Jen Recommends: Victoria: The Queen

About Victoria: The Queen: An Intimate Biography of the Woman Who Ruled an Empire: “When Victoria was born, in 1819, the world was a very different place. Revolution would threaten many of Europe’s monarchies in the coming decades. In Britain, a generation of royals had indulged their whims at the public’s expense, and republican sentiment…

What I’m Reading Now

If only letters – written, sent with a stamp cornered at a crooked angle – were still a thing. As they are sadly not, instead of out of mailboxes, I’ve been pulling off of shelves piles of books crammed with page after page of posthumously published letters, the latest being Anne Sexton’s, as compiled and…

Jim Reviews: The Man Who Was George Smiley – Michael Jago

Recently there has been a resurgence in interest in the character of George Smiley with the reboot of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Although Gary Oldman does a credible George Smiley for me he’ll always look like Alec Guinness from the BBC Mini-Series that follows the John le Carre novel very closely. I was thrilled to see Michael Jago’s The Man Who Was George Smiley: The Life of John Bingham

What I’m Reading Now

The name William Marshal was not wholly unknown to me going into Asbridge’s The Greatest Knight, but the details of Marshal’s life, those were very sketchy indeed. I’ve only just started the second section of the biography, which opens in 1166, shortly after Marshal had been knighted, but prior to that my notes on his…

Excerpt from Simon Pegg's NERD DO WELL

Publisher’s Summary: “The unique life story of one of the most talented and inventive comedians, star of Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Star Trek. Zombies in North London, death cults in the West Country, the engineering deck of the Enterprise: actor, comedian, writer and self-proclaimed supergeek Simon Pegg has been ploughing some bizarre…

Biography Booklist: Remembering Elizabeth Taylor (1932 – 2011)

“Legendary actress Elizabeth Taylor, a two-time Oscar winner and Hollywood beauty whose screen success was sometimes overshadowed by her tumultuous personal life, died on Wednesday at age 79.” [via Los Angeles Times] The library owns several biographies on Elizabeth Taylor, including: (linked to the catalog) Elizabeth by J. Randy Taraborrelli “A portrait of Oscar award-winning…

Film Trailer: My Dog Tulip

J.R. Ackerly’s Memoir My Dog Tulip has just been re-released in anticipation of the new animated film based on the book. The distinguished British man of letters, Ackerley hardly thought of himself as a dog lover when, well into middle age, he came to adopt Tulip – a beautiful, yet intolerable 18-month-old German shepherd. To…

Look Inside the ‘Furious Love’ of Burton and Taylor

HarperCollins, the publisher of an upcoming biography that focuses on the love story that played out between Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, has a neat feature that allows you to look inside the book, sample the writing, the story. They’re offering up that look inside for Furious Love: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and the Marriage…

The Wayback Machine – Sports Edition

When The Game Was Ours by Larry Bird and Earvin Magic Johnson with Jackie MacMullen For Boston sports fans growing up in the 1980s, nothing was bigger than the Celtics vs. the Lakers.  The nearly two decades that have passed since the retirement of their franchise players has left this Generation X-er sorely missing Larry…

Late Night Autobiography

We’ll Be Here For the Rest of Our Lives: A Swingin’ Show-biz Saga by Paul Shaffer As a longtime Late Night/Late Show with David Letterman fan, Paul Shaffer’s memoir was a must-read for me.  And while he shares plenty of great behind-the-scenes stories about this now 28-year stint in late night television, Shaffer offers a…

On Moving: A Writer’s Meditation on New Houses, Old Haunts, and Finding Home Again by Louise De Salvo

If you haven’t yet discovered the talented and passionate writer Louise Desalvo, On Moving is a wonderful opportunity to begin to glimpse this unapologetic feminist and highly accomplished scholar’s inner life and to share her fascinating musings and insights into the lives of writers you may also have read and loved .  Marilyn Demario writes:…

The Longest Trip Home : a Memoir by John Grogan

John Grogan, the author of the very popular book Marley & Me, has written a biography centered around his dying father.  The utmost homage is paid to his dad while he regales his audience with flashbacks from his own life.  He and his siblings were subjected to a strict Catholic upbringing. Several chapters of the…

Fun Home ~ Alison Bechdel

In this groundbreaking, bestselling graphic memoir, Alison Bechdel charts her fraught relationship with her late father. In her hands, personal history becomes a work of amazing subtlety and power, written with controlled force and enlivened with humor, rich literary allusion, and heartbreaking detail. Distant and exacting, Bruce Bechdel was an English teacher and director of…

The Sky Isn’t Visible From Here by Felicia C. Sullivan

You’re the writer, but remember, I’m your author”. These words, spoken by the author’s mother, reveal the truth behind this memoir. Despite growing up in the shadow of a controlling, substance-abusing mother, Felicia manages to get into Fordham University, become a creative writer and secure a position at an up-and-coming dot.com company. Though she is…

Twelve Little Cakes ~ Dominika Dery

Long before she was born, Dominika first appeared to her mother in a dream, so when she came to be, she was welcomed with eager expectation and much love. Though her arrival was auspicious, as the child of recognized dissidents associated with the failed Prague Spring uprising, Dominika’s life would be far from charmed. Her…

The Sea Captain’s Wife by Martha Hodes

If you enjoy history, and can snag a copy of this popular read, do so immediately! Award winning historian Hodes does a masterful job of recreating the life of a woman, Eunice Stone Connolly, in the 19th century through her letters to her family before during and after the American Civil War. Connolly was rendered…

Never give up ~ Tedy Bruschi

I’m not a football fan, but in this case, I’ll make an exception. Most everyone was inspired by Tedy Bruschi’s amazing comeback from a stroke to play football again. This biography, co-authored with Michael Holley details the severity of the Patriots player’s attack precipitated by an undetected heart condition. His perseverance and courage in the…

The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop – Lewis Buzbee

This fun little book is a memoir about working in bookstores and a history of bookselling. Even though he has worked in the industry for years, Buzbee still loves walking into a bookstore. His passion for books is infectious and unprententious. He spends a fare amount of time talking about the birth of “booklust.” Here’s…

Big Papi

I already had extreme respect for this baseball player. Reading his biography only increased this respect. He gives credit to his family, especially his dad, who taught him to overcome disappointments by working harder. He is a genuine nice guy who still can’t believe his success.

No More Words – Reeve Lindbergh

For those of you who like biographies, here’s a review from Julie: Lately I’ve been reading some of Reeve Lindbergh’s books. Anne Morrow Lindbergh was (is? how would you put it when the writer is dead (thus was), but you’re still enjoying her books (thus is)? anyway…) one of my favorite writers. I read her…

Notebooks by Tennessee Williams

Margaret Bradham Thornton has edited and annotated Tennessee Williams “notebooks.” The compilation has received rave reviews: From Booklist: “The greatest American playwright? Regardless of one’s personal thoughts on his ultimate ranking, Tennessee Williams was inarguably great. For the first time, and for dedicated aficionados of his work, his complete journals are now being published. Kept…