Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

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The topic of my most recent read, Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik, is easy to pick up from the title. Ruth Bader Ginsburg is not only a powerful and influential Supreme Court Justice, but a feminist icon meme-ified by the internet. This biography covers much of RBG’s life; from her early-life, her struggles as one of the few women to study law, the courtship and devoted relationship between she and her late-husband Marty, her rise to political power, her unique strategy for bringing about gender equality and civil rights, and so on and so forth.

The physical book itself is a beautify. As someone who has lightly studied book history and wants to explore book arts and preservation in the future, I love me a finely-constructed tome. I’m a big fan of the red and black color pallet that flows through the book and the shiny gold crown and wording on the cover. The chapters are named after rap lyrics from Notorious B.I.G., who was the inspiration Ginsburg’s nickname. They physical stature of the two couldn’t be any more oppositional, but the power of RBG’s words, particularly when she dissents, is just as impactful as the rapper can appear (or so I read, I actually don’t know anything about him).

The pages are interspersed with all sorts of images–from photos from Ginsburg’s life, internet memes of RBG, court drawings, and fanart of liberal and progressive Americans’ favorite justice–adding increased visual interest to the interesting tale held within this book. The narrative will also take occasional breaks to include annotated segments of RBG’s court-writings to emphasize the power of her words and the impact she has had on our legal landscape.

I won’t rehash RBG’s life story myself, you’ll have to read the biography for that, but I will say it is a joy to read. I must confess though that I read the majority of Notorious in January as my sister gave it to me as an unexpected Christmas gift, but  then my life got uber hectic and I had to put it down until recently. As such, some of the beginning is a bit foggier than I would like while writing a review. Regardless, the life of RBG is motivational for anyone who wants to make a change in the world. You don’t even have to be a legal buff or an intense fan of politics to enjoy this read.


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