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In their own words or from the pen of a biographer, the lives of others hold a magnetic intrigue. Indulge your curiosity here… Read and find out more about the lives of well-known figures. Want more inspiration? Head to our 'Best Autobiographies Ever' blog post filled with recommendations from our bookish friends.
A well-written book offering readers a fascinating glimpse into the little-known world of the modern Navy and its submarine service. Littered with amusing stories and anecdotes, Thompson’s writing entertains as well as informs. I was a little surprised some of the content isn’t covered by the Official Secrets Act but we must be grateful that its time constraints allow us to now read what was actually going on beneath the waves and how these dedicated people helped prevent the Cold War becoming more.
Tani Adewumi’s life-affirming memoir is a “dare to dream” story with the power to make souls sing. As he and his parents relate their extraordinary experiences from living under Boko Haram in Nigeria to forging a new life in America, eight-year-old Tani’s voice is unfailingly endearing, with his parents’ narratives providing enlightening context, underpinned by their Christian faith. The tone is set in the introduction, in which Tani tells us that while he’s not sure what he’ll do when he grows up (maybe become a chess grandmaster, maybe a pilot, or maybe both), “I do know this much. I believe in miracles.” The story begins when Tani’s printer father is visited by Boko Haram and he evades their order to print posters that declare “No to Western Education” and “Kill all Christians”. When this makes the family a target, they flee to another area of Nigeria, then to Dallas after it becomes clear they’re not safe in their homeland. But their first experiences in America are from the life they’d hoped for. They stay with Tani’s great uncle, whose American wife becomes hostile, which compels them to move again. Thanks to the kindness of an old Nigerian friend, they’re able to move to New York where a pastor finds them a place in a shelter. Here Tani is given the opportunity to join a chess club, where meeting Coach Shawn proves to be life-changing. Tani’s natural talent for chess coupled with hard work, family support, and the kindness of coaches who give him a scholarship, sees him make fast progress. Within months he’s crowned State Chess Champion. But it doesn’t end there – when Coach Shawn suggests the family tell the national press their story to help them secure a place to live, the coverage leads to even bigger things. Alongside the overarching story, Tani’s mother shares fascinating detail about her Yoruba heritage, and this memoir is also poignant in showing the hard realities of migrant life. This comes recommended for readers who love discovering human stories that don’t shirk from the truth, but still radiate a feel-good message of hope. Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.
'From a very early age I loved the countryside as much as any garden and was fascinated by the life that I saw all around me from trees, wildflowers, birds, insects and mammals. In a sense this book has been over sixty years in gestation. I have kept notebooks and journals ever since I could write and I have drawn upon these as well as the events of the past year.' My Garden World by Monty Don is a celebration of every living creature that we all share. This year has given us the enforced opportunity to learn more about the fascinating natural world around us. Whether you live in the countryside or the town, Monty's observations and insights are relevant to each and every one of us. My Garden World is Monty Don's personal journey through the natural year, month by month, season by season, observed from the immediate world around him. 'Wildlife is not something that we watch happening in remote and exotic parts of the world on our screens, but right here in our own back yards and the more that we encourage it and learn to live with it, the more rewarding it becomes. If, in our own modest back yards, we can help preserve and treasure our natural world then we will make the world a better place -- not just for ourselves but for every living creature.'
From his humble Yorkshire childhood, via the battlefields of Burma and the peaks of the Himalayas, to becoming the NHS and the nation's hero during Lockdown, Captain Tom Moore's story is a journey for all of us - brought to you by Penguin. Who is Captain Sir Tom Moore? You've seen him on the television walking the length of his garden. A frail elderly man, doing his bit at a time of crisis. But he wasn't always like this. Where did he come from? Where was he made? From a childhood in the foothills of the Yorkshire Dales, Tom Moore grew up in a loving family, which wasn't without its share of tragedy. It was a time of plenty and of want. When the storm clouds of the Second World War threatened, he raised his hand and, like many of his generation, joined up to fight. His war would take him from a country he had never left to a place which would steal his heart, India, and the Far East, to which he would return many years later to view the sight he had missed first time around: the distant peak of Everest. Captain Tom's story is our story. It is the story of our past hundred years here in Britain. It's a time which has seen so much change, yet when so much has stayed the same: the national spirit, the can-do attitude, the belief in doing your best for others. In this rich, happy life packed with incident you will encounter time and again the curiosity, courage and generosity that saw Captain Tom look around him during our current crisis and decide that something had to be done
What would you do if the people you trusted to uphold the law committed a crime against you? Who would you turn to? And how long would you fight them for? On 28 September 1985, Lee Lawrence's mother Cherry Groce was wrongly shot by police during a raid on her Brixton home. The bullet shattered her spine and she never walked again. In the chaos that followed, 11-year-old Lee watched in horror as the News falsely pronounced his mother dead. In Brixton, already a powder keg because of the deep racism that the community was experiencing, it was the spark needed to trigger two days of rioting that saw buildings brought down by petrol bombs, cars torched and shops looted. But for Lee, it was a spark that lit a flame that would burn for the next 30 years as he fought to get the police to recognise their wrongdoing. His life had changed forever: he was now his mother's carer, he had seen first-hand the prejudice that existed in his country, and he was at the mercy of a society that was working against him. And yet that flame - for justice, for peace, for change - kept him going. The Louder I Will Sing is a powerful, compelling and uplifting memoir about growing up in modern Britain as a young Black man. It's a story both of people and politics, of the underlying racism beneath many of our most important institutions, but also the positive power that hope, faith and love can bring in response.
