As you might expect from someone who had her first library card before she could read, I read a lot of books as I went through my years-long, still-ongoing journey to finding my own inner Diva. I’ll make recommendations about books and other resources here on Splendor – feel free to adopt or reject any of them!

Let’s start with two that have had a real impact on me.

First, The Sweet Potato Queens’ Book of Love by Jill Conner Browne. As a girl raised in the South, I know that Duke’s mayonnaise really is better, I trust a local cafe that lists macaroni and cheese as a vegetable, and I have a natural affinity for the long, involved answer to the question, “Who is she?” In short, the Queens are my people, although they hail from Jackson, Mississippi instead of the rolling hills of the Carolina Piedmont. This book is outrageous, plus it has some recipes that won’t thrill them at Weight Watchers, but will have your in-laws saying very nice things about you. The SPQ were my first look at how American “women of a certain age” could not only be as loud, outlandish, and memorable as their younger selves, but could even do more because we’re at the point in our lives when people just don’t expect it from us – therefore, we have the element of surprise! Lovely, life-affirming book.

Second, Entre Nous by Debra Ollivier. I went through a love affair with French-to-American lifestyle books when I was faced with an overstuffed closet that still gave me “nothing to wear.” I ate too much overly-processed food too often, thought perfume was only for special occasions, and believed that high heels and matching lingerie were only for pretty young things with defined waists and dewy skin. I was not at all smart, but Entre Nous (along with a few other books I’ll get to later) really changed my mindset.  With frequent sidebars about divas like Josephine Baker and Pauline de Rothschild as well as books to read and movies to watch, this has become a go-to gem in my collection.