Toward the end of last year, I started hearing more and more people talking about Tina Brown's The Vanity Fair Diaries. The reviews were all glowing, and since I studied journalism in NYC, I particularly enjoy reading about other journalists doing their thing in my college town.
If you aren't familiar with Tina Brown, you should know she is a truly badass boss lady. At the age of 25, this woman moved from England and managed to turn around Vanity Fair, which at the time, was a sinking ship. She later went on to head The New Yorker and to found The Daily Beast.
The Vanity Fair Diaries are a collection of her journaling about the experience of being the editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair from 1983 to 1992. It's full of juicy name drops and hot takes on the big players of the New York social scene in the 80s from Arianna Huffington to -- you guessed it -- Donald Trump. It's extremely entertaining and laugh-out-loud funny at certain parts.
But what I loved most about it is its bold feminism and the intimate look into the work-life balance of such a successful, talented female journalist.
Brown was and is undeniably brilliant and talented. The story of how she became the Vanity Fair EIC is inspiring. She knew she could bring it back from the dead, and when the older men running Condé Nast wanted to kowtow to the other older man running Vanity Fair by making her a "consultant," she unapologetically refused to settle and instead returned to London. Finally, they recognized she genuinely deserved to be the EIC and made the objectively correct decision in bringing her on.
I loved reading about how she cultivated her team of writers, how she brought her vision to life, and how she navigated the politics of a workplace full of strong personalities. I am so impressed by the people she found who have since gone on to become prominent journalists; it's an amazing ability to be able to recognize undiscovered talent in others. And I am incredibly motivated by her stories of standing behind her ideas and concepts as a 20-something in a new country.
Later in the book, she writes about balancing her family life with her career. When her son George is born prematurely, she worries constantly about if the demands of her job are taking away too much time from him. He shows signs of developmental delays, and I wonder if her husband, a wildly successful editor as well, felt similar guilt about not spending enough time with him.
So yes, as a journalism nerd, I highly recommend this book. But I think any young professional woman can also relate to it and will be inspired by her stories of advocating for herself and her ideas.
And if you're not here for that, come on, I know you'd be in it for the celeb gossip.