Archive for the ‘Biography Special’ Category

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Monday, December 19th, 2011

  What a complicated man but what an artist; Steve Jobs!  Anyone who has played with an iphone, ipad, iTunes, or Mac should stop for a moment and think about the design of these items.  Then think of the designer.  Steve Jobs tried to create something beautiful yet simple to use and something we also would find we couldn’t live without.  But along the way he made enemies, was difficult to work with, and had a callous side to him that even showed up in his family relationships.  Walter Isaacson delves deep into Job’s life both on and off the public stage in his book Steve Jobs (Find this book in our catalog).  Reading the book you will find: the flawed hero, the noble quest, and we know how it ends.  If one has time, please also read his sister, Mona Simpson’s, memorial to her brother.  Quite lovely.  It was published in the New York Times 10/30/2011.

Jennifer F.

Mailer Prize for Distinguished Biography

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

“This is one for the books if you get my drift–you hacks,” joked Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards  in accepting this month the Mailer Prize for Distinguished Biography for his memoir, Life, the Associated Press reported. Also honored by the Norman Mailer Center and the Norman Mailer Writers Colony were Elie Wiesel (lifetime achievement), Arundhati Roy (distinguished writing) and Gay Talese (distinguished journalism).

  Find Life by Keith Richards in our catalog.

Summary in our catalog: “The long-awaited autobiography of the guitarist, songwriter, singer, and founding member of the Rolling Stones. Ladies and gentleman: Keith Richards. With The Rolling Stones, Keith Richards created the songs that roused the world, and he lived the original rock and roll life. Now, at last, the man himself tells his story of life in the crossfire hurricane. Listening obsessively to Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters records, learning guitar and forming a band with Mick Jagger and Brian Jones. The Rolling Stones’s first fame and the notorious drug busts that led to his enduring image as an outlaw folk hero. Creating immortal riffs like the ones in “Jumping Jack Flash” and “Honky Tonk Women.” His relationship with Anita Pallenberg and the death of Brian Jones. Tax exile in France, wildfire tours of the U.S., isolation and addiction. Falling in love with Patti Hansen. Estrangement from Jagger and subsequent reconciliation. Marriage, family, solo albums and Xpensive Winos, and the road that goes on forever. With his trademark disarming honesty, Keith Richard brings us the story of a life we have all longed to know more of, unfettered, fearless, and true.”

We also have Life as an audiobook and a Playaway.


License to Pawn

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

  License to Pawn: Deals, Steals, and my Life at the Gold & Silver by Rick Harrison with Tim Keown (Find in our catalog)

Fans of the History Channel’s Pawn Stars will want to read this book by store owner Rick Harrison. Rick as well as show stars Old Man, Big Hoss, and Chumlee all contribute their personal story and how the show’s success has impacted them. An easy enjoyable read with just enough information to satisfy the reader’s curiosity but avid fans may be wishing for more. Limited family and store item photos included along with a better understanding of the world of pawnshops.

Posted by Shelley D.

The Clamorgans: one family’s history of race in America by Julie Winch

Monday, August 8th, 2011

  The Clamorgans: one family’s history of race in America by Julie Winch (Find in our catalog

This is a story of race, greed, and real estate that begins in the late 18th century. Jacques Clamorgan, whose origins are unclear, settled in colonial St. Louis and began acquiring huge tracts of land often via dubious means. He planned to gain his fortune by selling land parcels to incoming settlers but the U.S. Government would not confirm his titles and instead declared the land public domain. Several generations of Jacques’ descendants fought the government into the 20th century over its decision to no avail. Had they won their case, the Clamorgans would have been a wealthy, multi-racial family with vast land holdings. The Clamorgans is filled with vivid characters and is told amidst the backdrop of race in America.

Posted by Shelley D.

Does The Noise In My Head Bother You? A Rock n’ Roll Memoir by Steven Tyler

Monday, June 13th, 2011

  Find this book in our catalog  His music was on the radio while I was growing up and today my nephew, 18, listens to Aerosmith.   That statement does show a lot of “staying power”  I though he did a good job acting on Two and A Half Men, even taking jokes aimed at his age, and he seemed like he really was trying to find the best American Idol – so I thought I would give his memoir a read.  However before I picked it up, I questioned, did he really remember everything during the debauchery, money and the rehab?   I was delightfully surprised.

