Bios, Memoirs and Autobiographies 2017

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Bios, Memoirs and Autobiographies 2017

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Jan 1, 2017, 5:49 pm

What are you reading in 2017?

Jan 5, 2017, 6:04 pm

The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club
Phillip M. Hoose
4.5/5 stars
This actually is a YA book and fairly short but nevertheless a fascinating story of a group of Danish teenagers that refused to accept Nazi occupation during WWII while most of the adults accepted the occupation and went along with it. Most of the books that I have read on WWII did not discuss Denmark so I found this very interesting.

Jan 5, 2017, 6:13 pm

I've been recently fascinated by these little known resistance stories. Glad to know there is another book on the subject.

Jan 5, 2017, 6:19 pm

Editado: Jan 6, 2017, 12:25 am

>2 JulieLill: Here is my discussion of Countrymen:

I'm sure you would find it fascinating, and it too can broadly be called a memoir.

I was able to download The Boys Who Challenged Hitler from my library system.

Jan 6, 2017, 12:21 pm

>5 2wonderY: I added this to my reading list. I enjoyed your discussion about the book.
The Boys Who Challenged Hitler is just a YA book so not that extensive in its scope of the subject but still very interesting. Most of what I read on the war surrounds what was happening in France, Germany or US involvement but not in Denmark or even Finland, Norway or Sweden.

Editado: Jan 17, 2017, 8:51 pm

Not Just Batman’s Butler: The Autobiography of Alan Napier
by Alan Napier with James Bigwood
3/5 stars
Alan Napier is probably best known as Alfred the butler in Batman the TV series but he had a very fascinating life and career outside of Batman. Born and raised in England, he was related to the Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain on his mother's side. He attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and then spent his whole life acting on the stage, in movies and on TV. The book discusses his life, family and working in the entertainment field.

Originally written by Napier, James Bigwood took over finishing the book and adding comments to the sections written by Napier. At times this was hard to put down especially when discussing his family and growing up in England. Some of the discussion of his roles was a little overwhelming since most of his career he had small roles and a lot of them. But overall I enjoyed this book and I learned a lot about him.

Editado: Jan 20, 2017, 12:51 pm

I'm reading Farley Mowat: Writing the Squib, which is a biography by John Orange.

Jan 30, 2017, 9:33 am

I'm about to start Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges.

Jan 30, 2017, 9:45 am

Just started listening to Born Standing Up, read by the author.

Editado: Fev 13, 2017, 5:37 pm

Editado: Fev 14, 2017, 2:23 pm

Editado: Fev 21, 2017, 9:57 am

Fev 21, 2017, 12:05 pm

I'm currently reading My Name Escapes Me, a diary kept by Alec Guinness. He was 81 when he began this particular diary, but amazingly active, attending plays and dinner parties, art exhibits, traveling, and occasionally working. He's also very funny.

Fev 21, 2017, 3:29 pm

Born Bright: A Young Girl's Journey from Nothing to Something in America
by C. Nicole Mason
3.5/5 stars
This is the true story of C. Nicole Mason who as an African American experienced life in poverty in Los Angeles, California during the 60s and 70s. She discusses what it was like to live in poverty, going to schools who did not encourage the academic growth of her race, struggling with moving from home to home and when she was determined to go to college, not knowing how to go through the ropes of applying for college since no one in her family or neighborhood went to college. She was able to beat the odds and got into Howard University and has made a success of her life. Very eye opening!

Fev 21, 2017, 4:02 pm

Mad as Hell: The Life and Work of Paddy Chayefsky by Shaun Considine
An excellent biography of this brilliant playwright. Enlightening to learn how much creative control he exerted over film versions of his works; for example, he insisted that British actress Diana Rigg be cast as an American hippie-type in The Hospital. Miss Rigg didn't want the part initially but eventually joined the production, starring opposite George C. Scott. She and Chayefsky became good friends thereafter until his untimely death in 1981 at age 58.

