I've long enjoyed Brandi Carlile's music but knew nothing about her personal life (unless the simple fact that she's one of The Highwomen counts). I was on the fence about trying this one, but I'm so glad I did: the audio was superb. Each chapter flows beautifully into a song—or more often, two. Because Carlile draws heavily from her life experience when writing lyrics, this format works beautifully: her stories leave you hungry to hear the music, which often captures the experience she just wrote about in prose. After talking to numerous friends and fellow readers, I'd be inclined to pass this up in print, but the audio version was exceptional. So you know what to expect: the last 90 minutes of the audiobook consists of all those songs together, as a bonus chapter.
Gabrielle Union’s memoir-in-essays is a shining example in the sea of celebrity memoirs. She fearlessly shares stories about race, beauty standards, Hollywood, and her own history of sexual assault. The result is moving in many places and laugh-out-loud funny in others. Not everyone can strike the right balance but Union nails it. Her follow-up memoir, <a href=https://amzn.to/3D2Q6of><em>You Got Anything Stronger?: Stories</em></a>, is out now.
From the publisher: "Stanley Tucci grew up in an Italian American family that spent every night around the kitchen table. He shared the magic of those meals with us in The Tucci Cookbook and The Tucci Table, and now he takes us beyond the savory recipes and into the compelling stories behind them. Taste is a reflection on the intersection of food and life, filled with anecdotes about his growing up in Westchester, New York; preparing for and shooting the foodie films Big Night and Julie & Julia; falling in love over dinner; and teaming up with his wife to create meals for a multitude of children. Each morsel of this gastronomic journey through good times and bad, five-star meals and burned dishes, is as heartfelt and delicious as the last. Written with Stanley’s signature wry humor, Taste is for fans of Bill Buford, Gabrielle Hamilton, and Ruth Reichl—and anyone who knows the power of a home-cooked meal."
- by Viola Davis
An honest, unflinching, and utterly brilliant account of how one of the best actors of our time became who she is today. Davis begins at the beginning: born on a South Carolina plantation (truly), she shortly moved with her mother and alcoholic father to Central Falls, Rhode Island, where she grew up in dire poverty. Her childhood was riddled with trauma: she shares devastating stories of enduring racism, constant hunger, rampant sexual assault by neighborhood men, and constantly reeking because her family couldn’t afford to do laundry. But when she saw Cecily Tyson on TV, she was inspired to take up acting, first succeeding in small sketches at school and later earning a college scholarship. Davis recounts the successes and heartbreaks of her early career in intimate detail, including a life-changing trip to Africa while at Julliard herself and her craft. I was fascinated by her philosophy of creativity, and how she thinks about her field today. A wonder of a memoir, filled with strength, wisdom, grit, and resilience. For fans of Cicely Tyson’s Just As I Am and James McBride’s The Color of Water.
- by Dave Grohl
Dave Grohl says: "So, I've written a book. Having entertained the idea for years, and even offered a few questionable opportunities ('It's a piece of cake! Just do 4 hours of interviews, find someone else to write it, put your face on the cover, and voila!') I have decided to write these stories just as I have always done, in my own hand. The joy that I have felt from chronicling these tales is not unlike listening back to a song that I've recorded and can't wait to share with the world, or reading a primitive journal entry from a stained notebook, or even hearing my voice bounce between the Kiss posters on my wall as a child. This certainly doesn't mean that I'm quitting my day job, but it does give me a place to shed a little light on what it's like to be a kid from Springfield, Virginia, walking through life while living out the crazy dreams I had as young musician. From hitting the road with Scream at 18 years old, to my time in Nirvana and the Foo Fighters, jamming with Iggy Pop or playing at the Academy Awards or dancing with AC/DC and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, drumming for Tom Petty or meeting Sir Paul McCartney at Royal Albert Hall, bedtime stories with Joan Jett or a chance meeting with Little Richard, to flying halfway around the world for one epic night with my daughters…the list goes on. I look forward to focusing the lens through which I see these memories a little sharper for you with much excitement."
Like many, I first learned of Hannah Gadsby through her Netflix special Nanette. It was an incredibly personal show in which the comedian took on homophobia, gendered violence, and more. At the time, she said she was quitting comedy but lucky for us, she didn’t. Here she takes us behind the scenes of creating the show, including what it was like being a queer person from Tasmania, where homosexuality was illegal until 1997, and her decision to tell the truth, no matter the cost. She also shares about being diagnosed with autism and ADHD as an adult and how her relationship to comedy evolved. I really appreciated the way this contextualizes her experiences, both in the special and her personal life.
