In boyhood, Louis Zamperini was an incorrigible delinquent. As a teenager, he channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics. But when World War II began, the athlete became an airman, embarking on a journey that led to a doomed flight on a May afternoon in 1943. When his Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean, against all odds, Zamperini survived, adrift on a foundering life raft. Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater. Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.

Unbroken is an unforgettable testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit, brought vividly to life by Seabiscuit author Laura Hillenbrand. Read more

There is a reason why Stephen King is one of the bestselling writers in the world, ever. Described in the Guardian as ‘the most remarkable storyteller in modern American literature’, Stephen King writes books that draw you in and are impossible to put down. Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have.The childhood memoir is a triumphant display of wit, story-telling and guts. His advice to writers is hard-nosed, practical and level-headed in the classic journalistic Orwell-Hemingway tradition (Evening Standard). Read more

Has there ever been someone who accomplished so much and at the same time thought less of herself? Before she had even turned forty, Florence Nightingale was the darling of the British public, the heroine of the Crimea. Who Was Florence Nightingale? Florence Nightingale was born in Florence, Italy, on May 12, 1820. Part of a wealthy family, Nightingale defied the expectations of the time and pursued what she saw as her God-given calling of nursing. During the Crimean War, she and a team of nurses improved the unsanitary conditions at a British base hospital, greatly reducing the death count. Her writings sparked worldwide health care reform, and in 1860 she established St. Thomas’ Hospital and the Nightingale Training School for Nurses. A revered hero of her time, she died on August 13, 1910, in London.

Florence Nightingale’s father was William Edward Nightingale (having changed his original surname, “Shore”), a wealthy landowner who would be associated with two estates—one at Lea Hurst, Derbyshire, and the other at Embly, Hampshire. Florence was provided with a classical education, including studies in mathematics along with German, French and Italian. Read more

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