Fev 21, 2017, 8:13 pm

>16 Polite_Society: Sounds like something I would read. Will add to my list!

Mar 9, 2017, 4:54 pm

The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu: And Their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious Manuscripts
by Joshua Hammer
4/5 stars
Technically this isn't a biography but I learned a lot about Abdel Kader Haidara, the historical archivist from Timbuktu and his fellow patriots who saved the centuries old, rare manuscripts of Mali twice. Abdel's initial project was to find and store books from his countrymen and build libraries to showcase them in the 1980's. Unfortunately, he would have to do it a second time when Al Qaeda came to Mali and attempted to destroy their books and heritage.

Editado: Mar 20, 2017, 10:28 pm

Will Not Attend: Lively Stories of Detachment and Isolation by Adam Resnick
4/5 stars
Comedy writer Adam Resnick, who has written for David Letterman and Saturday Night Live, now writes about his life in a series of essays that are fabulously funny and yet disturbing. I could not help but laugh through these stories and some hit very close to home. Recommended to those not afraid of dark humor.

Editado: Mar 22, 2017, 3:59 pm

I liked The Legendary Miss Lena Horne by Weatherford.
This is a beautifully illustrated juvenile biography.

I also read The Youngest Marcher; The Story Of Audrey Faye Hendricks, A Young Civil Rights Activist by Levinson,
another J biography.

Mar 23, 2017, 2:38 pm

>22 nrmay: I have always wanted to read more about Lena Horne -have you read any adult bios on her?

Mar 23, 2017, 5:31 pm

>23 JulieLill:

Haven't read other biographies but I've watched a lot of her on Youtube.

Here are a couple of documentaries - 1982 1996

Mar 24, 2017, 12:19 pm

>24 nrmay: Thanks for the links!

Editado: Mar 25, 2017, 6:07 pm

Maude by Donna Mabry
3.5/5 stars

This is the story of Maude, a woman born in the late 1800s and written by her granddaughter. The reader is taken on a nonstop journey that was Maude's life-from losing her parents early and then her first husband, marrying her second husband because of the social mores at the time and dealing with the major events in her life time from WWI, the flu epidemic, the depression and WWII. Life was hard for Maude but she kept her spirits up and kept going. A fast read and a very interesting look back at a woman's life in the 1900s.

Abr 1, 2017, 2:45 pm

Currently reading Destiny of the Republic about the lives of both President Garfield and Guiteau, his assassin. It is very, very readable and I just realized I only have about 30 pages to go.

Abr 1, 2017, 5:36 pm

>27 threadnsong: One of my favorite books and authors.

Editado: Abr 3, 2017, 2:53 pm

I'm reading the screenplay, Big Eyes by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, which is the true story of artist Margaret Keane, whose husband claimed credit for her work.

Abr 3, 2017, 5:02 pm

I finished Neon Angel: A Memoir of a Runaway by Cherie Currie, the lead singer of the 70's teen band The Runaways. The writing was so-so, but there are some dramatic revelations. And, according to her, their managers treated them even worse than I heard.

Editado: Abr 10, 2017, 12:25 pm

On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker
A'Lelia Perry Bundles
4/5 stars
This is fascinating in depth look at the life of the ambitious Madam C.J. Walker, who rose from slave to entrepreneur and philanthropist amid the historical events of the late 1800's and the early 1900's. Bundles who was related to Madam Walker and is a writer and news producer writes of the struggles and triumphs of Madam Walker as she hawks her hair products and employs poor women across the country to demonstrate her products and to help themselves out of poverty.

I can't remember who recommended this to me but I thank whoever did.

Abr 14, 2017, 3:32 pm

I finally read West with the Night by Beryl Markham. I enjoyed it, but with some reservations. Mostly, I was not expecting so much of it to be about her childhood. At any rate, very much worth reading.

