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Biography & autobiography

Dirty Wars and Polished Silver: The Life and Times of a War Correspondent Turned Ambassatrix

What could have been another average cathartic memoir becomes a page-turner thanks to lucid writing and thrilling storytelling.


Queen of Bebop

Queen of Bebop explores the hard choices of many a jazz singer when rock 'n roll began stealing audience focus, relying on a variety of performers to shed light on Vaughan's mindset.


The Hue and Cry at Our House: A Year Remembered

It’s an arguable premise, I suppose, but Taylor’s remembering is fierce enough to sell it. His brush with history has the breath of life.


Hunger

Our bodies are our stories. With Hunger, Gay takes the parts she didn’t get to write and turns them into something vigorous.


Footnotes

Overflowing with ideas from science and philosophy, rich in literary allusions and filled with evocative descriptions of the landscapes he has run through, this is a wonderfully subtle and ambitious book.


But Seriously

And so McEnroe rehashes many of the stories from the first autobiography and adds in tales from the seniors circuit. But again, does anyone really care about the seniors circuit?


Another Kind of Madness

The highest distinction of Another Kind of Madness is the realistic, empathetic portrayal of the author’s father --- a respected professor --- and the struggle through the mental illness he lived with.


Shark Drunk: The Art of Catching a Large Shark from a Tiny Rubber Dinghy in a Big Ocean

Whether the author is opining on mass extinctions, the importance of plankton, the history of lighthouses, or the epicurean treat of boiled cod tongues, readers will happily devour this smorgasbord of delights.


Hunger

Gay says hers is not a success story because it’s not the weight-loss story our culture demands, but her breaking of her own silence, her movement from shame and self-loathing toward honoring and forgiving and caring for herself, is in itself a profound victory.


The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit

In his fascinating story, Michael Finkel not only wrests quotes from the reluctant hermit, he comes up with a number of quotable lines of his own.


Ernest Hemingway: A Biography

The estimation of Hemingway’s place in American fiction — the esteem his short stories still commands — is not altered by this biography. But a more nuanced portrayal emerges in this empathetic, if still critical, study of a conflicted man and artist


Priestdaddy: A Memoir

“Priestdaddy” gives “the conviction that good books sometimes give: that life can be holdable in the hand, examined down to the dog hairs, eaten with the eyes and understood.”


You Don't Have to Say You Love Me: A Memoir

In “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me,” Alexie lingers on insults to his body and mind that could have been avoided. He was sexually abused as a child, and mistreated in other ways.


Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977-2002)

So often Sedaris’s phrasing is beautiful in its piquancy and minimalism.


I Can't Make This Up: Life Lessons

The book could have been trimmed by about 50 pages, but Hart is a genial, entertaining guide to a life in comedy.


The Mighty Franks

I doubt you’ll read a better memoir this year. The Mighty Franks is full of humour and brittle irony.


Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977-2002)

Since many of the things he describes happen in his stories, reading Theft by Finding feels like watching a favorite play from behind the scenes, in the company of a friend who can identify what is absurd and heartbreaking and human about every person on stage.


Dig If You Will the Picture

Greenman’s brilliant writing on the power of music will inspire readers to listen anew.


The Mighty Franks

This is a narrative that could unfold only in a place where fantasy and reality blur with treacherous ease.


Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977-2002)

through all 25 years of “Theft by Finding” — of soap opera addictions and spider feeding, family kookiness (Sedaris notes the day Charles Addams dies; it feels like the passing of a baton) and language lessons — Sedaris’s developing voice is the lifeline that pulls him through the murk.