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Staff Picks - Real People, Incredible Lives

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The Rainbow Comes and Goes: (070.92 COOPER)
by Anderson Cooper
A charming, intimate and fascinating collection of correspondence between broadcaster and #1 New York Times bestselling author Anderson Cooper and his mother, the celebrated Gloria Vanderbilt.

The Tender Bar (070.92 M693)
by J. R. Moehringer
J.R. Moehringer grew up listening for a voice: the sound of his missing father, a disc jockey who disappeared before J.R. spoke his first words. His mother was his world, his anchor, but he needed something else, something he couldn't name. So, he turned to the bar on the corner, a grand old New York saloon that was a sanctuary for all types of men--cops and poets, actors and lawyers, gamblers and stumblebums. 

Enrique’s Journey (305.23089)
by Sonia Nazario
In this astonishing true story, award-winning journalist Sonia Nazario recounts the unforgettable odyssey of a Honduran boy who braves unimaginable hardship and peril to reach his mother in the United States.

Losing My Cool: How a Father’s Love & 15,000 Books Beat Hip-Hop Culture (305.2351)
by Thomas C. Williams
Describes how the author outwardly embraced self-effacing aspects of hip-hop culture that radically contrasted with his book-loving father's academic prep service and endless pursuit of knowledge, revealing how the father-son bond eventually overcame the genre's rebellious messages.

Born Both (306.768 VILORIA)
by Hida Viloria
Tells the story of the author's lifelong journey as an intersex person who did not have he/r sex characteristics changed at birth, sharing he/r experiences exploring he/r gender identity and how he/r experiences meeting other intersex people led he/r to champion human rights for intersex people.

Parallel Lives: Five Victorian Marriages (306.81094)
by Phyllis Rose
Examines the marriages of five Victorian couples--the Carlyles, Ruskins, Dickenses, Mills, and George Eliot and George Henry Lewes--to demonstrate the classic strengths and weaknesses of the institution of marriage.

Crossing Over: A Mexican Family on the Immigrant Trail (306.85089)
by Ruben Martinez
Traces the Chavez family as they leave their southern-Mexican town and embark on a perilous journey through the underground railroad to the tomato farms of Missouri, the strawberry fields of California, and the slaughterhouses of Wisconsin.

Making Toast: A Family Story (306.8745 R813)
by Roger Rosenblatt
Describes how, after their adult daughter's sudden death, the author and his wife moved in with their son-in-law and three grandchildren, quickly becoming accustomed to the world of small children and helping the family grieve and get on with life. 

Iran Awakening: A Memoir of Revolution and Hope (323.3092 I12)
by Shirin Ebadi
A female judge reveals the repressiveness of the Iranian regime as she tells her story of demotion to court clerk, her return to public life as a human rights lawyer, and her fight against arrest and assassination attempts.

Agent M: The Lives and Spies of MI5’s Maxwell Knight (327.124 KNIGHT)
by Henry Hemming
Presents the life of British spymaster Maxwell Knight, who revolutionized British intelligence through his unconventional recruitment tactics, and is said to be the inspiration for the James Bond character "M".

The Glass Castle: A Memoir (362.82092 W215)
by Jeannette Walls
The child of an alcoholic father and an eccentric artist mother discusses her family's nomadic upbringing, during which she and her siblings fended for themselves while their parents outmaneuvered bill collectors and the authorities.

A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy (373.788 KLEBOLD)
By Sue Klebold 
In the hope that the insights and understanding she has gained may help other families recognize when a child is in distress, she tells her story in full, drawing upon her personal journals, the videos and writings that her son Dylan left behind, and on countless interviews with mental health experts.

American Prometheus: The Triumph & Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer (530.092 O62)
by Kai Bird & Martin J. Sherwin
A definitive portrait of legendary scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer, the "father" of the atomic bomb, discusses his seminal role in the twentieth-century scientific world, as well as his lesser-known roles as family man, supposed communist, and head of Princeton's Institute for Advanced Studies. 

Woman in the Mists: The Story of Dian Fossey & the Mountain Gorillas of Africa (599.8846 F752)
by Farley Mowat
The murder of Dian Fossey at her research camp in Rwanda focused world attention on her 19 years of struggle to study and preserve the mountain gorilla. 

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (616.02774 L141)
by Rebecca Skloot
Documents the story of how scientists took cells from an unsuspecting descendant of freed slaves and created a human cell line that has been kept alive indefinitely, enabling discoveries in such areas as cancer research, in vitro fertilization and gene mapping.

Boy Alone: A Brother’s Memoir (616.85882)
by Karl Taro Greenfield
A brother of an autistic child profiled in the trilogy that began with A Boy Called Noah describes the challenges he faced growing up in his brother's shadow, in an account that interweaves the social history of autism and its related research with the author's sideline experiences in childhood and adulthood.

