Is your grandpa tough to buy for? Or dad or Uncle Joe, or your brother in law? Let me suggest some great biographies, most of which are very new. Please keep in mind that I, as a bookseller, absolutely think they'd make great gifts for grandma, mom, Sister Sally or your mother in law too. Wait no, scratch mother in law. I don't dare suggest a gift for your mother in law. You're own you're own with that one.
Quite a few best sellers right now are about musicians and entertainers. I'll blog about other bios later.
There is a wonderful book about Bruce Springsteen, conveniently titled: Bruce. The author is credited with having unprecedented access and is able to write about Bruce's upbringing which hasn't been covered before.
Brian's favorite is Neil Young's memoir: Waging Heavy Peace. Brian has written some reviews on our website , www.chapter2books.com , from which I'll now quote.
Pete Townsend and Neil Young. Two of my favorite musical artists have each released autobiographies/memoirs in the past few weeks. Both are very good reads and give wonderful insight into the minds of each man. Although written in different styles, both would be great additions to any music-lover's library.
Townsend's Who I Am is written in a chronological manner, tracing his life from childhood to today. He details his battles with the various demons of depression, alcoholism and drug addiction in a very introspective style, not hiding any of the warts. Apparently, a rock-and-roll lifestyle isn't all fun and games.
Neil's book, Waging Heavy Peace, is pure Neil Young. All over the place. Going from his Lionel train and automobile obsessions to reminiscences from his life to his views on politics to his love of his family - often on the same page. Written in an easy-going, conversational style, it's like he's there in the same room, telling his stories directly to you.
A hot title right now is Willie Nelson's memoir: Roll Me Up And Smoke Me When I Die. Not much more to say about that!
Pete Townsend from The Who's autobiography: Who I Am has only been out for a few months. There are a few from the last few years to add to the list: Keith Richards My Life, Mick Jagger, and locally Paul Metsa's Blue Guitar Highway.
My all time favorite is Girls Like Us by Sheila Weller. She chronicles the lives of Joni Mitchell, Carol King and Carly Simon, starting while they were young. In the later chapters their lives intertwine along with their careers painting a wonderful picture of the music of their generation. Carly Simon, Judy Collins and Carole King all have new autobiographies too. Patti Smith one the National Book Award in 2010 for her memoir, Just Kids.
Dick Clark passed away this year. There is a really interesting book about him, American Bandstand. For Bob Dylan fans: Waging Heavy Peace. One other that will make a beautiful gift is John Lennon's Letters. This groundbreaking collection of almost 300 letters and postcards has been edited and annotated by Hunter Davies, whose authorized biography The Beatles (1968) was published to great acclaim. With unparalleled knowledge of Lennon and his contemporaries, Davies reads between the lines of the artist's words, contextualizing them in Lennon's life and using them to reveal the man himself.
There are quite a few breezy, fun memoirs out, otherwise known as “easy reads”. I say easy reads have their place! In fact one of them has been chosen to be one of only 30 titles chosen for the 2nd annual World Book Night in a few months. Tina Fey tells fun stories about her childhood and career at Saturday Night Live in Bossypants. Ellen Degeneres' latest , But Seriously, is new in paperback. I loved 2 others: Ali In Wonderland and Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? Ali Wentworth has had a fascinating life. Yes she is married to George Stephanopolis but she swam with Henry Kissinger and made prank calls to the White House years earlier. Mindy Kaling, aka Kelly Kapoor on The Office, chose her book title well. It's the perfect depiction of any hip, educated and funny young woman today. Confident but insecure at the same time. Sarcastic but sensitive.
As I said, these are entertainment biographies. I'll blog about politicians and people in the news including Winston Churchill, Thomas Jefferson, Neil Armstrong, Julia Child, Walter Cronkite etc soon.