Moscow Nights: The Van Cliburn Story -- How One Man and His Piano Transformed the... by Nigel CliffAt the height of the Cold War, a young pianist from Texas wowed a Moscow audience and won the first International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition -- even though Russian officials were initially reluctant to give the prize to an American. In Moscow Nights, former London Times critic Nigel Cliff details Cliburn's passionately musical life against the backdrop of 20th-century history. Biography fans, Cold War buffs, and music history aficionados won't want to miss this "rousing, well-researched" (Kirkus Reviews) life story.
You Will Not Have My Hate by Antoine Leiris; translated by Sam TaylorOn November 13, 2015, terrorists attacked several locations in Paris, France. That evening, author Antoine Leiris was at home with his 17-month-old toddler while his wife, Hélène Muyal-Leiris, attended a concert at the Bataclan theater. The terrorists killed 89 people there, including Hélène. In this brief and heartrending memoir, Leiris offers a moving chronicle of that evening and the following days, during which he struggled to comprehend his loss, tried to establish a new-normal routine with his son, and addressed the terrorists in a Facebook post titled "You Will Not Have My Hate." This portrait of bereavement will speak to many who have suffered loss or observed its effects on friends and family.
Asylum: A Survivor's Flight from Nazi-Occupied Vienna Through Wartime France by Moriz Scheyer; translated by Peter SingerViennese art critic Moriz Scheyer escaped from the Nazis with his wife and a Czech companion in 1938, eventually finding sanctuary in France. While in hiding, he detailed their ordeal in this gripping memoir, which was thought to have been destroyed in 1948. His elegantly crafted account vividly records the family's journey, the people who helped -- and hindered -- them, and his thoughts on brutality and suffering. Fortunately for lovers of beautiful writing about difficult subjects, Scheyer's step-grandson recently discovered a copy of the manuscript, translated it, and saw it to publication.
The Word Detective: Searching for the Meaning of It All at the Oxford English Dictionary by John SimpsonJohn Simpson, the former chief editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, recounts his life as a "word detective," enriching this memoir with witty commentary on the history of language. From 1976, before the OED computerized their operations, to his retirement 37 years later, Simpson was immersed in the process of dictionary building. The Word Detective is rich with linguistic insights, but it's not limited to Simpson's job: it recounts intriguing personal details and anecdotes about his family. Simpson's life story will appeal not only to language buffs, but also to those who enjoy reading about unusual professions.
Something in the Blood: The Untold Story of Bram Stoker, the Man Who Wrote Dracula by David J. SkalIn Something in the Blood, author David Skal examines the life experiences, personality, and thought processes of Bram Stoker, the creator of Dracula. Making use of his own extensive research, previously published materials on Stoker, and detailed descriptions of Dracula productions through the years, Skal discusses Victorian beliefs and anxieties about sexuality and diseases, as well as Stoker's connections with Oscar Wilde and theater manager Henry Irving. Skal skillfully digests the results of his extensive research into an "engrossing narrative" (Publishers Weekly, starred review) enhanced with illustrations. Lovers of Victoriana, in addition to Stoker's fandom, should be sure to check this out.
Alive, Alive Oh! And Other Things That Matter by Diana AthillIn this follow-up to her award-winning 2009 memoir Somewhere Towards the End, acclaimed British writer and publisher Diana Athill considers life as she nears age 98. First detailing the satisfactions of recalling the past, she continues with essays that recreate the pleasures of her grandparents' garden and their country home, life in post-World War II England, and intense experiences that helped her realize how much she loves being alive. Candid and unsentimental, Alive, Alive Oh! showcases Athill's storytelling skills while celebrating the richness of her life.
Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? A Memoir by Roz ChastCelebrated cartoonist Roz Chast, best known for her work in The New Yorker, relates her experiences with her aging parents in this bittersweet memoir, which starts with conversations about getting older and moving to a retirement home. Chast's portrayals of their declining health and the ends of their lives complete the account. She evokes sympathy for her parents and herself in her illustrated narrative that's leavened with deft touches of ironic humor. Adding documents and photographs to her distinctive cartoon style helps to illuminate her parents' personalities and her concern for them.
It Is Well with My Soul: The Extraordinary Life of a 106-Year-Old Woman by Ella Mae Cheeks JohnsonThe daughter of former slaves, Ella Mae Cheeks Johnson was born in 1904 and lived to attend Barack Obama's first inauguration as President. Her remarkable life included earning a degree in social work from Case Western Reserve University, surviving the Great Depression, living through Jim Crow segregation, and inspiring people through her compassion and good works. This uplifting autobiography portrays a century of African-American history through the lens of Johnson's insights and accomplishments.
Let's Be Less Stupid: An Attempt to Maintain My Mental Faculties by Patricia MarxAfter she reached middle age, New Yorker writer Patricia Marx became concerned that her mental acuity would decline. Embarking on a quest to fend off stupidity, she tries out a range of mental exercises and study courses while investigating the claims of various anti-dementia products and activities. Confessing to her own mental lapses, she evaluates her progress in learning Cherokee (which she confused with Navajo) and passing quizzes. She also supplies readers with questionnaires, lists of things to remember (or forget), and other samples from her four months of brain-building. Part memoir, part investigative research, and all hilarity, Let's Be Less Stupid offers enlightenment to adults of all ages.
Dinner with Edward: The Story of a Remarkable Friendship by Isabel VincentDinner with Edward recounts a deep friendship between Edward, a nonagenarian widower, and the much younger journalist Isabel Vincent. At first thinking she would quickly check in on Edward at the request of his daughter, who lived far away, Isabel discovered a charming, kind man who was also an expert cook. Unexpectedly, the ensuing weekly dinners together changed both of their lives. Edward found solace and healing after the loss of his wife, while Isabel received lessons in patience and simplification. Readers will find spiritual nourishment both in Edward's deliciously described meals and in what Isabel learned about life.
Contact your librarian for more great books!