Renunciation in two worlds – May biography picks

What would cause a young man to forsake a fortune and an earldom or a child of comfortable middle-class India to become a pilgrim? These questions are answered in two of our current selection of new biographies. Those who know of the wonderful writing style of Selina Hastings will need little persuasion to open this new volume – a very personal one as it is the story of her father. Also featured is the story of Satish Kumar, which is extremely interesting as it is tied up with the Gandhi’s struggle for the betterment of the Indian people and the teachings of Bertrand Russell..
Lighter reading is provided by comedian Michelle A’Court belatedly remembering serious stuff she should have told her daughter. Cat-lovers everywhere will relish a new book comprising beautiful black- and-white photographs of famous artists and their moggies. Happy reading!

Syndetics book coverFatal glamour : the life of Rupert Brooke / Paul Delany.
“Delany gives us a less one-sided portrait of Brooke than we have yet seen. The central achievement of this book looms most largely in its cultural iconoclasm. Fatal Glamour, likely to become the definitive biography of Rupert Brooke, smashes the ancient myths and idols of a Georgian product of the old Renaissance grammar school.” David Williams, University of Manitoba and the author of Media, Memory, and the First World War.” (Global Books summary)

Syndetics book coverThe red earl : the extraordinary life of the 16th Earl of Huntingdon / Selina Hastings.
“(Jack Hastings’s) adventures are brilliantly and affectionately told by his daughter: award-winning biographer Selina Hastings . the delight of this book is in the small details the author has uncovered about the extraordinary life her father led before she was born . Jack packed more into the first 20 years of his adult life than most people do into a lifetime and this wonderful celebration of one man’s determination to have his own way is a pure delight.” (Global Books summary)

Syndetics book coverArtists and their cats / Alison Nastasi.
“Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Andy Warhol, Frida Kahlo – great artists throughout history have shared one very special love – the companionship of cats. This book gathers photographs of 50 famous artists with their beloved feline friends and offers behind-the-scenes stories of their relationships.” (Global Books summary)

Syndetics book coverStuff I forgot to tell my daughter / Michèle A’Court.
“Adapted from the author’s sell out solo standup show, this is a candid and very funny account of being the mother of a daughter, of how we are sometimes so busy parenting we forget how to be a person, and why learning how to store ginger is as important as knowing the history of feminism.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNo destination : autobiography of a pilgrim / Satish Kumar.
“When he was only 9 years old, Satish Kumar renounced the world and joined the wandering brotherhood of Jain monks. Dissuaded from this path by an inner voice at the age of 18, he became a campaigner for land reform, working to turn Gandhi’s vision of a renewed India into reality. Fired by the example of Bertrand Russell, he undertook an 8,000-mile peace pilgrimage, walking from India to America without any money.’No Destination’is an exhilarating account of an extraordinary life.” (Global Books summary)

Syndetics book coverIf you find this letter : my journey to find purpose through hundreds of letters to strangers : a memoir / Hannah Brencher.
“A heartwarming memoir of love and faith from Hannah Brencher–founder of The World Needs More Love Letters–who has dedicated her life to showing total strangers that they are not alone in the world.” (Global Books summary)

Syndetics book coverMr. and Mrs. Disraeli : a strange romance / Daisy Hay.
“Reading between the lines of a great cache of their letters and the anecdotes of others in chilly Oxford reading rooms, Daisy Hay shows how the Disraelis rose to the top of the social and political pile. Along the way, we meet women of a similar station and situation whose endings were far unhappier than Mary Anne’s, acting as a counterpoint to her fairy tale ending as the landed Angel of the Prime Minister’s House.” (Global Books summary)

Syndetics book coverWhat comes next and how to like it : a memoir / Abigail Thomas.
“In astutely titled short chapters, from a quarter-page to a few pages, best-selling author Thomas (Safe Keeping, 2000; A Three Dog Life, 2006) walks readers with her through some heady times, including love affairs, friendships, pets, cancer, and death. She intersperses her recollections with discussions of her artwork (paint on glass) and how the colors and the results surprise her. So, too, do life’s vicissitudes.” (Booklist)

Syndetics book coverGreat women’s lives : a celebration in obituaries / edited by Sue Corbett ; foreword by Lucy Worsley.
“Nearly 150 years of women’s progress is charted in this compilation of significant women’s obituaries With entries dating from 1872 to 2013, the latest in The Times ‘series of anthologies of its obituaries focuses attention on almost two centuries of groundbreaking achievements by more than 100 women, from around the world ” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverYoung Eliot : from St. Louis to The Waste Land / Robert Crawford.
“A groundbreaking new biography of one of the twentieth century’s most important poets On the fiftieth anniversary of the death of T. S. Eliot, the award-winning biographer Robert Crawford presents us with the first volume of a comprehensive account of this poetic genius. Young Eliot traces the life of the twentieth century’s most important poet from his childhood in St. Louis to the publication of his revolutionary poem The Waste Land.” (Syndetics summary)