Chasing Space: An Astronaut’s Story of Grit, Grace, and Second Chances (629.45 MELVIN)
by Leland Melvin
An uplifting memoir by the former NASA astronaut and NFL wide receiver traces his personal journey from the gridiron to the stars, examining the intersecting roles of community, perseverance and grace that create opportunities for success.

My Life in France (641.5092 C536)
by Julia Child
The legendary food expert describes her years in Paris, Marseille, and Provence and her journey from a young woman who could not cook or speak any French to the publication of her cookbooks and becoming "The French Chef."

Makeup Man: From Rocky to Star Trek: the Amazing Creations of Hollywood’s Michael Westmore (646.72 WESTMORE)
by Michael G. Westmore
Readers will want to take a giant step back in time with Academy Award–winner Westmore's amiable and intimate look at his family, a Hollywood makeup dynasty for four generations, and the stars they've been making look good since 1917.

The Fellowship: The Untold Story of Frank Lloyd Wright & the Taliesin Fellowship (720.92 W949)
by Roger Friedland & Harold Zellman
Traces the period in the renowned architect's life from 1932 to 1959, during which he created the Taliesin Fellowship, a sexually fervid and eccentric architectural commune that gave rise to some of Wright's most impressive projects and damaged the lives of scores of apprentices and family members. 

The Age of Bowie: How David Bowie Made a World of Difference (782.421 MORLEY)
by Paul Morley
A cultural critic describes the greatest moments of the life of pioneering musician David Bowie and explores how he worked, played, aged, structured his ideas, influenced others, and invented the future. 

Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night (794.45 LETTERMAN)
by Jason Zinoman
A definitive account of the life and career of comedic talk show host David Letterman evaluates how his ironic style transcended traditional television and how his remote and reclusive personality contrasts with his widely misunderstood achievements. 

Raising the Barre: Big Dreams, False Starts, and My Midlife Quest to Dance the Nutcracker (792.8 KESSLER)
by Lauren Kessler
Describes how, after an abusive dancing instructor crushed her childhood dream of becoming a ballerina, the author resolved to reclaim her dancing talent in midlife and perform in a professional production of The Nutcracker.

But Seriously (796.34209 M141)
by John McEnroe
John McEnroe confronts his demons and reveals his struggle to reinvent himself from champion and tennis legend to father, broadcaster, and author.

Earnhardt Nation: The Full-Throttle Saga of NASCAR’s First Family (796.72 EARNHARDT)
by Jay Busbee
A profile of the influential NASCAR family is set against a backdrop of the history of the world's fastest stock car racing organization and traces the achievements of three generations of Earnhardt drivers.

Manhood for Amateurs: The Pleasures & Regrets of a Husband, Father, & Son (813.54 C428)
by Michael Chabon
This collection of previously published essays by the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay is both lyrical and side-splittingly funny. In each autobiographical composition, the self-deprecating Chabon reveals facets of his ongoing evolution into "manhood."

Brother, I’m Dying 813.54 D193)
by Edward Danticat
In a personal memoir, the author describes her relationships with the two men closest to her--her father and his brother, Joseph, a charismatic pastor with whom she lived after her parents emigrated from Haiti to the United States.

Patrimony: A True Story (813.54 R845)
by Philip Roth
In a moving elegy, one of America's most powerful writers recreates his father's ordeal as, suffering from a brain tumor, he battles with the ignominy and helplessness of old age

The Princess Diarist (818.54 FISHER)
by Carrie Fisher
The Hollywood icon best known for her role in "Star Wars" shares interconnected essays exploring her life as the child of Hollywood royalty, adventures on the sets of "Star Wars," and struggles with bipolar disorder.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (818.5409 A584)
by Maya Angelou
Abandoned by her parents, Angelou and her brother, Bailey, spent their early years in the care of a strong grandmother in Stamps, AR, where they first experienced racial discrimination. 

Stitches: A Memoir (818.5409 S635)
by David Small
The Caldecott-winning author of Imogene's Antlers presents a graphic account of his troubled childhood under a radiologist father who subjected him to repeated x-rays and a withholding and tormented mother, an environment he fled at the age of sixteen in the hopes of becoming an artist. 

The Woman Who Watches Over the World: A Native Memoir (818.5409 H714)
by Linda Hogan
A Chicksaw woman blends her personal history of struggle with the stories of native women who participated in key events during the Indian Wars more than a century ago.

The Life & Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir (910.4092 B916)
by Bill Bryson
The author describes his all-American childhood growing up as a member of the baby boom generation in the heart of Iowa, detailing his rich fantasy life as a superhero known as the Thunderbolt Kid and his remarkably normal 1950s family life.

