Biography & Memoir
Furious Cool Richard Pryor and the World that Made Him
In Furious Cool, David and Joe Henry spin a paean to Richard Pryor, whose unflinching commitment to authenticity in his comedy crossed racial boundaries and turned comedy on its head.
Levels of Life by Julian Barnes
In Levels of Life, Julian Barnes, winner of the 2011 Man Booker Prize, writes about grief and solitude, photography and hot air ballooning, loving and losing.
A Prayer Journal by Flannery O’Connor
Flannery’ O’Connor’s A Prayer Journal provides a personal glimpse into a writer’s faith in her craft and her God with transcendent ideas relevant to all readers.
The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida
Naoki Hagashida was 13-years-old and suffering from autism that made verbal communication next to impossible when, with the help of others, he wrote The Reason I Jump, a slim book of questions and answers providing previously unavailable insight into the thoughts and experiences of the autistic child.
Roth Unbound by Claudia Roth Pierpont
Claudia Roth Pierpont's exceptionally written Roth Unbound provides readers with a careful examination of each of the author's works.
The Real Jane Austen by Paula Byrne
In The Real Jane Austen, Paula Byrne provides a definitive contribution to the scholarship for Jane Austen. The Real Jane Austen is written with style, grace, and, most importantly, accuracy.
Travels with Epicurus by Daniel Klein
Daniel Klein (Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar, Heidegger and a Hippo Walk Through Those Pearly Gates) examines the possibilities of old age in this short meditation.
Hank Greenberg: The Hero of Heroes by John Rosengren
In The Hero of Heroes, his biography of Hank Greenberg, Rosengren has revealed a remarkable story of endurance and success in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.
The Pharmacist's Mate and 8 by Amy Fusselman
The Pharmacist's Mate and 8 are stories about healing and letting go - about coming to terms with her father's death and about reconciling her horrors of being raped as a child with the adult mother she has become.
The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe
When Will Schwalbe's mother is diagnosed with aggressive pancreatic cancer, their love of books brings them together and allows them to discuss the hard truths about life.
Joseph Anton by Salman Rushdie
In Joseph Anton, Salman Rushdie tells the story of a life lived under the 1989 fatwa of Ayatollah Khomeini declared against him after his publication of The Satanic Verses.
Every Love Story is a Ghost Story by D.T. Max
Fans of David Foster Wallace's writing will want to read this first - one imagines - in a succession of biographies of one of the most gifted authors of our time.
Some Assembly Required by Anne Lamott
With the same stark honesty and hilarity with which she wrote Operating Instructions, about the birth of her son Sam, Anne Lamott revisits the subject of sudden parenthood when Sam, at nineteenm, becomes a father.
The Book of Drugs by Mike Doughty
Mike Doughty is the former lead man for the 1990s band, Soul Coughing. The Book of Drugs is Doughty's rock and roll addiction memoir, his story of his rise with Soul Coughing and his fall at the hands of heroin.
Autoportrait by Edouard Levé
Edouard Levé's Autoportrait is a brutally honest autobiographical portrait of the author constructed from more than 3000 simple sentences about the author's likes, dislikes, preferences and feelings.
Feynman by Jim Ottaviani and Leland Myrick
Richard Feynman is well known for his participation in the Manhattan Project and his pioneering work in quantum mechanics as well as for his iconoclastic, eyebrow-raising behavior. The author and subject of numerous volumes to which another - Ottaviani and Myrick's graphic biography - can be added.
And So It Goes Kurt Vonnegut: A Life
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. died in 2007 at the age of 85 after a head-injury put him in a coma. At the time of this accident, Charles Shields had been working with Vonnegut to create And So It Goes, an engaging biography that illuminates the life of a fascinating author.
On Conan Doyle by Michael Dirda
In On Conan Doyle, Michael Dirda, a lifelong Sherlock Holmes fan and a member of The Baker Street Irregulars (a famous Sherlock Holmes appreciation society) has woven a short memoir that Conan Doyle himself would have enjoyed reading.
