July 21, 2023 marked the release of two highly anticipated blockbuster films, Barbie and Oppenheimer, in the United States and several other countries. Despite the films’ stark differences in themes and content, the shared premiere date was preceded by months of excitement for both films online. As a result, many fans flocked to the theaters to watch both movies in a double feature during the opening weekend and solidified ‘Barbenheimer’ as the “the biggest box office weekend of 2023 so far.”
In case you’re looking for more Barbie and Oppenheimer after the premiere, we’ve selected 12 titles from FSU Libraries for further reading – after all, books played a key role in the creation of both films. In an interview with Vogue, director Greta Gerwig cites Reviving Ophelia by Mary Bray Pipher as influential to the Barbie movie. Similarly, Oppenheimer director Christopher Nolan utilized American Prometheus by Kai Bird as the movie’s main source material. These books are among those featured in the list below.
Other Barbie picks explore Mattel’s iconic creation and her impact on American society. We also pull in feminist texts from our collections, both foundational and contemporary. Among our selections for Oppenheimer are books about the scientists who worked on the atomic bomb and the communities devastated by it in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Team Barbie, Oppenheimer, or ‘Barbenheimer’? Let us know in the comments!
by Mary Bray Pipher
Reviving Ophelia is a call to arms from Dr. Mary Pipher, a psychologist who has worked with teenagers for more than a decade. She finds that in spite of the women’s movement, which has empowered adult women in some ways, teenage girls today are having a harder time than ever before because of higher levels of violence and sexism. It is critical that we understand the circumstances and take measures to correct them. We need to make that precious age of experimentation safe for adolescent girls.
by Yona Zeldis McDonough
To some she’s a collectible, to others she’s trash. In The Barbie Chronicles, twenty-three writers join together to scrutinize Barbie’s forty years of hateful, lovely, disastrous, glorious influence on us all. No other tiny shoulders have ever had to carry the weight of such affection and derision and no other book has ever paid this notorious little place of plastic her due. Whether you adore her or abhor her, The Barbie Chronicles will have you looking at her in ways you never imagined.
Available via UBorrow.
by Erica Rand
She’s skinny, white, and blond. She’s Barbie—an icon of femininity to generations of American girls. She’s also multiethnic and straight—or so says Mattel, Barbie’s manufacturer. Illustrated with photographs of various interpretations and alterations of Barbie, this book encompasses both Barbie glorification and abjection as it testifies to the irrefutably compelling qualities of this bestselling toy. Anyone who has played with Barbie—or, more importantly, thought or worried about playing with Barbie—will find this book fascinating.
by Victoria Chang
In Barbie Chang, Victoria Chang explores racial prejudice, sexual privilege, and the disillusionment of love through a reimagining of Barbie―perfect in the cultural imagination yet repeatedly falling short as she pursues the American dream. This energetic string of linked poems is full of wordplay, humor, and biting social commentary involving the quote-unquote speaker, Barbie Chang, a disillusioned Asian-American suburbanite. By turns woeful and passionate, playful and incisive, these poems reveal a voice insisting that “even silence is not silent.”
by bell hooks
In The Will to Change, bell hooks gets to the heart of the matter and shows men how to express the emotions that are a fundamental part of who they are—whatever their age, marital status, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. Toxic masculinity punishes those fundamental emotions, and it’s so deeply ingrained in our society that it’s hard for men to not comply—but hooks wants to help change that. With trademark candor and fierce intelligence, hooks addresses the most common concerns of men, such as fear of intimacy and loss of their patriarchal place in society, in new and challenging ways.
by Kai Bird
In this magisterial, acclaimed biography twenty-five years in the making, Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin capture Oppenheimer’s life and times, from his early career to his central role in the Cold War. This is biography and history at its finest, riveting and deeply informative.
Available via UBorrow.
by Caren Barzelay Stelson
This striking work of narrative nonfiction tells the true story of six-year-old Sachiko Yasui’s survival of the Nagasaki atomic bomb on August 9, 1945, and the heartbreaking and lifelong aftermath. Having conducted extensive interviews with Sachiko Yasui, Caren Stelson chronicles Sachiko’s trauma and loss as well as her long journey to find peace. This book offers readers a remarkable new perspective on the final moments of World War II and their aftermath.
Brotherhood of the Bomb: The Tangled Lives and Divided Loyalties of Robert Oppenheimer, Ernest Lawrence, and Edward Teller
by Gregg Herken
The story of the twentieth century is largely the story of the power of science and technology. Within that story is the incredible tale of the human conflict between Robert Oppenheimer, Ernest Lawrence, and Edward Teller – the scientists most responsible for the advent of weapons of mass destruction. Gregg Herken gives us the behind-the-scenes account based upon a decade of research, interviews, and newly released Freedom of Information Act and Russian documents.
by Peggy Pond Church
This is the story of Edith Warner, who lived for more than twenty years as a neighbor to the Indians of San Ildefonso Pueblo, near Los Alamos, New Mexico. She was a remarkable woman, a friend to everyone who knew her, from her Indian companion Tilano, who was an elder of San Ildefonso, to Niels Bohr, Robert Oppenheimer, and the other atomic scientists who worked at Los Alamos during World War II.
by Stéphane Groueff
A non-technical narrative of the actual making of the first Atom bomb with an accent on the personal cases of the participants and the industrial companies that built it. Rich in human stories and anecdotes.
by Masuji Ibuse
Black Rain is centered around the story of a young woman who was caught in the radioactive “black rain” that fell after the bombing of Hiroshima. lbuse bases his tale on real-life diaries and interviews with victims of the holocaust; the result is a book that is free from sentimentality yet manages to reveal the magnitude of the human suffering caused by the atom bomb. His sensitivity to the complex web of emotions in a traditional community torn asunder by this historical event has made Black Rain one of the most acclaimed treatments of the Hiroshima story.
Book images and summaries via Amazon.
This post was created by Alaina Faulkner, Student Engagement Associate at FSU Libraries.
Featured image created by Madison Dodd.