Who is Captain Sir Tom Moore? You've seen him on the television walking the length of his garden. A frail elderly man, doing his bit at a time of crisis. But he wasn't always like this. Where did he come from? Where was he made? From a childhood in the foothills of the Yorkshire Dales, Tom Moore grew up in a loving family, which wasn't without its share of tragedy. It was a time of plenty and of want. When the storm clouds of the Second World War threatened, he raised his hand and, like many of his generation, joined up to fight. His war would take him from a country he had never left to a place which would steal his heart, India, and the Far East, to which he would return many years later to view the sight he had missed first time around: the distant peak of Everest. Captain Tom's story is our story. It is the story of our past hundred years here in Britain. It's a time which has seen so much change, yet when so much has stayed the same: the national spirit, the can-do attitude, the belief in doing your best for others. In this rich, happy life packed with incident you will encounter time and again the curiosity, courage and generosity that saw Captain Tom look around him during our current crisis and decide that something had to be done . . .
Author Nathan Pettijohn has just broken up with his girlfriend. He rents an RV and takes to the road with his dog, Hafa, to explore the Pacific Northwest for the month of October. He describes the people he meets and the places he stays beautifully. He also shares his views on many aspects of life in America, up to and including their reaction to the current pandemic and the tragic murder of George Floyd. As a fellow motorhomer (as we call RVs in the UK) I read this book with great interest. It is wonderfully written and evokes the excitement and anticipation of going to a different place every day and staying in a different campsite every night. I’ve always found that a very addictive thing to do and clearly, so does the author. I feel that I now want to go to the US and explore the same area that he did, especially as, due to the pandemic, I haven’t had any trips in my motorhome this year and I’m getting very itchy feet. Like the author, I wouldn’t dream of going on a road trip without at least one dog. He brilliantly evokes the camaraderie that occurs when dog people meet and talk dog talk. His descriptions of the places he visits are excellent and I could empathise with some of the issues he faced in getting used to his RV. This is a thoroughly enjoyable book, very well written and extremely readable. Highly recommended. Susan Wallace, A LoveReading Ambassador
Edited by trailblazing broadcaster, editor and critic Margaret Busby OBE - Britain’s first black woman publisher when she co-founded Allison and Busby in the 1960s - New Daughters of Africa is an extraordinary feat of publishing, presenting as it does the diverse work of 200+ women of African heritage across more than 900 pages. In 1992, Busby published Daughters of Africa, and this epically-proportioned - and realised - re-visitation duplicates none of the writers featured in the first incarnation. Busby hopes in her introduction, “may all who find their way to this anthology, regardless of gender, class or race, feast well on its banquet of words.” And I defy any reader not to do just that. This rich feast presents all kinds of writers – academics and activists; critics and curators; fiction writers and filmmakers; poets and politicians, to name but a few - from all parts of the world. There are wise words to chew on from familiar figures, among them Diane Abbott, Angela Levy, Bernardine Evaristo, Malorie Blackman, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Afua Hirsch. And there are individuals and pieces I was grateful to discover for the first time, such as Bermudian Angela Barry’s Without Prejudice story, and Yvette Edwards, a London writer of Montserratian origin. The collection’s historical entries are engrossing too, among them Sarah Parker Remond’s (1815-1894) “Why Slavery is Still Rampant” piece, and Meta Davis Cumberbatch’s (1900-1978) powerfully rousing poem, “A Child of Nature (Negro of the Caribbean)”. This is an exceptional anthology to savour - a uniquely nourishing banquet for mind and heart. Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.