West with the Night (916.76 M345)
by Beryl Markham
A beautifully written account of her life and her historic flight west across the Atlantic, praised by no less by Ernest Hemingway. 

The Lost City of Z: A Deadly Tale of Obsession in the Amazon (918.11046)
by David Grann
Interweaves the story of British explorer Percy Fawcett, who vanished during a 1925 expedition into the Amazon, with the author's own quest to uncover the mysteries surrounding Fawcett's final journey and the secrets of what lies deep in the Amazon jungle.

The Endurance: Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition (919.8904 S524)
by Caroline Alexander
A glorious failure, Ernest Shackleton's attempt to become the first transcontinental trekker of Antarctica turned into one of the all-time survival stories in the annals of adventure.

In Triumph’s Wake: Royal Mothers, Tragic Daughters & The Price They Paid For Glory (940.099)
by Julia P. Gelardi
Compares the lives of three royal matriarchs and their daughters, in a collection of histories that illuminates the disparities between Queen Isabella and Catherine of Aragon, Empress Maria Theresa and Marie Antoinette, and Queen Victoria and the Empress Frederick.

Clara’s War: One Girl’s Story of Survival (940.5318 K89)
by Clara Kramer
An account based on the author's personal record of the months during which she hid from Nazis in an underground bunker with seventeen others discusses the characteristics of their unlikely protector and the house fire that threatened everyone's survival. 

Night (940.5318 W65)
by Elie Wiesel
Night offers much more than a litany of the daily terrors, everyday perversions, and rampant sadism at Auschwitz and Buchenwald; it also eloquently addresses many of the philosophical as well as personal questions implicit in any serious consideration of what the Holocaust was, what it meant, and what its legacy is and will be.

Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love & Betrayal (940.54864 C466)
by Ben Macintyre
A portrait of the ultimate double agent recounts the exploits of the enigmatic Eddie Chapman, Agent Zigzag, a criminal, con man, and philanderer trained by the Nazis as a spy who became a British agent at the heart of the German Secret Service. 

C’est La Vie (944.36108 G381)
by Suzy Gershman
Describes how the author, in the wake of her husband's death, decided to fulfill her long-standing dream of building a new life for herself in Paris, detailing her first year in the City of Light.

Eleni (949.5074 G263)
by Nicholas Gage
Eight years old when his mother arranged her children's escape from civil war-torn Greece and was tortured and murdered by Communist guerrillas, the author reconstructs Eleni's life and recounts his confrontation with her executioner. 

Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood (968.9104 F965)
by Alexandra Fuller
The author describes her childhood in Africa during the Rhodesian civil war of 1971 to 1979, relating her life on farms in southern Rhodesia, Malawi, and Zambia with an alcoholic mother and frequently absent father.

The Secret History of the Mongol Queens: How the Daughters of Genghis Khan Rescued His Empire (950.20922)
by Jack Weatherford
A history of the ruling women of the Mongol Empire, this work reveals their struggle to preserve a nation that shaped the world.

In His Own Words (968.065 M271)
by Nelson Mandela
A collection of speeches by the South African leader includes pieces that marked such moments in his life as his imprisonment and release, his acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize, and his election as South Africa's first black president.

The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family (973.46092)
by Annette Gordon-Reed
Traces the history of the Hemings family from early eighteenth-century Virginia to their dispersal after Thomas Jefferson's death in 1826 and describes their family ties to the third president against a backdrop of Revolutionary America and the French Revolution.

Mornings On Horseback (973.911 R781)
by David McCullough
The National Book Award–winning biography that tells the story of how young Teddy Roosevelt transformed himself from a sickly boy into the vigorous man who would become a war hero and ultimately president of the United States

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (973.92092 E92)
by Dave Eggers
A book that redefines both family and narrative for the twenty-first century, this is the moving memoir of a college senior who, in the space of five weeks, loses both of his parents to cancer and inherits his eight-year-old brother. 

Eisenhower: the White House Years (973.92109 E363)
by Jim Newton
A revisionist assessment of Eisenhower credits him with moving defense dependency away from atomic bombs, eliminating the period deficit, and building the interstate highway system.

Love, Fiercely: a Gilded Age Romance (974.7041 S874)
by Jean Zimmerman
Documents the Gilded Age love story of an heiress who fought for women's rights and an architect, tracing their upbringings, their pursuits, and their advocacy efforts on behalf of the poor and disenfranchised.

Zeitoun (976.33506 Z48)
by Dave Eggers
Describes how Abdulrahman Zeitoun remained in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, his subsequent efforts to help other victims, his disappearance a week later, and the effect of these events on his wife Kathy and their children.