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
Steve Jobs will long be remembered as the luminary central to our current understanding of computers, communication, and the consumption of media, and Walter Isaacson has penned Jobs' definitive biography.
The Journals of Spalding Gray
Spalding Gray revolutionized the art of the monologue. He'd walk into a room full of people, sit down at a table with a glass of water, and spend the next couple of hours spinning story and holding his listeners rapt. Lovers of Swimming to Cambodia, Monster in a Box, and Gray's Anatomy who wish to dig deeper will appreciate this effort to make...
Sex on the Moon by Ben Mezrich
Ben Mezrich (Bringing Down the House, The Accidental Billionaires) recounts how a young NASA recruit attempts to steal moon rocks to impress his girlfriend.
Bossypants by Tina Fey
Tina Fey's quirky and self-depracating sense of humor comes through in her memoir Bossypants - all the way to the cover, which shows the writer coyly posed with her hand on her face and wearing a white dress shirt, tie, and hat. The cover could be an advertisement for a beauty product, except for the hairy, masculine arms that have been...
A Widow's Story by Joyce Carol Oates
Although Joyce Carol Oates considers herself a private person, A Widow's Story is welcoming. We're invited to share her grief almost without boundaries; she includes the thoughts that people are afraid to admit having, even to themselves. She never flinches from how unhappy it's possible to be. And yet the grief makes the happy times, the...
The Foremost Good Fortune by Susan Conley
In The Foremost Good Fortune, Susan Conley chronicles two years that she spent with her husband and their young sons in Beijing, China in a memoir that poignantly explores the feelings of otherness that the expatriate feels in a foreign culture, before shifting about halfway through to find similar themes in the discovery of her breast cancer.
Bird Cloud by Annie Proulx
Annie Proulx's fiction is sparse and open. Her stories move slowly with an intentional lack of bluster. Passion is deep and burns below the surface. This is true for Bird Cloud, too.
Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks by John Curran
Agatha Christie's short stories, novels, and plays typically proceed in a linear fashion, from A to B to conclusion. Not so with her thought process, as John Curran reveals.
Storyteller: The Authorized Biography of Roald Dahl
Weighing in at 2.5 pounds and 660 pages, this fascinating authorized biography is worth every word. Roald Dahl was a larger-than-life person, and Donald Sturrock writes about him with a sure hand.
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
When Louis Zamperini, a former Olympic runner and an American pilot in World War II, crashes his bomber in the Pacific Ocean, he had know idea that he was about to embark on one of the most extraordinary oddyseys ever recounted.
Townie by Andre Dubus III
Townie is Andre Dubus III's no-holds barred memoir of poverty, drugs and violence in the mill towns of Massachusetts. Here, the author lets the reader into the story of his dysfunctional youth and the solace he found in fighting and later, writing.
The Englishman Who Posted Himself and Other Curious Objects
For a seemingly-uninteresting, middle-clas, English accountant living quietly in a London suburb at the turn of the 20th century, W. Reginald Bray had a rather extraordinary avocational pursuit that began when, as a young man, he purchased a copy of England's Post Office Guide.
Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters by Marilyn Monroe
In Fragments, Buchthal and Comment have skillfully edited Marilyn Monroe's personal writing from 1943, when at just 17 years old she married James Dougherty, to just before her death in 1962.
Broken: A Love Story by Lisa Jones
In 'Broken,' Lisa Jones tells the incredible life story of a man named Stanford Addison, a quadriplegic Arapahoe who breaks - or rather gentles - wild horses. But Broken is as much about this author's journey through brokenness and healing as it is about Stanford Addison, the man who prompts it all.
Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself by David Lipsky
In 1996, David Lipsky, then a 30-year-old reporter for Rolling Stone Magazine, flew out to Bloomington, Illinois with his tape recorder in hand to accompany David Foster Wallace on the final leg of his Infinite Jest book tour.
