March 29, 2021 | kasarak
Reading the stories and histories of well-known individuals can help highlight the human experience: we all experience happiness, sort through grief, and desire to connect to others.
The titles below cover famous figures from all walks of life. Their stories may overlap with parts of your story.
When he was two years old, Hunter Biden was badly injured in a car accident that killed his mother and baby sister. In 2015, he suffered the devastating loss of his beloved big brother, Beau, who died of brain cancer at the age of forty-six. These hardships were compounded by the collapse of his marriage and a years-long battle with drug and alcohol addiction.
In Beautiful Things, Hunter recounts his descent into substance abuse and his tortuous path to sobriety. The story ends with where Hunter is today--a sober married man with a new baby, finally able to appreciate the beautiful things in life.
Madam C. J. Walker--reputed to be America's first self-made woman millionaire--has long been celebrated for her rags-to-riches story. Born to former slaves in the Louisiana Delta in the aftermath of the Civil War, married at fourteen, and widowed at twenty, Walker spent the first decades of her life as a laundress, laboring in conditions that paralleled the lives of countless poor and working-class African American women. By the time of her death in 1919, however, Walker had refashioned herself into one of the most famous African American figures in the nation: the owner and president of a hair-care empire and a philanthropist wealthy enough to own a country estate near the Rockefellers in the prestigious New York town of Irvington-on-Hudson. In this biography, Erica Ball places this remarkable and largely forgotten life story in the context of Walker's times. Ball analyzes Walker's remarkable acts of self-fashioning, and explores the ways that Walker (and the Walker brand) enabled a new generation of African Americans to bridge the gap between a nineteenth-century agrarian past and a twentieth-century future as urban-dwelling consumers.
Sharon Stone, one of the most renowned actresses in the world, suffered a massive stroke that cost her not only her health, but her career, family, fortune, and global fame. In The Beauty of Living Twice, Stone chronicles her efforts to rebuild her life and writes about her slow road back to wholeness and health. In a business that doesn't accept failure, in a world where too many voices are silenced, Stone found the power to return, the courage to speak up, and the will to make a difference in the lives of men, women, and children around the globe.
Over the course of these intimate pages, as candid as a personal conversation, Stone talks about her pivotal roles, her life-changing friendships, her worst disappointments, and her greatest accomplishments. She reveals how she went from a childhood of trauma and violence to a career in an industry that in many ways echoed those same assaults, under cover of money and glamour. She describes the strength and meaning she found in her children, and in her humanitarian efforts. And ultimately, she shares how she fought her way back to find not only her truth, but her family's reconciliation and love.
Stone made headlines not just for her beauty and her talent, but for her candor and her refusal to "play nice," and it's those same qualities that make this memoir so powerful. The Beauty of Living Twice is a book for the wounded and a book for the survivors; it's a celebration of women's strength and resilience, a reckoning, and a call to activism. It is proof that it's never too late to raise your voice and speak out.
In the fall of 2019, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg visited the University of California, Berkeley School of Law to deliver the first annual Herma Hill Kay Memorial Lecture in honor of her friend, the late Herma Hill Kay, with whom Ginsburg had coauthored the very first casebook on sex-based discrimination in 1974. Justice, Justice Thou Shalt Pursue is the result of a period of collaboration between Ginsburg and Amanda L. Tyler, a Berkeley Law professor and former Ginsburg law clerk. During Justice Ginsburg's visit to Berkeley, she told her life story in conversation with Tyler. In this collection, the two bring together that conversation and other materials--many previously unpublished--that share details from Justice Ginsburg's family life and long career. These include notable briefs and oral arguments, some of Ginsburg's last speeches, and her favorite opinions that she wrote as a Supreme Court Justice (many in dissent), along with the statements that she read from the bench in those important cases. Each document was chosen by Ginsburg and Tyler to tell the story of the litigation strategy and optimistic vision that were at the heart of Ginsburg's unwavering commitment to the achievement of "a more perfect Union."
