Things get better – new biography picks
It would be difficult to imagine a more horrible fate than that suffered by beautiful young Briton Katie Piper, she was brutally raped and burned with acid by a jealous boyfriend. Yet she survived and her energy, courage and positive mental attitude have been an inspiration to many thousands who are suffering from life’s hardships. She is already very well-known – several younger members of staff here recognised her immediately on seeing the book, as she has been the subject of numerous articles and television interviews. It is a very inspiring book and one which will help very many people. We also have another book by Katie Piper in the library, Beautiful : a beautiful girl, an evil man, one inspiring true story of courage.
Winston Churchill : portrait of an unquiet mind / Andrew Norman.
“Winston Churchill was an extraordinary person – a politician, a statesman, a man of letters and a soldier but it was for his wartime leadership during the Second World War that he is chiefly remembered. In a study of his life, certain bizarre character traits become discernible. He had excessive energy and required little sleep. His mind would either flit from one idea to another with bewildering speed or focus obsessively on one particular goal. He was impulsive, and his attention was easily drawn to irrelevant or unimportant matters. He enjoyed taking risks almost To The point of self-destruction. He lacked inhibition and was eccentric in the extreme. Yet at other times, when he was afflicted with what he called his ‘Black Dog’, he became depressed, irritable, aggressive, and preoccupied with death and thoughts of suicide.By closely and painstakingly examining the statements of Churchill’s doctor, Of Winston himself, his family, his friends and acquaintances, Dr Norman, As a medical man, has been able to ascertain the true nature of Winston’s disorder. The diagnosis having been made, it is now possible For The very first time, and this will remain secret until the book is published, To Understand The man himself and what made him ‘tick’.” – (adapted from Globalbooksinprint.com summary)
French ties : love, life & recipes / Jane Webster ; photography by Robyn Lea and Mark Roper.
“After years of painstaking work renovating an old château in Normandy, Jane Webster has found her bearings, running The French table over the summers and juggling family life across two countries year-around. In this, her second book, she offers us a glimpse into life as a local in a French village: keeping house, visiting the markets, restoring the walled kitchen garden, and indulging her passion for ‘antiquing’ at flea markets and antique fairs. Above all, she shares the simple pleasure of cooking for family and friends.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)
Jasmine and fire : a bittersweet year in Beirut / Salma Abdelnour.
“Abdelnour moved from a life and career in New York as a travel and food writer back to Beirut, a city her family fled in 1981, during the Lebanese civil war. Growing up in the U.S. through adolescence and young adulthood, she felt that she belonged neither in the U.S. nor in Lebanon, which she occasionally visited. In her late thirties, in an effort to explore her true feelings about Beirut and its relentless tug on her heart, she committed to living there for a year. What she found was a vibrant but still turbulent city as she lived with continued military conflicts, unreliable electricity, erratic Internet access, and confusing social codes. She also found an extensive network of family and friends and fond memories of childhood. Abdelnour compares life in New York and Beirut, and throughout, she examines the meaning of home and belonging.” – (adapted from Publishers’ Weekly summary)
Young Herriot : the early life and times of James Herriot / by John Lewis-Stempel.
‘We had no antibiotics, few drugs. A lot of time was spent pouring things down cows’ throats. The whole thing added up to a lot of laughs. There’s more science now, but not so many laughs.’ We all know James Herriot, possibly the most famous vet in the world. But how did a young student named Alf Wight become the man who would charm millions of readers the world over? Young James tells the fascinating story of James Herriot’s formative years at veterinary college. Set in Glasgow in the 1930s – pre-antibiotics, when veterinary practise was, as Herriot wrote, ‘more art than science’ – the book shines a light on his calling to work with animals (which began when he read an article in Meccano Magazine entitled ‘Veterinary Surgery as a Career’), his early friendships and quest for knowledge at Glasgow’s Veterinary College and the quest for knowledge at Glasgow’s Veterinary College.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)
Ben Jonson : a life / Ian Donaldson.
“With the exception of Shakespeare, his older contemporary, Ben Jonson is the greatest playwright of the British Renaissance, with achievements across tragedy, satire, comedy-where arguably he exceeds Shakespeare-and court masques. He also excelled as a poet. Donaldson (honorary professorial fellow, Sch. of Culture & Communication, Univ. of Melbourne, Australia) is one of the general editors of the forthcoming Cambridge Edition of the Works of Ben Jonson (Feb. 2012). He brings to this critical biography a thorough knowledge of Jonson’s works and the most up-to-date scholarly and textual research. Though starting with Jonson’s vertical burial and the fate of his bones, Donaldson’s approach is roughly chronological, dividing Jonson’s life into four- to eight-year segments, presenting a good balance between his discussion of specific works and their biographical contexts.” – (adapted from Library Journal summary)
“Things get better / Katie Piper.
