My Life on the Road

My Life on the Road

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Gloria Steinem—writer, activist, organizer, and inspiring leader—tells a story she has never told before, a candid account of her life as a traveler, a listener, and a catalyst for change.


When people ask me why I still have hope and energy after all these years, I always say: Because I travel. Taking to the road—by which I mean letting the road take you—changed who I thought I was. The road is messy in the way that real life is messy. It leads us out of denial and into reality, out of theory and into practice, out of caution and into action, out of statistics and into stories—in short, out of our heads and into our hearts.

Gloria Steinem had an itinerant childhood. When she was a young girl, her father would pack the family in the car every fall and drive across country searching for adventure and trying to make a living. The seeds were planted: Gloria realized that growing up didn’t have to mean settling down. And so began a lifetime of travel, of activism and leadership, of listening to people whose voices and ideas would inspire change and revolution.

My Life on the Road is the moving, funny, and profound story of Gloria’s growth and also the growth of a revolutionary movement for equality—and the story of how surprising encounters on the road shaped both. From her first experience of social activism among women in India to her work as a journalist in the 1960s; from the whirlwind of political campaigns to the founding of Ms. magazine; from the historic 1977 National Women’s Conference to her travels through Indian Country—a lifetime spent on the road allowed Gloria to listen and connect deeply with people, to understand that context is everything, and to become part of a movement that would change the world.

In prose that is revealing and rich, Gloria reminds us that living in an open, observant, and “on the road” state of mind can make a difference in how we learn, what we do, and how we understand each other.

Praise for My Life on the Road

“This legendary feminist makes a compelling case for traveling as listening: a way of letting strangers’ stories flow, as she puts it, ‘out of our heads and into our hearts.’”People

“Like Steinem herself, [My Life on the Road] is thoughtful and astonishingly humble. It is also filled with a sense of the momentous while offering deeply personal insights into what shaped her.”O: The Oprah Magazine

“A lyrical meditation on restlessness and the quest for equity . . . Part of the appeal of My Life is how Steinem, with evocative, melodic prose, conveys the air of discovery and wonder she felt during so many of her journeys. . . . The lessons imparted in Life on the Road offer more than a reminiscence. They are a beacon of hope for the future.”USA Today

“A warmly companionable look back at nearly five decades as itinerant feminist organizer and standard-bearer. If you’ve ever wondered what it might be like to sit down with Ms. Steinem for a casual dinner, this disarmingly intimate book gives a pretty good idea, mixing hard-won pragmatic lessons with more inspirational insights.”The New York Times

“Steinem rocks. My Life on the Road abounds with fresh insights and is as populist as can be.”The Boston Globe


  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1 edition (October 27, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679456201
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679456209
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (395 customer reviews)
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  1. I taught women’s studies for years so I am very familiar with Steinem’s work and life. Even so, this book surprised me with its warmth and insight. It is not a biography but more of a road journal. It is not crafted by chronology but by memory and thought stream. I found it very engaging and moving. The opening dedication was heart rending for those of us who lived in those years.

    Steinem is the half generation between me and my mother. In the late 60’s as my mother was ironing we were watching TV. The women’s movement was considered radical fringe, even to my mother’s peers who had built planes and careers during WWII only to be sent home afterwards. My mother watched Steinem on TV and said “she is so brave”. I asked why and she said “she is so beautiful she could have had an easy life. She has chosen a hard road. It will make your life better”. The absurd in the 1960s is now law of the land. It is with that in mind I read this book and appreciated the context of her travels and impact.

    This is a fast conversation of a book, not a polemic. I loved it and I hope it finds a wide audience.

  2. In My Life on the Road, Gloria Steinem, an iconic figure of American culture, tells the story of her life spent “listening to people, learning and creating change.” The book is more a memoir than an autobiography. It brims with anecdotes and encounters with people ranging from the poor and disenfranchised to the rich and powerful. She tells what she learned from each encounter and experience. Her life as an organizer, feminist, political campaigner and journalist inspires, enriches and enlightens the reader about the way we think about racial and gender equality.
    Although I’ve heard and read about Steinem since the 1960s, I knew little about her until reading this memoir. Her tenure began with Adlai Stevenson’s presedential campaign, continued thorugh the Vietnam War era and the fight to pass the Equal Rights Amendment and has lasted clear up to Obama’s election and the present day. Wow! I was awed not only by her longevity but also by her wit, understanding, compassion, and intelligence. Although the book is somewhat haphazard in its organization, it brims with the wisdom of someone who tried to do right by the world by understanding it and the people who inhabit it. Gloria has strived her whole life to bring people together to accomplish justice and equality for all. She felt that “each person’s shared humanity and individual uniqueness far out weigh any label by group of birth, whether sex, race, class, sexuality, ethnicity, relgious heritage or anything else.” A book like this that forces you to think and examine your own life and accomplishments deserves nothing less than a five. Thank you Gloria Steinem for sharing your quest.

  3. Twenty years ago I read one of Gloria Steinem’s earlier books, “Outrageous Acts” and immediately connected with her. Her name has often been used in a derogatory way. Male co-workers would call me “Gloria” so naturally I had to know more about this woman I was associated with. Just like in her “Outrageous Acts” book, Gloria makes many truthful observations. And just like “Outrageous Acts,” she does not get bitter or violent in her verbiage. I never took being called “Gloria!” as an insult.

    This book is a little bit of everything: part memoir, part philosophy of feminism, part tribute to the friends and mentors she has lost along the way, part history of the Feminist Movement. Here she focuses on the things that have influenced her: her father, her early years in India, becoming close to women in the Civil Rights era, other feminists in the movement of the 1970s, the Vietnam War and its protesters, the opening of biracial relationships. In many ways she is also describing the change in American society during her own formative and young adult years. And she got caught up in it all and became a reluctant speaker for a cause she believes in to this day: equal pay and equal treatment for all women, and easy access to birth control to all women regardless of class.

    I fear the youngest generation of women don’t care much for feminism, but perhaps it’s because our ethnic groups of Chinese and Mexicans are joining the ranks and bringing with them a very ingrained patriarchal society. This book is not just addressed to them, however, but to women and men everywhere.

    Her narrative style hasn’t changed much since her early book. She writes with deep reflection and sensitivity.Read more ›

  4. My whole perception of Gloria Steinem and in particular the women’s movement has been enlightened.

    While most female reviewers are aware of times past when women were not treated as equally as they are today (and with still a road to travel), I don’t believe they (including myself) did not know of the challenges met and overcome.

    Not just women, minority, sexually diverse, ethnically distributed etc. have been part and parcel of Gloria’s travels (never to physically drive herself) throughout the country and the world.

    Attributing much of her wanderlust to her father (who obiviously walked to the beat of a different drummer), and mother (who never realized or gave credence to her own aspirations) Gloria proves herself to be intelligent and thoughtful and discovers her own personage.

    So many true characters are revealed for example: Bella Abzug…so often maligned and made fun of….a great advocate for rights.

    Gloria espouses that there is always more than one way of viewing any issue, and it seems she has worked diligently to listen and hear, no matter who presents and who the audience is.

    She hits home a number of times. I am so pleased to have met and learned more about Gloria.

    Home and wanderlust…yes, they can co-exist.

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