Biography and Memoir
Dadland by Keggie CarewAuthor Keggie Carew grew up knowing her father, Tom, as a brilliant, unconventional man who failed to keep his family in the style his first wife expected. Until he began showing symptoms of dementia, Keggie knew nothing of her father's World War II experiences as a Jedburgh -- a skilled guerilla who parachuted behind the lines in Burma and France. After she accompanied him to a Jedburgh reunion, she started piecing together his earlier life, discovering his wartime exploits and the reasons he struggled to achieve normality after the war. Dadland provides a "tender evocation of an extraordinary life" (Kirkus Reviews).
Inferno: A Doctor's Ebola Story by Steven HatchIn November 2013, American Dr. Steven Hatch went to work at a hospital in Monrovia, Liberia; by June 2014 the Ebola virus had killed several of his colleagues. In vivid, compelling detail, Hatch describes his experiences in Liberia, calling his memoir a "horror story." He reviews West Africa's history of colonialism, post-colonial dictatorships, and lagging technology that made the region vulnerable to the epidemic. His compassionate writing evokes empathy for the Africans, who were often reduced to anonymity by Western journalists as they recounted the heroism of volunteer American and European health workers. In a starred review, Booklist declares that this powerful work "deserves sharp notice" for its analysis of the events.
Tell Me Everything You Don't Remember: The Stroke That Changed My Life by Christine Hyung-Oak LeeAfter suffering a stroke at age 33, author Christine Hyung-Oak Lee spent days in the hospital and months recording her memories in a notebook, preserving thoughts that her mind could only briefly retain. In this memoir, Lee recounts the issues she dealt with during her recovery and afterwards: she looked well but wasn't, and she came to recognize problems in her relationships that she had ignored. She also developed a new, healthier relationship with her body. Expanded from her viral Buzzfeed essay, Tell Me Everything You Don't Remember offers an inspiring and thought-provoking chronicle of self-discovery.
The Home That Was Our Country: A Memoir of Syria by Alia MalekJournalist and civil rights lawyer Alia Malek, born in Baltimore to Syrian refugee parents, always felt a strong connection to her family's history. In 2011, during the Arab Spring, she moved to Damascus to restore her grandmother's house and report on Syrian politics under the Assad family dictatorship. The Home That Was Our Country traces stories of her ancestors back to 1899, depicting an amicably diverse Syria that was ruptured starting in 1970 by Hafez al-Assad's repressive policy of division. Whether you're curious about Syria's past or a fan of family histories, you won't want to miss this "provocative, richly detailed" (Kirkus Reviews) memoir.
Grace Notes: My Recollections by Katey SagalBest known for her role as Peggy Bundy on television's Married...with Children, Katey Sagal has experienced a varied career in show business as a singer-songwriter and actress. In Grace Notes, she chronicles her life in conversational vignettes about growing up, her relationships with her parents (both of whom died young), her own illness with cancer, her addictions, and her friends and family. This book is for readers who appreciate insightful memoirs about the authors' lives, as well as for Sagal's fans. For another reflective autobiography that omits superficial gossip, check out Linda Ronstadt's Simple Dreams.
Focus on: Athletes and Competitors
Imperfect: An Improbable Life by Jim Abbott and Tim BrownMajor League Baseball star Jim Abbott was born with no right hand, but became one of the most celebrated pitchers in the game. In Imperfect, Abbott reflects on his life, which has included starring for the University of Michigan, pitching for the gold medal-winning U.S. team in the 1988 Olympics, and going straight to a Major League team without first playing in the Minors. This modest and candid account provides not just Abbot's record of growing up with a disability, but an absorbing baseball autobiography that will also appeal to general biography fans.
When the Game Was Ours by Larry Bird and Earvin Magic Johnson with Jackie McMullanBasketball greats Larry Bird and Magic Johnson first played together in a 1978 college all-star game, where they learned that their different playing styles and personalities produced equally stunning results. Fans (if they're old enough) still remember the 1979 NCAA championship game featuring the methodical blond from Indiana State and the flashy African American from Michigan State -- but that was only a prelude to their spectacular NBA performances with the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers, respectively. As 1980s NBA stars, they were credited with restoring the popularity of professional basketball. Hoops fans and sports biography lovers will find their joint memoir a "captivating look" (Kirkus Reviews) at their lives and careers.
Slow Getting Up: A Story of NFL Survival from the Bottom of the Pile by Nate JacksonFor six years, Nate Jackson played for the Denver Broncos, sometimes as a tight end, sometimes as a wide receiver. He was never a household name, but considering that he came from a Division III school, he was living the dream of many a football player. In his candid and often witty memoir (his writing skills got him gigs at Slate and The New York Times, among others), he shares the highs and lows of his time with the NFL. Football fans might want to compare his experiences with those found in the 2015 memoir NFL Confidential by "Johnny Anonymous."
Pin Action: Small-Time Gangsters, High-Stakes Gambling, and the Teenage Hustler Who... by Gianmarc ManzioneFew people pay attention to professional bowling, and even fewer know about the 1960s and '70s phenomenon of action bowling, where teenaged bowling hustlers could make big bucks...as long as they didn't run afoul of the Mob. In Pin Action, Gianmarc Manzione brings action bowling to life and vividly depicts Ernie Schlegel, a former hustler who succeeded in the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA). Profiling other colorful bowlers (such as Joe the Kangaroo and Bernie Bananas), gangsters, and gamblers, Manzione weaves a gritty and absorbing tale of a nearly forgotten sport and one of its most fascinating practitioners.
Find a Way by Diana NyadDistance swimmer Diana Nyad (who had already swum 28 miles around Manhattan) tried in 1978 to swim between Florida and Cuba, failing on that occasion and (years later) on three more. Her initial attempts at the Cuba-Florida transit were stymied by weather, dehydration, hypothermia, asthma, and jellyfish. In Find a Way, Nyad recounts her life, details her training methods, and explains her strategy for long open-water swims. At age 64, on August 31, 2013, she set out again from Havana, completing the crossing to Key West in 53 hours. This absorbing sports memoir offers a "gripping example of the strength of the human spirit" (Library Journal).
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