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Memoirs and autobiographies

johnboormanMoney into Light: The Emerald Forest Diary
John Boorman
(UK: Faber & Faber, 1986)

This is an excellent account of the problems of film making in the 1980s, a time when money for films was short (as now). John Boorman charts the personal ‘journey’ he travels whilst trying to write and make the film: this is his diary of the psychology of a film shoot. He treats readers to insights on motivation, ideas, problems and solutions, the frustrations he encounters along the way and the moments that make it all worthwhile. The book focuses on Boorman’s ideas about the creative process of filmmaking.

Recommended by:
Christopher Gawor, Tutor

Available in the UK via ‘My Local Bookshop‘ search engine or Amazon (Money into Light: The Emerald Forest Diary)

bryancranstonA Life in Parts
Bryan Cranston
(UK: Orion, 2016; USA: Scribner, 2016)

In this memoir, Cranston maps his zigzag journey from abandoned son to beloved star by recalling the many odd parts he’s played in real life – paperboy, farmhand, security guard, dating consultant, murder suspect, dock loader, lover, husband, father.

Cranston also chronicles his evolution on camera, from soap opera player trying to master the rules of show business to legendary character actor turning in classic performances as Seinfeld dentist Tim Whatley, ‘a sadist with newer magazines,’ and Malcolm in the Middle dad Hal Wilkerson, a lovable bumbler in tighty-whities. He also gives an inspiring account of how he prepared, physically and mentally, for the challenging role of President Lyndon Johnson, a tour de force that won him a Tony to go along with his four Emmys.

Cranston also dives deep into the detail of his greatest role, explaining how he searched inward for the personal darkness that would help him create his memorable performance as Walter White, chemistry teacher turned drug kingpin, in Breaking Bad.

Recommended by:
Liz Fay

Available in the UK via ‘My Local Bookshop‘ search engine or Amazon (A Life in Parts)
Available in the USA via Amazon (A Life in Parts)

reasonstostayaliveReasons to Stay Alive
Matt Haig
(UK: Canongate, 2015; USA: Penguin Books, 2016)

Aged 24, Matt Haig’s world caved in. He could see no way to go on living. This is the true story of how he came through crisis, triumphed over an illness that almost destroyed him and learned to live again.

A moving, funny and joyous exploration of how to live better, love better and feel more alive, Reasons to Stay Alive is more than a memoir. It is a book about making the most of your time on earth.

Recommended by:
Massimo D’Aquisto, Christians Thinkers Society

Available in the UK via ‘My Local Bookshop‘ search engine or Amazon (Reasons to Stay Alive)
Available in the USA via Amazon (Reasons to Stay Alive)

infidelInfidel
Ayaan Hirsi Ali
(UK: Simon & Schuster, 2008; USA: Atria, 2008)

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is one of today’s most admired and controversial political figures. She burst into international headlines following the murder of Theo van Gogh by an Islamist who threatened she would be next. An international bestseller, this life story shows the coming of age of this elegant, distinguished – and sometimes reviled – political superstar and champion of free speech. Ultimately a celebration of triumph over adversity, Hirsi Ali’s story tells how a bright, curious, dutiful little girl evolves into a pioneering freedom fighter. As Western governments struggle to balance democratic ideals with religious pressures, no other book could be more timely, or more significant.

Recommended by:
Ian Winn, Author and Podcaster, Octopus Messiah (author website) and Litopia After Dark (podcast website)

Available in the UK via ‘My Local Bookshop‘ search engine or Amazon (Infidel)
Available in the USA via Amazon (Infidel)

Ian’s debut novel will be republished soon (3rd edition)
The Techno Pagan Octopus Messiah

hirsialihereticHeretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now
Ayaan Hirsi Ali
(UK: Harper, 2016; USA: Harper, 2016)

Continuing her journey from a deeply religious Islamic upbringing to a post at Harvard, the brilliant, charismatic and controversial author makes a powerful plea for a Muslim Reformation as the only way to end the horrors of terrorism, sectarian warfare and the repression of women and minorities.

Recommended by:
Ian Winn, Author and Podcaster, Octopus Messiah (author website) and Litopia After Dark (podcast website)

Available in the UK via ‘My Local Bookshop‘ search engine or Amazon (Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now)
Available in the USA via Amazon (Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now)

Ian’s debut novel will be republished soon (3rd edition)
The Techno Pagan Octopus Messiah

alanjohnsonThis Boy
Alan Johnson
(UK: Corgi, 2014)

Alan Johnson’s childhood was not so much difficult as unusual, particularly for a man who was destined to become Home Secretary. Not in respect of the poverty, which was shared with many of those living in the slums of post-war Britain, but in its transition from two-parent family to single mother and then to no parents at all…

This is essentially the story of two incredible women: Alan’s mother, Lily, who battled against poor health, poverty, domestic violence and loneliness to try to ensure a better life for her children; and his sister, Linda, who had to assume an enormous amount of responsibility at a very young age and who fought to keep the family together and out of care when she herself was still only a child.

Played out against the background of a vanishing community living in condemned housing, the story moves from post-war austerity in pre-gentrified Notting Hill, through the race riots, school on the Kings Road, Chelsea in the Swinging 60s, to the rock-and-roll years, making a record in Denmark Street and becoming a husband and father whilst still in his teens.

