Category Archives: Biography & Memoir

2024 Adult Reading Challenge! April

Adults! Welcome to year 3 of our year-long reading challenge. Explore different genres, discover new authors and be entered to win prizes. To complete the challenge, read just one book in each category by midnight on December 31st, 2024. Earn bigger prizes by reading more!

To register, or to sign in, please click here.

April’s genre is The Gilded Age – focus on books set in the late 1800’s. Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

LAST DAYS OF NIGHT by Graham Moore

“A thought-provoking, suspenseful novel, surprising in its focus, like Matthew Pearl’s The Technologists (2012); illuminative of character, like Bernadette Pajer’s The Edison Effect (2014); and displaying the keen biographical insights of Vladimir Pištalo’s Tesla: A Portrait with Masks (2015).” ~Booklist

For more information, or to place a hold, please click here.

THE SOCIAL GRACES by Renee Rosen

“After Park Avenue Summer (2019), a tale set in 1960s New York, Rosen presents an engaging novel of 1870s high-society foibles that will please book clubs and fans of glittering frock flicks.” ~Booklist

For more information, or to place a hold, please click here.

AMERICAN EVE : EVELYN NESBIT, STANFORD WHITE, THE BIRTH OF THE “IT” GIRL, AND THE CRIME OF THE CENTURY  by Paula Uruburu

“All the decadent details revealed at the trial were devoured by a public just as hungry to see young, beautiful, and successful women crash and burn as they are today. Uruburu draws some valid comparisons between then and now in this tell-all biography of one of the first in a long line of tarnished “It Girls.” ~Booklist

For more information, or to place a hold, please click here.

MURDER AT THE BREAKERS by Alyssa Maxwell

“Maxwell’s portrait of Gilded Age mores, with a little leeway for romantic attachments, provides an opportunity for readers to consider how wealth and status can be as restrictive as it is empowering. This is a promising start to an engaging mystery series filled with smart observations.” ~Library Journal

For more information, or to place a hold, please click here.

ASTOR : THE RISE AND FALL OF AN AMERICAN FORTUNE by Anderson Cooper

“*Starred Review* This history of the Astor family, one of America’s richest and most influential dynasties, serves as a worthy companion to superstar journalist Cooper and novelist Howe’s best-selling account of Cooper’s own family, Vanderbilt (2021).” ~Booklist

For more information, or to place a hold, please click here.

 

2023 Adult Reading Challenge! May

DISCOVER DIFFERENT GENRES!    FIND NEW AUTHORS!    WIN PRIZES!    JOIN OUR EXPLORING GENRES BOOK CLUB!

Join us for a fun book challenge throughout 2023! Sign up and keep track via Beanstack. If you’ve participated in any of our recent summer or winter reading challenges, you’re all set to go and don’t need to create a new account.          Visit Beanstack here.

May’s theme is: MUSIC IN MAY! Read any book about music, bands, musicians or singers.. that you haven’t yet read. Here are a few titles to get you started:

We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix

STARRED REVIEW: “This is a fast-paced ride, firmly rooted in the pulp horror tradition, but with thought-provoking social criticism and a sense of fear that rises from the terrifying implication that we are all willing to sell our souls on the cheap. Hendrix’s darkest novel yet will leave readers begging for an encore.” ~Booklist

For more information, or to place a hold, please click here.

The Storyteller by Dave Grohl

“Paired with his sparkling wit, this humility is what makes Grohl’s soulful story a cut above typical rock memoirs. There isn’t a dull moment here.” ~PW

For more information, or to place a hold, please click here.

Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

STARRED REVIEW: “Framed as a tell-all biography compiled through interviews and articles, Reid’s (The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, 2017) novel so resembles a memoir of a real band and conjures such true-to-life images of the seventies music scene that readers will think they’re listening to Fleetwood Mac or Led Zeppelin. Reid is unsurpassed in her ability to create complex characters working through emotions that will make your toes curl.” ~Booklist

For more information, or to place a hold, please click here.

 

A New Year, a New Challenge!

DISCOVER DIFFERENT GENRES!    FIND NEW AUTHORS!    WIN PRIZES!    JOIN OUR EXPLORING GENRES BOOK CLUB!

Join us for a fun book challenge throughout 2023! Sign up and keep track via Beanstack. If you’ve participated in any of our recent summer or winter reading challenges, you’re all set to go and don’t                             need to create a new account.          Visit Beanstack here.

