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Monday, February 18, 2013

how to be a JBKO expert

Happy President's Day! If you're lucky enough to have a long weekend, I hope you're enjoying it to the max. Did everyone see Sofia Coppola and Deborah Needleman's interview with Lee Radziwill? I kept one panicky eye on the clock throughout the entire 12 minutes because I never wanted it to end. It definitely revived my Jackie/Lee obsession.

I've read just about every book written on Jackie and Lee even the ones that are not so good. I think the number one thing that fuels America's obsession with Jackie is that she lived a full, stylish, interesting life, but she didn't say very much about it. As she told her White House press secretary, "I want minimum information given with maximum politeness." (Hmmmmm....if you think about it: this is the exact opposite of the reality TV mantra). Toward the end of Princess Radziwill's interview she touches on the topic of staying curious, and I know this was an ideology that the Bouvier sisters shared. There was very little room for nostalgia in Jackie's life, even though the Kennedy family's 1000 days in the White House represent a time for which many others are nostalgic.

Anyway. I love reading biographies- especially about political figures and female role models. They're a great way to stay curious in your own life because they lead you down a zillion different paths of art, literature, food, travel, values and lifestyle. These are my absolute favorite Jackie, etc. books.

 America's Queen by Sarah Bradford. If you can only read one, make it this one.

One Special Summer, by Jacqueline and Lee Bouvier. This was written and illustrated by Jackie and Lee. It gives the best insight into their youth and sense of humor.

Grace and Power by Sally Bedell Smith. The most gossipy and revealing portrait of the Kennedys, but also one of the richest. 

The Best-Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis by Caroline Kennedy. Jackie fan or not, this is a sublimely well-edited collection of literature. Shakespearean sonnets, Edgar Allen Poe and some of Jackie's own work. 
 Jackie as Editor by Greg Lawrence and Reading Jackie by William Kuhn. Both of these books were published around the same time and the publishers got into a snit about which one came first and which one was better. Hilarious- of course- because the topic is publishing. You can read about the squabble here.  I favor the Kuhn version.

Jackie, Her Life in Pictures by James Spada. All the best pictures. I'll never get tired of flipping through this book.

Happy Times by Lee Radziwill Stunning. We should all lead lives like this and then create gorgeous iconic scrapbooks about them someday. Be sure to read this article in the New York Times Style Magazine so you can ohhh and ahhh over her Paris apartment and read even more Radziwillian wisdom.

Come to the Edge by Christina Haag. From the cover, this appears to be salacious, money-making tell-all, but it's actually quite the opposite. Christina Haag is a gifted writer, and this is a beautifully heartbreaking memoir. I hope she writes something else. Soon.

A Lady, First by Letitia Baldrige. Let me just say first that I LOVE Letitia Baldrige. If you need an etiquette book, I think you should always choose one of hers before anyone else's. (Until I write one..) There's a "we're all in this together" sort of sensibility that's just charming and fun. I feel like I know her. Baldrige was Jackie's press secretary, and although I think she got on Jackie's nerves a bit- I think she also did her job exceptionally well. This book is a very interesting and fun look at JBKO, but also a fascinating autobiography in its own right.

Grey Gardens (film) Weird and delusional and fantastic. Jackie and Lee's aunt and cousin (Big Edie and Little Edie) defy description. Just watch it. 

There you have it. These are the best of the best. There are many others worth reading, but this post is already wayyyy longer than I'd planned. 

Who is your favorite First Lady? Are you a Jackie nut like me? 

1 comment:

  1. what a nice blog
    thank you for the Lee Rad. interview! so cool! and the little dog wandering in and out in the background!...
    My three favorite role models: Jackie BKO; Tina Turner; and Princess Diana
    blue collar lit .BlogSpot.com