Former First Lady Michelle Obama is an inspiring role model for women all over the world. Now, she’s adding “record-breaking author” to the list of reasons why.
Her new memoir, “Becoming,” recently broke the 10-million mark of copies sold worldwide, and is on track to become the highest-selling memoir ever. Published November 2018, “Becoming” was a hit from the start — in its first week, it sold over 1.4 million copies. It topped many bestseller lists and was the featured title in Oprah’s Book Club the same month it came out. In all, seven million copies were sold in 2018, with three million more sold so far this year.
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The success of “Becoming” is having multiple ripple effects. Bertelsmann Corporation, which owns her book’s publisher, saw accelerated growth in 2018 with revenue figures exceeding that of its previous best year, 2007. The corporation attributes much of its recent success to “Becoming” and its impressive sales. Thomas Rabe, Bertelsmann’s CEO, told the Wall Street Journal, “We believe that [this memoir] could well become the most successful memoir ever.”
“Becoming” — which is Obama’s second book, following the release of “American Grown” in 2012 — gives an inside look into the life of an American icon, while also offering encouragement to women who come from humble beginnings. In it, Obama recounts her journey from growing up in the south side of Chicago to living in the White House — the challenges she faced at home, her lack of self confidence and the constant, often harsh, pressure of critical public scrutiny when she was First Lady.
She also emphasizes how important mentors and strong female role models — like her mother, Marion Robinson, and politician/businesswoman Valerie Jarrett — have been in her life. This is something we at The Story Exchange report on often. Many women consider their mother or other matriarchal figures to be their role models, we learned through our 1,000+ Stories research effort. Others, however, look up to celebrities like Obama — 22 percent of our study participants, in fact.
As the pool of noteworthy role models like the former FLOTUS grows and inspires more women to take charge in business and politics, we’re seeing a new, emboldened generation stepping up to break records of their own.
[Related: Why Women Need Role Models]