Meryl Streep is the most celebrated actress of our time. She’s a chameleon who disappears fully into each character she plays. She never tackles the same role twice. Instead, she leverages her rarified platform to channel a range of dynamic, complicated women — Joanna Kramer, Karen Silkwood, Julia Child, Margaret Thatcher, Katharine Graham — rather than limit herself to marginal roles for which other actresses must settle: Supportive Wife. Supportive Mother. Supportive Yet Utterly Disposable Love Interest. Streep will have none of that.

The once-awkward, frizzy-haired suburban teen blossomed into a rising ingénue on the stage at Vassar College and the Yale School of Drama. She came of age during the women’s movement of the ’60s and ’70s, and has worn her activism on her sleeve even when it was unfashionable. When she reached 40, the age when many leading ladies fade away, Streep plunged forward, taking her pick of parts that interested her and winning a pile of awards along the way. Meanwhile, she remained an unlikely box-office draw, her clout even managing to grow with age: The Devil Wears Prada, starring Streep as the Anna Wintour avatar Miranda Priestly, scored $326 million worldwide.

Queen Meryl documents Streep’s Oscars, accents, causes, memes, friendships, and feuds; it also explores the “off-brand” forays into action-adventure (The River Wild) and musicals (Mamma Mia!), and how Streep managed to sneak her feminism into each character. In the spirit of nontraditional bestsellers like Notorious RBG and The Tao of Bill MurrayQueen Meryl is illustrated by artist Justin Teodoro and filled with fascinating lists and sidebars, delivering joy in homage to its unique and brilliant subject.

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Praise:

“Carlson provides a serious but playful account of Streep’s career and enough private moments to back up the actress’ reputation as a generous colleague and a devoted wife and mother of four. Managing to have a life beyond stage and screen while conquering both venues points to her indefatigable nature and the courage to take roles that, on their face, don’t seem right for her.”—The Associated Press

“Fans should be delighted by the juicy details of life on various sets and tales of Streep’s good-humored devotion to her craft.”―Booklist

“Generously supplemented with gossipy sidebars and lists and with fashion magazine-like brush-and-ink drawings, Carlson’s latest will be embraced by Streep-struck fans.”―Publishers Weekly

“With great research and enthusiasm, Carlson writes of Streep’s trailblazing roles, activism and impact on pop culture. If you’re a fan, you’ll want to add this to your pile.”―Huffington Post, Books to Read This Fall

Queen Meryl is an enjoyable, enlightening and spirited biography of the outspoken feminist and immensely talented actress.”—Shelf Awareness

“You absolutely must read [this] homage to another female force to be reckoned with.”―Women.com, Books of the Month

“The world doesn’t deserve Meryl Streep—luckily, she graces us with her talents anyway. Erin Carlson’s delightful book captures the inexorable rise of a benevolent genius. Long live the queen!”—Gavin Edwards, author of The Tao of Bill Murray

“Erin Carlson sheds a new light on one of the most beloved actresses of our times. As she charts Meryl’s career and personal life, Carlson manages to make her seem not just regal, but deeply human. Readers will come away with a new appreciation for Queen Meryl and a desire to revisit so many of her greatest roles.”—Jennifer Wright, author of It Ended Badly

“An utterly compelling ride through the rise of one of our most beloved and impactful artists. Carlson deftly dissects the evolution of a self-made icon, and the fascinating stories behind her many, many unforgettable roles. This is a book for film aficionados, Hollywood history fans, and anyone who’s ever wondered how Meryl Streep came to be Meryl F*cking Streep.”Kelsey Miller, author of I’ll Be There for You: The One About Friends


I’ll Have What She’s Having goes behind the scenes to tell the story of Nora Ephron and how she reinvented the rom-com through her trio of instant classics: When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, and You’ve Got Mail. But in the process, Ephron also remade herself – from a tough, suffer-no-fools Manhattan journalist to a fierce and unflinching Hollywood power player with the clout to get her movies greenlit … all while redefining romance for an entire generation. With a cast of famous faces including Rob Reiner, Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, and Billy Crystal, Carlson takes readers on a rollicking, revelatory trip through Ephron’s New York City, where reality took a backseat to romance and Ephron — who always knew what she wanted and how she wanted it — ruled the roost.

If you consider Ephron a diehard romantic, you’d be mistaken: in fact, the woman pulling the heart-strings wasn’t always drinking the cherry-flavored Kool-Aid. So how did the writer-director regain faith in the L-word following one broken engagement and two failed marriages? What sparked Reiner to snap out of his bachelor blues during the making of When Harry Met Sally? Why was Ryan, a gifted ingénue who was much more than an adorable face, not the first choice for the role of Sally? Why was Hanks so reluctant to take on the role of Sleepless protagonist Sam Baldwin? And more importantly: What was Dave Chappelle doing in You’ve Got Mail … in a turtleneck?

