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  • Ross Johnson 2:00 pm on 2019/09/30 Permalink
    Tags: Biography, ,   

    The Best Biographies & Memoirs of October 2019 

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    Me, by Elton John
    It’s  hard to believe Sir Elton has never produced an autobiography until now. With a career that spans more than a half century, the one-time Reginald Dwight has plenty of stories to tell—some relating to the excesses and pitfalls that have plagued so many rockers, many others having to do with his run-ins with some of the most significant figures of our time, including Princess Diana and Queen Elizabeth. The suburban kid from Pinner grew up to be one of the most shocking and outrageous figures in glam rock, and soared to the heights of respectability as an icon, and also a father. This is the story of a living legend, told in his own words.

    The Beautiful Ones, by Prince
    Another equally significant, but very different musical visionary has a new memoir out this month, this one a bit more poignant. The autobiography begun prior to Prince’s death in 2016 is the first-person account of a Minnesota kid who created some of the most visionary pop and funk ever recorded, cultivating a mystique very different from what his upbringing would have suggested. Prince’s own recollections of his childhood and early growth as an artist make up the first part of the book, while writing and candid photographs fill in the major events from the rest of his storied career. Finally, the Artist’s own handwritten treatment for “Purple Rain” is included in its entirety. Though sadly truncated, this is an essential portrait of The Artist: Prince sought to retell his own story as a mythic and funky adventure, and succeeded.

    Edison, by Edmund Morris
    He was once a defining figure in America’s own self-mythology, but there was certainly much more to prolific inventor Thomas Edison than the lightbulb. With seven years of of research and access to millions of documents, many of them unavailable until now, Edmund Morris confronts Edison in full: the whirlwind of inventor and capitalist whose technology touched every aspect of American life, as well as the autocratic leader and neglectful husband. Morris’ approach is to look for the human beneath the myth; he even spends some time exploring Edison’s notorious, but overstated, competition with Nikola Tesla. Most, if you’ll pardon the pun, enlightening.

    The Book of Gutsy Women, by Hillary Rodham and Chelsea Clinton
    Any new book from Hillary Clinton is an event, and this one seemed particularly well timed to capitalize on our current political moment. Joined by daughter Chelsea, the Clintons shares the stories of women who’ve inspired them and who, each in her own way, broke barriers and made progress possible for themselves and future generations. Among the women chronicled are LGBTQ trailblazer Edie Windsor, writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, civil rights activist Dorothy Height, swimmer Diana Nyah, historian Mary Beard, activist Malala Yousafzai, and Harriet Tubman—among many others. They’re all inspiring stories, and they all have things to teach us about the many different ways to chart a better future

    Face It: A Memoir, by Debbie Harry
    It’s obviously a huge month for musical memoirs, and it’s impossible to overstate the importance of each of the talents with books out this month, but none of them rocks harder than punk icon Debbie Harry, who led the band Blondie, a fusion of rock, punk, disco, and hip-hop incarnate. The deeply private artist’s new memoir revisits the gritty music scene in 1970s New York, an era when some of the greatest bands of all time were on the verge of becoming legends. Through drug addiction, heartbreaks, and breakups, Harry evolved from rock star to activist to icon, busting down barriers and making great music all the while.

    Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years, by Julie Andrews with Emma Walton Hamilton
    Her first memoir, Home, chronicled Julie Andrews’ difficult childhood and emergence as a singer and stage performer, while this follow-up discusses her Hollywood career from its earliest days and offers insights into her biggest successes in her own words. Co-writing with her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton, Andrews not only dives into the stories behind roles in films like Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music, and Victor/Victoria, but deals with her own transition into worldwide superstardom, and the effect it had on her marriages and children.

    Where Do I Begin? Stories from a Life Lived Out Loud, by Elvis Duran
    It’s not easy to make it in radio these days, so Duran’s success as the host of New York City’s “Elvis Duran and the Morning Show” is doubly impressive: between local broadcast and syndication, the show is typically heard by around 10 million live listeners. As open (and funny, and engaging) on the page as he is on the air, Duran has plenty of stories to tell about his rise through the ranks—he started as a DJ-for-hire in several markets before moving to NYC in 1996, becoming a favorite among listeners for his interviews with pop music royalty and chats with his fans.

    Touched by the Sun: My Friendship with Jackie, by Carly Simon
    Another book from a musical legend, this one less about Carly Simon’s music than about her relationship with another American icon: following a chance encounter at a party in Martha’s Vineyard,  Simon and Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis developed a relationship somewhere between that of best pals and a mother and daughter. When Simon write children’s books in the 1980s and ’90s, it dovetailed with Jackie’s late-career move into the publishing world, and she became Simon’s editor. The friendship lasted right up until Jackie’s death in 1994. Here, Simon shares the intimate story of their unique bond.

    Whose story inspires you?

    The post The Best Biographies & Memoirs of October 2019 appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Ross Johnson 4:00 pm on 2019/09/04 Permalink
    Tags: Biography,   

    The Best Biographies & Memoirs of September 2019 

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    Permanent Record, by Edward Snowden
    One of the most controversial and, ultimately, consequential figures of our time, Edward Snowden’s life and career speaks to all the ways in which we’re not fully prepared for the surveillance age. In 2013, CIA contractor Snowden leaked word of an NSA surveillance program that he’d helped to build—a program to collect data on every cell phone call, text, and email in a way that would impact almost everyone on the planet. It was one of the most consequential acts of whistleblowing in American history. He’s seen as a hero by some, and a traitor by others, and now, six years later, the exile—complex, revered, vilified—tells his side of the story.

    What Is a Girl Worth?: My Story of Breaking the Silence and Exposing the Truth about Larry Nassar and USA Gymnastics, by Rachael Denhollander
    Hundreds of young athletes were sexually abused by USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar over the course of decades, and he wasn’t the sport’s only predatory figure. When Rachael Denhollander and others revealed the abuse they’d suffered in 2016, it inspired other victims to come forward and reveal the systems that had protected and empowered people like Nassar. Denhollander tells her own story here, one that is both deeply personal and widely relevant in exploring both the reasons why the sex abuse was allowed to continue within USA Gymnastics for as long as it did, and explicating the strength and bravery it took to break the whole thing open.

    Inside Out: A Memoir, by Demi Moore
    She earned fame for her iconic movie roles (St. Elmo’s FireGhost, Indecent Proposal, etc.), broke barriers in pay for actresses in Hollywood, and led a personal life highlighted by tabloid-ready marriages to Bruce Willis and Ashton Kutcher. Throughout all of this, just under the surface of her glamorous Hollywood life, Demi Moore battled life-long insecurities, barely concealed childhood trauma, and addiction. In her new memoir, she lays it all on the line, from her complicated relationship with her mother, to the ins-and-outs of her acting career, to the challenges of raising a family under the watchful gaze of the paparazzi.

    Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love, by Jonathan Van Ness
    The current Netflix run of Queer Eye has gone well beyond a makeover show for the fashionably clueless, layering in heartwarming and poignant stories of overcoming prejudice that are inspired by a cast that’s not afraid to get to the heart of the issues in the lives of the show’s subjects. That’s certainly the case for grooming and self-care expert Jonathan Van Ness, whose message has been that taking care of yourself comes from the inside out. During his childhood in a small Midwestern town, he was misunderstood by just about everyone—over-the-top and very gay even as a child, he was an easy target for the ridicule and judgement of his peers. Those early experiences shaped his unapologetic positivity and compassion, and he shares that journey in this personal and raw account of the journey to self-acceptance.

    The Education of an Idealist, by Samantha Power
    Beginning her career as a war correspondent and vocal critic of United States military policy, Samantha Power moved on to a role as a human rights educator and activist before joining the Obama administration, eventually taking on the role of United States Ambassador to the United Nations. In her new memoir, the Pulitzer-Prize winner describes her childhood as an American immigrant and describes the challenges of balancing a high-stakes career with parenthood. Her personal story dovetails with that of an increasingly troubled world, highlighting the importance of standing up for the ideals you revere, even in the face of institutional opposition.

    Prince Albert: The Man Who Saved the Monarchy, by A. N. Wilson
    Following up his acclaimed biography of Queen Victoria, A.N. Wilson capitalizes on the occasion of the 200th birthday of the Prince from Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to tell Prince Albert’s story. For two decades, Albert had an impact on almost every aspect of British life, pushing for scientific and political modernization amid the rule of his legendary wife. Their deeply complicated but undeniably passionate relationship was often a tug-of-war over the reins of power, with Albert finding ways to work with and around the Queen in order to advance his priorities for the country. Given the significance of Wilson’s book on Victoria, there’s every reason to believe this followup will be just as enlightening.

    Sontag: Her Life and Work, by Benjamin Moser
    Sometimes left off of male-centric lists of the big thinkers of the twentieth century, few Americans had as much to say (and on as many topics) as Susan Sontag. She wrote on photography, on politics, AIDS, human rights, communism, capitalism, and dozens of other topics in her long career as one of America’s most important intellectuals. Her life, as well, was fascinating: she struggled with her sexuality, courted famous lovers, and traveled to some of the most significant and horrific conflict zones of the recent past. Frequently (if not always) controversial, she nonetheless helped shape the consensus of thought during her 71 years, and this definitive biography of her life represents an important effort at reckoning with her legacy.

    To Love and Let Go: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Gratitude, by Rachel Brathen
    Though they looked nothing alike, everyone called Rachel and Andrea twins—such was the nature of their friendship. Until 2014, when Rachel woke up from emergency surgery while on a trip to learn that Andrea had been fatally injured in a car accident. Over the following years, Rachel—already the author of the New York Times bestseller Yoga Girl and the founder of YogaGirl.com—faced trials and triumphs in equal measure while her grief and the memory of childhood trauma conspired to keep her from moving forward. A pregnancy becomes an opportunity to find a way to face the future in this poignant and, ultimately, uplifting memoir.

    Belichick: The Making of the Greatest Football Coach of All Time, by Ian O’Connor
    A book proclaiming its subject to be “the greatest football coach of all time” might sound like hyperbole—if the title were referring to anyone but New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who, as the NFL’s longest-tenured head coach, has a record of wins that’s  unprecedented in the game (since this book was released in hardcover late last year, he’s added a sixth Super Bowl victory to his resume—it’s tough to keep up). Based on extensive new research and interviews, O’Connor offers up the first complete portrait of the dour-faced coach, exploring his life and relationships on and off the field.

    The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers, by Maxwell King
    Between last year’s blockbuster documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? and the forthcoming Tom Hanks movie about his life, Mr. Rogers is having a moment. And is it any wonder? His lessons about the virtues of curiosity, honesty, play, and simple compassion are evergreen, and we seem to need them now more than ever. King’s new work is the first full-length print biography of the icon, and (thank goodness) it’s no shocking tell-all: by all accounts, the Mr. Rogers we saw on TV wasn’t that far removed from the real-life figure. What does come to light are the struggles of his own childhood, as well as the savvy behind-the-scenes decision making that made his show a beloved staple for generations of kids.

    Whose story inspires you?

    The post The Best Biographies & Memoirs of September 2019 appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Ross Johnson 6:00 pm on 2019/06/28 Permalink
    Tags: , Biography, , common, , , life's a beach read, , ,   

    This Summer’s Essential Biographies & Memoirs 

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    Biographies are great for the beach, are we’re declaring these 10 recent bios and memoirs as summer essentials. Some are serious, some are a little silly, but they’re all revelatory stories of some of intriguing and inspiring individuals.

    Educated, by Tara Westover
    A well-written memoir can make a mundane life fascinating, but Tara Westover’s life was anything but mundane, and she tells her own story with gripping, clear-eyed ferocity. Raised in the rural Idaho mountains by a family of fundamentalist Mormon survivalists, Westover never went to school until she turned 17, and lived out her days preparing for the worst:helping her fathersalvage scrap to sell, canning food with her mother to get them through the looming apocalypse, packing and repacking her bag of emergency supplies. She never saw a doctor, despite some serious injuries, including violence inflicted upon her by a sibling. Another brother did make it out, however, and came back to the mountain one day with tales of college, and a better life. Determined to follow in his footsteps, Westover taught herself enough math and science to gain admittance to Brigham University, where her life changed forever. This is the fascinating story of the strange ties that bind a family together, and the strength it takes to sever them and strike out on your own.

    Becoming, by Michelle Obama
    Michelle Obama remains a uniquely consequential figure who became a powerful advocate for women and girls around the world during her tenure, all while raising a family under the watchful eye of the media. Her life didn’t begin there, though: the Princeton and Harvard Law graduate was a lawyer, educator, and executive before ever stepping foot in the White House. In her own words, she candidly talks about her life, her career, her family, and her continuing story as she constructs a life for herself outside of the pressures and responsibilities politics. This memoir was one of 2018’s year’s biggest books before it even went on sale, and it deserves every one of those six-plus million copies sold.

    Howard Stern Comes Again, by Howard Stern
    At some point, the king of shock jocks became true radio royalty with a career spanning over four decades and success across multiple mediums. His first book became a hit movie, and his second was also a bestseller—but that was over 20 years ago, and much has changed in the life of Howard Stern since, from his departure from terrestrial radio, to his mega-bucks deal with SiriusXM, to shakeups in his personal life and a reality TV gig that won him fans among people who might not show up for his radio work. There’s no doubt that he has plenty of new stories to tell in his latest, told through the prism of some of his favorite and most revealing celebrity interviews, transcribed with new commentary.

    Lake of the Ozarks: My Surreal Summers in a Vanishing America, by Bill Geist
    Author and recently retired CBS News correspondent Bill Geist was popular for over three decades for his lighthearted, wonderfully corny human interest segments covering some of the weirder corners of American life. In his latest, the baby boomer looks back to his own childhood in the midcentury American midwest. Specifically, he revisits that middle-class summer vacation hot spot, Lake of the Ozarks, and the eccentric personalities he met there who influenced his life and career. It’s a charming, often very funny portrait of a bygone era.

    Let Love Have the Last Word, by Common
    Common has won Grammy Awards and Academy Awards, sold millions of albums and carved out a serious acting career, and he’s done so without a hint of controversy or scandal, a rare achievement in this day and age. Here he offers an uplifting and practical message for everyone: put simply, the title says it all. He argues that how you love is just as important as who and what you love. Covering topics as deeply personal as his relationship with his daughter to those as deeply spiritual as his relationship with God, Common uses his own experience as a guide to navigating a world increasingly rent with political and cultural divisions, and as a challenge to everyone to do better and to be better.

    All the Way: Football, Fame, and Redemption (B&N Exclusive Edition), by Joe Namath with Don Yaeger
    Fifty years after Namath lead the New York Jets to a Super Bowl victory against the Baltimore Colts, the icon tells the story of his journey from small-town Pennsylvania kid to sports legend. Across half a century, Namath spent time at the height of celebrity, but also dealt with debilitating injuries that contributed to an addiction to painkillers and alcohol. Here, he reveals that the charmed life he appeared to lead masked real challenges. It’s a story of incredible triumphs, incredible lows, and, ultimately, redemption.

    Life Will Be the Death of Me. . . and you too!, by Chelsea Handler
    Part confessional, part journey of self-discovery, Handler’s latest memoir describes a year in her life. Following the tumult of the 2016 presidential election, the comedian, writer, and television host made a commitment to confront her past and look her choices square in the face, embarking on a year of change, growth, and self-sufficiency through therapy, political activism, and picking up her own dog’s poo. It’s a funny and insightful journey, offering a roadmap to those of us looking to keep a smile on our faces as we chart new paths in life.

    Forever and Ever, Amen: A Memoir of Music, Faith, and Braving the Storms of Life, by Randy Travis with Ken Abraham
    For the first time, the country and gospel superstar tells his own story. From a Nashville club singer, Travis had his first smash hit at only 27, inaugurating a new style of country that blends traditional style with pop elements. Over the following quarter-century, he went from hit record to hit record, with TV and movie roles coming in as well. Then, in 2009, his marriage and finances fell apart, leading to his increasing dependence on alcohol and an eventual arrest. On the road to putting his life back together, he suffered a near-fatal stroke. This confessional autobiography far more than the tale of his success—it’s a journey down the bumpy road of stardom.

    Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II, by Robert Matzen with Luca Dotti
    There’s something missing in our cultural understanding of Audrey Hepburn, one of the 20th century’s preeminent style icons. The meteoric rise that followed her award-winning performance in Roman Holiday made it seem as though she arrived fully formed to take the movie landscape by storm. But, of course, that’s never really the case, and particularly so in Hepburn’s. Via documents only recently made available, new interviews, and access to the actress’s own diaries, Matzen explores her formative years during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. In spite of the (initially) pro-Nazi views of her parents, Audrey participated in the Dutch Resistance as a doctor’s assistant during the brutal war that, according to her son, made her who she came to be.

    My Dad, Yogi: A Memoir of Family and Baseball, by Dale Berra with Mark Ribowsky
    Baseball fan or otherwise, most everyone knows the name Yogi Berra—his mastery of the game as a New York Yankee and his management of a championship Mets team made him a sports icon, but his personality and… unique speaking style, peppered with his signature Yogi-isms, made him a household name. But no one knew the real Yogi like his family, and here, his son Dale tells his own story of life with the American giant. Dale was blessed with a unique view of baseball and its great platers from an early age, and eventually followed in his father’s footsteps before a drug scandal put an end to his career. Through it all, Yogi supported his son and stayed close to him, and in this new memoir, Dale offers a one-of-a-kind perspective on the baseball great.

    Whose life stories inspire you?

    The post This Summer’s Essential Biographies & Memoirs appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Ross Johnson 6:00 pm on 2019/05/28 Permalink
    Tags: Biography, , ,   

    June’s Best Biographies & Memoirs 

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    Naturally Tan, by Tan France
    While retaining the sense of fun, the more recent Queer Eye series has done the original one better, broadening the horizons of its makeover subjects and wresting more than a few tears from what might otherwise be a fun, but surface-level reality show. Tan France is a big part of the remake’s success, with a background that inspired his brand of radical compassion: the youngest in his family, he grew up in a South Asian Muslim family in a white community in South Yorkshire, England. At a distance from his neighbors because of his heritage and from his own family due to his sexuality, he eventually learned how to love himself, a skill he now passes along via the show. His new memoir takes us from his childhood to the present day, and goes behind the scenes of the show—and it even includes some of his trademark fashion tips.

    The Kennedy Heirs: John, Caroline, and the New Generation – A Legacy of Triumph and Tragedy, by J. Randy Taraborrelli
    Across years, journalist and celebrity biographer J. Randy Taraborrelli has visited the stories of the Kennedy family from a variety of angles. Until now, however, his books have largely focused on the generation led by JFK, Robert, and Ted. His newest looks at those that followed: the children of the three prominent siblings, who faced triumphs and tragedies in equal measures. Based on hundreds of interviews as well as first-hand research, The Kennedy Heirs explores the lives of John Kennedy, Jr., groomed as the heir to the family legacy before his tragic death; lawyer and politician Caroline; and the other younger Kennedys, all who grew up under the guidance of the family’s still-indomitable matriarch, Ethel. It’s a fascinating look into the world of American royalty.

    Small Fry, by Lisa Brennan-Jobs
    You can imagine Lisa Brennan-Jobs’ memoir as a portrait of her life as the daughter of the late Apple CEO, Steve Jobs. And yes, that’s a big part of it, but she is also careful to craft a story of her own identity and coming-of-age. As a child, Lisa’s father was a largely mythical figure who wanted nothing to do with her or her mother, loudly denying his paternity even after a DNA test made the facts clear. Brennan-Jobs grew up under the cloud of that public rejection until, years later, her father reentered her life. Suddenly, she was ushered into a world of mansions and private schools, and struggled with the sense of whiplash. It’s a fascinating and heartbreaking journey, told with tremendous compassion and love by a writer with real literary chops.

    Inside the Five-Sided Box: Lessons from a Lifetime of Leadership in the Pentagon, by Ash Carter
    With a career in public policy spanning almost four decades, Ash Carter has as much insider knowledge as anyone about what goes on inside the Pentagon, the building in which he’s spent many of those years—including a stint as secretary of defense. His goal with this new memoir is to demystify the five-sided building that’s so integral to American government, and yet almost entirely a mystery to most of the American public. The building houses the world’s most complex information network, a massive research and development infrastructure, and a bureaucracy that implements policies with global consequences—it’s probably about time we learned more about what goes on behind those walls. This memoir promises to be a fascinating look inside.

    The Sixth Man: A Memoir, by Andre Iguodala
    Andre Iguodala is one of basketball’s most impressive players on one of its best teams: the Golden State Warriors, winners of three of the last four NBA championships. Over the course of his career, he’s earned respect for more than his athletics: successful tech investments and broad-ranging philanthropy have made him an icon off the court as well. In this book, Iguodala discusses all of that, and also returns to a topic that’s generated controversy for him in the past: the conflicts that come from having a professional league largely made up of African American male athletes who play on teams mostly coached and owned by white men. Taking us from his childhood in Illinois dreaming of being the next Jordan to the top off the game, Iguodala shares insights into the conflicts that have driven him on the court, in business, and in his personal life.

    Whose story inspires you?

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

  • Ross Johnson 5:00 pm on 2019/04/29 Permalink
    Tags: Biography, , ,   

    May’s Best Biographies & Memoirs 

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    Sea Stories: My Life in Special Operations, by William H. McRaven
    This retired Navy admiral’s earliest memories place him at American Officers’ Club in France among Allied officers recounting their adventures in WWII. The son of a career Air Force officer, William McRaven followed his father into the United States military and throughout his career was involved in some of the highest profile moments in modern military history, including the capture of Saddam Hussein, the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips, and the raid that ended with the death of Osama bin Laden. The Navy SEAL and Special Operations Forces commander’s memoir is full of fascinating stories.

    Howard Stern Comes Again, by Howard Stern
    At some point, the king of shock jocks became true radio royalty with a career spanning over four decades and success across multiple mediums. His first book became a hit movie, and his second was also a bestseller—but that was over 20 years ago, and much has changed in the life of Howard Stern since, from his departure from terrestrial radio, to his mega-bucks deal with SiriusXM, to shakeups in his personal life. There’s no doubt that he has plenty of new stories to tell about his life, his celebrity encounters, and his perspective on the ever-changing realities of the radio business.

    Every Man a Hero: A Memoir of D-Day, the First Wave at Omaha Beach, and a World at War, by Ray Lambert and Jim DeFelice
    The number of individuals who can recount firsthand their experiences during World War II is sadly dwindling, but that doesn’t mean there are no new stories left to tell. Ninety-eight-year-old Ray Lambert was a combat medic and among the first wave of Allied soldiers to land at Omaha Beach on D-Day. Lambert grew up on a farm in Alabama during the Great Depression before he and his brother enlisted for service that took them to some of the war’s most important and harrowing battles. Timed for the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landing, Lambert’s memoir is a powerful addition to the library of works about the greatest and most terrible conflict in history.

    All the Way: Football, Fame, and Redemption (B&N Exclusive Edition), by Joe Namath with Don Yaeger
    Fifty years after Namath lead the New York Jets to a Super Bowl victory against the Baltimore Colts, the icon tells the story of his journey from small-town Pennsylvania kid to sports legend. Across half a century, Namath spent time at the height of celebrity, but also dealt with debilitating injuries that saw him addicted to painkillers and alcohol. Here, he reveals that the charmed life he appeared to lead masked real challenges. It’s a story of incredible triumphs, incredible lows, and, ultimately, redemption.

    Where the Light Enters: Building a Family, Discovering Myself, by Jill Biden
    The 23-year-old Jill Jacobs was a divorced teacher coming off of a rebellious childhood when she first met Joe Biden, a father of two and a widower. Though the two hit it off immediately, she was reluctant to commit to the boisterous extended Biden family, as well as to take on the role of surrogate mother for Joe’s children. Of course, we know the relationship worked—the two married, and Jill continued her teaching career in some form right up until the 2008 presidential election that saw her take on the role of second lady. With a new election cycle heating up, her name is now back in the headlines, and in this memoir of the life of a family in the spotlight.

    Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee, by Casey Cep
    In the 1970s, one Reverend Willie Maxwell was accused of killing five of his family members for insurance money. After he had given the eulogy for the stepdaughter he’d allegedly murdered, he himself was shot by another relative. The same lawyer who defended the Reverend secured an acquittal for the vigilante. No one was more intrigued by the sordid story than Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, who spent years working on a never-published true crime work to rival that of her friend Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. In this fascinating new book, Casey Cep explores both the original crime and Lee’s obsessive, ultimately futile work to craft it into a powerful work of non-fiction.

    Anthony Bourdain Remembered
    Bourdain’s death last year brought about an outpouring of love and affection from his most devoted fans, not to mention the casual viewers of his travel and food programs. If the tributes shared a theme, it was honoring the late master chef’s belief that the world would be a better place if we all spent more time walking in the shoes of others, and maybe trying a little of their food. It’s a valuable message, and this reminiscence celebrates Bourdain’s life with anecdotes from fans, friends, chefs, and luminaries like Barack Obama, Ken Burns, and Questlove.

    Becoming Dr. Seuss: Theodor Geisel and the Making of an American Imagination, by Brian Jay Jones
    Everyone knows Dr. Seuss, but Theodor Geisel is another matter entirely. The author, cartoonist, and animator produced some of the most popular and bestselling children’s books of all time, but began his career as a left-leaning political cartoonist during World War II, at first decrying non-interventionists and then producing posters and films to benefit the war effort directly.  The self-described subversive never lost his strong point of view, creating works for kids that eschewed traditional morals but which still carried messages. It worked, and this book proves his life was as fascinating and unique as his creations.

    Whose story inspires you?

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

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