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  • Ross Johnson 4:00 pm on 2018/06/30 Permalink
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    The Best Biographies and Memoirs of July 

    The Prison Letters of Nelson Mandela, by Nelson Mandela, with Sahm Venter and Zamaswazi Dlamini-Mandela
    Jailed in 1962 for the crime of organizing against the Apartheid government of South Africa, Nelson Mandela wasn’t released until 1990. In the intervening years, he wrote many hundreds of letters: to supporters, to government officials, to activists, and to his family. The letters collected here, many never before published, display the determination, optimism, and sharp legal mind of one of the towering figures of the twentieth century. They also provide insight into Mandela the person, forced to mourn the death of a child through correspondence and watch his family grow up apart from him. In troubled times, his sacrifices, strategies, and beliefs remain relevant.

    The Briefing: Politics, the Press, and the President, by Sean Spicer
    The history of this American era won’t be written for a long time, but insider memoirs offer some sense of a first draft. Sean Spicer was backstage and on the front lines during the early days of the turbulent Trump administration, maintaining a contentious relationship with the media as White House press secretary. He’s not done, suggesting that press coverage of the campaign, transition, and first 100 days was hopelessly biased against the president. He’s promising to set the record straight with the first major memoir from a Trump insider.

    Black Klansman: Race, Hate, and the Undercover Investigation of a Lifetime, by Ron Stallworth
    Ron Stallworth’s incredible true story inspired the upcoming film from writer/director Spike Lee and producer Jordan Peele. In 1978, the Klan was again on the rise in the United States, and Stallworth was the first black detective in the Colorado Springs Police Department. Interested in a growing terrorist threat to the community, he responded to an ad for more information from the local KKK by mail. Instead, he received a call asking if he was willing to join up. During months of investigation, he maintains a phone correspondence with the group, sabotaging cross-burnings, exposing plots, and even forming a relationship with then-Grand Wizard (and current alt-right leader) David Duke. His white partner was tasked to fill-in for Stallworth, when necessary.  It’s a fascinating, harrowing, eye-opening story.

    You’re on an Airplane: A Self-Mythologizing Memoir, by Parker Posey
    Quirky indie-film legend Posey entirely eschews convention with her new memoir (of course she does). The star of films like Dazed and Confused, Party Girl, You’ve Got Mail, The House of Yes, and many more that you haven’t heard of, isn’t just opening up about her past, from her colorful childhood through an unconventional career; She’s telling her story as though the two of you are stuck on an airplane together. It’s a book full of stories, but also recipes, whimsical how-tos. and the actor’s own handmade art. Nothing else would do from the hilarious outsider who became a Hollywood star.

    Godspeed: A Memoir, by Casey Legler
    The story of the multi-talented Casey Legler isn’t entirely one of triumph, and this isn’t by any means a typical sports memoir. A competitive swimmer from the age of 13, Legler went to the 1996 Summer Olympics where she set a world record during the qualifying heat, only to come in 29th during the actual event. At the time, she was living a life of isolation and alienation, an alcoholic caught up in drugs and anonymous sex before finding a path for herself. She’s since been a writer, a restaurateur, and a groundbreaking model for men’s clothes over the course of her fascinating life.

    Papillon, by Henri Charrière
    First published in 1969, the autobiographical novel from French convict Charrière was an immediate sensation and a global bestseller: a Steve McQueen-starring film version was commissioned almost immediately, and a remake with Charlie Hunnam is due later this year. It’s a good time to revisit the story of the writer and petty criminal, wrongly (he always maintained) convicted of murder and sentenced to a penal colony in French Guinea. Over the ensuing 14 years he escaped multiple times, was shipwrecked, adopted by a Columbian native tribe, and made a lifelong friend willing to finance his escapes from a series of ever-more-restrictive prisons.

    Proud: My Fight for an Unlikely American Dream, by Ibtihaj Muhammad with Lori Tharps
    Age 13 is a bit late to take up fencing if one aspires to the Olympics, particularly for a young Muslim woman in a sport that’s dominated by the wealthy and white. Despite her undeniable talent, Ibtihaj faced opposition at each step of her training and career, becoming both an inspiration and a lightning rod as the first woman in a hijab to compete in the Olympics during the 2016 Summer Games, which took place at the height of that year’s contentious presidential race. As an outspoken Muslim American, she became a cultural icon and one of the country’s most influential athletes.

