When I was little more than 19 or 20, I took a trip with a friend to Washington, DC, where we found ourselves at some sort of women’s rights sit-in in the halls of Congress. Seated against the wall of one of those halls, struck up a conversation with the woman next to me who told me she was planning to start a feminist magazine. Being me, I gave her lots of advice about getting the word out. Gloria Steinem didn’t need my advice to make Ms. Magazine a success. But in My Life on the Road, she shares story after story of the people she met travelling—first with as a child with her eccentrically nomadic father, and later as a journalist, activist and public speaker—people perhaps like me only more interesting. People—from feminist colleagues to taxi cab drivers—whose stories and advice were building blocks to her organizing for women’s rights. This is an anecdotal account, easy to dip in and out of and full of sentences of deceptively simple clarity that you will want to underline and repeat. It’s equal parts armchair herstory, memoir and travelogue. So much of the last 50 years of the women’s liberation movement has been removed to the inaccessible pages of academic tomes. Here is your chance to go behind the scenes with one of the most influential women of our time and see how it’s done. -Kris' Top 10 Picks of 2015
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER | ONE OF O: THE OPRAH MAGAZINE’S TEN FAVORITE BOOKS OF THE YEAR | NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY Harper’s Bazaar • St. Louis Post-Dispatch • Publishers Weekly
Gloria Steinem—writer, activist, organizer, and inspiring leader—now tells a story she has never told before, a candid account of her life as a traveler, a listener, and a catalyst for change. Includes “Secrets,” a new chapter!
When people ask me why I still have hope and energy after all these years, I always say: Because I travel. Taking to the road—by which I mean letting the road take you—changed who I thought I was. The road is messy in the way that real life is messy. It leads us out of denial and into reality, out of theory and into practice, out of caution and into action, out of statistics and into stories—in short, out of our heads and into our hearts.
Gloria Steinem had an itinerant childhood. When she was a young girl, her father would pack the family in the car every fall and drive across country searching for adventure and trying to make a living. The seeds were planted: Gloria realized that growing up didn’t have to mean settling down. And so began a lifetime of travel, of activism and leadership, of listening to people whose voices and ideas would inspire change and revolution.
My Life on the Road is the moving, funny, and profound story of Gloria’s growth and also the growth of a revolutionary movement for equality—and the story of how surprising encounters on the road shaped both. From her first experience of social activism among women in India to her work as a journalist in the 1960s; from the whirlwind of political campaigns to the founding of Ms. magazine; from the historic 1977 National Women’s Conference to her travels through Indian Country—a lifetime spent on the road allowed Gloria to listen and connect deeply with people, to understand that context is everything, and to become part of a movement that would change the world.
In prose that is revealing and rich, Gloria reminds us that living in an open, observant, and “on the road” state of mind can make a difference in how we learn, what we do, and how we understand each other.
Praise for My Life on the Road
“Like Steinem herself, [My Life on the Road] is thoughtful and astonishingly humble. It is also filled with a sense of the momentous while offering deeply personal insights into what shaped her.”—O: The Oprah Magazine
“A lyrical meditation on restlessness and the quest for equity . . . Part of the appeal of My Life is how Steinem, with evocative, melodic prose, conveys the air of discovery and wonder she felt during so many of her journeys. . . . The lessons imparted in Life on the Road offer more than a reminiscence. They are a beacon of hope for the future.”—USA Today
“A warmly companionable look back at nearly five decades as itinerant feminist organizer and standard-bearer. If you’ve ever wondered what it might be like to sit down with Ms. Steinem for a casual dinner, this disarmingly intimate book gives a pretty good idea, mixing hard-won pragmatic lessons with more inspirational insights.”—The New York Times
“Steinem rocks. My Life on the Road abounds with fresh insights and is as populist as can be.”—The Boston Globe
“In person and in her writing, Steinem exudes a rare combination of calm, humility and honesty about her weaknesses that explains all she has accomplished.”—Jezebel
About the Author
Gloria Steinem is a writer, lecturer, editor, and feminist activist. In 1972, she co-founded Ms. magazine, and she remained one of its editors for fifteen years. In 1968, she helped found New York magazine, where she was a political columnist and wrote feature articles. Her books include the bestsellers Revolution from Within, Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions, Moving Beyond Words,Marilyn: Norma Jeane, and As if Women Matter (published in India). Steinem has received the Penney-Missouri Journalism Award, the Front Page and Clarion awards, the National Magazine Award, the Women’s Sports Journalism Award, the Lifetime Achievement in Journalism Award from the Society of Professional Journalists, the Society of Writers Award from the United Nations, the James Weldon Johnson Award for Journalism, and many others. In 2013, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama.