Sub-titled "Stunts, Scandals and Secrets Beneath the Stitches," Zack Hample's The Baseball provides the serious baseball fan with all the fun-filled and fact-filled information one could possibly wish about the ball in what reads like a lively and entertaining conversation.
The Thing About Life is That One Day You'll Be Dead by David Shields
David Shields' book is a strange animal: bits of memory - recollections of boyhood sports and reflections upon his father's late-life vigor - interspersed with statistical notations on the human body's journey from cradle to grave.
Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert
In Committed, Gilbert - author of the self-described "megajumbo international best seller" Eat, Pray, Love (2006) - spends a year exploring the Western marriage tradition by delving into topics such as history, feminism, autonomy, and expectation.
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
Gretchen Rubin's experiment in happiness is eclectic and illuminating. As she makes clear from the start, each person's happiness project is a unique adventure. However, Rubinx adheres to hers so methodically and documents it so meticulously, that there is much that we can all take away from The Happiness Project.
Aesop's Mirror: A Love Story by Maryalice Huggins
Antiques restorer Maryalice Huggins sets out to track down the origins of an unusual rococo antique mirror, a quest that takes her on a mystery that is all the more compelling because it is true.
Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer
Jonathan Safran Foer's inquiry into the nature of factory-farmed meat is part memoir, history, science, and philosophy, all rolled into a creative and eloquent whole that will compel you reconsider your dietary choices.
Down Around Midnight by Robert Sabbag
Robert Sabbag's 'Down Around Midnight' recounts the horrific plane crash that he survived in 1979 and the results of the author's recent attempts to contact the other survivors, bystanders and first responders.
The Wilderness Warrior by Douglas Brinkley
Exhaustive, exhilarating, entertaining, enlightening, and massively researched, 'The Wilderness Warrior' is well suited for those with an interest in the conservation movement and Theodore Roosevelt's connection to it.
Farm City by Novella Carpenter
Novella Carpenter gazes out onto a vacant lot full of weeds in the Oakland ghetto where she lives and envisions a backyard vegetable garden, not to mention poultry, rabbits, and pigs. This is Farm City.
Red and Me: My Coach, My Lifelong Friend
'Red and Me' is the story of Celtic's all-star Bill Russell and his close relationship with the Celtic's legendary coach Red Auerbach. Could there have been two more unlikely friends, a short, abrasive Jew from Brooklyn and a tall, gangly black man from the South? These were two different "tribes," to use Russell's term, which would seem to be on a collision course.
Soft Spots: A Memoir of Combat and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
The firsthand account of one Marine's attempt to re-enter life after experiencing it in its most barbaric form for five months in Iraq in 2003.
Soul of the Age by Jonathan Bate
Subtitled "A Biography of the Mind of William Shakespeare," Soul of the Age "is an intellectual biography of the man in the context of the mind-set into which he was born and out of which his works were created."
The Thoreau You Don't Know by Robert Sullivan
Robert Sullivan smashes our national myth, of Henry David Thoreau as hermit of the woods, the "secular priest of solitude," the technophobic, misanthropic, tree-hugging loner.
Nothing to Be Frightened Of by Julian Barnes
Barnes weaves personal and historical experience, philosophy, and literature to weave a long meditation on death that is oftentimes humorous, insightful and life-affirming (if not hopeful).
Hurry Down Sunshine by Michael Greenberg
Michael Greenberg takes on the subject of mental illness from a father's perspective.
No-Man’s Lands: One Man’s Odyssey Through The Odyssey
NPR contributor Scott Huler undertakes a retracing of Odysseus's journey.
The Perfectionist by Rudolph Chelminski
Bernard Loiseau was one of only 25 French chefs to hold Europe's highest culinary award and only the second chef to be personally awarded the Legion of Honor by a head of state. Despite such triumphs, he shocked the culinary world by taking his own life in February 2003.
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami
When Haruki Murakami traded the physically demanding job of running his jazz club for the sedentary routine of a professional novelist, he learned he was going to have to make some life changes.
