It is difficult to read the opening pages of Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs without feeling melancholic. Jobs retired at the end of August and died about six weeks later. Now, just weeks after his death, you can open the book that bears his name and read about his youth, his promise, and his relentless press to succeed. But the initial sadness in starting the book is soon replaced by something else, which is the intensity of the read–mirroring the intensity of Jobs’s focus and vision for his products. Few in history have transformed their time like Steve Jobs, and one could argue that he stands with the Fords, Edisons, and Gutenbergs of the world. This is a timely and complete portrait that pulls no punches and gives insight into a man whose contradictions were in many ways his greatest strength. –Chris Schluep Read more

It’s 3 a.m. and Elizabeth Gilbert is sobbing on the bathroom floor. She’s in her thirties, she has a husband, a house, they’re trying for a baby – and she doesn’t want any of it. A divorce and a turbulent love affair later, she emerges battered and bewildered and realises it is time to pursue her own journey in search of three things she has been missing: pleasure, devotion and balance. So she travels to Rome, where she learns Italian from handsome, brown-eyed identical twins and gains twenty-five pounds; an ashram in India, where she finds that enlightenment entails getting up in the middle of the night to scrub the temple floor; and Bali, where a toothless medicine man of indeterminate age offers her a new path to peace: simply sit still and smile. And slowly happiness begins to creep up on her. Read more

Running with Scissors is the true story of a boy whose mother (a poet with delusions of Anne Sexton) gave him away to be raised by her unorthodox psychiatrist who bore a striking resemblance to Santa Claus. So at the age of twelve, Burroughs found himself amidst Victorian squalor living with the doctor’s bizarre family, and befriending a pedophile who resided in the backyard shed. The story of an outlaw childhood where rules were unheard of, and the Christmas tree stayed up all year round, where Valium was consumed like candy, and if things got dull an electroshock- therapy machine could provide entertainment. The funny, harrowing and bestselling account of an ordinary boy’s survival under the most extraordinary circumstances. Read more

Chris’s powerful story gives a rare glimpse into Selena’s sincerity and vulnerability when falling in love, strength and conviction when fighting for that love, and absolute resilience when finding peace and normalcy with her family’s acceptance of the only man she called her husband. While showcasing a side of Selena that has never been disclosed before and clarifying certain misconceptions about her life and death, To Selena, with Love is an everlasting love story that immortalizes the heart and soul of an extraordinary, unforgettable, and irreplaceable icon. Read more

“Heart-rending . . . Solitary is Woodfox’s pointillist account of an already boxed-in childhood and adolescence in the streets of New Orleans–by his own admission, an existence marked by ignorance and devoted to petty and increasingly serious crime–and the near entirety of an intellectually and spiritually expansive adulthood spent in one of the most brutal prisons in the country (and therefore the world) . . . Some of the most touching writing on platonic male friendship I have every encountered . . . ‘We must imagine Sisyphus happy, ‘ Camus famously wrote, and such a prompt is the ennobling virtue at the core of Solitary. It lifts the book above mere advocacy or even memoir and places it in the realm of stoic philosophy.”–Thomas Chatterton Williams, New York Times Book Review Read more

When Gourmet magazine closed its doors, no one was more surprised than its editor-in-chief, Ruth Reichl. Reichl’s previous release, My Kitchen Year, is a cookbook of the recipes that saw her through this sudden and heartbreaking change. Save Me the Plums is a memoir of how Reichl came to be at the magazine she’d pored over as a child, how she transformed it from a stuffy relic of the old guard into a publication that embraced a new culinary era, and how Gourmet magazine met its end. Reichl is a marvelous writer, and in Save Me the Plums readers experience her exhilarating journey from New York Times restaurant critic, to the farm-to-table movement of Los Angeles, and finally to the job she never expected to get: editor-in-chief of Gourmet. Reichl’s passion for the role food plays in our lives is evident on every page, including a smattering of recipes that complement the narrative. Save Me the Plums is a book not only about a changing food culture, but also about a woman taking on new challenges, pushing boundaries, and hanging onto the sense of wonder that started her on this road to begin with. A memoir to savor. –Seira Wilson, Amazon Book Review Read more

When Paul Simon sang that “every generation throws a hero up the pop charts,” he could just as easily have been talking about memoirs. From The Liar’s Club to Angela’s Ashes to The Glass Castle, and from there to 2018’s Educated, every generation has been rocked by the recollections of those who were dealt a rotten hand in the parental poker game. And readers don’t even need to be in that club to appreciate the genre: the grateful relief of thinking “there but for the grace of God go I” is as visceral as thinking “me too.” For too many of these memoirists, salvation lay on the far shore of adulthood. What sets The Honey Bus apart from the rest of the genre then, is that it is simultaneously a story of survival and salvation. Meredith May’s father abandoned her, her little brother, and their mother fairly early on, and her mother retreated into a fug of mental illness, rage, and despair. Taken into the care of her maternal grandparents Meredith forged an unbreakable bond with her grandfather, who taught her about community, loyalty, and survival by way of his favorite pastime, making honey in a rusty old military bus parked in the yard of their Big Sur home. This touching memoir celebrates family, the lessons we can learn from nature, a marvelous little insect, and those heroic grandparents who, even when things fall apart, ensure the center can hold. –Vannessa Cronin Read more

“Did you read Beryl Markham’s book, West with the Night? I knew her fairly well in Africa and never would have suspected that she could and would put pen to paper except to write in her flyer’s log book. As it is, she has written so well, and marvelously well, that I was completely ashamed of myself as a writer. I felt that I was simply a carpenter with words, picking up whatever was furnished on the job and nailing them together and sometimes making an okay pig pen. But [she] can write rings around all of us who consider ourselves writers. The only parts of it that I know about personally, on account of having been there at the time and heard the other people’s stories, are absolutely true . . . I wish you would get it and read it because it is really a bloody wonderful book.” – Ernest Hemingway Read more

“If [J. D.] Vance’s memoir offered street-heroin-grade drama, [Tara] Westover’s is carfentanil, the stuff that tranquilizes elephants. The extremity of Westover’s upbringing emerges gradually through her telling, which only makes the telling more alluring and harrowing. . . . By the end, Westover has somehow managed not only to capture her unsurpassably exceptional upbringing, but to make her current situation seem not so exceptional at all, and resonant for many others.”—The New York Times Book Review Read more

Winner of the PEN/Faulkner award for The Barracks Thief , Wolff offers an engrossing and candid look into his childhood and adolescence in his first book of nonfiction. In unaffected prose he recreates scenes from his life that sparkle with the immediacy of narrative fiction. The result is an intriguingly guileless book, distinct from the usual reflective commentary of autobiography, that chronicles the random cruelty of a step father, the ambiguity of youthful friendships, and forgotten moments like watching The Mickey Mouse Club. Throughout this youthful account runs the solid thread of the author’s respect and affection for his mother and a sense of wonder at the inexplicable twistings and turnings of the road to adulthood in modern America. Highly recommended. – Linda Rome, Mentor, Ohio. Read more