    Wanna Bet?: A Degenerate Gambler’s Guide to Living on the Edge, by Artie Lange and Anthony Bozza
    In his third book, comedian Artie Lange dives into the lifestyle and subculture of one of his favorite risky pastimes: gambling. Funny and confessional, Lange explores his own addiction alongside a few famous and less-famous friends who share his obsession with the risky nature of betting—on anything. He provides an insider’s view into a world that few of us could ever hope to glimpse, full of bookies, mobsters, athletes, and celebrities. 

    Whose story inspires you?

    The post The Best Biographies and Memoirs of July appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Ross Johnson 5:00 pm on 2018/06/29 Permalink
    Tags: a matter of life and death, bull durham, , , , must-sees, the age of innocence, the breakfast club,   

    9 Recent Titles That Prove the Criterion Collection Has Something for Everyone 

    Dietrich and Divine. Romero and the Rat Pack. Cannibals and urban cowboys. The Criterion Collection, with its emphasis on “important” classic and contemporary films, might suggest it is a purveyor of stuffy art-house movies and old foreign films, but its definition of importance has never been nearly that limited. Its lineup of prestige collector’s editions includes range of movies, from widely beloved (and cult) classics, to lesser-known works that are brilliant and sometimes shocking.

    There’s a visceral love of cinema on display in the Criterion catalogue, from the elevated to the gritty, with few preconceptions about what specific ingredients constitute greatness. Each of their releases gets a careful and thoughtful restoration, as well as an array of special features. Pour yourself a nice Chianti and put on your best cha cha heels, because these films aren’t just great—they’re also on sale: all titles in the Criterion Collection are 50 percent off at Barnes & Noble, between June 29 and August 6.

    Female Trouble
    It’s gloriously incongruous that there now exists a 4K restoration of John Waters’ most notorious trash classic. It just shows that even Criterion isn’t afraid to get a little dirty. It’s the story of juvenile delinquent Dawn Davenport (played by the legendary drag star Devine), whose life of drugs, depravity, and murder begins when her mom and dad refuse to grant her heart’s desire, a pair of cha cha heels (parents: take note). Along the way she has a bratty child of her own, gets taken in by a fascist beauty salon, and becomes a model. It’s classic John Waters, and simply Divine.

    Dietrich and von Sternberg in Hollywood
    Hollywood director von Sternberg was tasked by Paramount executives with finding the next big star. He delivered, to put it mildly. Up-and-coming German actress Dietrich brought European mystery, a never-matched charisma, and a whole lot of sex with her when she teamed up the director for these six opulent masterpieces. Big name actors like Cary Grant and Gary Cooper are along for the ride, but it’s von Sternberg’s dreamlike and extravagant style and Dietrich’s incomparable presence that elevate these stunningly stylistic films.

    Night of the Living Dead
    And then, sometimes you want a movie with some brains. Night of the Living Dead is another work its makers probably never expected would get a high-definition release and star treatment from a label like Criterion. In the decades since its release, though, George Romero’s zombie classic has proved itself to be not only enduring, but influential. It proved that low-budget independent films, when done right, could succeed at the box office. It also continues to remind us how sharp and incisive a gory horror movie can be. On one level, it’s a claustrophobic zombie shocker. On another, it’s a sadly timeless allegory about humanity ripping itself apart through racial and cultural division. With lots of cool blood and gore.

    The Age of Innocence
    We have certain ideas of what a Martin Scorsese film should be, generally involving monsters and mean streets, but his output is as varied and accomplished as his career is long. Case in point: this lush adaption of Edith Wharton’s gilded age tragedy, The Age of Innocence. He gathered an impressive cast lead by Daniel Day-Lewis, Winona Ryder, and Michelle Pfeiffer for a story about a scandalous love affair that’s more precisely about being hopelessly bound by societal norms and codes. It’s not that Scorsese abandons his key themes in exploring old New York society, but instead that he makes the case that class brutality is universal, whether on the mean streets or in the parlor.

    A Matter of Life and Death
    The phantasmagoric technicolor fantasies of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger were positively made for the Criterion treatment. Here, an RAF pilot played by David Niven survives a jump from his burning plane, only to discover that the heavenly bureaucracy messed up: he was never supposed to live, and a messenger has arrived to collect him. This would be a problem under any circumstances, but the pilot has, in the meantime, fallen in love with an American radio operator. He’ll have to stand before all of heaven in order to make the case that love is more powerful than death, and that he should be allowed to stick around. The scenes on Earth are lush and colorful, while the afterlife is a stark and uniquely modern vision.