Most people know Andrew McCarthy from his movie roles in Pretty in Pink, St. Elmo's Fire, Weekend at Bernie's, and Less than Zero, and as a charter member of Hollywood's Brat Pack. That iconic group of ingenues and heartthrobs included Rob Lowe, Molly Ringwald, Emilio Estevez, and Demi Moore, and has come to represent both a genre of film and an era of pop culture.
In his memoir Brat: An '80s Story, McCarthy focuses his gaze on that singular moment in time. The result is a revealing look at coming of age in a maelstrom, reckoning with conflicted ambition, innocence, addiction, and masculinity. New York City of the 1980s is brought to vivid life in these pages, from scoring loose joints in Washington Square Park to skipping school in favor of the dark revival houses of the Village where he fell in love with the movies that would change his life.
Filled with personal revelations of innocence lost to heady days in Hollywood with John Hughes and an iconic cast of characters, Brat is a surprising and intimate story of an outsider caught up in a most unwitting success.
THE GREAT PEACE is a harrowing, heartbreaking coming-of-age story set in Hollywood, in which young teenage model-turned-actor Mena Suvari lost herself to sex, drugs and bad, often abusive relationships even as blockbuster movies made her famous. It's about growing up in the 90s, with a soundtrack ranging from The Doors to Deee-Lite, fashion from denim to day-glo, and a sad young woman dealing with the lasting psychological scars of abuse, yet knowing deep inside she has and desires so much more from life.
Within these vulnerable pages, Mena not only reveals her own mistakes, but also the lessons she learned and her efforts to understand and grow rather than casting blame. As such, she makes this a timeless story of girl empowerment and redemption, of somebody using their voice to rediscover their past, seek redemption, and to understand their mistakes, and ultimately come to terms with their power as an individual to find a way and a will to live--and thrive. Poignant, intimate, and powerful, this book will resonate with anyone who has found themselves lost in the darkness, thinking there's no way out. Ultimately, Mena's story proves that, no matter how hopeless it may seem, there's always a light at the end.
As an apple-cheeked bubbly child, Julianna was bestowed with the family nickname "Sunshine Girl." Shuttled back and forth between her divorced parents, often on different continents, she quickly learned how to be of value to her eccentric mother and her absent father. Raised in fairly unconventional ways in various homes in Paris, England, New York, and New Hampshire, Julianna found that her role among the surrounding turmoil and uncertainty was to comfort those around her, seeking organization among the disorder, making her way in the world as a young adult and eventually an award-winning actress.
Throughout, there were complicated relationships, difficult choices, and overwhelming rejections. But there were also the moments where fate, faith, and talent aligned, leading to the unforgettable roles of a lifetime, both professionally and personally--moments when chaos had finally turned to calm.
Filled with intimate stories and revelatory moments, Sunshine Girl is at once unflinchingly honest and perceptive. It is a riveting self-portrait of a woman whose resilience in the face of turmoil will leave readers intrigued and inspired.
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.
You Can't Be Serious is a series of funny, consequential, awkward, and ridiculous stories from Kal's idiosyncratic life. It's about being the grandson of Gandhian freedom fighters, and the son of immigrant parents: people who came to this country with very little and went very far--and whose vision of the American dream probably never included their son sliding off an oiled-up naked woman in a raunchy Ryan Reynolds movie...or getting a phone call from Air Force One as Kal flew with the country's first Black president.
With intelligence, humor, and charm on every page, Kal reflects on the most exasperating and rewarding moments from his journey so far. He pulls back the curtain on the nuances of opportunity and racism in the entertainment industry and recounts how he built allies, found encouragement, and dealt with early reminders that he might never fit in. And of course, he reveals how, after a decade and a half of fighting for and enjoying successes in Hollywood, he made the terrifying but rewarding decision to take a sabbatical from a fulfilling acting career for an opportunity to serve his country as a White House aide.
Above all, You Can't Be Serious shows that everyone can have more than one life story. Kal demonstrates by example that no matter who you are and where you come from, you have many more choices than those presented to you. It's a story about struggle, triumph, and learning how to keep your head up. And okay, yes, it's also about how he accidentally (and very stupidly) accepted an invitation to take the entire White House Office of Public Engagement to a strip club--because, let's be honest, that's the kind of stuff you really want to hear about.