Abr 18, 2017, 3:08 pm

Max Perkins: Editor of Genius
A. Scott Berg
5/5 stars
This is the biography of Max Perkins, editor for Scribner's who worked with Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Thomas Wolfe, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and many more authors in editing their classics. Berg does a wonderful job in writing this amazing tale of Perkin's life and his close relationships with some of the most influential writers of that time period. I had seen the movie based on this book and wanted to learn more and I was not disappointed. Highly recommended - I did not want this book to end!

Editado: Abr 25, 2017, 4:07 pm

Charlatan: America's Most Dangerous Huckster, the Man Who Pursued Him, and the Age of Flimflam
Pope Brock
5/5 stars
In this fascinating and outrageous story set in the early 20th century, Pope Brock covers the true life story of Dr. John R. Brinkley, famous doctor, would be politician, businessman and radio innovator who is not all that he seems to be when in fact he is a fake and charlatan taking advantage of his patients and convincing them he could renew their sexual vigor. But instead of healing patients he causes pain and death while being pursued by Morris Fishbein, physician and editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association, who is determined to see Brinkley be punished and removed from harming further patients. One of the best non-fiction books I have ever read.

Abr 29, 2017, 7:26 pm

I've just started Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen's recently published autobiography. It's very well written.

Maio 6, 2017, 7:17 pm

The Beautiful Cigar Girl: Mary Rogers, Edgar Allan Poe, and the Invention of Murder
by Daniel Stashower
3.5/5 stars
In 1841, Mary Rogers, a beautiful, young woman who worked in a cigar shop is found dead after being missing for 3 days. Her death incites the newspapers to analyze the crime in a morbid fashion for months and is the main story in the city with hundreds of articles and theories brought forward about her death. Even Edgar Allan Poe becomes involved in the case and writes a story with similarities to Mary Rogers’s death in order to prove who killed her. Enthralling!

Maio 11, 2017, 3:46 pm

I finished up Bruce Springsteen's autobiography, Born to Run. Overall, I found it very interesting and mostly well done.

Editado: Maio 12, 2017, 12:26 pm

Something New: Tales from a Makeshift Bride
Lucy Knisley
4/5 stars
Lucy Knisley, graphic novelist, writes and draws about her engagement and marriage to her on and off boyfriend John. Told through pictures and words, we follow the ups and downs of their relationship and the planning of an unorthodox and unique wedding in modern day. This is another delightful graphic novel for Knisley who has done several travelogues, a web comic series and her wonderful graphic memoir Relish- My Life in the Kitchen. Looking forward to her next project!

Maio 22, 2017, 9:26 am

Editado: Maio 30, 2017, 1:05 pm

If you haven't seen the documentary Anderson Cooper died about his mom it was pretty terrific. I'd never heard of her until her line of jeans were so popular, then the stories of her childhood came out and beyond. She just keeps getting more interesting the older she gets.

Jun 10, 2017, 5:18 pm

I've started Casey Stengel: Baseball's Greatest Character, a new biography by sportswriter by Marty Appel. The first 50 pages are quite good.

Jun 19, 2017, 8:02 pm

fyi, I can heartily recommend the Casey Stengel biography (post 42) which I recently finished.

Jun 21, 2017, 12:07 pm

Princesses Behaving Badly: Real Stories from History—without the Fairy-Tale Endings
Linda Rodríguez McRobbie
5/5 stars
McRobbie tells the fascinating and factual tales of real life princesses who are far from the fairy tale princesses we all grew up with as children. Many of these women had miserable lives and some caused a lot of misery. The author also deals with the inbreeding of the royals causing their children to be born with genetic defects and there is a section on the dollar princesses who were not royalty but were rich and married into royalty.

Jun 26, 2017, 12:27 pm

>46 LynnB: Interested in your review of this book!

Jun 28, 2017, 12:22 pm

Seinfeldia: How a Show About Nothing Changed Everything
Jennifer Keishin Armstrong
4/5 stars
Armstrong discusses the phenomenon of the continued fan obsession of the Seinfeld show despite having ended in 1998 and its influence on American culture till this very day. The book is definitely geared to Seinfeld fans and from a few reviews that I read of this book, it covers some material already covered in other books on the show of which there are quite a few. I have not read any of the other books but I found this book very interesting and it has inspired me to re-watch the series again.

