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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.
What happens when you so deeply believe something you were told as a child that it becomes the driving force behind almost every thought, feeling and action for the rest of your life – until you decide to take complete control and change your life entirely? For decades, Carolyn Hobdey believed she was ‘trouble’ and if she wasn’t ‘nicer’ she’d spend her days alone and unloved. All The Tw*ts I Met Along The Way tells Carolyn’s tales of crappy boyfriends, sickening sexual encounters, manipulative men, love triangles, unsupportive and unsupported medical diagnoses… and that’s just in the first few pages. From porn-addicted boyfriends who go from fitties to owners of ‘dad bods,’ to car crashes and boob jobs. Marriage to a lover who became more like a brother (and who came out as gay after their 15 year relationship) and later a relationship with a man and his ‘ready-made family’ that exposes a damaging case of coercive control and narcissism. Carolyn’s story exposes the unrelenting pull of the child-parent relationship – even in adulthood – and all the messiness, self-esteem issues and confusion that can cause. As she writes, “I didn’t want to be the trouble-maker, the one to cause my parents concern, anymore.”
An interesting and thought-provoking step into a world most of us won’t have an understanding of. Michael Emmett grew up with a career criminal for a father and joined the family business of organised crime. With links to the Kray Twins, drugs, sex, and violence he lived the high life before being sentenced to 12 years in prison after a huge drugs smuggling conviction. In prison he joined an Alpha Prayer Group, and after leaving began to turn his life around, he is now committed to helping prisoners and ex-offenders. Together with journalist Harriet Compston, he has written the story of his life of crime and consequently finding Christian faith. I think that it is important to try to reach for an understanding of the difficulties faced by children and young adults when immersed in crime from the moment they are born. This is a story that is simply told with verve and colour, though the violence and criminality sits uneasily alongside the glitz and glamour. The author uses the word ‘naughty’ to describe his criminality on several occasions, as though he is talking to the child that was. Sins of Fathers is a fascinating, eye-opening and convincing memoir from a man who is still dealing with his past.
You've Got Some Nerve is Derryen’s autobiographical account of a traumatic brian injury and her recovery. Dealing openly and honestly about the traumatic events as well as the impact that they have had on her life and outlook, this book is frank without being too intimidating. Shedding much needed light on the impact of brain injuries as well as allowing the reader in to her struggle with PTSD and depression, You’ve Got Some Nerve is an interesting book that offers first hand insight into how to support someone suffering from the long-term effects of an invisible injury. The writing is detailed, evocative and gripped me from the introduction. The intention of this book is to offer some insight into the effects of trauma, and as an account to help those experiencing something similar or know someone who is, feel less alone. There’s sections in the book that include ways that you can offer help and support to someone suffering from the effects of a brain injury, PTSD or depression as well as a ‘wish list for medical providers’ of behaviours that the Derryen found most helpful. I think that this is an interesting read not only for the intended audience of those who have experienced similar trauma to Derryen, but anyone who feels that their life has been taken of course. This book is an honest insight into how drastic life changes can impact you, but also how you can begin to work through them to forge a new path.
Calum O’Domhnaill has had a very eventful life, explored in Taking The Bad With the Good we find out about his upbringing in a Catholic school, how he then gravitates towards a life of crime, a tragic accident that leads to the loss of a child and how he and his wife, Lydia, rebuild from the trauma. I think that this is a great read for those interested in autobiographies. This book covers a range of topics with openness and honesty which makes this story both endearing and heart wrenching. The author doesn’t pull his punches as he covers the darker events in his and his family’s life, but there is some humour to be found amongst the pages too. Taking the Bad With the Good is the story of one man’s upbringing in a dysfunctional family, an Irish Catholic upbringing and convent school system, the tragedies that befell his wife before they met, and those that happen to their family and how they are overcome. This is a twisting rollercoaster of a life that is incredibly moving however it is also a story of resilience and I think that a lesson of hope can be found too.
Crossed-Dressed to Kill is an incredibly interesting book filled with instances from the 17th century onwards of women who dressed as men in order to go to war. Some of the names of these women were known to me, Anne Bonny the 18th century Pirate for one, however this book gave me more insight into their history, and there were many other women who I was introduced to for the first time. This is a fascinating side of history with the author’s detailed research shining a spotlight on the women who defied their gender roles in order to participate in military action. The account of each woman is detailed, although brief, this means you could happily flick through the pages, reading about a couple of brave women at a time, or read cover to cover. At the end of each account there is a concluding summary, which not only rounds our each story but highlights some of the patriarchal views of the time. Some of these stories are more sad than others, but all are incredibly interesting with plenty of references included at the end of the book to allow for personal research and further reading. I never enjoyed History at school, but as an adult I love learning about the past and I think that stories like these should be shared in schools, at the very least to demonstrate that the old-fashioned notion of the “traditional” role of women, didn’t work even at the height of it’s popularity.
