Four Memoirs by Women, Jan. 2013: Rebecca Dana, Robin Quivers, Rosie Schaap, Alisa Valdes

Dana, Rebecca. Jujitsu Rabbi and the Godless Blonde: A True Story. Amy Einhorn Bks: Putnam. Jan. 2013. 288p. ISBN 9780399158773. $25.95. MEMOIR
Dana made it from Pittsburgh to Yale to the Big Apple and the hot media job of her dreams. Then it all came crashing down, and she found herself apartment hunting on Craigslist. She ended up in Brooklyn, amid the largest Lubavitch community in the world, rooming with a 30-year-old Russian rabbi named Cosmo who, as the title suggests, was adept at jujitsu. Even as Cosmo starts questioning his Orthodox beliefs, Dana starts wondering whether books, magazines, and the contemporary media world are enough. Billed as Shalom Auslander meets The Odd Couple, which is pretty snarkily funny, but I’m betting on some good insight, too. Dana is currently senior correspondent for Newsweek and The Daily Beast.

Quivers, Robin. The Vegucation of Robin: How Real Food Saved My Life. Avery: Penguin Group (USA). Jan. 2013. 224p. ISBN 9781583334737. $35. MEMOIR
The unflappable cohost of The Howard Stern Show, heard by more the six million folks daily on SiriusXM, and author of the best-selling Quivers: A Life, Quivers was achy and tired and worried about her passion for high-fat, high-sugar, high-cholesterol food even as she saw overweight relatives suffering from diabetes and heart disease. So she put herself on an all-plant diet. Here’s what happened, complete with 90 recipes. A vegan manifesto.

Schaap, Rosie. Drinking with Men: A Memoir. Riverhead: Penguin Group (USA). Jan. 2013. 256p. ISBN 9781594487118. $26.95. MEMOIR
At age 15, Schaap told commuters’ fortunes in exchange for beer at the bar car of a regional railroad line. Today she bartends in Brooklyn while relentlessly hunting for the perfect bar where she can find refuge and respite among friendly regulars‚ a hunt that has taken her from Los Angeles to Dublin to Manhattan’s TriBeCa. She also gets out her views by writing the newly minted Drink column for The New York Times Magazine. Bottoms up.

Valdes, Alisa. Learning To Submit: How Feminism Stole My Womanhood, and the Traditional Cowboy Who Helped Me Find It. Gotham: Penguin Group (USA). Jan. 2013. 336p. ISBN 9781592407903. $26. MEMOIR
This book will raise hackles and maybe banners, especially as Valdes was once named one of the top feminist writers under 30. (She’s also author of the best-selling novel, The Dirty Girls Social Club, and was named one of Time’s 25 Most Influential Hispanics in America in 2005.) Valdes was divorced, dating unsuccessfully, and on the far side of 40 when she decided to post her profile on a dating site. No success there, either, until she got a message from a cowboy with conservative leanings saying that he wasn’t quite what she was looking for. Indeed, he was exactly not what I was looking for, sums up Valdes, who then concedes, I am a shallow sort of animal at times and this man’s unusual hotness held my attention longer than it probably should have. Good for arguments and, it seems, good fun.

Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president, treasurer, and awards chair of the National Book Critics Circle.