Jun 29, 2017, 8:11 am

Jun 30, 2017, 9:53 am

You might be interested in The Avengers a Jewish War Story by Rich Cohen, about a group Jewish resistance fighters during World War II.

Jul 10, 2017, 8:44 pm

>32 rocketjk: Markham's book was truly wonderful, a real hip woman in a different time. I'm finishing up on Hillbilly Elegy.

Jul 20, 2017, 7:32 pm

I've just begun The Road to Wigan Pier by George Orwell. Holy cats, could that man write!

Jul 25, 2017, 3:54 pm

The Shoebox Bible
Alan Bradley
4/5 stars
Alan Bradley writes so beautifully and tenderly of his life in Canada with his mother and sisters after his father leaves the family and they struggle day to day to live. The shoebox bible refers to a box kept by his mother of bible verses that Bradley as a young child discovers. After reading this, I am pretty sure that he used his sisters as models for Flavia's sisters in his Flavia de Luce mystery series. I rarely re-read books but this is one I definitely would.

Ago 29, 2017, 6:45 am

I'm about to start One Native Life by Richard Wagamese for a book club discussion next week.

Editado: Set 8, 2017, 12:12 pm

Abandoned Prayers
Gregg Olsen
4/5 stars
This is the unbelievable and horribly true story of the life of Eli Stutzman, an Amish man whose wife died in mysterious circumstances in 1977 and then years later in 1985; his son was also found dead. Many believed Eli killed them and this is the story of their deaths and Eli's wild and unconventional life. Unfortunately, this ends before we find out what happened to Eli at the end of his life but there are a couple of web pages that discuss what happened to him after the book ended.

Set 8, 2017, 1:49 pm

She's Not There: A Life in Two Genders.

I'm seeking out books like these to try to understand a grandchild's stance.

Editado: Set 16, 2017, 7:44 am

I've started Memoirs of a Georgian Rake. Looks like I'm in for a good time though there may be regrets the morning after. 😜

Out 2, 2017, 3:36 pm

I've just started Land of Frozen Laughter: a Community Development Volunteer in the Vietnam War, 1967-1969 by John Lewallen. John is in fact a friend of mine here in northern California. He wrote this memoir immediately upon returning from Vietnam in 1969, but didn't publish it until last year. He did a reading in my bookstore, and I'm finally getting around to reading the book myself. Going from the excerpts he read at my event, and the first few chapters, I'm very much looking forward to this book.

Editado: Out 3, 2017, 2:32 pm

Practice to Deceive
Ann Rule
3.5/5 stars
This is the true crime story about the murder of Washington state resident James Stackhouse. Stackhouse was murdered in 2003 during the Christmas holidays outside his home and this is the story of the investigation and the eventual murder trial. Rule writes in detail about the murder and the multiple possible characters involved in the crime which took several years to solve and go to trial. Though the book is complete in regards to the trial, there was (is) still a lingering question about the motive of the defendants and a possibility that another person was involved in the murder. Hard to put down.

*This was my first Ann Rule book and it has gotten mixed reviews -mostly from people who love her books. I look forward to reading more of her because if this was her worse book, the others must be really good.

Out 14, 2017, 11:31 pm

Starting The Pigeon Tunnel by John Le Carre

Out 23, 2017, 7:17 pm

The Pride of the Yankees: Lou Gehrig, Gary Cooper, and the Making of a Classic
Richard Sandomir
3.5/5 stars
When I was young, I fell in love with black and white films, mostly James Cagney films and The Thin Man series which led me into other films from the 30's and 40's including The Pride of the Yankees. When I found this book, I was excited to read about the making of the film. Who didn't cry at the end of this film when Gehrig/Cooper says his memorable line - "I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth." Sandomir does a nice job relating what is known about Gehrig and his death- unfortunately there is a lot of gaps in the story. No complete footage of the famous line was ever found if even recorded. There are even gaps in the story of the making of the film but still it was an interesting book about Gehrig, his relationships with his wife and mother and the making of the film and Sam Goldwyn’s involvement in getting the film produced. Definitely a book for film fans. I have ordered the film from the library since I haven't seen it in years and I think that it needs to be seen if you read the book or are contemplating reading the book.

Out 25, 2017, 7:49 am

I'm reading Voyage of the Northern Magic: A Family Odyssey by Diane Stuemer for a book club discussion.

Out 30, 2017, 12:25 pm

Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race
Margot Lee Shetterly
4/5 stars
This is the wonderful untold true story of the 4 African-American women mathematicians who broke barriers by working as human computers at Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory in Hampton, Virginia. Starting with a shortage of staff to help during WWII at the lab, these smart, college educated women proved that they were reliable and as smart as the other women and men at Langley. Shetterly discusses the time period and the racial tensions going on in that era, all in the context around what was going on at Langley with the building and designing of aircraft for WWII and including their part in the space race. This book really fleshes out the story of these women and the lengths they and their families had to go to work in those industries and the sacrifices that they had to make to have a better life. A true inspiration to all women.

Nov 4, 2017, 11:27 am

Almost done with Lab Girl. Found it very mixed, some great writing intermixed with embarrassing craziness.

Nov 4, 2017, 11:41 am

Finished Narrative of the Narvaez Expedition, a remarkable story from the Conquistador era. It was like a 16th Century mashup of Robinson Crusoe and Homer's Odyssey, with accounts of the Donner Party thrown in.

Nov 9, 2017, 9:14 pm

>53 rocketjk:

True that. Try the very timely Homage to Catalonia I mean, who goes on holiday, to fight a civil war?

Nov 10, 2017, 1:17 pm

>70 Sandydog1:

I have not read Homage to Catalonia yet but I will one of these days. The Spanish Civil War is a particular interest of mine, not that I'm so well read on it, but I do find that conflict fascinating in a tragic and horrifying way. Antony Beevor's The Battle for Spain: the Spanish Civil War 1936-1939 is particularly good if you're interested in a detailed account. Since we're in the Memoirs group, I will also mention War is Beautiful: an American Ambulance Driver in the Spanish Civil War by James Neugass. Cheers!

Dez 1, 2017, 7:24 pm

Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography
Laura Ingalls Wilder Edited by Pamela Smith Hill
2.5/5 stars
This is the annotated version of Laura Wilder's autobiography. I was excited to read it and I love it when there is extra material to flesh out a book but this book just dragged for me. The annotations were excessive, pulled you away from the story and were sometimes much longer than the actual written selection. I do think this book is historically valuable and if you are Wilder fanatic or scholar, you will probably love it but for the average reader you might just want to skip it.

Dez 4, 2017, 2:36 pm

I'm working on A Daughter's Love: Thomas More and His Dearest Meg. I suppose it's sort of a duel biography of Meg and her doomed father. Poor girl, she was apparently as intellectually brilliant as her father, but of course, compelled to hide her light under a bushel because she was female.

Dez 8, 2017, 3:02 pm

The Wicked Boy: The Mystery of a Victorian Child Murderer
Kate Summerscale
5/5 stars
This is the true crime story of Robert Coombes, who at the age of 13 in 1895 killed his mother in England while his father who was a sailor at sea. Robert and his brother Nattie (12) then went about their lives and eventually Robert convinces John Fox, a friend of the family to come and live with them. Fox does not suspect anything while in the house. When the boy’s Aunt finds out they are alone, she comes to the house and finds the mother dead. The two boys and Fox are arrested for the murder. As the trial proceeds, Fox and Nattie are found not guilty of the crime and Robert goes to an asylum instead of jail for the crime, eventually being released to live an eventful and exemplary life. So why did he kill his mother? I had a hard time putting this down. Summerscale does a great job discussing the time period, facts of the crime, the lives of the boys and the aftermath of the trial.