Recommended by:
Liz Fay

Available in the UK via ‘My Local Bookshop‘ search engine or Amazon (This Boy)

grahamnortonThe Life and Loves of a He Devil
Graham Norton
(UK: Hodder, 2015; USA: Hodder, 2016)

‘It seems to me that we are all made up of the things we adore, and by telling my stories through the prism of my passions I hope you will get an insight into my life.’ In his new autobiography, written with characteristic humour and often outrageous candour, Graham shows that life is more than just a series of dates and it’s really the things you love that make you who you are.

From his beloved dogs to his rediscovered love of Ireland, the men Graham has loved and lost, to his love affair with New York. It’s been ten years since Graham last hit our shelves and, being a decade older, he has come to realise that what makes a life interesting is less what happens to you and more what inspires and drives you.

Graham Norton’s career has spanned the last two decades, seeing him ‘transition from risque Channel 4 comedian to national treasure’ (Evening Standard), and he has entertained an audience of millions in Father Ted, as the hilarious host of Eurovision, and on his primetime BBC1 TV and weekly BBC Radio 2 shows. He is loved across the nation for his delight in the peculiar for his ability to find humour and a common ground in all that life brings. In The Life and Loves of a He Devil is Graham shows us it’s really the things you love that make you who you are.

Recommended by:
Emma DaleyEmma Daley PR

Available in the UK via ‘My Local Bookshop‘ search engine or Amazon (The Life and Loves of a He Devil: A Memoir)
Available in the USA via (The Life and Loves of a He Devil: A Memoir)

amyschumerThe Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo
Amy Schumer
(UK: HarperCollins, 2016; USA: Gallery, 2016))

In The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, Amy shares stories about her family, her relationships, her career, good – and bad – sex, recounting the experiences that have shaped who she is today: from the riches to rags story of her childhood to her teenage quest for popularity (and boys) to becoming one of the most sought-after comedians on the planet and an outspoken advocate for women’s rights.

Whether she’s experiencing lust at first sight in the queue at the airport, discovering her boot camp instructor’s secret bad habit, or candidly discussing her father’s multiple sclerosis, Amy Schumer proves to be a fearless, original, and always entertaining storyteller. Her book will move you, make you laugh, catch you completely off guard, and answer this burning question: is it okay for a 35-year-old woman to still sleep with her childhood teddy bears?

Recommended by:
Christopher NorrisJolabokaflod Book Campaign

Available in the UK via ‘My Local Bookshop‘ search engine or Amazon (The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo)
Available in the USA via Amazon (The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo)

pattismithJust Kids
Patti Smith
(UK: Bloomsbury, 2011; USA: Ecco, 2010)

A prelude to fame, Just Kids recounts the friendship of two young artists – Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe – whose passion fueled their lifelong pursuit of art.

In 1967, a chance meeting between two young people led to a romance and a lifelong friendship that would carry each to international success never dreamed of. The backdrop is Brooklyn, Chelsea Hotel, Max’s Kansas City, Scribner’s Bookstore, Coney Island, Warhol’s Factory and the whole city resplendent. Among their friends, literary lights, musicians and artists such as Harry Smith, Bobby Neuwirth, Allen Ginsberg, Sandy Daley, Sam Shepherd, William Burroughs, etc. It was a heightened time politically and culturally; the art and music worlds exploding and colliding. In the midst of all this two kids made a pact to always care for one another. Scrappy, romantic, committed to making art, they prodded and provided each other with faith and confidence during the hungry years – the days of cous-cous and lettuce soup.

Just Kids begins as a love story and ends as an elegy. Beautifully written, this is a profound portrait of two young artists, often hungry, sated only by art and experience. And an unforgettable portrait of New York: her rich and poor, hustlers and hellions, those who made it and those whose memory lingers near.

Recommended by:
Emma DaleyEmma Daley PR

Available in the UK via ‘My Local Bookshop‘ search engine or Amazon (Just Kids)
Available in the USA via (Just Kids)

brucespringsteenBorn to Run
Bruce Springsteen
(UK: Simon & Schuster, 2016; USA: Simon & Schuster, 2016)

In 2009, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band performed at the Super Bowl’s halftime show. The experience was so exhilarating that Bruce decided to write about it. That’s how this extraordinary autobiography began. Over the past seven years, Bruce Springsteen has privately devoted himself to writing the story of his life, bringing to these pages the same honesty, humour and originality found in his songs.

He describes growing up Catholic in Freehold, New Jersey, amid the poetry, danger and darkness that fuelled his imagination, leading up to the moment he refers to as ‘The Big Bang’: seeing Elvis Presley’s debut on The Ed Sullivan Show. He vividly recounts his relentless drive to become a musician, his early days as a bar-band king in Asbury Park, and the rise of the E Street Band. With disarming candour, he also tells for the first time the story of the personal struggles that inspired his best work, and shows us why the song ‘Born to Run’ reveals more than we previously realised.

Recommended by:
Christopher NorrisJolabokaflod Book Campaign

Available in the UK via ‘My Local Bookshop‘ search engine or Amazon (Born to Run)
Available in the USA via Amazon (Born to Run)