Book review: Ruth Bader Ginsburg on 70 years of writing

This compilation of the Supreme Court Justice’s words shows the perhaps surprising influence of Vladimir Nabokov

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 November, 2016, 12:01pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 November, 2016, 12:01pm

My Own Words

by Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Simon & Schuster

Got a Ruth Bader Ginsburg T-shirt? Or perhaps you follow one of the blogs about her, including Notorious R.B.G.? Now read her in her own words. In what feels like a taster before the main course – an official biography is in the offing – this book is a compilation of the 83-year-old Supreme Court Justice’s writings over the past 70 years, going back to an editorial she wrote as a 13-year-old for her school newspaper. (It also includes an undelivered speech written by the person to whom the book is dedicated, Ginsburg’s late husband, Marty, a tax lawyer and law professor who died in 2010.) Interestingly, Ginsburg, who was appointed to her current post in 1993 by US president Bill Clinton, credits her writerly skills to Vladimir Nabokov, whom she remembers as a spellbinding teacher at Cornell University. The novelist taught her to “give people the picture in not too many words” and to use “the right words”, advice she followed in her many articles advocating gender equality as a constitutional principle.