Steven Tyler, whether he remembered it correctly or not, tells a good story about his life.  He really has done a lot.  From Guitar Hero to SuperBowl half time show to Academy Award nominations, Areosmith was and is an iconic band that is in a large part because of Steve Tyler.  This book is a nice all-access backstage pass on his life.

Posted by Jennifer F.

Stories I only tell my friends: an autobiography by Rob Lowe

Friday, June 10th, 2011

Find this book in our catalog  This well-written fun biography is a must read for all Lowe fans and anyone interested in Hollywood. Lowe details his career and drops a few names along the way – sometimes you will guess the person he is describing before he reveals the name. The book begins in a surprising way and throughout we learn that Lowe is not just another pretty face. Really enjoyable and highly recommended.

Posted by Shelley

Two More Biographies Reviewed by Shelley – Wives and Widows

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

  A Box of Darkness: the story of a marriage by Sally Ryder Brady (Find in our catalog)

After her husband Upton’s death, Sally Brady discovers gay pornography in one of his drawers and the fact he left her in a precarious financial state.  These discoveries lead her to examine and question their life together from the time they first met until his death.  She struggles to reconcile the facts with what she thought was her life.  Brady wants/needs to know if Upton loved her and if he did, how could he have had a secret, other life.  Despite it all, her love for him prevails. 

  A Widow’s Story: a memoir by Joyce Carol Oates (Find in our catalog)

Oates’ husband, Raymond Smith, dies unexpectedly of an infection while hospitalized.  Oates is devastated and as the book’s title states, this story is a widow’s story.  She recounts her grief in great detail and its deep affect on her.  A Widow’s Story offers a portrait of a marriage, insight into mourning, and hope of finding oneself again.

Posted by Shelley

Two Biography Reviews from Shelley – Life in the Upper Classes

Monday, April 4th, 2011

  Trying to Please: a memoir by John Julius Norwich (Find in our catalog

Norwich, born John Julius Cooper, son of the infamous Duff and Diana Cooper, regales the reader with stories from a most interesting life.  From travels and adventures with his parents; meeting some of the world’s most notables; a career in the British Foreign Service; to life as an author, this memoir is a delight to read.  Norwich’s writing is fluid and engaging, pulling the reader in to enjoy a remarkable tale.  Biography lovers won’t want to miss this one. 

  A Voice from Old New York: a memoir of my youth by Louis Auchincloss (Find in our catalog

Published after Auchincloss’ death in 2010 at the age of 92, A Voice from Old New York gives the reader a glimpse into the author’s life as a member of upper-class society.  In this autobiography, the author’s childhood; education; wartime service; and career as a writer are presented in the straightforward, graceful style for which Auchincloss is known.  A Voice from Old New York reveals a way of life that nowadays is a mere memory.

Posted by Shelley

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua

Friday, January 21st, 2011


  Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua (Find this book in our catalog)

How well have you raised your kids?  And what does it mean to be a good parent?

“A lot of people wonder how Chinese parents raise such stereotypically successful kids.  They wonder what these parents do to produce so many math whizzes and music prodigies, what it’s like inside the family, and whether they could do it too.  Well, I can tell them, because I’ve done it.” Says Amy Chua, Yale Law Professor and of Asian descent, the author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.  This provocative and sometimes humorous memoir of extreme parenting, revealing the awards and the costs of raising children the Chinese way, is sure to make parents think.   How different is the Chinese way?  Well, Ms. Chua writes about a dinner party in which a guest left early in tears because she was so upset when Ms. Chua told the story of calling her daughter “garbage” in public in an attempt, that was successful, to have her daughter behave better. 

After reading this biography one realizes the rules are different in different cultures.  Ms. Chua allows no sleepovers, no computer games and nothing less than an A in a grade.  She feels Western parents are too easy on their children, rewarding them for small successes for fear of destroying the child’s self esteem.  How do you compare or decide which is the better way to raise a child?  Can both ways lead to children becoming successful, compassionate, productive adults in our society?  In a recent International Student Assessment, China ranked 1st in math, science and reading skills while the US ranked 24th….behind Latvia, from the 34 nations participating so it is something to think about.

  This highly charged book about the “Chinese way” as a better way for raising children would be a great book group book, an easy read with tons of provocative ideas and discussions to follow on cultural differences and parenting.  But least you become aghast at how insensitive and perhaps cruel Ms. Chua is at raising her daughters she throws in the heartbreaking saga of her sister’s acute lymphoma and the affect that had on everyone, especially Ms. Chua and the rebellion of one of her daughters.

Review by Jennifer F.