SH**GED Saturday nights out on the tiles, undying crushes, dating like it's a competitive sport, awkward tales of dating woes, one-night stands, the walk of shame, ghosting, tears and break-ups. MARRIED Finding 'the one', meeting their parents, first holidays and romantic weekends away, engagement rings, big moment proposals, wedding bells, the hen do, the stag, the much anticipated - and feared - best man speech, the honeymoon of a lifetime. ANNOYED Who stacks a dishwasher like this? Empty milk cartons placed back into the fridge, pregnancy, sleepless nights, toilet seats up, toothpaste everywhere, less and less frequent date nights, DIY weekends, divorce. Whether you're sh**ged, married, annoyed, or, all of the above, Chris and Rosie Ramsey, hosts of the number one podcast, write hilariously and with honesty about the ups and downs and ins and outs of love, sex and relationships.
Ant and Dec hold a special place in the hearts of TV viewers everywhere. This is their epic story, with never-before-seen photography and the very best tales from their 30 years in TV. Ant: As the old Chinese proverb says, 'Good things come in pairs'. Dec: And as another Chinese proverb says, 'If you've been in a double act with your best mate for thirty years, why not write a book about all your most memorable moments in three decades of showbusiness?' Ant: Less catchy that one, isn't it? Dec: But no less true. And after three decades together, we're writing that book. Covering everything from a pirate radio storyline in Byker Grove through to the biggest shows on telly, this is our story. Ant: Thirty years, eh? Amazing. Dec: Absolutely. Especially when you consider we are both still 27 years old. From their modest beginnings in Byker Grove through to their unique time as pop stars and an award-laden TV career, the last three decades have flown by in the blink of an eye. They've also featured an incredible cast of supporting characters, including their first scriptwriter (an unknown comedian called David Walliams), Saturday night fun and games with countless Hollywood A-listers, and celebrities they torture - sorry, work with - every year in the jungle. Told through the lens of every TV show they've made, as well as everything they've learnt along the way, this is the riotously funny journey of two ordinary lads from Newcastle who went on to achieve extraordinary things.
NO.1 BESTSELLER ANT MIDDLETON SHARES HIS SECRETS ABOUT HIS POSITIVE MINDSET AND TEACHES YOU TO LIVE A LIFE WITH ZERO NEGATIVITY There are times when life feels like it has you cornered: financial difficulties, relationship issues, work problems, all of the above. Every one of us, at one time or another, will have to face up to the challenges that come our way. And there are two ways of meeting them: negatively, where blame is the answer, where other people are at fault, where you haven't been treated fairly. Or positively, where you own the situation, learn and grow from it, and become a better person at the end of it. Letting you into areas of his life he's never talked about before, in Zero Negativity, Ant will show you how to embrace failure and use it to your advantage, how to see change as the foundation of your future success, how to develop resilience, how to deal with bullies, what it means to be a positive roll model, and how to live a life with no regrets. This book will not tell you who to be, where you should live, or what job you should do. That's up to you. What this book is for, however, is to give you the tools you need to become the best possible version of yourself, to own who and what you are, and to live your life with Zero Negativity.
From the Sunday Times bestselling author of Your Life in My Hands comes this vibrant, tender and deeply personal memoir that finds light and love in the darkest of places. As a specialist in palliative medicine, Dr Rachel Clarke chooses to inhabit a place many people would find too tragic to contemplate. Every day she tries to bring care and comfort to those reaching the end of their lives and to help make dying more bearable. Rachel's training was put to the test in 2017 when her beloved GP father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She learned that nothing - even the best palliative care - can sugar-coat the pain of losing someone you love. And yet, she argues, in a hospice there is more of what matters in life - more love, more strength, more kindness, more joy, more tenderness, more grace, more compassion - than you could ever imagine. For if there is a difference between people who know they are dying and the rest of us, it is simply this: that the terminally ill know their time is running out, while we live as though we have all the time in the world. Dear Life is a book about the vital importance of human connection, by the doctor we would all want by our sides at a time of crisis. It is a love letter - to a father, to a profession, to life itself.
There are people who just read biographies, interested only in the details of the lives of real people. There are others, like us, who enjoy dipping a toe, every now and then, into the deep inviting waters of the biography pool, to see first-hand the experiences of a person, past or present, who captures our imagination or pique’s our interest. From the First Man on the Moon to the latest winner of a jungle-based reality TV programme; sport-star to leading politician; religious leader to Arctic explorer, the choice is vast!
Want more inspiration? Head to our 'Best Autobiographies Ever' blog post filled with recommendations from our bookish friends.