Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Reading a Life...

Biographies and Memoirs
Last February, publisher Alfred K. Knopf used Twitter to ask people why they read biographies. If the responses resonate with you, here's a quick list of the latest, all about fascinating people.

Walter Isaacson's biography of globally successful hi-tech genius entrepreneur, Steve Jobs, is available in book and audio CD formats. Also on CD is The Steve Jobs Way : iLeadership for a New Generation by Jay Elliot. Your kids might enjoy Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and the Personal Computer by Donald B. Lemke.

American Authors
Just One Catch : a Biography of Joseph Heller by Tracy Daugherty
And So It Goes : Kurt Vonnegut, A Life by Charles J. Shields
Blue Nights by Joan Didion
Hemingway's Boat by Paul Hendrickson

American History
Jack Kennedy : Elusive Hero by Chris Matthews
Pair this one with Jacqueline Kennedy : Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis or for kids, Kennedy Through the Lens by Martin W. Sandler.

World History and Art
Try Catherine the Great : Portrait of a Woman by Pulitzer-winning biographer Robert K. Massie (Nicholas and Alexandra and Peter the Great). Art history fans might try Van Gogh : the Life by Steven Naifeh & Gregory White Smith.

Sports fans will find Los Angeles Laker Jerry West's memoir, West by West, a compelling read. Also try the biography of the late Walter Payton, star running back for 1985's Super Bowl winning Chicago Bears.  Baseball fans will appreciate Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Ralph Branca's memoir, A Moment in Time : an American Story of Baseball, Heartbreak, and Grace.

Immerse yourself in books about influential film critics Pauline Kael (The New Yorker) and Roger Ebert, Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times.  Also find Marc Eliot's biography of the late "King of Cool" film icon, Steve McQueen.

Popular Music/Popular Culture
Pick and choose bios (solid and sort-of) : Judy Collins, Mick JaggerHarry Belafonte, Bill CosbyEllen DeGeneresMichael Moore.  For a big stretch on the idea of "biography", documentary films about Pearl Jam and George Lucas offer fun viewing.