Euphoric Recall is inspired and based on the author’s life. This is an honest portrayal of a number of traumatic events including sexual abuse and addiction as well as his recovery. You are drawn into Aiden’s world in the first pages, his writing style is familiar and open, helping to form an immediate connection to the reader. This makes the book enticing, and I was keen to keep reading right to the very end. I think that this is a brilliantly written debut. The details of the trauma that Aiden experienced are dark and heart wrenching, however there is an element of hope - this book has been written and Aiden is in a position to reflect and tell his story. I admire the strength it’s taken to reflect and share dark moments. I also think that Euphoric Recall includes many moments that any reader would find relatable. As I was reading the title did confuse me slightly, but upon reflection I think that the ‘euphoria’ comes from the ability to look back, to have come back from trauma and share the whole story. I really enjoyed this book and I think that it would be a good memoir for those who are interested in more gritty life stories.
Shout it From the Rooftops: A Terminal Cancer Healing is a hopeful autobiography of one woman’s experience of being diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. After being prescribed palliative care only, Lizzie Emery describes her journey almost as a spiritual awakening, referring to it as a pilgrimage. Eight years following her diagnosis, Lizzie has regained her full health and strength and in this book she describes the lifestyle changes she has made since her initial diagnosis. I would describe this book as a holistic perspective on healthcare taken from Lizzie’s experience and information she has gathered (which are helpfully referenced in the ‘Notes’ section at the end of the book) with a heavy focus on faith and spiritual well being as well as releasing repressed emotion, increasing positive thinking and improving diet and exercise. While I agree that it is important to remain hopeful in the face of a life changing or difficult diagnosis and that making life changes that improve your stress levels, physical and mental health are always encouraged, I am not in any way qualified to assess the efficacy of the steps taken in this book and I would be hesitant to recommend this book in those terms. When Lizzie was first diagnosed, she struggled to find biographical or autobiographical accounts following a cancer diagnosis, and wanted to share her story with others who are in that position, or friends and relatives of those who are. I think that Shout it From the Rooftops does what it sets out to, it details a person’s cancer story from their initial diagnosis in a way that shares hope and spreads awareness of radical remission cases.
The fascinating royal and social history that inspired the second and third seasons of The Crown, from the show's historical consultant. In this incredible companion to the second and third seasons of Netflix's acclaimed series The Crown, renowned biographer and the show's historical consultant Robert Lacey takes us through the real history that inspired the drama. Covering two tumultuous decades in the reign of Elizabeth II, Lacey looks at the key social, political and personal moments and the effect they had not only on the royal family, but also on the world around them. From the Suez Canal Crisis and the US/Russia space race to the Duke of Windsor's collaboration with Hitler and the rumoured issues with the royal marriage, the book will provide a fascinating insight into the two decades that the show covers, revealing the truth behind the fiction on-screen. Extensively researched, this is a unique look behind the history that inspired the show and the years that would prove to be the making of The Queen. The Crown is now available to watch on Netflix. The Crown is produced by Left Bank Pictures in association with Sony Pictures Television for Netflix.
If you were to write a letter to your 16-year-old self, what would it say? In Dear Me, some of the world's most famous and best loved celebrities, from actors to chefs, directors to musicians, have written just such a letter. The letters range from the compassionate to the shocking via hilarity and heartbreak, but they all have one thing in common: they offer a unique insight into the teenager who would grow up to be... J.K. Rowling, Hugh Jackman, Kathleen Turner, Stan Lee, James Belushi, Moon Zappa, Seth Green, Piers Morgan, Jodi Picoult, Stephen King, Phil Ramone, Michael Winner, Alan Cumming, Jerry Springer, Armistead Maupin, E from The Eels, Ferran Adrià , Rose McGowan, James Woods or Gillian Anderson.
What words of wisdom would you write to your sixteen year old self now, in your older wiser years? Here is a collection of letters from an array of personalities giving their younger selves advice and guidance for what lies ahead. From Stephen Fry to Jackie Collins to Yoko Ono this is wonderful hilarious, moving collection with proceeds going to the Elton John Aids Foundation.
Politicians and sex scandals have been the subject of many a fiction (and fact but, I still canâ€™t picture Edwina and John having sex). However, this book is (we are lead to believe) a true account (names withheld) and it makes for pretty lurid reading (you have been warned!). We follow our anonymous politician through increasingly exotic encounters involving a fair number of other politicians. Unsurprisingly the identity of the author is much sought after as it would make pages of tabloid coverage. However, you have to ask, why write the book if you want to stay anonymous? And if you do know who the author is just drop us a quick email!
This companion to the work of one of Britain's best-loved novelists celebrates the centenary of her birth.
