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Biography & autobiography

Hank and Jim: The Fifty-Year Friendship of Henry Fonda and James Stewart

Eyman...does a sweet job in portraying how these two icons came to their profession, contrary to the desires of their fathers (who eventually came around).


Settle for More

Overall, she writes with bawdy good humor and rarely “half-asses it,” as she says.


Charles Darwin

[A]s Darwin himself did so well, A. N. Wilson succeeds by presenting the fascinating and continuing history of evolution in symphonic prose that tangibly sings with his deep passion for the matter at hand.


Mean

Mean should be read alongside canonical nonfiction novels such as Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior. Far from overexposed, autofiction may have only just recently found its stride: unsettling normative storytelling by creating a space for a multitude of voices and histories


Lou Reed: A Life

DeCurtis’ biography (not the first since Reed’s death four years ago at age 71, and it won’t be the last) makes a case for Reed’s influence that’s as durable as black leather. Reed combined literary aspirations with a fearless eye for deviance and, by extension, a staunch defense of freedom of expression.


Improv Nation: How We Made a Great American Art

Sam Wasson, through a series of interviews and prodigious research, has compiled the most detailed study of stand-up, improvisation and comedy that has been seen in print so far.


An Uncommon Reader

Anyone interested in early 20th-century literature and the writers whose careers crossed paths with Garnett will find this readable biography to be a wonderful book.


The Only Girl in the World: A Memoir

Without giving away the ending, when this world begins to crack — letting in enough light for Julien to squint and see beyond — the story takes on the energy of a thriller, building on the reader’s hectic desire for her escape.


The Kelloggs: The Battling Brothers of Battle Creek

“Biography lends to death a new terror,” Oscar Wilde once wrote. This is not the case with “The Kelloggs.” To be sure, Markel documents the substantial and destructive character flaws and errors of judgment of each of the two brothers. More importantly, he gives them their due.


The World Broke in Two

The “hook” of “The World Broke in Two” isn’t always solid, the book is well researched, intelligent and entertaining.


A Secret Sisterhood: The Literary Friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolf

“A Secret Sisterhood” does provide a thought-provoking meditation on literary friendship, as well as engagingly intimate glimpses of four of the world’s finest writers in a pursuit that, for women of their times, skirted the edges of decency.


Logical Family

Much of “Logical Family” is wry and sharply drawn.


Avedon: Something Personal

Stevens is most illuminating in her behind-the-scenes glimpses of the work.


Vacationland: True Stories from Painful Beaches

The real hook of “Vacationland” is that it’s the first book in which Hodgman is playing it relatively straight, writing not as the professorially pompous hoot-owl “John Hodgman” character but as the actual fella with that name.


Lenin: The Man, the Dictator, and the Master of Terror

It’s a welcome read as we approach the centennial of the 1917 revolution and try to make sense of the world this man played so large a part in shaping.


Franklin D. Roosevelt: A Political Life

Despite "liberal historian" Robert Dallek's stated desire to elevate the stature of Franklin Roosevelt, our nation's "greatest liberal president," his new book fails to achieve that goal.


Gold Dust Woman

Davis has written a compelling and fascinating account of her life. If you’ve been touched by Nicks’ music, you’ll enjoy this book.


L'Appart: The Delights and Disasters of Making My Paris Home

Each of the short chapters offers a brief, humorous, occasionally cringe-inducing glimpse into some aspect of the home-buying and remodeling odyssey on which Lebovitz embarks.


The Wine Lover's Daughter

Fadiman certainly would be smiling at his daughter's grace in capturing the essence of his personality as expertly as he might have appreciated the subtle bouquet of a fine Cabernet or Pinot Noir.