What to Read When You Really Need a First Lady to Show Up

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America’s newest First Lady, Melania Trump, is not following in the footsteps of her immediate predecessors. She does not live in the White House and there are signs that she’s removed from the traditional duties of the first lady; for example, the manufacturer of the wooden eggs for the White House Egg Roll had to reach out via Twitter to remind the First Lady to actually order them. The role of First Lady is one fraught with tradition and defined more by the expectations of the country than by the woman herself. As we wait to see how Melania’s legacy unfolds, here are some really good books about compelling first women, real and fictional.

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The Meaning of Michelle: 16 Writers on the Iconic First Lady and How Her Journey Inspires Our Own edited by Veronica Chambers
A beautiful composite-sketch of one of America’s most beloved first ladies (and Melania’s predecessor).

 

First Women: The Grace and Power of America’s Modern First Ladies by Kate Anderson Brower
A compelling portrait of the relationships and characters of America’s first ladies from Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis to Michelle Obama.

 
American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld
A beautiful portrait of a fictional first lady—who feels very familiar.

 
Nellie Taft: The Unconventional First Lady of the Ragtime Era by Carl Sferrazza Anthony
A profile of a delightful, fascinating, and often overlooked first lady.