American Nerd: The Story of My People
Benjamin Nugent delves into the subculture and history of the nerd in an engaging exploration into the archetype, for those who care to make the trip.
The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux
Paul Theroux's classic 1975 account of a four month railroad journey through Europe and Asia begins, "I sought trains, I found passengers."
House of Wits: An Intimate Portrait of the James Family
An American literary giant (Henry James), an early theorist in the field of psychology (William James), and a feminist icon (Alice James) - where other biographers have approached these influential individuals separately, Paul Fisher has penned a biography of the family as a whole.
A Wolf at the Table by Augusten Burroughs
Augusten Burroughs returns to the story of his dysfunctional family, a subject that he mastered in his bestseller, 'Running with Scissors' (2003).
The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
Randy Pausch's inspirational last lecture, viewed millions of times online, is now a best-selling book elaborating on the theme "achieving your childhood dreams."
The Open Road: The Global Journey of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama
Pico Iyer speaks to the many facets of the Dalai Lama in a delightful portrait based upon three decades of the author's acquaintance with the Tibetan leader.
Trail of Crumbs by Kim Sunee
In A Trail of Crumbs, Kim Sunee takes readers on a journey from Korea to New Orleans to Paris and Provence, along the way serving forth her favorite recipes.
The Whale Warriors by Peter Heller
A perilous journey with Sea Shepherd Conservation Society to the icy waters of Antarctica to stop a Japanese fishing fleet from illegally killing hundreds of whales.
Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography
David Michaelis gives us the first full-length biography of the brilliant, unseen man behind "Peanuts."
Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life by Steve Martin
In this autobiography, Steve Martin chronicles his evolution as a comedian from the age of ten through his meteoric success in the late 1970's.
Marco Polo: From Venice to Xanadu by Laurence Bergreen
The first fully authoritative biography of one of the most enchanting figures in world history.
What is the What by Dave Eggers
Eggers illuminates the history of the civil war in Sudan through the eyes of Valentino Achak Deng, a Sudanese Lost Boy now living in the United States.
Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson's First Season
Jack Roosevelt Robinson changed the face of baseball. Some said he changed the face of America.
Love Is A Mix Tape: Life And Loss, One Song At A Time
In "Love Is a Mix Tape," Rob Sheffield, a music writer for Rolling Stone, uses the songs on fifteen mix tapes to tell the story of his brief time with his wife Renée.
Cross-X by Joe Miller
In Cross-X, Joe Miller follows an inner city high school debate squad that in spite of overwhelming educational, economic, and racial odds, excels in a game dominated by privileged students with prep school backgrounds.
Cross Country by Robert Sullivan
Framed in the context of a family road trip, Sullivan traces not only the history of the traversing of this land, but he remarks on just about everyone who helped inform what we now know as the road trip.
Ava Gardner: Love Is Nothing
Lee Server paints a comprehensive and fascinating picture of Ava Gardner in this exhaustively researched biography.
Night by Elie Wiesel
Night is Elie Wiesel’s candid account of his survival as a teenager in the Nazi death camps.
The Boy Who Fell out of the Sky by Ken Dornstein
Ken Dornstein takes readers on a journey through the life and death of his elder brother, David, who died at the age of 25 in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.
Tony and Me by Jack Klugman
The close professional relationship between Jack Klugman and Tony Randall has long been famous, but the details of their personal friendship have never been revealed until now.
With the Beatles by Louis Lapham
Lewis Lapham, now editor of Harper's Magazine, was the only journalist allowed inside the Rishikesh ashram, where the Beatles and other 60s icons gathered at the feet of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
de Kooning: An American Master
In de Kooning: An American Master, Stevens and Swann present de Kooning as a profoundly influential American artist who lived a rich and contradictory life.
Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her
In Girl Sleuth, Melanie Rehak weaves a history of Nancy Drew and her creators, all of whom inspired generations of girls to be as strong-willed as they were.
