a life where everyone around her made decisions for her all the while promising her it was all done so that she could get to where she wanted to go in life but it wasn’t until she grabbed her own life by the roots that she actually started to succeed on a gargantuan scale. She. Is. A. Billionaire. If you can’t connect with that energy then so help you. I find her life fascinating and her honesty comforting. She tells a lot of truth in a way that’s meant to help us connect with her, it never feels like you’re reading gossip. Most of the revelatory moments are about herself. She also acknowledges and thanks her ghostwriter by name and I really love that. Though, the phrase “I about died” does appear in the text so I know that she actually did write this with someone, because that my friends is the syntax of a Texan. I know it when I read it, being of the Lone Star State, myself.

Also, before you say it:

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She does have brown hair.

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This is quite possibly the best memoir I have ever read. I’m not being overly dramatic, nor is this book. It is exactly the right amount of dramatic and it better be the next book in your online shopping cart. How it’s not a #1 best seller right now is beyond me. This ghostwriter deserves an award for how well the book is written, and Demi deserves endless praise for spilling this much tea. It’s the kind of book that makes you realize if we’re going to be fans of people, we should really know their full stories so that we can appreciate more of them than just people they’re pretending to be on screen. This book is outstanding. How was it ever not going to be? It’s Demi.

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Both of these books are on their way to me in the mail, and I look forward to reporting back. I’ve heard that Mary-Louise Parker actually did write this herself and that she’s fantastic, and while I’ve heard nothing about Diane Keaton’s book…it’s Diane Keaton’s book. You’ll read it, you’ll love it.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this slide presentation and perhaps have found a new book or two to dust on the coffee table once a week. I’ve started stacking all the books I’ve read during quarantine in one pile and I’m trying to make it fall over like Jenga by the time there’s a vaccine. Wish me luck.

NPR once called me a humor essayist, let’s go with that. Host of A Single Serving Podcast. shanisilver[at]gmail

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