Featured favorites: New biographies

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Recommended by Bunch of Grapes

“Her” by Christa Parravani – When a young woman, Cara, tragically dies of a heroin overdose, her identical twin sister, the author, struggles to survive without her other half. Christa felt that Cara’s life was in her hands after Cara was violently raped and spun out of control, suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome. In trying to understand her sister’s problems, the author narrowly misses following the same path.

“Coolidge” by Amity Shlaes – Calvin Coolidge was the 30th president of the U.S. Behind the strict, parsimonious Vermonter lay a devout family man. When his son was working as a laborer in a tobacco field one summer, a fellow worker commented that if his father was president, he wouldn’t be working in the fields. Young Calvin Jr. retorted, “If your father were my father, you would.”

“Wave” by Sonali Deraniyagala – The Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 killed 230,000 people including the author’s parents, husband, and her two young sons. She brings us into the 30-foot wave that moved at 25 miles per hour. Most of this book, however, is about her incredible grief and the ultimate celebration of those that she loved.

“Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness” by Susannah Cahalan – Cahalan wakes in a hospital bed tied down. She learns that she had been there for a month, totally mad, and she remembers none of it. With her family by her side, she finally gets a diagnosis, costing $1 million, and the answers come. This is the story of a young woman seeking to recapture her own identity.

“Brothers: George Howe Colt on His Brothers and Brothers in History” by George Howe Colt – Colt, author of “The Big House,” is a member of a quartet of brothers brought up in suburban Massachusetts. Rivalry, jealousy, and affection is brought out in this story of family dynamics. Interspersed with his own story are the stories of famous brothers like the Booths, the Marxes, and the Van Goghs.