January’s theme is: BLAST FROM THE PAST! Read any historical fiction, history, or biography that you haven’t yet read. Here are a few titles to get you started:

THE ONLY WOMAN IN THE ROOM
By Marie Benedict

“Benedict paints a shining portrait of a complicated woman who knows the astonishing power of her beauty but longs to be recognized for her sharp intellect. Readers will be enthralled.” ~PW

For more information, or to place a hold, please click here.

THE NICKEL BOYS
By Colson Whitehead

“Inspired by horrific events that transpired at the real-life Dozier School for Boys, Whitehead’s brilliant examination of America’s history of violence is a stunning novel of impeccable language and startling insight.” ~PW

For more information, or to place a hold, please click here.

THE ADDRESS
By Fiona Davis

“Davis (The Dollhouse) has folded together two historical eras in this breezy historical novel that jumps between Gilded Age and Reagan-era New York City. ” ~PW

For more information, or to place a hold, please click here.

AMERICAN MIDNIGHT
By Adam Hochschild

“Meticulously researched, fluidly written, and frequently enraging, this is a timely reminder of the “vigilant respect for civil rights and Constitutional safeguards” needed to protect democracy and forestall authoritarianism.” ~PW

For more information, or to place a hold, please click here.

THE REVOLUTIONARY: SAMUEL ADAMS
By Stacy Schiff

“Fast-paced and enlightening, this is a must-read for colonial history buffs. ” ~PW

For more information, or to place a hold, please click here.

 

Summer Reading 2022!

Summer 2022 is all about Fairfield! What do you love about your town? How can you share your story? Learn something new, get creative, and have fun while earning points toward our community goal! We challenge Fairfielders of all ages to reach 1 million points together by the end of the summer. Express yourself, attend events, write book reviews, complete bonus activities, and of course READ to earn points and help reach our goal this year! Your story begins at home!

Sign in or register for summer reading fun for the whole family here.

Here are a few books that will help you earn points this month in both the year-long Adult Reading Challenge AND the Summer Adult Reading Challenge. Let the reading begin!

THE DIAMOND EYE
By Kate Quinn

“Quinn (The Rose Code) draws on a historical female sharpshooter from WWII in her exciting latest…Historical fiction fans will be riveted.” ~Publisher’s Weekly

For more information, or to place a hold, please click here.

BOOTH
By Karen Joy Fowler

“Ostensibly about the family of Shakespearean actors best known for their connection to Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth, Fowler’s novel explores tensions surrounding race, politics, and culture in 19th-century America.” ~Kirkus

“Throughout, the nuanced plot is both historically rigorous and richly imagined. This is a winner.” ~ Publisher’s Weekly

For more information, or to place a hold, please click here.

THE TAKING OF JEMIMA BOONE
By Matthew Pearl

“This is a stimulating read which honors the complexity of the events described. History buffs will eat it up.” ~Library Journal

For more information, or to place a hold, please click here.

“Davis’s grit and determination are moving, and her unflinching reckoning with the “racism and misogyny” she faced in Hollywood makes her story of overcoming all the more effective. Fans will be utterly enthralled.” ~Publisher’s Weekly

FINDING ME
By Viola Davis

For more information, or to place a hold, please click here.

 

 

2022 Adult Reading Challenge! April

DISCOVER DIFFERENT GENRES!    FIND NEW AUTHORS!    WIN PRIZES!

Join us for a fun book challenge throughout 2022! Sign up and keep track via Beanstack. If you’ve participated in any of our recent summer or winter reading challenges, you’re all set to go and don’t need to create a new account.

Visit Beanstack here.

Our theme for April is CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE. Choose from travel memoirs, natural disasters, and survival stories. Here are a few titles to get you started:

FROM SCRATCH: A MEMOIR OF LOVE, SICILY, AND FINDING HOME
By Tembi Locke

“Readers will not want to put Locke’s memoir down, so compellingly does she describe her unique experiences and the universal ups and downs of life.” ~Booklist

For more information, or to place a hold, please click here.

THE LONGEST WAY HOME : ONE MAN’S QUEST FOR THE COURAGE TO SETTLE DOWN                         By Andrew McCarthy

“Though most recognizable as a member of the group of actors known in the 1980s as the Brat Pack, actor and travel journalist McCarthy (editor-at-large, National Geographic Traveler) shows off his writing chops in this memoir of his gradual resolution of the major conflicts in his life: to wander or to settle, to commit or to be free, to be lonely or to be sociable.” ~Library Journal

For more information, or to place a hold, please click here.

