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.”