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Bios, Memoirs and Autobiographies 2017

Biographies, Memoirs and Autobiographies

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Jan 1, 5:49pm Top

What are you reading in 2017?

Jan 5, 6:04pm Top

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, 6:13pm Top

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

Jan 5, 6:19pm Top

Edited: Jan 6, 12:25am Top

>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, 12:21pm Top

>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.

Edited: Jan 17, 8:51pm Top

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.

Edited: Jan 20, 12:51pm Top

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

Jan 30, 9:33am Top

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

Jan 30, 9:45am Top

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

Edited: Feb 13, 5:37pm Top

Edited: Feb 21, 9:57am Top

Feb 21, 12:05pm Top

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.

Feb 21, 3:29pm Top

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!

Feb 21, 4:02pm Top

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.

Feb 21, 8:13pm Top

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

Mar 9, 4:54pm Top

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.

Edited: Mar 20, 10:28pm Top

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.

Edited: Mar 22, 3:59pm Top

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, 2:38pm Top

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

Mar 23, 5:31pm Top

>23 JulieLill:

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

Here are a couple of documentaries -
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6rpIfQQv_T0 1982

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AErWqNBhawI&t=650s 1996

Mar 24, 12:19pm Top

>24 nrmay: Thanks for the links!

Edited: Mar 25, 6:07pm Top

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.

Apr 1, 2:45pm Top

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.

Apr 1, 5:36pm Top

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

Edited: Apr 3, 2:53pm Top

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.

Apr 3, 5:02pm Top

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.

Edited: Apr 10, 12:25pm Top

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.

Apr 14, 3:32pm Top

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.

Apr 18, 3:08pm Top

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!

Edited: Apr 25, 4:07pm Top

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.

Apr 29, 7:26pm Top

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

May 6, 7:17pm Top

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!

May 11, 3:46pm Top

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

Edited: May 12, 12:26pm Top

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!

Edited: May 30, 1:05pm Top

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, 5:18pm Top

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, 8:02pm Top

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

Jun 21, 12:07pm Top

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, 12:27pm Top

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

Yesterday, 12:22pm Top

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.

Today, 8:11am Top


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