    Bull Durham
    Ron Shelton, himself a former minor league baseball player, made his directorial debut with what became one of the most beloved sports films of all time. He also wrote the smart, brisk, and mature screenplay about Druham Bulls groupie Susan Sarandon, who finds herself torn between young hotshot Tim Robbins and veteran catcher Kevin Costner. The film made or bolstered the stars of the three leads, and stands as an all-time American great.

    Midnight Cowboy
    British director John Schlesinger made a distinctly American masterpiece in this story of Joe Buck (Jon Voight), a Texan who dreams of New York City, and Ratso Rizzo (Dustin Hoffman, a New York conman who only wants to be in Florida. The two hustlers work the streets of NYC, encountering a cross-section of late-60s urban America. Despite an X-rating (largely for daring to mention homosexuality), the film was a major success and won a best picture Oscar. It was also a crucial step toward the more frank and naturalistic American films of the 1970s.

    The Silence of the Lambs
    Oh, Clarice. Jonathan Demme’s adaption of the Thomas Harris serial killer crime novel has become so much a part of the culture,the key bits have become shorthand: everyone knows what organ pairs best with fava beans and a nice chianti. But the movie is much more than the sum of the references it created: it’s a taut, tense, psychological thriller that’s as much a police procedural as a contest of wills between the smart, well-meaning, but damaged FBI agent played by Jodie Foster and the brutal but effortlessly charming cannibal she enlists to help her. There’s a reason why the film won every award imaginable, and this new restoration provides a delicious excuse to revisit it.

    The Breakfast Club
    Finally, one more film that probably never imagined itself in the pantheon. With The Breakfast Club, John Hughes established himself as the preeminent chronicler of American youth in the ’80s. It was popular at the time, with an utterly flawless cast of future Rat Pack royalty: Molly Ringwald, Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson, Anthony Michael Hall, and Ally Sheedy all find themselves in Saturday detention.Despite all of the trappings of the Me Decade, The Breakfast Club stands the test of time because it touches on universal experiences of teenager-dom that transcend time. It’s a movie that brains, athletes, basket cases, princesses, and criminals can all enjoy.

    Shop the Criterion Collection sale, from June 29 through August 6.

    The post 9 Recent Titles That Prove the Criterion Collection Has Something for Everyone appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Ross Johnson 6:00 pm on 2018/05/31 Permalink
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    June’s Best Biographies and Memoirs 

    The World as It Is: A Memoir of the Obama White House, by Ben Rhodes
    For eight years, Rhodes was the insider’s insider at the Obama White House, having begun working with the then-presidential hopeful as a speechwriter in 2007, just as that unlikely campaign was kicking into high gear. From there, he went on to roles as deputy national security advisor and foreign policy advisor. He was present for some of the most consequential moments in that administration, including the Bin Laden raid, and central to shaping many key policies, including the Iran nuclear agreement and normalized relations with Cuba. As a friend and advisor to a president, as well as a writer himself, Rhodes offers a true behind-the-scenes look with novelistic flair.

    Robert F. Kennedy: Ripples of Hope: Kerry Kennedy in Conversation with Heads of State, Business Leaders, Influencers, and Activists about Her Father’s Impact on Their Lives, by Kerry Kennedy
    The forthcoming 50th anniversary of Robert Kennedy’s assassination has been attended by a resurgence in interest in the senator, attorney general, and would-be president. His impact on his era was almost as great as that of his brother, and might have been greater still. Here, his daughter shares her own memories and reminiscences side-by-side with those who knew or were influenced by the man. Among those interviewed are Barack Obama, John Lewis, Gloria Steinem, Dolores Huerta, Bill Clinton, Tony Bennett, and many others.

    Uncensored: My Life and Uncomfortable Conversations at the Intersection of Black and White America, by Zachary R. Wood
    At 21, Zachary Wood has placed himself near the center of debates over free speech in modern America: president of the Uncomfortable Learning student group at Williams college, Wood has advocated his own personal policy of open dialogue and debate with anyone, regardless of how much their views might differ with is own. He’s even delivered a TED Talk on the topic, and his memoir discusses his quietly radical philosophy while going into the details of his personal story, beginning with a poor childhood in Washington, DC.

    Black Klansman: Race, Hate, and the Undercover Investigation of a Lifetime, by Ron Stallworth
    Ron Stallworth’s incredible true story is the inspiration for an upcoming film from writer/director Spike Lee and producer Jordan Peele. In 1978, the Klan was again on the rise in the United States, and Stallworth was the first black detective in the Colorado Springs Police Department. Interested in a growing terrorist threat to the community, he responded to an ad for more information from the local KKK by mail. Instead, he received a call asking if he was willing to join up. During months of investigation, he maintains a phone correspondence with the group, sabotaging cross-burnings, exposing plots, and even forming a relationship with then-Grand Wizard (and current alt-right leader) David Duke. His white partner was even tasked to fill-in for Stallworth in person when necessary to maintain the charade.  It’s a fascinating story.

