Books That Made a Difference to Ali Wentworth

The writer and comedian, whose memoir, Ali in Wonderland, is out next month, gets serious about Russian history, politics, and anything that pokes fun at her family.
The Official Preppy Handbook edited by Lisa Birnbach
Photo: Lara Robby/Studio D

The Official Preppy Handbook

224 pages; Workman Publishing
"My mother's name is Muffie, so already that's funny," says Wentworth, who believes that the 1980 tongue-in-cheek self-help manual offered early inspiration. "In comedy you look at your upbringing and try to find the humor in it, and this book helped me. I grew up in the world of boarding schools, and The Official Preppy Handbook was the first time I saw that you could make fun of that life. Years later I wrote The WASP Cookbook, which has recipes like prune whip and tomato aspic, with social commentary."
— As told to Lesley Gaspar