First Man: The Life of Neil Armstrong
James Hansen re-creates Neil Armstrong's career in flying, from his seventy-eight combat missions as a naval aviator flying over North Korea to his transatmospheric flights in the rocket-powered X-15 to his piloting Gemini VIII to the first-ever docking in space.
The Game by Neil Strauss
New York Times bestselling author Neil Strauss ventured into a bizarre subculture, traveling around the world and meeting the world's greatest seducers.
Jesus Land by Julia Scheeres
Jesus Land is a heart-breaking memoir of a childhood frought with racism and domestic abuse. It is the story of two siblings helping each other survive.
Radical Simplicity: Creating an Authentic Life
Radical Simplicity is less a how-to book on self-sustaining living and more a loosely narrated and superbly illustrated account of a modern-day Thoreau's foray into the simple life.
Voltaire Almighty by Roger Pearson
Voltaire (1694 — 1778) was the toast of society for his plays and verse, but his barbed wit and commitment to human reason got him into trouble. A look at the life and thought of one of the major forces behind the European Enlightenment.
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
A powerful memoir about the year in Joan Didion's life that began with her daughter in a medically induced coma and her husband unexpectedly dead due to a heart attack.
My Friend Leonard by James Frey
As Frey tells us repeatedly in "A Million Little Pieces," he is "an alcoholic, a drug addict, and a criminal." My Friend Leonard" revolves around the struggles faced by Frey upon his release from rehab.
Strom: The Complicated Personal and Political Life of Strom Thurmond
Authors Jack Bass and Marilyn Thompson carefully articulate the historical, personal, and political elements that defined the life of Strom Thurmond.
History Play: The Lives and After Life of Christopher Marlowe
Rodney Bolt's life of Christopher Marlowe plays out a surprising solution to a literary mystery, bringing the spirit of William Shakespeare alive as we've never seen it before.
The Story of Chicago May by Nuala O'Faolin
This Irish woman writer who achieved international fame with a candid appraisal of her own unorthodox life has taken as her subject another daughter of Ireland, notorious criminal and unrepentant, independent woman, Chicago May.
Don't Panic: Douglas Adams and the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by
A detailed history of the various incarnations of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," full of quotes and anecdotes from Douglas Adams.
A Year in the Merde by Stephen Clarke
"A Year In The Merde" is the almost-true account of Stephen Clarke's adventures as an expat in Paris, based loosely on his own experiences and with names changed to avoid embarrassment and possible legal action.
Another Bullshit Night in Suck City by Nick Flynn
Nick Flynn met his father when he was twenty-seven years old, working as a caseworker in a homeless shelter in Boston...
Luckiest Man by Jonathan Eig
This may be one of the best baseball books written. Lou Gehrig is presented, warts and all, and modern baseball players would do well to read this book and learn something about integrity and sportsmanship.
In His Own Words by Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela's speeches: from the eve of his imprisonment to his release 27 years later, from his acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize to his election as South Africa's first black president.
Chronicles, Volume One by Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan delivers a poignant reflection on life, and the people and places that helped shape the man and the art.
Eyeing the Flash: The Education of a Carnival Con Artist
The story of a shy middle-class kid turned first-class huckster in the carnival underworld, Peter Fenton's highly unorthodox coming-of-age memoir.
Windblown World: The Journals of Jack Kerouac 1947- 1954
Douglas Brinkley has gathered together a selection of journal entries from the most pivotal period of Jack Kerouac's life.
Positively Fifth Street by James McManus
In the spring of 2000. Harper's Magazine sent James McManus to Las Vegas to cover the World Series of Poker and the murder of Ted Binion, the tournament's prodigal host.
Roman Candle: The Life of Bobby Darin by David Evanier
By age 8 Bobby Darin knew he was doomed to die young. So he set out to become a showbiz legend by age 25.
It's Not Easy Bein' Me by Rodney Dangerfield
Anybody can repeat a Rodney Dangerfield joke, but nobody can tell one like the man himself. That's because his humor, built on the premise that he "don't get no respect," is drawn from a life so hard that the only way to survive was to laugh at it.
Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
In Kitchen Confidential, Chef Anthony Bourdain serves up a deliciously funny banquet that lays out his 25 years of sex, drugs, and haute cuisine.
The Carolina Way
The Carolina Way is an excellent, easily read examination of leadership based on the lessons Smith learned and taught in 36 years of coaching basketball.
Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller
During her African childhood, Alexandra Fuller became accustomed to armed guerrillas and landmine-littered roads; hunger, drought, and malaria were never far off.
Khrushchev: The Man and His Era by William Taubman
Nikita Khrushchev was one of the most important political figures of the twentieth century. Ruler of the Soviet Union during the first decade after Stalin's death, Khrushchev left a contradictory stamp on his country and on the world.
Working Fire by Zac Unger
Zac Unger didn't feel like much of a firefighter at first. He was an Ivy League grad responding to a help-wanted ad. He couldn't keep his boots shined, and he looked horrible in his uniform.
Bringing Down the House by Ben Mezrich
Backed by anonymous investors and armed only with their audacity and their intellect, a team of MIT math students cleaned Vegas out of more than $3 million in a couple of years.
Inside George Orwell by Gordon Bowker
The privelaged son of well-to-do parents had auspicious beginnings, studying at Eton College, but opted out of his social caste for work as a British policeman in Burma.
True Notebooks by Mark Salzman
When Mark Salzman is invited to visit a writing class at Central Juvenile Hall, a lockup for Los Angeles' most violent teenage offenders, he is so astonished by what he finds that he becomes a teacher there himself.
Dry: A Memoir by Augusten Burroughs
In "Dry," a follow-up to his shocking and hilarious childhood memoir, "Running with Scissors," Augusten Burroughs recounts his introduction into recovery from alcoholism.
A Million Little Pieces by James Frey
In a memoir of his time at Hazelden and his struggle with addiction, Frey walks his readers through the daily reality of his withdrawal from alcohol and crack-cocaine, among other substances.
Out of Sheer Rage by Geoff Dyer
Argumentatively one of the whiniest people on the planet, Dyer endlessly vacillates about whether to write a sober, academic study of D.H. Lawrence.
Monkey Dancing by Daniel Glick
Dan Glick takes his children (and the reader) on a world tour of global loss, thus sparking conversation about our role in the global community.
Sounds of the River by Da Chen
"Sounds of the River," the second of Da Chen's memoir trilogy picks up where his best-selling "Colours of the Mountain" left off, at the beginning of his Beijing University days.
I Sleep at Red Lights by Bruce Stockler
I Sleep at Red Lights is Bruce Stockler's account of the maelstrom that ensues when a couple become the parents of triplets plus one.
London Orbital by Iain Sinclair
London's M25 highway was voted number one in the BBC's "seven horrors of Britain." It is a 122-mile, 10-lane ring of smog heat, and angry motorists that encircles the city. It is the very essence of all that is wrong with urban sprawl. Hardly the stuff of ordinary literary exploration.
In Get Capone, Jonathan Eig brings the real Al Capone to life. While acknowledging the myths that have defined Capone for ninety years, Eig has placed Capone's life accurately in the culture that spawned both him and his myth. This is a brilliant biography of an iconic American whose exploits have characterized the Roaring Twenties.
Half A Life
Darin Strauss was driving with his friends to a miniature golf course when a sixteen year-old girl veered her bicycle across two lanes and into...
Running the Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian
Just a couple of years out of Harvard and looking for a way out of his dead end job writing obituaries for the Boston Globe, Avi Steinberg came across an unusual help wanted ad on Craigslist: Boston, Prison Librarian, full time union benefits. What followed was perhaps one of the most transformative experiences of Steinberg's life, wonderfully...
Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1
The wait for Mark Twain's autobiography has been longer than the interval between the appearances of Haley's Comet that conveniently book-ended the life of Samuel Clemens. This first installment of three is well-worth the long wait. There are nuggets here that show the full force of Clemens's rapier like wit and acerbity. There are nuggets of...