    Reporter: A Memoir, by Seymour M. Hersh
    The brand of investigative reporting that made Seymour Hersh famous is an evolving, if not dying, art in today’s fast-paced media climate. From the beginning, Hersh was more than willing to take on the biggest stories and most powerful players on the political scene, from the coverup of the Mai Lai Massacre to Watergate, and, more recently, Abu Ghraib. His confrontational style and willingness to dive into stories that others might consider conspiracies have won him awards, but also courted controversy. In his memoir, Hersh looks back at his career and offers deeper insight into some of the many stories he’s covered.

    My Girls: A Lifetime with Carrie and Debbie, by Todd Fisher
    In December of 2016, millions mourned the unexpected deaths of both Carrie Fisher and her mother, Debbie Reynolds, within a day of each other. For their fans and admirers, it was deeply sad. But for the family of these two Hollywood legends, the pain was far more intimate. In this memoir, Todd Fisher, the only surviving child of Debbie and singer Eddie Fisher, relates the story of his glamorous childhood with an unconventional mother and the lifelong bond with sister. The book is part personal memoir and part tribute to Debbie and Carrie, as funny as it is poignant as it charts their glamorous, often very weird lives all the way through their final days together.

    Ghostbuster’s Daughter: Life with My Dad, Harold Ramis, by Violet Ramis Stiel
    Another child reflects on a famous father this month—this time on the daughter of multi-talented actor, director, writer, and comedian Harold Ramis, whose films are among the most beloved of recent decades (Animal House, Caddyshack, Ghostbusters, and Groundhog Day). Stiel recounts the too-short life of her famous father, and also the story of her unconventional upbringing, in a book that’s part family memoir, part look inside the mind of a comedic genius.

    Famous Father Girl: A Memoir of Growing Up Bernstein, by Jamie Bernstein
    At the height of his career in the middle years of the 20th century, at a time when a composer could still have an enormous influence on pop culture, none was bigger than Leonard Bernstein. The conductor and pianist had a circle that included the Kennedys, John Lennon, Richard Avedon, and Lauren Bacall, among many others, all they all populate the cast of this memoir. On the centennial of his birth, Bernstein’s eldest daughter Jamie reflects on her childhood with the complex, sometimes troubled man who taught her to love music, and the world.

    Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot, by John Callahan and David Kelly
    The title of the late Callahan’s memoir refers to one of his more (in)famous cartoons, an image in which three sheriffs approach an empty wheelchair in the desert. One sheriff says to another: “Don’t worry. He won’t get far on foot.” Which just about sums up Callahan’s warped, controversial, and boundary-pushing career as a cartoonist. That career began at the age of 21 after an alcohol-related car crash severed his spine and left him a quadriplegic. A few years later, he had relearned to use his right hand enough to make the simplistic drawings for which he became famous. This memoir is the subject of a forthcoming film from director Gus Van Sant.

    Whose story inspires you?

    The post June’s Best Biographies and Memoirs appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Ross Johnson 8:00 pm on 2018/04/30 Permalink
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    The Best Biographies and Memoirs of May 

    Life After Darkness: Finding Healing and Happiness After the Cleveland Kidnappings, by Michelle Knight
    In 2013, Knight (now Lily Rose Lee) was freed, along with two others, after a decade of captivity in the Cleveland home of kidnapper Ariel Castro. On the fifth anniversary of her rescue, she reflects on her experiences and on the road to healing the wounds she suffered: mental, spiritual, and physical. It’s not the darkness she’s focused on, but her journey into the light.

    The Restless Wave: Good Times, Just Causes, Great Fights, and Other Appreciations, by John McCain and Mark Salter
    This isn’t John McCain’s first memoir with Salter (his Faith of My Fathers was a bestseller almost 20 years ago), but it is the first written in the shadow of his brain cancer diagnosis last year. In the new book, he discusses his senatorial career over the last several decades, his 2008 run for the White House, and his work in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. He speaks with candor about the current state of affairs in America—and particularly his feelings about the current president—while looking to the future and sharing a positive vision for the country.

