Allow yourself to be transported this summer by our selection of August's most anticipated biographies and memoirs. From behind bars to the Great Plains, from world-class soccer fields to Paris and Venice, you'll be carried away in the company of the uncommon and the bold.
“Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child” by Bob Spitz
Go ahead and just embrace another book about the outsized darling who touched off a food revolution in American kitchens. This one is written by Bob Spitz, New York Times bestselling chronicler of the Beatles, who lays bare Julia Child’s drive to master both the science and art of cooking in the centenary year of her birth. The author speculates that Child’s cultivation of her own elegant, intelligent voice and culinary gifts mirrored America’s growing sophistication in many realms, from women’s liberation to the greening of our nation’s table.
"Every Love Story is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace" by D.T. Max, Viking
This first biography of the writer who penned the monumental Infinite Jest charts David Foster Wallace’s torment as he strives to become more than just the smartest guy in the room. Max, a staff writer at the The New Yorker, was given access by Wallace’s family to letters, manuscripts and audiotapes, and armed with these documents he creates a portrait of a profoundly gifted wordsmith whose death by suicide at forty-six cut short his crucial search for answers, not only about how best to write, but also how best to live. “Incredibly painful to read,” says Dave Eggers.
"Ghost Dances: Proving Up on the Great Plains" by Josh Garrett-Davis
In this elegy to the author’s prairie homeland, Native American rituals known as ghost dances prevent catastrophe by conjuring up supernatural forces. Garrett-Davis’s lyrical narrative muses that while today’s Great Plains communities seem weighed down by their histories of failure and destruction, there is an awful and redemptive beauty to be found in the landscape -- a beauty he fled as a youth, but kept returning to in books and in dreams. Martha A. Sandweiss, author of “Passing Strange,” calls the author “a punked-out Wallace Stegner.” You can take this clever boy out of the prairie, but you can’t take the prairie out of the boy.
“Law Man: My Story of Robbing Banks, Winning Supreme Court Cases, and Finding Redemption” by Shon Hopwood (with Dennis Burke)
A friendly, small-town Nebraska boy comes home from the Navy adrift. Losing his way, he commits five bank robberies before being caught, and at age twenty-three is thrown in prison for twelve years. This is really where Shon Hopwood’s story begins. A job in the prison library becomes his ticket to ride. Discovering he has a talent for the law he is soon sought out by fellow inmates for legal advice. By the time he is released he has mastered the legal system, written a successful petition to the Supreme Court, and gained redemption in the form of a family and the promise of a life worth living outside his prison walls.
“Paris: A Love Story” by Kati Marton
Richard Holbrooke’s widow Kati Marton writes with affection about the city she adores and which has sustained her through Holbrooke’s tragic and untimely death, her marriages, and her career as a journalist and author. Marton, born in Hungary and once married to Peter Jennings, the father of her two children, speaks candidly of a life lived in the center of the stream of history, of her own family of journalists, and of both Jennings and the remarkable Holbrooke, whom President Barack Obama called the greatest diplomat of his generation.
“Solo: A Memoir of Hope” by Hope Solo
Metaphors abound in the life of Hope Solo, beginning with her name and culminating in her job as the one gal defending the goal of the U.S. women’s soccer team at this year’s thirtieth Olympiad in London. Emerging with dignity from a dysfunctional family, Solo has become an international celebrity and fearless role model. From goalkeeper for her team at the University of Washington to Olympic gold medalist in 2008 and performer on Dancing with the Stars, this outstanding athlete recounts the trials of her infamous benching in the 2007 World Cup as well as her attempts to come to terms with her family’s -- and especially her dad’s -- checkered history.
“Venice: History of the Floating City” by Joanne M. Ferraro
“An essential book for all lovers of Venice,” says noted historian John Julius Norwich of this latest historical biography of one of the most beloved cities on earth. Ferraro stresses the multicultural personality of the floating metropolis and reveals some salient details about Venetian sexual mores throughout the centuries. An intellectual delight for savvy travelers who wish to stay au courant about La Serenissima.