- by Cary Elwes
I’ve heard this is an amazing audiobook because the original actors do all the voices! From Publishers Weekly: "The movie The Princess Bride achieved a certain cinematic magic, which Elwes (Westley) captures in his warm and revealing behind-the-scenes account."
We are big fans of The Office in my house so I was delighted to pick this memoir up from two of its stars who became real life best friends while working together on the show. Their characters couldn’t have been more different but the actresses bonded from the day they met. They share a lot of great behind-the-scenes about the show, as well as how their friendship evolved over the years as they became moms and the show ended. Their narration only adds to the fun.
- by Alan Cumming
Neil Gaiman says this is "Equal parts memoir, whodunit, and manual for living . . . a beautifully written, honest look at the forces of blood and bone that make us who we are, and how we make ourselves." From the publisher: "A beloved star of stage (Cabaret, television (The Good Wife), and film—Alan Cumming is a successful artist whose diversity and fearlessness is unparalleled. When television producers in the UK approached him to appear on a popular celebrity genealogy show in 2010, Alan enthusiastically agreed. He hoped the show would solve a family mystery involving his maternal grandfather, a celebrated WWII hero who disappeared in the Far East. But as the truth of his family ancestors revealed itself, Alan learned far more than he bargained for about himself, his past, and his own father. With ribald humor, wit, and incredible insight, Alan seamlessly moves back and forth in time, integrating stories from his childhood in Scotland and his experiences today as a film, television, and theater star. At times suspenseful, deeply moving, and wickedly funny, Not My Father's Son will make readers laugh even as it breaks their hearts."
Whether or not you’re familiar with actress Busy Philipps, you’ll be drawn into her engaging, gripping stories about teenage hijinks, past relationships, and the times she performed as a live Barbie for a toy expo. She shares about her postpartum depression and life-long anxiety with refreshing honesty, as well as the fat-shaming and sexism she’s experienced in her career. Funny, moving, well-written. Team member Leigh Kramer says this is one of the best audiobooks she’s ever listened to, thanks to Philipps’s excellent narration.
Michelle Obama’s memoir is breaking literary records and it’s easy to see why. The former First Lady recounts growing up on the South Side of Chicago, meeting her husband Barack, and exactly what it’s like to watch your husband run for and then win the presidency. She doesn’t shy away from the hard parts of her story, such as miscarriage and the racism she’s encountered over the years, and reflects on how her experiences have shaped her and the woman she’s still becoming. A moving, inspiring, engaging read.
If you know Jennette McCurdy from iCarly and Sam & Cat, you may be surprised like me to learn the former child star dealt with addiction, disordered eating, and an abusive mother behind the scenes. The actress details what it was like to win her first role at a young age and her difficulty coping with the spotlight in contrast to her mother’s over the top embrace of her fame. It’s not until her mother dies of cancer that Jennette is able to make decisions for herself. She quits acting, starts therapy, and begins the process of figuring out what her ideal life looks like. Moving, inspiring, and darkly humorous. Jennette doesn’t hold back from depicting her difficulties so exercise care if this might be triggering for you.
You may recognize Kwame Onwuachi's name from his stint on Top Chef. But before that, he started his own catering company with twenty thousand dollars he made selling candy on the subway in NYC and worked in notable restaurants across the country. By age 27, not only had he competed on Top Chef, he served dinner to President Obama at the White House and closed his fine dining restaurant shortly after opening it. He's honest about his mistakes but he also delves into the racism he's experienced in the various kitchens he’s worked in. His voice is a welcome addition to the food memoir canon.
Team member Leigh Kramer found this sports memoir to be the perfect road trip accompaniment: “I didn’t know a ton about Olympic gold medalist and two-time Women's World Cup champion Megan Rapinoe before reading this, outside of peripheral soccer coverage. My admiration for her now knows no bounds. I loved learning more about her soccer career, of course, but the best part was hearing about her activism. Highly recommend listening to the audiobook, which she narrates.” 6 hrs 39 mins.
Indie rockstar Michelle Zauner delivers a heartfelt, poetic memoir about losing her mother and searching for her identity. “Ever since my mother died, I cry in H Mart.” So begins Zauner’s poignant story. After her mother received a grim cancer diagnosis, Zauner realized her mother’s death would also mean losing her only tie to her Korean heritage, so she sought to shore up stories while she still has time. Whether she writes about the intricacies of preparing traditional Korean dishes or a hurtful misunderstanding, she explores moments from her tumultuous mother-daughter relationship with tenderness and love, often returning to the idea that our experiences of home, family and culture are viscerally rooted in what we taste, see and hear. An honest, lyrical, and life-affirming memoir about grief, growing up, and making amends.