Top 5 biographies and memoirs
“Franklin and Eleanor” by Hazel Rowley – It is the story of their marriage and their extraordinary life together. I have read several books about the Roosevelts and am never disappointed as they are a fascinating and complex couple.
“Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child” by Bob Spitz – Child’s culinary career is recounted within the context of the places she lived and the chefs and others she associated with along the way.
“The River of Doubt” by Candice Millard – Teddy Roosevelt’s journey down the River of Doubt, an uncharted tributary of the Amazon, tells of Roosevelt pursuing his first love, exploration, in the worst possible circumstances. Along with a team of men including his son, Kermit, he takes on the challenge of exploring territory where few men had been, where danger stalked them at every turn, and where he nearly died.
“Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail” by Cheryl Strayed – On the Pacific Coast Trail hiking 1,000 miles with Cheryl and her too small boots, watching her cope with scary noises, confusing trail signs, and demons from her past.
“Birdseye: The Adventures of a Curious Man” by Mark Kurlansky – Quirky and eccentric “Bob” Birdseye traps, hunts, and freezes his way to multiple careers and financial success. An entertaining study of a mind that is always open to new challenges.
Bunch of Grapes
“Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail” by Cheryl Strayed – A powerful, blazingly honest, inspiring memoir: the story of a 1,100 mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe – and built her back up again.
“When We Were the Kennedy’s: A Memoir from Mexico, Maine” by Monica Wood – A moving memoir of the 1963 season in Mexico, Maine, as she, her mother, and her three sisters healed after the loss of their mill-worker father and then the nation’s loss of its handsome, young, Catholic president.
“Cocktail Hour Under the Tree Of Forgetfulness” by Alexandra Fuller – A story of survival and war, love and madness, loyalty and forgiveness; an intimate exploration of Fuller’s parents and of the price of being possessed by Africa’s uncompromising, fertile, death-dealing land.
“Yes, Chef: A Memoir” by Marcus Samuelsson – From a very early age, there was little question what Samuelsson was going to be when he grew up. This story chronicles his remarkable journey from Ethiopia to Sweden, to some of the most demanding and cutthroat restaurants in Europe, and to an acclaimed New York City culinary career.
“The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance” by Edmund de Waal – Having spent 30 years making beautiful pots, de Waal has a particular sense of the secret lives of objects. When he inherited a collection of 264 tiny Japanese wood and ivory carvings, he wanted to know who had touched and held them, and how the collection had managed to survive. And so begins this extraordinarily moving memoir and detective story.
Book Den East
“Richard III” by Charles Ross (1981) – He remains one of England’s most controversial monarchs (did he murder his nephews or not?). King Richard lost his crown and his life at the battle of Bosworth Field, just 527 years ago this month.
“Damned Englishman: A Study of Erskine Childers (1870-1922)” by Tom Cox (1975) – Childers, intrepid sailor and author of the thriller Riddle of the Sands, hero of the fight for Irish independence, was executed for his troubles during the Irish Civil War. This is a fascinating study of a man making honourable choices during a time of vicious internecine struggle and political venality.
“Angela’s Ashes” by Frank McCourt (1996) is a memoir tribute to his mother by a boy who grew up and survived the grinding poverty of life in the slums of Ireland. It is a readers’ favorite.
“Horatio Nelson” by Tom Pocock (1988) recounts the dramatic history of Britain’s formidable sea hero, lover of Lady Emma Hamilton, and Napoleon’s naval nemesis, until he was killed by a sniper’s bullet during the battle of Trafalgar (1805) – and returned to England pickled in brandy.