Vanessa and Helen Williams

The performer and her mother team up to write -- and to read.



A powerful voice and stunning good looks have made Vanessa Williams a star of stage, screen, and recording studio. Her new book, written with her mother, Helen Williams, is called You Have No Idea: A Famous Daughter, Her No-nonsense Mother, and How They Survived Pageants, Hollywood, Love, Loss (and Each Other). This week, Vanessa and Helen recommend three books that have provided them with solace during difficult times in their lives.


Music by Vanessa Williams


TV Shows and Movies Featuring Vanessa Williams



The Value in the Valley

By Iyanla Vanzant


"Vanzant is an inspirational speaker and ordained minister. The book's message is that life is not just a series of peaks or mountain top experiences but often a difficult journey through dark valleys."






Dark Nights of the Soul

By Thomas Moore


"This book deals with death, rebirth, and grieving. The theme of this book is that you should take the time to grieve. Listen to sad music and cry. Don't be afraid of grief and don't suppress your sadness because then you will never get through it. Both this and The Value of the Valley helped me through tough times."




The Year of Magical Thinking

By Joan Didion


"This is an inspirational story of the trauma experienced in surviving the death of a spouse. After the sudden and devastating death of my soul mate for 45 years I found myself questioning my faith and angry. This book was recommended by Vanessa and a neighbor. It gave me comfort and insight into the grieving process."

July 24: On this day in 1725 John Newton, the slave trader-preacher who wrote the hymn "Amazing Grace," was born.

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Paradise and Elsewhere

Canadian short story marvel Kathy Page emerges as the Alice Munro of the supernatural from these heartfelt tales of shapeshifting swimmers, mild-mannered cannibals, and personality-shifting viruses transmitted through kisses.


When a persuasive pastor arrives in a sleepy farm town, his sage influence has otherworldly results (talking sheep, a mayor who walks on water). But can he pull off the miracle of finding kindly local Liz Denny the love of her life?  Small wonder looms large in this charmer from Andre Alexis.

The Hundred-Year House

When a poetry scholar goes digging through the decrepit estate of his wife's family to uncover a bygone arts colony's strange mysteries, he awakens a tenacious monster: his mother-in-law. A wickedly funny take on aging aristocracies from author Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower).