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  • Ross Johnson 3:00 pm on 2018/11/05 Permalink
    Tags: , , , jeff tweedy, joe biden, Memoirs, Michelle Obama,   

    November’s Best Biographies and Memoirs 

    Becoming, by Michelle Obama
    The memoir of any first lady is a major publishing event, but Michelle Obama stands doubly apart as a uniquely consequential figure who became a powerful advocate for women and girls around the world during her tenure, even while raising a family under the watchful eye of the media. Her life didn’t begin when her husband became president: 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.

    All the Way: Football, Fame, and Redemption, by Joe Namath and Sean Mortimer with Don Yaeger
    Fifty years after Joe 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 climbed to the very height of celebrity, but also dealt with debilitating injuries that led to an addiction to to painkillers and alcohol. Here, he reveals that the charmed life he appeared to lead masked real challenges.

    Back in the Game: One Gunman, Countless Heroes, and the Fight for My Life, by Steve Scalise with Jeffrey E. Stern
    One of the most dramatic and horrific stories of our modern political era occurred in the summer of 2017 when a gunman took aim at a baseball practice among a group of Republican members of Congress, near-fatally wounding Majority Whip Steve Scalise. Here, Scalise offers a minute-by-minute account of the attack, as well as the stories of the women and men—on the scene and in the days and weeks afterward—who helped to save his life.

    Let Her Fly: A Father’s Journey, by Ziauddin Yousafzai with Louise Carpenter and Malala Yousafzai
    In 2014, Malala Yousafzai became the youngest Nobel Prize laureate in history for her work in promoting education for young women. Here, her father tells his own story, and shares what he’s learned from his life and his remarkable children. Ziauddin Yousafzai was born in a mud hut in Shangla, Pakistan and witnessed the rise of the Taliban in that region, a circumstance that ultimately led to his daughter’s shooting and the family’s subsequent uprooting to the UK. Himself a UN Special Advisor and activist, Ziauddin Yousafzai’s story is the fascinating true account of the father of a girl who became a world leader.

    Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back): A Memoir of Recording and Discording with Wilco, Etc., by Jeff Tweedy
    Chicago’s Wilco has a following like few other bands, but despite their reverent attention, its lead singer and songwriter Jeff Tweedy hasn’t always been particularly forthcoming. In this new memoir, Tweedy talks about his entire life, with a particular focus on the live-music circuit and the Chicago scene that forged musical legends.

    Slowhand: The Life and Music of Eric Clapton, by Philip Norman
    Clapton’s influence on rock is indisputable: the 17-time Grammy winner has been inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame three separate times. As a solo guitarist—and as a member of bands the Yardbirds, John Mavall’s Bluesbreakers, Cream, Blind Faith, Derek and the Dominoes—he’s been on the scene for more than a half-century. This biography, written by one of rock’s preeminent chroniclers in cooperation with Clapton and his family, follows the long road from an unconventional childhood, to the excesses of the ’60s and ’70s, through the tragic death of a child, and beyond.

    Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose, by Joe Biden
    The former vice president’s memoir, now in paperback, is his first since leaving the White House. It focuses on an extraordinary and difficult year in the life of Biden’s family: the 12 months surrounding the decline and death of his son, Beau, from a malignant brain tumor in 2015. The book provides a portrait of life in and out of the White House during a year of political challenges and world travel, set against the backdrop of a deeply personal story of loss.

    Whose story inspires you?

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

     
  • Ross Johnson 3:00 pm on 2018/08/27 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , Memoirs, , paul kalanithi, , , , , ,   

    Go Behind the Scenes with Robin Williams, Carrie Fisher, and More Iconic Personalities 

    Icons come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and backgrounds. Some are fascinating because of unique challenges and life stories, others by rising to the tops of their fields with style. They inspire and teach us, but there’s always much more to their lives than their public personas. These books go behind the scenes with intriguing personalities to reveal stories that are funny, heartbreaking, or edifying—and often all three.

    Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo”, by Zora Neale Hurston, with Alice Walker and Deborah G. Plant
    Though best known as one of the preeminent novelists of the black American south during the early 20th century, Hurston’s work was informed by her background in anthropology. Her work on Barracoon began in 1927 and included her interviews with Cudjo Lewis, the last known then-living survivor of the Atlantic slave trade. The work failed to find a publisher at the time, and remained locked away until this year. Thus, this powerful book is essential for two reasons: it’s the story of one of the key figures in the history of American slavery, and it also serves as an epilogue to the work of Hurston, who writes from her own perspective.

    Robin, by Dave Itzkoff
    Robin Williams was one of the towering figures in American pop culture during the last half-century, and his untimely death at only 63 is still hard to process. With almost unfathomable energy, he conquered the worlds of stand-up comedy and sitcoms before going on to star in critically acclaimed films and earning an Academy Award. As we’ve all learned since, he was much more than a lovable firecracker: his work often came from a more complex place, and he struggled with self-doubt, depression, and addiction, as well as a crippling condition that he kept secret near the end of his days. With original interviews and research, biographer Itzkoff digs deep into the life of the iconic talent.

    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 his lifelong bond with his 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.

    Eat Cake. Be Brave., by Melissa Radke
    Melissa Radke became a social media star largely by following her own advice: eat the cake and ignore the haters. Radke had been dismissed as a student who’d never amount to anything, as too fat to be worthy of love before she learned that her attitude, street smarts, and southern-style sense of humor were more than enough to carry her through all of life’s trials. Her message is simple, but powerful: forget about the past and fight to become the person you want to be.

    Wanna Bet?: A Degenerate Gambler’s Guide to Living on the Edge, by Artie Lange and Anthony Bozza
    Though his road has been bumpy, Artie Lange has managed to survive and thrive as an actor, comedian, and radio host. In his third book, the comedian dives into the lifestyle and subculture of one of his favorite risky pastimes: gambling. Funny and confessional, Lange explores his own addiction alongside that of 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.

    Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, by Trevor Noah
    When The Daily Show host Trevor Noah was born in apartheid South Africa, his existence was literally a crime: the union of his white father and black Xhosa mother would have, had it been discovered, been punishable by five years in prison. As a result, Noah was hidden away for much of his young life before liberation saw his mother embark with him on an adventurous existence to try to make up for the years of privation. It would be a fascinating story even if he hadn’t gone on to take over as host of the venerable political comedy show, but Noah’s anecdotes and stories covering the breadth of his life take on extra weight given its unlikely trajectory.

    When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi with Abraham Verghese
    Fascinating figures aren’t always celebrities: Paul Kalanithi wrote this extraordinary memoir while in the final stages of a battle with stage IV lung cancer. At the time he was diagnosed at only 36, he was just about to complete his education as a neurosurgeon and was soon to be a new father. Suddenly, the doctor was also a patient, confronting his own mortality at a time when he expected his life to be beginning. That dual view gives him a unique perspective as he explores his own illness in a way that manages to be both poignant and life-affirming.

    Which iconic personality most inspires you?

    The post Go Behind the Scenes with Robin Williams, Carrie Fisher, and More Iconic Personalities appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Ross Johnson 2:00 pm on 2018/08/27 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , Memoirs, , paul kalanithi, robin, , , , , ,   

    Go Behind the Scenes with Robin Williams, Carrie Fisher, and More Iconic Personalities 

    Icons come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and backgrounds. Some are fascinating because of unique challenges and life stories, others by rising to the tops of their fields with style. They inspire and teach us, but there’s always much more to their lives than their public personas. These books go behind the scenes with intriguing personalities to reveal stories that are funny, heartbreaking, or edifying—and often all three.

    And for just one week, you can get them all for 50% off as part of Barnes & Noble’s first annual book haul blowout! Today through September 3, shop in stores and online to get half off of 150 select titles, across genres, for all ages, and including bestsellers, new releases, and more. And when you shop in stores, you’ll get a free tote with purchase of three books, while supplies last.

    Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo”, by Zora Neale Hurston, with Alice Walker and Deborah G. Plant
    Though best known as one of the preeminent novelists of the black American south during the early 20th century, Hurston’s work was informed by her background in anthropology. Her work on Barracoon began in 1927 and included her interviews with Cudjo Lewis, the last known then-living survivor of the Atlantic slave trade. The work failed to find a publisher at the time, and remained locked away until this year. Thus, this powerful book is essential for two reasons: it’s the story of one of the key figures in the history of American slavery, and it also serves as an epilogue to the work of Hurston, who writes from her own perspective.

    Robin, by Dave Itzkoff
    Robin Williams was one of the towering figures in American pop culture during the last half-century, and his untimely death at only 63 is still hard to process. With almost unfathomable energy, he conquered the worlds of stand-up comedy and sitcoms before going on to star in critically acclaimed films and earning an Academy Award. As we’ve all learned since, he was much more than a lovable firecracker: his work often came from a more complex place, and he struggled with self-doubt, depression, and addiction, as well as a crippling condition that he kept secret near the end of his days. With original interviews and research, biographer Itzkoff digs deep into the life of the iconic talent.

    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 his lifelong bond with his 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.

    Eat Cake. Be Brave., by Melissa Radke
    Melissa Radke became a social media star largely by following her own advice: eat the cake and ignore the haters. Radke had been dismissed as a student who’d never amount to anything, as too fat to be worthy of love before she learned that her attitude, street smarts, and southern-style sense of humor were more than enough to carry her through all of life’s trials. Her message is simple, but powerful: forget about the past and fight to become the person you want to be.

    Wanna Bet?: A Degenerate Gambler’s Guide to Living on the Edge, by Artie Lange and Anthony Bozza
    Though his road has been bumpy, Artie Lange has managed to survive and thrive as an actor, comedian, and radio host. In his third book, the comedian dives into the lifestyle and subculture of one of his favorite risky pastimes: gambling. Funny and confessional, Lange explores his own addiction alongside that of 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.

    Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, by Trevor Noah
    When The Daily Show host Trevor Noah was born in apartheid South Africa, his existence was literally a crime: the union of his white father and black Xhosa mother would have, had it been discovered, been punishable by five years in prison. As a result, Noah was hidden away for much of his young life before liberation saw his mother embark with him on an adventurous existence to try to make up for the years of privation. It would be a fascinating story even if he hadn’t gone on to take over as host of the venerable political comedy show, but Noah’s anecdotes and stories covering the breadth of his life take on extra weight given its unlikely trajectory.

    When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi with Abraham Verghese
    Fascinating figures aren’t always celebrities: Paul Kalanithi wrote this extraordinary memoir while in the final stages of a battle with stage IV lung cancer. At the time he was diagnosed at only 36, he was just about to complete his education as a neurosurgeon and was soon to be a new father. Suddenly, the doctor was also a patient, confronting his own mortality at a time when he expected his life to be beginning. That dual view gives him a unique perspective as he explores his own illness in a way that manages to be both poignant and life-affirming.

    Which iconic personality most inspires you?

    The post Go Behind the Scenes with Robin Williams, Carrie Fisher, and More Iconic Personalities appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Diana Biller 4:00 pm on 2018/08/20 Permalink
    Tags: all the real girls, , , , Memoirs   

    4 New Books from Women You Want To Be Friends With 

    Imagine this: you’re invited to a party planned by Reese Witherspoon, in immaculate Southern fashion. Chrissy Teigen brings the food. Busy Philipps brings the laughs, and Eva Chen tells you exactly what color lipstick to wear for your complexion and lets you try on her gorgeous designer heels. Are you imagining? Then you’ve got the essence of this fall’s packed slate of releases from the cool girls of pop culture—four books promising to entertain and inspire while also teaching you how to throw an amazing party of your own.

    Whiskey in a Teacup: What Growing Up in the South Taught Me About Life, Love, and Baking Biscuits, by Reese Witherspoon
    Inspired by her childhood in the South and by her grandmother Dorothea, this book is a sort of road map of Witherspoon’s favorite things. From fried chicken recipes to tips on entertaining in a BIG way, Whiskey in a Teacup shares little tips to make life more special. Not the entertaining type? It also includes a “fail-proof” guide to getting the perfect Reese Witherspoon hair.

    Cravings: Hungry for More, by Chrissy Teigen
    I loved Cravings, Teigen’s first cookbook. It’s funny and well designed, and the recipes are both interesting and delicious. I also just don’t understand why she won’t magically appear in my kitchen and gossip with me while we cook together. But it seems the closest I’ll get is her sequel cookbook, Cravings: Hungry for More, and it’s a pretty good substitute: it focuses on the recipes she has been relying on since becoming a mom, with more of the great commentary that made Cravings such a delight.

    This Will Only Hurt a Little, by Busy Philipps
    There are a lot of places Busy Philipps might have made you laugh. To name a few: Freaks and Geeks, Cougartown, or Instagram, where she’s something of a sensation. Her autobiography, This Will Only Hurt a Little, will be another one. Tracing her life from Scottsdale, Arizona, to motherhood and Instagram, Philipps’ bracingly honest book takes the reader on a funny, occasionally painful, and ultimately inspirational journey.