    Pops: Fatherhood in Pieces, by Michael Chabon
    Inspired by a popular 2016 GQ article about accompanying his 13-year-old son Abraham to Paris for Men’s Fashion Week, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and essayist Chabon has written a series of essays about fatherhood. In the GQ excerpt, he describes being both bored to tears and dramatically inspired by his son’s passion for the fashion on display. With the trademark style and richnesses of imagery, Chabon discusses the mysteries, joys, and contradictions of fatherhood.

    I Can’t Make This Up: Life Lessons, by Kevin Hart with Neil Strauss
    Kevin Hart has achieved a level of popularity and fame (he’s among the top grossing comedians worldwide) that make a memoir a no-brainer, but he’s also got a compelling life story that began with a troubled childhood in Philadelphia. He’s also genuinely funny, and his autobiography (now in paperback) is as compelling as it is laugh-out-loud hilarious.

    The Seasons of My Mother: A Memoir of Love, Family, and Flowers, by Marcia Gay Harden
    In this unconventional memoir, the actress tells her own life story in parallel with that of her mother. Beverly became enamored with ikebana, the art of flower arranging, while the family lived in Japan during the Vietnam War, an interest later pursued by Marcia. Over the last several years, the author has had to come to grips with her mother’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, a struggle that frames this poignant, funny, and heartfelt memoir.

    So Close to Being the Sh*t, Y’all Don’t Even Know, by Retta
    Parks and Rec star Retta threw her Liberian parents for a loop when she skipped medical school in favor of moving to Hollywood in search of sitcom fame and fortune. Though she didn’t find it right away, her career has only been on the rise in recent years. In her new essay collection, she tells a series of often hilarious anecdotes about life as a wealthy, successful woman who knows how precarious fame can be.

    The Pact: A UFC Champion, a Boy with Cancer, and Their Promise to Win the Ultimate Battle, by Cody Garbrandt with Mark Dagostino
    When he was 20, Cody Garbrandt formed a unique bond with 5-year-old Maddux Maple. The young boy was dying of leukemia, while Cody was intent on pursuing his dream of rising to the top in Mixed Martial Arts. The two made a pact to pursue their dreams: recovery for the kid, and the world championship for Cody. Five years later, Maddux was in remission and Cody had claimed the UFC title. Here, the champ himself tells their story.

    Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, by J. D. Vance
    Vance has accomplished something extraordinary with this complex and insightful memoir (now in paperback) in which he discusses his own family history, going deep below the surface to uncover truths that speak to the state of American culture in the 21st century. Vance tells a story of upward mobility and of the grandparents who left extreme poverty in Kentucky’s Appalachia to build a middle-class family. On the surface, it’s a triumphal tale of one generation doing better than the last, but Vance digs deeper to examine the legacies of poverty and want, including abuse and alcoholism, and the ways in which the family has never truly escaped its past.

    Papi: My Story, by David Ortiz and Michael Holley
    Barely six months into retirement, Ortiz tells the story of a long career in baseball that culminated in a 14-year run with the Boston Red Sox that saw the storied franchise go from perpetual losers to a one of the winningest teams in MLB. For Sox fans, and baseball lovers in general, he brings an insider’s view of the modern history of the sport, and shares a frank assessment of his rough and poor childhood in the Dominican Republic and his life leading to his 2008 American citizenship.

    Churchill and Orwell: The Fight for Freedom, by Thomas E. Ricks
    Two of the 20th Century’s towering figures, in Britain and in the world at large, Churchill and Orwell had wildly different ideas about how to approach the great challenges of their age. They never met, but Ricks places the lives and work of the two side-by-side and finds as many commonalities as differences: Orwell’s commitment to social justice and democratic socialism was at odds with Churchill’s more conservative views, but the two shared an absolute opposition to totalitarianism and strong senses of tradition. By bringing together two men who never interacted in life, Ricks paints a vivid picture of their time.

    Whose story inspires you?

    The post The Best Biographies and Memoirs of May appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Ross Johnson 2:00 pm on 2018/04/02 Permalink
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    The Best Biographies & Memoirs of April 2018 

    The Best Cook in the World: Tales from My Momma’s Table, by Rick Bragg
    Pulitzer Prize-winner Rick Bragg combines a love of cooking with the history of his family and of a region for this memoir/cookbook. Focusing on his mother’s recipes, never before recorded, he tells the stories behind each dish and of the family traditions that accompanied meals passed down in his family since before the Civil War. Alabama and family history aside, the book contains recipes for southern classics like corn pudding, redeye gravy, pinto beans and hambone, stewed cabbage, short ribs, and more.

