"I feel that if you really want an Oscar, you're in trouble. It's like wanting to be married -- you'll take anybody."
~ Bill Murray, American actor
Fortunate Son: My Life, My Music by John FogertyThis memoir from singer-songwriter John Fogerty, frontman of Creedence Clearwater Revival, has been a long time coming. Though Fogerty has enjoyed a successful solo career, he will forever be linked to CCR, which reached the peak of its success in 1969-1970, coming apart a few years later. The band released seven records, toured incessantly, and had several hits that are still played on radios today. Fortunate Son offers an insider's experience of the band's turbulent relationships as well as the influences behind such instantly recognizable songs as "Proud Mary" and "Bad Moon Rising."
The Face that Changed It All: A Memoir by Beverly Johnson with Allison SamuelsAs a teenager, honors student Beverly Johnson never wanted to be a model, but with encouragement, luck, and some useful connections, she made it all the way to the cover of American Vogue, the first African-American to do so. But as her professional star rose, her personal life fell apart. In her memoir, she writes of the racism she encountered in the modeling industry, her struggles with drug addiction, her difficult personal relationships, and her eventual successful efforts to move past these obstacles.
Joy Ride: Show People and Their Shows by John LahrIf you believe that show biz is more about velvet curtains and treading the boards than stadium style seating and popcorn, this entertaining collection of essays about playwrights, directors, and performances is for you. Sixteen profiles (of luminaries like David Mamet, Arthur Miller, and Ingmar Bergman) mingle with reviews (the premiere of Sarah Ruhl's Stage Kiss, for example) that were published during the author's tenure as senior drama critic at The New Yorker. Pick Joy Ride up for an illuminating overview of contemporary drama.
The Big Bad Book of Bill Murray: A Critical Appreciation of the World's Finest Actor by Robert SchnakenbergThis "big bad book" explains all things Bill Murray in an entertaining if unconventional style. Rather than a straightforward, chronological biography, it's laid out alphabetically by topic; look up Ghostbusters and you'll find quotes from Murray about the movie that landed him squarely in the spotlight, plus trivia about the making of the blockbuster film. Flip to a random page and you might learn Murray's thoughts on Cinnabon, MC Hammer, or Ralph Nader. Fans -- either of the actor or his films -- will find much to enjoy here.
Topsy: The Startling Story of the Crooked-Tailed Elephant, P.T. Barnum, and... by Michael DalyAlthough the headline act is an elephant named Topsy, this book also presents a history of two distinct rivalries: between competing circus owners P.T. Barnum and Adam Forepaugh, and between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse, over whether direct or alternating current should be used to provide electricity to the U.S. Their lives came together in Forepaugh's elephant Topsy, who was used in an electrocution demonstration after a difficult life as a circus performer. Between tales of the 19th-century mania for elephants and the early days of electricity, author Michael Daly also offers a history of traveling circuses; Paul Chamber's Jumbo offers more on the pachyderm prized by Forepaugh's rival, P.T. Barnum.
Beneath the Surface: Killer Whales, SeaWorld, and the Truth Beyond Blackfish by John Hargrove with Howard Chua-EoanAuthor John Hargrove was once a killer-whale trainer at SeaWorld; landing that job had been his dream, but after several years he came to see the considerable downsides to forcing captive whales to perform. From food deprivation strategies to poorly maintained facilities and the dangerous effects of both stress and boredom on captive whales, Hargrove exposes common abuses in the performance animal industry. If you've seen the documentary Blackfish, you'll recognize a lot of what Hargrove writes about; this firsthand account traces his own experiences and the conversion that led to his break with the industry.
Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura HillenbrandTo look at Seabiscuit -- or his first 50 races -- one would never know that he had the potential to become the most popular racehorse of the 20th century. But, thanks to the efforts of his owner, his dedicated trainer, and his jockeys, Seabiscuit made racing history despite his stunted legs, knobby knees, and lazy demeanor. Their road to unimaginable fame and success (even President Roosevelt halted work to listen to the race between Seabiscuit and his foe, War Admiral) is the subject of this wildly popular and hugely compelling bestseller (originally published in 2002) and the 2003 movie based on it.
Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend by Susan OrleanIt's an unlikely tale -- a German shepherd puppy found on a World War I battlefield is brought home by an American soldier and turned (through hard work and some luck) into a movie star whose death in 1932 was mourned by millions. That wasn't the end of the story, though, for Rin Tin Tin's owner worked with a series of dogs to carry on his name and his legacy. This biography, which took ten years to write, chronicles the rise of the iconic character and shares stories of the real canine performers while also exploring the history of the film industry and Rin Tin Tin's relevance in the military and popular culture. "Captivating," says Entertainment Weekly.
Chaser: Unlocking the Genius of the Dog Who Knows a Thousand Words by John W. PilleyA few years ago, John Pilley and his dog Chaser were all over the news after a video of the two of them went viral -- Chaser was a dog, after all, with a thousand-word vocabulary. In this memoir, Pilley shares his experience (and techniques) of teaching Chaser to differentiate between toys by name -- and to find them when hidden or surrounded by other named or unnamed toys. His system involved a lot of play (rather than treats), and led him to believe that dogs can reason, not just respond to rewards. Readers interested in learning more about the intelligence of dogs shouldn't miss Chaser.
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