ISAAC’S STORM: A MAN, A TIME, AND THE DEADLIEST HURRICANE IN HISTORY
By Erik Larson

“Poignant details and sweeping narrative create a book that is hard to put down even though the outcome is a well-known historical fact: more than 6000 dead and an entire city devastated. At the same time, Larson chronicles a critical period of history for the National Weather Bureau. The blatant errors in judgment led to changes within that federal agency. More than anything, this is a gripping and heartbreaking story of what happens when arrogance meets the immutable forces of nature.” ~SLJ

For more information, or to place a hold, please click here.

IN HARM’S WAY : THE SINKING OF THE USS INDIANAPOLIS AND THE EXTRAORDINARY STORY OF ITS SURVIVORS
By Doug Stanton

“A crisp, well-executed reconstruction of naval warfare’s darkest chapter: the sinking and abandonment of the USS Indianapolis.” ~Kirkus

For more information, or to place a hold, please click here.

Popular Digital Biographies and Memoirs

Why not step into someone else’s life for a while by reading or listening to a biography or memoir while you’re staying home and staying safe? Here are a few suggestions that you can download from Overdrive with your Fairfield Public Library card.

Title details for A Marvelous Life by Danny Fingeroth - Available

A MARVELOUS LIFE
By Danny Fingeroth

“In this enthusiastic biography of Stan Lee (1922–2018), Fingeroth, one-time writer and editor at Lee’s longtime employer Marvel Comics, tells the story of the man who helped create comic legends including Spider-Man and Black Panther.”~Publisher’s Weekly

For more information, please click here.

Title details for Dutch Girl by Robert Matzen - Available

DUTCH GIRL
By Robert Matzen

“A meticulously detailed and researched look at the formative years of an iconic performer; for fans of Hepburn as well as anyone seeking a social history of the Dutch experience of World War II.” ~Library Journal

For more information, please click here.

Title details for Edison by Edmund Morris - Available

EDISON
By Edmund Morris

“Inspiration and perspiration prodigiously unite in this sweeping biography of one of America’s greatest inventors. Pulitzer-winning biographer Morris tells Thomas Alva Edison’s story backward, opening with the creator of the first long-lasting light bulb, the phonograph, and other electromechanical marvels in lionized, imperious old age and presenting each decade of his life in reverse order, back to his boyhood spells of intense, isolated concentration.” ~Publisher’s Weekly

For more information, please click here.

Title details for Maid by Stephanie Land - Available

MAID
By Stephanie Land

“In her heartfelt and powerful debut memoir, Land describes the struggles she faced as a young single mother living in poverty. “My daughter learned to walk in a homeless shelter,” she writes, before chronicling her difficult circumstances.” ~Publisher’s Weekly

For more information, please click here.

Title details for Hero of the Empire by Candice Millard - Available

HERO OF THE EMPIRE
By Candice Millard

“Biographer Millard…writes about one of the most famous statesmen of the twentieth century, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Rather than facing the man in full bloom during WWII, she casts dramatic light on the incidents that brought “to the attention of a rapt British public a young Churchill.” In 1899, he was already aware of his future importance in the political world and certain that he would need to show glory on the battlefield during the colonial Boer War in South Africa. The perfect opportunity arose when he was taken prisoner and managed not only to escape but, after great hardship, also return to the fight. Millard’s rendering of the exciting details of Churchill’s heroic exploits result in a magnificently told story.” ~Booklist

For more information, please click here.

Title details for In Pieces by Sally Field - Available

IN PIECES
By Sally Field

“Arresting in its dark disclosures, vitality, humor, and grace, Field’s deeply felt and beautifully written memoir illuminates the experiences and emotions on which she draws as an exceptionally charismatic, empathic, and powerful artist.” ~Booklist

For more information, please click here.

Title details for Whiskey in a Teacup by Reese Witherspoon - Available

WHISKEY IN A TEACUP
By Reese Witherspoon

“Actress and book club host Witherspoon pays tribute to her Southern roots in this charming collection of recipes, how-to’s, and personal stories.” ~Publisher’s Weekly

For more information, please click here.

Title details for Grant by Ron Chernow - Available

GRANT
By Ron Chernow

“Acclaimed biographer Chernow, winner of a Pulitzer Prize for Washington: A Life, entertains in this informative whopper as he upends the long-held view of Ulysses S. Grant (1822–1885) as a lumbering general and incompetent president.” ~Publisher’s Weekly

For more information, please click here.