    Juno Valentine and the Magical Shoes, by Eva Chen, illustrated by Derek Desierto
    Juno Valentine and the Magical Shoes has perhaps the most adorable premise of all time. Juno Valentine is a little girl who stumbles into an amazing closet, filled with the shoes of amazing women throughout time—think Cleopatra and Serena Williams—that unlock a series of amazing adventures. Written by Eva Chen, former editor-in-chief of Lucky and very fashionable cool girl, this delightful little book is a great gift for a child in your life…or just for yourself.

    The post 4 New Books from Women You Want To Be Friends With appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Miwa Messer 4:00 pm on 2018/07/10 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , Memoirs   

    “Wonderfully Clear”: Christian Donlon on MS and parenting 

    “My daughter took her first steps on the day I was diagnosed—a juxtaposition so perfect, so trite, so filled with the tacky artifice of real life that I am generally too embarrassed to tell anybody about it.”

    Journalist Christian Donlon writes about his MS and his daughter’s development with incredible grace and candor in his memoir, The Inward Empire: Mapping the Worlds of Mortality and Fatherhood, a Summer 2018 Discover Great New Writers selection that’s often very funny despite its serious subject. We asked Christian how he keeps his sense of humor in the midst of chaos and pain, and this is what he said:

    My daughter Leontine, who is now almost five, has just discovered jokes. Well, it is a partial discovery at least. She gets the two-part format of many jokes and she gets the social anxiety involved. (I can tell, after she has said the joke’s opener, that she is filled with tension regarding the closer; she understands innately that getting a joke right is a terribly serious business.) But I don’t know if she knows why the jokes she has learned are funny—why it is funny, say, that the way to get Pikachu onto a bus is to poke him on—and she doesn’t understand that a joke is a bit like a firework: it can only go off once with any particular audience.

    The thing is, jokes are hardly essential with a girl like Leon. She has been making me laugh since she was born, it seems. Since she could express herself I got a sense that here was a girl who saw the world in a slightly different way, who would watch most things out of the corner of her eye and find them ridiculous. Ridiculous and strange. Out walking on the way to school recently, my wife and Leon found one of Leon’s name labels long detached from whatever bag or lunchbox it had once been fixed to and blowing around in the wind. “That’s strange?” Leon asked, more for confirmation of her reading of it than anything else. And then: “I love it when things are strange.”

    I think my daughter’s presence in my life probably explains why people sometimes tell me that I have written a funny book, or rather that my book has made them laugh despite themselves. I am always delighted to hear this, even if it was not entirely my intention. On the surface my book is about fairly serious things: it’s about my diagnosis, shortly after my daughter’s birth, with multiple sclerosis, a maddeningly unpredictable and frequently brutal neurological disease in which the protective coatings of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord are accidentally shredded by the immune system. When you have MS, people start to describe you as a sufferer, and so I assumed that I had written a sufferer’s book.

    If I haven’t, it’s because of Leon’s influence. Because of my fantastic, unprecedented, bewildering, and glorious daughter who has grown up alongside my disease, and whose explosion of life and new ideas and new cognitive abilities has been a vital pleasure to me as my own mental equipment has started to falter. I have wanted to mope theatrically at times, but it is hard to mope when you have a daughter who wants you to show them how to draw the really hard parts of a pony – always the back hooves—and who finds your moping hilarious anyway. Even at its worst, when I am stuck in bed with sore legs or muddled vision—the sheer range of things that MS can do is baffling—I can hear her elsewhere in our house, arguing with a cat or mis-singing the latest chart songs with a wonderful scatterbrained innocence.

    Practically, I would say two things about all this. Firstly, while I worry about my own diminishing agency as an MS patient who is also a father of a young child, Leon makes it wonderfully clear what my priorities are, and she gives me the humour I think you need to hold onto when you have been dropped into the bewildering world of neurology, where simple things are suddenly not so simple, and when the entire landscape around you can occasionally feel like a Victorian stage magician’s set filled with trick staircases and tilted mirrors.

    Secondly, I was talking with another MS patient the other day and we remarked on the fact that public understanding of this disease has progressed over the last few years from pretty much nothing to an appreciation that MS is a very complicated thing. Then, public understanding has sort of halted, and perhaps people are tempted to look away from MS because complicated things often make them feel foolish and powerless and sad.

    Humour, though, or at least a certain amount of easy wit, or a willingness to admit that some awful things do have undeniably funny aspects, might be a good way to make people look again at a thing they have already decided they don’t want to look at. A sense of humour—often, more specifically, my daughter’s sense of humour—has not just helped me understand my new world a little more, it might allow other people in, too.

     

    The post “Wonderfully Clear”: Christian Donlon on MS and parenting appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
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