Great minds past and present – Biography picks for June

The great news this month is that Oliver Sacks, ground-breaking neurologist and popular author, has at last published his autobiography. Sacks, who has enhanced so many lives, has had a very difficult passage through his own. His memoir gives a frank account of this, and his emergence as a happy and balanced man who found his life partner at the age of seventy seven.
And the sad news this month is that John Nash, the gifted mathematician of ‘A Beautiful Mind’ fame, died in a car crash shortly after receiving the equivalent of the Nobel prize for his work. If you haven’t read A Beautiful Mind you might like to consider it now.

Syndetics book coverThe bird market of Paris : a memoir / Nikki Moustaki.
“An avian expert and author shares a true story of her remarkable grandfather and their shared passion for birds. After his death she fulfils his wish for her to go to Paris and visit the market and this leads to an astonishing redemption.” (Global Books summary)

Syndetics book coverBorn with teeth : a memoir / Kate Mulgrew.
“At 22, Kate Mulgrew gave birth to a daughter. Having already signed the adoption papers, she was allowed only a fleeting glimpse of her child. Three days later, she returned to work as the star of a popular soap opera. Twenty years later, she went in search of the daughter she had given away. We know Mulgrew for the strong women she’s played–Captain Janeway on Star Trek; “Red” on Orange Is the New Black. Now, in her memoir, we meet the most inspiring and lovable character of all: herself.” (Summary from Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverEisenhower : in war and peace / Jean Edward Smith.
“In his magisterial bestseller FDR, Jean Edward Smith gave us a fresh, modern look at one of the most indelible figures in American history. Now this peerless biographer returns with a new life of Dwight D. Eisenhower that is as full, rich, and revealing as anything ever written about America’s thirty-fourth president.” (Summary from Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverThe book of wanderings : a mother-daughter pilgrimage / Kimberly Meyer.
“To a mother and daughter on an illuminating pilgrimage, this is what the desert said: Carry only what you need. Burn what can’t be saved. Leave the remnants as an offering. When Kimberly Meyer gave birth to her first daughter, Ellie, during her senior year of college, the bohemian life of exploration she had once imagined for herself was lost in the responsibilities of single motherhood. For years, both mother and daughter were haunted by how Ellie came into being-Kimberly through a restless ache for the world beyond, Ellie through a fear of abandonment.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOn the move : a life / Oliver Sacks.
“Few people can claim to have made such a profound impact on the public understanding of the brain and its inner workings. In this book, Oliver Sacks describes his time at Oxford University, his time spent in San Francisco and Los Angeles in the early nineteen sixties, before moving on to chart his progression from young doctor to his public role as a neurologist and author. Here we see Sacks’s private passions – among them, motorcycling, weightlifting, travel, and botany – placed alongside his professional life. He will also explore his most formative relationships with those thinkers who have influenced his own work.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA curious friendship : the story of a bluestocking and a bright young thing / Anna Thomasson.
“The winter of 1924: Edith Olivier, alone for the first time at the age of fifty-one, thought her life had come to an end. For Rex Whistler, a nineteen-year-old art student, life was just beginning. Together, they embarked on an intimate and unlikely friendship that would transform their lives. Gradually Edith’s world opened up and she became a writer. Her home, the Daye House, in a wooded corner of the Wilton estate, became a sanctuary for Whistler and the other brilliant and beautiful younger men of her circle.” (Global Books summary)

Syndetics book coverOne life : my mother’s story / Kate Grenville.
“Nance was a week short of her sixth birthday when she and Frank were roused out of bed in the dark and lifted into the buggy, squashed in with bedding, the cooking pots rattling around in the back, and her mother shouting back towards the house: Goodbye, Rothsay, I hope I never see you again! When Kate Grenville’s mother died she left behind many fragments of memoir. These were the starting point for One Life , the story of a woman whose life spanned a century of tumult and change.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPicnic in Provence : a memoir with recipes / Elizabeth Bard.
“The bestselling author of Lunch in Paris takes us on another delicious journey, this time to the heart of Provence. Ten years ago, New Yorker Elizabeth Bard followed a handsome Frenchman up a spiral staircase to a love nest in the heart of Paris. Now, with a baby on the way and the world’s flakiest croissant around the corner, Elizabeth is sure she’s found her “forever place.” But life has other plans. On a last romantic jaunt before the baby arrives, the couple take a trip to the tiny Provencal village of Céreste.” (Global Books summary)

Syndetics book coverA beautiful mind : the life of mathematical genius and Nobel laureate John Nash / Sylvia Nasar.
“The true story of John Nash, the mathematical genius who was a legend by age thirty when he slipped into madness, and who — thanks to the selflessness of a beautiful woman and the loyalty of the mathematics community — emerged after decades of ghostlike existence to win a Nobel Prize and world acclaim.” (adapted from Global Books summary)