“This legendary feminist makes a compelling case for traveling as listening: a way of letting strangers’ stories flow, as she puts it, ‘out of our heads and into our hearts.’”—People
“Like Steinem herself, [My Life on the Road] is thoughtful and astonishingly humble. It is also filled with a sense of the momentous while offering deeply personal insights into what shaped her.”—O: The Oprah Magazine “[Steinem’s] new book is a lyrical meditation on restlessness and the quest for equity that has taken her from the women-only rail cars of India to myriad university campuses where she has helped generations of women and men rally their collective voices. . . . Part of the appeal of My Life is how Steinem, with evocative, melodic prose, conveys the air of discovery and wonder she felt during so many of her journeys. . . . Whatever one’s politics, such candor draws you in. And as the country continues to struggle with painful questions about race relations, reproductive rights and the plight of immigrants, the lessons imparted in Life on the Road offer more than a reminiscence. They are a beacon of hope for the future.”—USA Today “My Life on the Road, Ms. Steinem’s first book in more than twenty years, is a warmly companionable look back at nearly five decades as itinerant feminist organizer and standard-bearer. If you’ve ever wondered what it might be like to sit down with Ms. Steinem for a casual dinner, this disarmingly intimate book gives a pretty good idea, mixing hard-won pragmatic lessons with more inspirational insights.”—The New York Times “Steinem beautifully illustrates how her perpetual motion has shaped her professional life. . . . [She] has gained wisdom from cabdrivers and fellow airplane passengers, and gotten story tips from strangers at rural diners and truck stops. . . . Steinem’s life has been so remarkable that her memoir would have been fascinating even without a central theme, but her decision to use travel as a thematic thread was a smart one.”—The New York Times Book Review (Editors’ Choice)
“Steinem rocks. My Life on the Road abounds with fresh insights and is as populist as can be. . . . Honoring its title, My Life on the Road ranges around subject-wise. One minute Steinem is writing about stewardesses on the shuttle, the next women who taught Gandhi. Now she’s railing against Betty Friedan, whose focus on white middle-class feminism Steinem argues damaged the movement. Still later she’s celebrating her friendships with Native American women, whom she sees as guides into the future. . . . Go, Steinemite!”—The Boston Globe “In person and in her writing, Steinem exudes a rare combination of calm, humility and honesty about her weaknesses that explains all she has accomplished and why she’s become the figurehead she has. . . . Her secret appears to be a surprising willingness to be open to learning from her incredibly varied audiences. . . . [This is] a memoir—but really, it’s a lens through which to see a great many people, a vessel for their stories, a mouthpiece to share them.”—Jezebel
“It’s amazing to have a lifelong heroine who is also one of my favorite writers. Gloria Steinem is a deeply revolutionary woman. She steered us through the contentious years of the women’s movement without losing her humanity or her wonderful sense of humor. She changed America in a fundamental way without being damaged by it or losing her joy. My Life on the Road is filled with beautifully told stories of the people she has spoken with and listened to, been changed by, helped organize, got radicalized by, could get lost in, could get found in. It is soul material, human and political, funny and touching, deeply spiritual. I began it again the day after I finished.”—Anne Lamott
“Rarely do women have the opportunity to travel as Steinem has done—living a life full of radical adventure. Everywhere she goes, she carries with her the vitality of democracy, of freedom for women and men, and her profound love of justice. Now she offers us the good fortune of journeying with her. My Life on the Road is an inspiring work, a call for action. Steinem shares her life as a global freedom fighter, inviting readers to continue the journey—and the struggle.”—bell hooks
“My Life on the Road is a personal, beautiful look at the deceptively radical act of travel and how it formed one of our most important voices for human rights. By delving deeper into her own thrilling story, Steinem shows us that we all have a fighter inside us—we need only pack our bags and follow her.”—Lena Dunham
“Countless times, I had to put Gloria Steinem’s new book down and allow an explosive truth she had just revealed to roll through me. And they all arrived—page after page—in the most personal, unexpected ways. I won’t be the same person after having read My Life on the Road.”—Jane Fonda
“Gloria Steinem’s new book is a lightning rod to the head and heart: stimulating, no, shocking us to get up out of our easy chairs and do something meaningful with our lives—to hit the road. Women will read My Life on the Road, but men must.”—James Patterson
“Gloria Steinem’s lightness of being combined with her complete seriousness, her love for words and her call for actions, remind us to celebrate her as one of the most important women of our time.”—Diane von Furstenberg