O Brother: New biographies and memoirs in the collection

Reading biographies and memoirs is like looking through the windows of other people’s lives. You can live vicariously through princes and pop stars, comedians and cults, or politicians and poets. We have a diverse crop of new titles for you to delve into, and here are a few from this month’s list.

O brother / Niven, John
“A memoir that is by turns heart-breaking and hilarious, O Brother evokes a working-class childhood of the 1970s and 80s and tries to answer the questions of guilt, culpability and regret that often haunt the survivors of suicide. John Niven’s little brother Gary was fearless, popular, stubborn, handsome, hilarious and sometimes terrifying. In 2010, after years of chaotic struggle against the world, he took his own life at the age of 42. It is about black sheep and what it takes to break the ties that bind. Fundamentally it is about how families survive suicide, ‘that last cry, from the saddest outpost.'” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Being Henry : the Fonz… and beyond / Winkler, Henry
“From Emmy-award winning actor, author, comedian, producer, and director Henry Winkler, a deeply thoughtful memoir of the lifelong effects of stardom and the struggle to become whole. Henry Winkler, launched into prominence as “The Fonz” in the beloved Happy Days, has transcended the role that made him who he is. Filled with profound heart, charm, and self-deprecating humor, Being Henry is a memoir about so much more than a life in Hollywood and the curse of stardom. It is a meaningful testament to the power of sharing truth and kindness and of finding fulfillment within yourself.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Counting the cost / Duggar, Jill
“Jill Duggar and her husband Derick are finally ready to share their story, revealing the secrets, manipulation, and intimidation behind the show that remained hidden from their fans. Jill and Derick knew a normal life wasn’t possible for them. As a star on the popular TLC reality show 19 Kids and Counting, Jill grew up in front of viewers who were fascinated by her family’s way of life. Theirs is a remarkable story of the power of the truth and is a moving example of how to find healing through honesty.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Everything I learned, I learned in a Chinese restaurant : a memoir / Chin, Curtis
“Nineteen eighties Detroit was a volatile place to live, but above the fray stood a safe haven: Chung’s Cantonese Cuisine, where anyone–from the city’s first Black mayor to the local drag queens, from a big-time Hollywood star to elderly Jewish couples–could sit down for a warm, home-cooked meal. Here was where, beneath a bright-red awning and surrounded by his multigenerational family, filmmaker and activist Curtis Chin came of age; where he learned to embrace his identity as a gay ABC, or American-born Chinese; where he navigated the city’s spiraling misfortunes; and where–between helpings of almond boneless chicken, sweet-and-sour pork, and some of his own, less-savory culinary concoctions–he realized just how much he had to offer to the world, to his beloved family, and to himself.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Romney : a reckoning / Coppins, McKay
“Few figures in American politics have seen more and said less than Mitt Romney. An outspoken dissident in Donald Trump’s GOP, he has made headlines in recent years for standing alone against the forces he believes are poisoning the party he once led. Now, exclusively for this biography, Romney has provided a window to his most private thoughts. Ultimately, Romney: A Reckoning is a redemptive story about a flawed politician who summoned his moral courage just as fear and divisiveness were overtaking American life.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The sun over the mountains : a story of hope, healing and restoration / Fletcher, Suzie
“Suzie Fletcher is the warm and friendly face on The Repair Shop that viewers look forward to watching every week. In her first book Suzie looks back over her life – which moves from England to Colorado and back again – and the places, people and experiences that have shaped the person she is today. A self-confessed hippy with a deep connection to nature, Suzie’s exceptional warmth and zest for life shine through on every page, making The Sun Over the Mountain a truly inspiring read that will resonate with anyone who has faced uncertainty but has the courage and power within them to overcome it.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Call you when I land : a memoir / Vargas, Nikki
“At twenty-six years old, life looked a certain way for Nikki Vargas. She’d settled in New York City ready to join the ranks of the Carrie Bradshaws of the world, had landed in a promising advertising career, and was newly engaged to her college sweetheart. But between corporate happy hours and wedding dress fittings, she couldn’t shake a deep underlying sense of imposter syndrome, a voice telling her that she was rocketing towards a future that didn’t look like her. Told in transporting detail and candid reflections, Call You When I Land takes the familiar story of a woman going abroad to find herself and turns it on its head, as the act of traveling becomes, for Nikki, an exhilarating career path – and ultimately a tool to champion women’s voices across the world.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

James Joyce : a life / Carey, Gabrielle
“If you know nothing about James Joyce but would like to this is the book for you. If you know a little about James Joyce and would like to know more but not too much, this is the book for you. And if you are a die-hard Joycean who has spent your life puzzling over his work but know nothing about his life, this is also the book for you.” (Catalogue)

Glutton : the multi-course life of a very greedy boy / Gamble, Ed
“From a young age, Ed Gamble’s immaculate bibs and extremely dirty nappies hinted at his capacious appetite. Before he could walk, Ed already knew that he preferred poached salmon to puree, that celery was a calorie-sapping waste of time, and that mashed potatoes should be made with lashings of butter. From the trials of being a diabetic with a sweet tooth to his teenage battles with obesity, to the joy of cooking and the power of food to bring us together, this is a wonderful, hilarious and heart-warming memoir of a delightful obsession.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Down the drain / Fox, Julia
“Julia Fox is famous for many things: her captivating acting, such as her breakout role in the film Uncut Gems; her trendsetting style, including bleached eyebrows, exaggerated eyeshadow, and cutout dresses; her mastery of social media, where she entertains and educates her millions of followers. But all these share the trait for which she is most famous: unabashedly and unapologetically being herself. Yet as extraordinary as her story is, its universality is what makes it so powerful. Fox doesn’t just capture her improbable evolution from grade-school outcast to fashion-world icon, she captures her transition from girlhood to womanhood to motherhood. Family and friendship, sex and death, violence and love, money and power, innocence and experience–it’s all here, in raw, remarkable and riveting detail.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Dwell time : a memoir of art, exile, and repair / Lowinger, Rosa
“Renowned art conservator Rosa Lowinger spent a difficult childhood in Miami among people whose losses in the Cuban revolution, and earlier by the decimation of family in the Holocaust, clouded all family life. Through Lowinger’s relentless clear-eyed efforts to be the best practitioner possible while squarely facing her fraught personal and work relationships, she comes to terms with her identity as Cuban and Jewish, American and Latinx. Dwell Time is an immigrant’s story seen through an entirely new lens, that which connects the material to the personal and helps us see what is possible when one opens one’s heart to another person’s wounds.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Pure wit : the revolutionary life of Margaret Cavendish / Peacock, Francesca
“Margaret Cavendish, then Lucas, was born in 1623 to an aristocratic family. In 1644, as England descended into civil war, she joined the court of the formidable Queen Henrietta Maria at Oxford. She wrote extensively on gender, science, philosophy, and published under her own name at a time when women simply did not do so. Her greatest work was The Blazing World, published in 1666, a utopian proto-novel that is thought to be one of the earliest works of science fiction that brought together Margaret’s talents in poetry, philosophy, and science. In Pure Wit, Francesca Peacock remedies this omission and shines a spotlight on the fascinating, pioneering, yet often complex and controversial life, of the multi-faceted Margaret Cavendish.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

For more new books in the collection, go to: What’s new / February 2024 (wcl.govt.nz)

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