Title details for Small Fry by Lisa Brennan-Jobs - Available

SMALL FRY
By Lisa Brennan-Jobs

“An epic, sharp coming-of-age story from the daughter of Steve Jobs. It’s rare to find a memoir from a celebrity’s child in which the writing is equal to—or exceeds—the parent’s reputation, but that is the case with Brennan-Jobs’ debut. The author engagingly packs in every detail of her life, including her seemingly innocuous conception by Jobs and artist Chrisann Brennan, her father’s paternity denial, their rocky reconciliation, and Jobs’ ultimate rejection and silence.” ~Kirkus

For more information, please click here.

Title details for A Life in Parts by Bryan Cranston - Available

A LIFE IN PARTS
By Bryan Cranston

“Cranston fans will delight in the intimate revelations in this substantial memoir from one of Hollywood’s most introspective stars. And anyone interested in acting will devour Cranston’s savvy advice about honing one’s craft and building one’s career.” ~Booklist

For more information, please click here.

Title details for Educated by Tara Westover - Available

EDUCATED
By Tara Westover

“A recent Cambridge University doctorate debuts with a wrenching account of her childhood and youth in a strict Mormon family in a remote region of Idaho… An astonishing account of deprivation, confusion, survival, and success.” ~Kirkus

For more information, please click here.

“What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses. That it can be good again.” ~Suzanne Collins, Mockingjay

Leonardo da Vinci

Title: Leonardo da Vinci
Author: Walter Isaacson
Publisher: Simon & Schuster; October 2017

Summary/Review: I am not generally a reader of biographies, or pretty much any non-fiction so I was very impressed with how interesting this book was. I am not a Da Vinci historian or expert but I am definitely a fan, particularly of his incredibly expressive drawings. 

The author tells the artist’s life story by taking us through the day-to-day life of a working renaissance craftsman-artist. After all, artists have to put food on the table too, and one way to do that was to acquire the patronage of powerful and wealthy merchants, noblemen and church officials. 

We learn that Da Vinci, even though he is widely considered one of the great masters of all time, had very little interest in finishing and delivering his assignments. This lead to some very lean times and a frequent search for patronage. His curiosity about all things scientific and the relationships of creatures and their environments ruled his days as he sought to understand and describe nature, the human anatomy and interestingly enough, a lifelong compulsion to describe the physics of the flow of water. 

In this book he is credited with very forward-thinking treatises on anatomy, the relationship of all things in nature as they relate to humanity and engineering designs hundreds of years in advance of their actual execution. Flying machines, war engines, city planning, the list is seemingly endless. 

But it was the drawing, the notebooks, the analysis of light and dark which really kept me turning the pages. I knew the Master was prolific but I had no idea just how many undeveloped ideas and theories are found in the hundreds of sketchbooks and thousands of pages he left behind. 

Give it a try. I just received my hold on another Isaacson biography about Steve Jobs, the creator of all things Apple. I hope it’s as interesting as the Da Vinci biography.

Recommended by: Mark Z., guest reviewer.

If you would like to check our catalog or place a hold on this book, please click here.

Girl in the Dark

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Title:  Girl in the Dark

Author:   Anna Lindsey

Publisher: Doubleday, 2015

Summary/review: This is the story of a young woman who finds herself becoming sensitive to the glow of her computer screen at work.  Her condition worsens to the point where she cannot tolerate any kind of light at all without an extreme reaction through her entire body.  She ends up staying in complete darkness in a room in her apartment all day.  Thankfully she has a fiancé who takes care of her needs and when he comes home and prepares dinner she emerges to another room lit with a dim nightlight.  She sometimes is able to go out for a walk on very dark nights but when the town sends a letter to all citizens that they are upgrading the streetlights to new brighter ones it is near tragedy for her. She eventually has several partial remissions, but it is fascinating to read about the implications of her condition.  It is almost like a self- imposed blindness, a horrible condition to think about.  We do not realize many of the things we take for granted, including friendships.   Her emotional ups and downs, even to the point of near suicide really took me in and I thought a lot and am still thinking about this book.

Who will like this book?: Someone looking for a unique memoir

If you like this, try this: If you’re looking for memoirs with unique twists, check out our extensive biography and memoir collections!

Recommended by: Jan, Admin

If this looks like a book you’d like to read, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available and/or to place a hold

Jerry Lee Lewis

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Title : Jerry Lee Lewis : His Own Story

Author : Rick Bragg

Publisher : HarperCollins, Oct. 2014

Summary / Review : Rick Bragg listened to Jerry Lee’s stories for over two years and then wrote about his life like a he was a member of the family.