An intimate portrait of one of America’s most iconic filmmakers and a look behind the scenes of her crowning achievements, I’ll Have What She’s Having is a vivid account of the days and nights when Ephron, along with assorted cynical collaborators, learned to show her heart on the screen. Booklist says Carlson “dispenses insider information that fans of the movies will find hard to resist … her breezy, frisky tone makes reading the book like sharing a gossipy lunch with an old friend. … As sweet and bubbly a treat as the movies it covers, this book does what it does impeccably, and readers will love it.” And, according to The Washington Post, I’ll Have What He’s Having is “Fast-paced, humorous, yet impressively researched,” and “Carlson’s voice feels cut from the same cloth as Ephron’s.”

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Praise:

“[Erin Carlson] offers a breezy, detailed rehearsal of three successful romantic comedies from the 1980s and ’90s…. A large bag of buttery popcorn that goes down oh so pleasantly.”―Kirkus Reviews

“While the focus hovers around the late 1980s to the late ’90s, the book opens with a look at Ephron’s childhood in Los Angeles with her sisters and screenwriter parents, who demanded wit and emphasized “career, career, career.” Carlson also touches upon Ephron’s start as a journalist and her three marriages, particularly her years with Carl Bernstein. The background is helpful for readers who are newer to the Ephron oeuvre. But the main course is the three films and their players, as Carlson looks at ‘Sally,’ ‘Sleepless’ and ‘Mail’ from idea to box-office success. And while there are insights from A-listers, Carlson doesn’t just interview top-billed actors. We even hear from assistants to the assistants — like the guy who taught Meg Ryan ‘how to actually use email.’ The book’s wide net of sources, along with Ephronisms and movie dialogue, proves to be a wonderful recipe, giving readers a sense of what it was like working on an Ephron project at every level.”—The Washington Post

“Deeply reported and deeply felt, Carlson’s account of Nora Ephron’s unlikely rise to romantic comedy queen deftly exposes the messy, human reality lurking beneath those sparkling paeans to true love. Magically nostalgic, cynical, and smart all at once.”―Jennifer Keishin Armstrong, author of Seinfeldia and Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted

“In her love letter to the rom-coms of Nora Ephron, Erin Carlson brings us on a nostalgic, insightful, and joyous ride through the legendary writer/director’s most iconic works. Full of the whimsy, heartbreak, attention to detail, and romantic optimism that defined Ephron’s films, I’ll Have What She’s Having is a must-read for anyone who is a fan of the filmmaker’s genre-defining classics.”―Danny Strong, co-creator and executive producer of Empire

“Erin Carlson would make Nora Ephron proud with this deeply reported valentine to her work. Written with warmth, humor, and surprises, Carlson provides plenty of dishy insider scoop on the making of the renowned writer’s beloved films. This book is the perfect companion to your favorite movie. A delicious read that will have you laughing out loud.”―Jo Piazza, New York Times bestselling co-author of The Knockoff

“When the subject is Nora Ephron, culinary metaphors prove irresistible: Erin Carlson has cooked up a dish full of delicious insight into an icon who was both warm and snobbish, full of juicy tidbits about a feminist who preferred to hang out with the guys, a trenchant trailblazer with an old-fashioned belief in love. I’ll Have What She’s Having offers a satisfying portrait of a lady who wasn’t always ‘nice’ but who nevertheless created timeless moments to fill our hearts and give us hope.”―Faith Salie, author of Approval Junkie and contributor to CBS Sunday Morning 

“Erin Carlson has served up a lively, inside look at the making of Nora Ephron’s three famous rom-coms and how she broke into the male-dominated directing club. Anyone who loves Nora and her films will relish this book.”―Lynn Povich, author of The Good Girls Revolt

“Read this book in an adorable bookshop and, who knows, maybe you’ll meet-cute with a handsome stranger reading the same book. Of course, if he’s reading a book about Nora Ephron rom-coms, he may be gay. Ugh, that is sooo your luck, Carol! Also, it’s raining now and you’re wearing suede.”―Meredith Scardino, writer for Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, The Colbert Report

“Carlson’s first book pays affectionate and clear-eyed tribute to the three most popular movies associated with screenwriter and director Nora Ephron. Going behind the scenes to explore the making of When Harry Met SallySleepless in Seattle, and You’ve Got Mail, she dispenses insider information that fans of the movies will find hard to resist … her breezy, frisky tone makes reading the book like sharing a gossipy lunch with an old friend. Although she keeps the focus on the three films, she also allows herself to go off on fascinating tangents about the lives and other movies of the director and her stars. As sweet and bubbly a treat as the movies it covers, this book does what it does impeccably, and readers will love it.”―Booklist