“To look and listen to the extraordinary Katie Piper, it is difficult to comprehend the severe physical and psychological trauma she suffered from a brutal rape and acid attack which left her with deep physical and emotional scars. These terrible events would have crushed most people, but through her incredible courage, bright and positive outlook and sheer determination, Katie has become living proof that no matter what life throws at you, if you work hard and believe – things will get better. Katie’s story alone has proved inspirational to millions of people, and now in this important book she begins to answer the question that everyone wants to know – ‘where did you find the courage?’ Katie shares the key steps and support that led to her emotional recovery so that she can help others in their own lives, whether suffering a breakup or life change or more serious trauma. Through her own stories of emotional recovery and in letters sent to her by others, she acknowledges the pain we have all felt at times, whether physical or psychological, grief or trauma, and shows with spectacular compassion and encouragement that we can all find the strength within to carry on.” – (adapted from Globalbooksinprint.com summary)
Core of my heart, my country : women’s sense of place and the land in Australia & Canada / Maggie MacKellar.
“The way places shape individual and community identities are explored in this history of women’s experiences in the Australian and Canadian frontier in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The personal experiences of these women are diverse, ranging from running the local medical facility, raising children, and scaling mountains to studying botany, learning native languages, and riding horses. Weaving together the lives of women who lived in different landscapes, climates, and eras, this historical study ties their stories together with contemporary reflections of the author.” – (adapted from Globalbooksinprint.com summary)
Out of the blue / Joanna Fincham.
“When Joanna Fincham appeared on a popular reality TV program in 2008 looking for love, little did the viewers know that Jo had been suffering from depression on and off throughout life. Jo, it seemed, was a vivacious city girl looking for love with a handsome farmer. On screen she appeared bubbly, warm and happy but in reality she had struggled with depression and bulimia for many years, both illnesses bringing their own difficulties and experiences. Despite her struggles, Jo went on to find love on the show with Farmer Rob. In a fairytale ending Jo moved to the countryside and left her city life behind her. Now living on their farm in South Australia, Rob and Jo got married and had a gorgeous baby daughter. This is the story of how Jo tackled her demons, found love and created a new, healthy, happy life free from depression. It’s a story of how love really can conquer all and how life on the land can heal and nurture you. Inspiring, warm and fiercely honest, this is a wonderful personal account of overcoming adversity and making the most of life.” – (adapted from Globalbooksinprint.com summary)
I never promised you a goodie bag : a memoir of a life through events–the ones you plan and the ones you don’t / Jennifer Gilbert.
“A warm, wise, and wholly original memoir of survival, renewal, and transformation, by one of New York City’s most successful and respected special events coordinators. With her top-level events company, Save the Date, Jennifer Gilbert has worked with Fortune 500 companies, broadcast media giants, international nonprofit organizations, and celebrities from Oprah Winfrey to Bill Gates and beyond. Yet few of her clients or colleagues have known, until now, that Jennifer not only a self-made success: she’s also a survivor. After a random, near-fatal attack left her body in critical condition on a crowded city street, and left her with emotional wounds that would take years to heal, Jennifer embarked upon a journey to reclaim her life. This is her story, in her own words: I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag, an intimate, poignant, inspiring memoir of perseverance, rediscovery, and hope.” – (adapted from Globalbooksinprint.com summary)
The genius in my basement : the biography of a happy man / Alexander Masters.Simon: The Genius in My Basement
“Simon Norton won a gold medal at the International Math Olympiad at the age of 15 and again at 16; folks said he was the greatest English mathematician since Sir Isaac Newton. A Daily Mail headline from July 4, 1967, says of Norton, ‘SEATED, SECOND FROM RIGHT: A GENIUS.’ Norton had just scored 195 out of 200 on the infamous British Math Olympiad for Schools, saying of the International Olympiad to which he now aspired, ‘I’ve seen papers from previous years and I must say they don’t seem too difficult.’ And yet, with such promise, Norton always flirted with a darker life, and in this searing biography/memoir of him, Alexander Masters reveals just what happened to Norton to make him eschew regular math — he was a star at Cambridge as an undergrad and post-grad student — for a paranoid and difficult life obsessively spent taking bus rides all over England. And what happened is that Norton became fixated on The Monster, a set of numbers so vast that its discovery was hailed by the Mathematical Association of America as ‘one of the most spectacular and mysterious achievements of the last fifty years.’ And like Stuart, in The Genius in My Basement we read the biography of a non-famous person, an unknown who is yet extraordinary, someone we might pass by as an oddball, but who is, in fact, one of the great minds of this, or any, century” – (adapted from Publisher’s description)
A difficult woman : the challenging life and times of Lillian Hellman / Alice Kessler-Harris.
“In this superb biography of Lillian Hellman (1905-84), Kessler-Harris (R. Gordon Hoxie Professor of American History, Columbia Univ.; Out To Work: A History of Wage-Earning Women in the United States) deftly intertwines the playwright’s story with that of a continually changing modern culture. She discusses Hellman’s early upbringing, personal relationships with Dashiell Hammett and others, plays (e.g., The Children’s Hour; The Little Foxes; Watch on the Rhine) and their backgrounds and subtle moral complexities, controversial political views and trouble during the McCarthy era, and turbulent final years. Kessler-Harris provides in-depth analyses and objective commentary in a seamless, comprehensive biographical portrait-one of an often contradictory individual, at once charming and abrasive, talented and insecure, and an advocate of truth who was also publicly accused of lying. The innovative and defiantly independent Hellman is placed at the heart of a social landscape from the 1920s and the Great Depression through the Cold War, Civil Rights Movement, and beyond.” – (adapted from Library Journal summary)