    My American Dream: A Life of Love, Family, and Food, by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich
    Celebrity chef, restauranteur, and cookbook author Bastianich grew up in Pula under Tito’s regime in Yugoslavia. Lidia’s family ultimately was forced to flee to a refugee camp in Italy before being granted visas to to the United States.  The beloved TV star tells the story of her life, from learning Italian cooking at her grandmother’s knee, to the family’s the flight to America, to her teenage years spent working in restaurants, and the great success that she’s achieved in the years since.

    The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind: My Tale of Madness and Recovery, by Barbara K. Lipska and Elaine McArdle
    Barbara Lipska found herself at the beginning of a harrowing, but remarkable journey in early 2015: the renowned expert on the neuroscience of mental illness was herself diagnosed with melanoma that had spread to her brain. Short months later, she developed symptoms of dementia and schizophrenia that resulted from the shutdown of parts of her frontal lobe. She found herself descending into madness—but fortunately, a course of immunotherapy worked, and restored her physical and mental health. Not only that, but the neuroscientist remembers every detail of her ordeal. Her memoir of the experience provides extraordinary insight into the working of the human brain, told as it is by an expert who came back from the brink.

    Eunice: The Kennedy Who Changed the World, by Eileen McNamara
    While the Kennedy boys were being groomed for political power, Joe Kennedy’s daughter Eunice was pursuing a Stanford education as a preliminary to a lifetime of work with the disabled. For this thoroughly researched biography, Pulitzer Prize-winner Eileen McNamara gained access to never-before-seen private documents from the life of the formidable, cigar-smoking founder of what became the Special Olympics. She makes a very convincing case that it’s wasn’t just the Kennedy men who changed America.

    The Geraldo Show: A Memoir, by Geraldo Rivera
    Whatever your feelings about this news personality and talk show host, there’s no question his long career in the public eye has been quite the wild trip, from his early days as a lawyer and promising young reporter, to the guy who opened Al Capone’s vault, to talk show host and Fox News commentator. He’s been on the scene for some of the biggest news moments of the past five decades and has met many of modern history’s heavy hitters. He’s got plenty of stories to tell in his first memoir since 1992.

    Every Day I’m Hustling, by Vivica A. Fox
    During her 30 years in showbiz, Fox has learned plenty, and she’s ready to share. According to the actress, you never wait for the call. You go out and make life happen. Including stories and anecdotes from her own life and career in movies like Kill Bill and shows like Empire, Fox ‘s memoir offers success strategies for business and love, and even tips about looking good after 50.

    True Stories from an Unreliable Eyewitness: A Feminist Coming of Age, by Christine Lahti
    She’s won almost every major showbiz award over the course of her decades in the business, and has been an activist and blogger. This collection of personal essays focus on three periods in her life: her childhood, her early days as an actress, and the realities of life as a middle-aged woman in Hollywood today. The stories range from funny and self-deprecating to personally painful, but she’s always honest about her achievements and tragedies.

    The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After, by Clemantine Wamariya and Elizabeth Weil
    At the age of 15, Clementine and her sister fled the Rwandan massacre. Over the next six years, they moved through seven different countries before gaining refugee status in the United States. The two sisters came to live very different lives as their paths diverged in Chicago: one a struggling single mother, the other taken in by a generous and loving family who supported her through Yale. Still, both carried the scars of years of inhumanity. Clementine Wamariya tells a story that’s heartbreaking but, ultimately, one of hope and of the power to transcend even the most horrific events.

    Hang Time: My Life in Basketball, by Elgin Baylor and Alan Eisenstock
    Baylor’s long career spans years of incredible change for the NBA and America itself. In 1958 he became one of the very first black superstars of the game, and receives credit for saving the (then) Minneapolis Lakers from extinction while simultaneously serving as an Army Reservist. Fourteen exceptional years later, he retired from playing and went onto a decades-long career as a coach and executive. Throughout, he was a witness to and agent of change, fighting to break down color barriers as a player and manager.

    American Princess: The Love Story of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, by Leslie Carroll
    Carroll has an extensive bibliography when it comes to works of historical non-fiction (and fiction, as well) centered around the loves, marriages, and affairs of European royals. With the story of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and a relationship that would have been scandalous not so long ago, she’s taking on a rather more contemporary courtship. Grounding the story in the history of royal marriages that broke rules, Carroll dives into the story of the couple, as well as into the impressive background of Markle herself.

    Whose story intrigues and inspires you?

    The post The Best Biographies & Memoirs of April 2018 appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

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