Jerry Lee Lewis was born in 1935 in Ferriday Louisiana, a place where the water would rise up routinely, flooding the land, destroying homes and farms, and leaving behind writhing nests of copperheads and diamondbacks. His family was poor. His mother picked cotton and his father was a bootlegger and sometime carpenter. But Jerry Lee decided early on to “live by a set of rules separate from those set down for dull, regular people.”

He was four when he discovered the piano on a visit to his Aunt Stella’s house.  He touched one key and, as he explains to Rick Bragg “I don’t know what happened.  Somethin’ strange.  I felt it in my whole body.” His father, Elmo, would mortgage his farm to buy Jerry Lee his first piano, At the age of 80, he still has it.

Formal piano lessons, of which there was only one, did not work well for Jerry Lee.  He learned by playing and listening, sneaking into Haney’s Big House where he would hide under the tables until he was hauled out by Will Haney himself and shown the door.

Formal schooling also did not work out well for Jerry Lee.  His nickname, Killer, didn’t come from his on-stage antics with the piano but by trying to strangle the 7th grade teacher with the teacher’s own tie. After earning $14 at his first professional gig at the age of 14, belting out “Wine Spo-dee-o-dee” for a crowd gathered at the Paul Ford Motor Co to get a look at the the new model with the flathead V8 well loved by both bootleggers and G-men, Jerry Lee decided to quit school.  He “saw no future in it.”

His upbringing in the Pentecostal Church would create a life-long tension between the fear of the Holy Ghost and the love of the secular music he chose to play. In a last ditch effort at throwing his cards in with the Holy Ghost,  Jerry Lee enrolled in the Southwestern Bible Institute where they offered courses in Bible study, Pentecostal history and church business.  He lasted three months.  He was asked to do a piano solo at the singspiration, a night of religious entertainment.  He obliged with a boogie rendition of My God is Real, which he described as “up-tempo spiritual,” unfortunately the Dean interpreted it as “reckless and prurient.” The next day he was asked to leave.  It was back to the clubs and for that every music lover should be grateful.

Rick Bragg chronicles all the highs and lows of the quintessential rock and roll life – the wives (six by some counts, seven by others), the women, the drugs, the fights, the honky-tonks and juke joints. Jerry Lee’s star rises and falls more than once in a career which spans decades and continues with the recent release of Rock & Roll Time. His command of music encompasses rock, country, gospel and he is as inspired belting out Great Balls of Fire as he is performing the old hymns, Will the Circle Be Unbroken and Railroad to Heaven, on another recent release (Mean Old Man).

As Jerry Lee says “I’ve had an interestin’ life, haven’t I?  A great Life.”

Read about his life to a background of his music. Visit our website to select some of Jerry Lee’s music from Freegal or Hoopla.

Who Will Like This : As Rick Bragg might say, “Anyone who ever danced in their socks.”

If You Like This Try This : For more on Jerry Lee read Unconquered : The Saga of Cousins Jerry Lee Lewis, Jimmy Swaggart and Mikey Gilley or try another recent biography of a music legend – Respect : The Life of Aretha Franklin

If this looks like something you would like to read, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available and/or to place a hold!

Breaking In: The Rise of Sonia Sotomayor…

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Title: Breaking In: The Rise of Sonia Sotomayor and the Politics of Justice

Author: Joan Biskupic

Summary/Review: The most interesting thing about this book is the direction the author chose in describing the selection and Senate approval of Justice Sotomayor. She describes in wonderful detail how it is nowhere near enough to be a brilliant, Ivy League educated, experienced lawyer and lower court judge, but how politics and one’s network of associates, mentors and friends impact the possibility of being selected by the President of the United States and then surviving Senate confirmation hearings. The author takes us through some of Justice Sotomayor’s upbringing and education, but focuses on the way she drove herself to cultivate professional associations and friendships to give her the best chance to do social good from lower court benches and concurrently, to give her the best chance to climb the ladder of judicial advancement. One problem I had was that I previously read and thoroughly enjoyed, “My Beloved World”, Sonia Sotomayor’s auto-biography. As far as human interest and reader involvement, it far out shone this book. But again, the books are written from two different points of view.

Who will like this book: Anyone interested in Sotomayor or politics in general.

If you like this, try this: I would still recommend reading “Breaking In” if you are interested in the intricacies and politics involved in the professional life of a judge in the United States.

Check the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if this book is available and/or to place a hold!