The story of 60 paintings is told, unlocking hidden meanings and symbols and over 700 photographs bring the pictures to life helping you understand the key features, composition and techniques that have made these paintings stand out. Plus, biographies of the artists provide the background to each art work helping you paint your own picture of the historical and social context behind each masterpiece. Great Paintings is a beautiful guide to the paintings that have changed the world, both familiar and new. It really is like having a gallery of all the great paintings at your fingertips.
Bad Education, written by and starring Jack Whitehall, follows Alfie Wickers the worst teacher to ever (dis)grace the British Education System, and a bigger kid than the pupils he teaches. Abbey Grove school is populated by some of the weirdest teachers you could ever meet: Fraser the hair-brained Headmaster who longs to be down with the kids, Miss Gulliver the biology teacher with a heart of gold but perhaps a dash too much openness and honesty, Miss Mollinson the happily swinging Head of Maths who won't let her hip replacement get in the way and Deputy Headmistress Miss Pickwell who displays all the charm and sensitivity of a Third Reich Dominatrix. Alfie's class is Form K, a bunch of misfits that have been written off by the rest of the school, but Alfie can't help but see a bit of himself in them. This is about a class of kids and their teacher's quest to get through life and get the best results with the minimum amount of effort possible. Sadly it's not an equation that always adds up. From a disastrous parents' evening to cringe-worthy sex-education lessons to life threatening self-defence classes to school elections full of dirty tricks and a school trip to see a rhino pig; Bad Education is school life as you've never seen it before. Bad Education: The Teachers' Handbook is filled with hilarious content from both the first and upcoming second series from pupils' report cards and the graffiti found in the staff toilets, to Alfie's teaching methods and the best ways to scam a free laptop from the government.
Steve Berry decided to do something a little bit different to raise funds for Alzheimer's Research UK. A life-long DOCTOR WHO fan, he began to interview celebrities, writers, actors and people who had worked on DOCTOR WHO, asking for their earliest memories of the show that sent us cowering behind the sofa. Now he presents the fruits of his four years of labour - a beautiful, touching book containing short articles and touching memories of one of the most successful TV shows ever. 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of DOCTOR WHO - this is the perfect way to enjoy those 50 years! This revised and expanded edition includes over 30 new entries from people such as Sophia Myles, Ben Aaronovitch, John Leeson and many more Contributors include comedians Al Murray, Stephen Merchant, and Bill Oddie; actors Lynda Bellingham, Nicholas Parsons, and Rhys Thomas; writers Neil Gaiman, Jenny Colgan, Jonathan Ross and Charlie Brooker and politicians Louise Mensch and Tom Harris. In addition, there is input from a number of the writers, actors and production staff who were involved in creating DOCTOR WHO stories new and old.
The only 100% fully OFFICIAL Annual - written in collaboration with One Direction. This is THE Annual for all 1D fans! The most successful band in the world - One Direction - are having an amazing year. A sell-out tour, bagging number one in 63 countries and the release of their first movie this summer are just some of their achievements. Find out straight from Harry, Liam, Louis, Niall and Zayn what they think about success, their musical influences, making the movie, their style, their amazing fans and much more! With exclusive interviews, up to the minute news and fantastic never-seen-before photos, this is a must-have for all One Direction fans, and a fantastic Christmas gift!
This is a beautifully packaged and illustrated gift book for girls to give to their best friends, their mums. 'I would rather go an entire week without my mobile phone than go one day without talking to you! Love you, Mum.' 'I promise not to play my music too loudly...If you promise to do the same! Love you, Mum.' Many mothers and daughters now share everything from shoes and make-up to Facebook and Twilight. Packed with gorgeous illustrations, photographs and sayings, Love You, Mum celebrates the growing bond between girls and their mums.
Money, cars, homes, holidays, parties and all the shoes you've ever dreamed of. The life of a footballer's wife or girlfriend must be as glamorous and exciting as her other half, right? But behind the closed doors of the Wag's world, there are all the pressures as well as pleasures of success. So what is it really like? The Secret Wag lays bare the reality of existence under the celebrity spotlight. It is about fashion and fame, sex and scandal, but, like the bestselling Secret Footballer books, is also an honest appraisal of life on and off the field of play which will change your preconceptions about footballers and their partners. It is sassy, outspoken, funny and above all, written from the heart. Meet The Secret Wag.
At the vulnerable age of 13, Lara McDonnell was picked out by a gang of men who befriended her, showered her with attention and gained her trust. Manipulated and groomed, her life quickly spiralled out of control as the men trafficked her around the country, deliberately keeping her compliant with drink and drugs. Deeply disturbed, and frightened about what the gang would do to her if she tried to break free, it would take over 4 years for Lara to find the strength to fight back, flee Oxford and escape her nightmare. This is her heartbreaking story.
Celia Fiennes travelled the length and breadth of England, riding side-saddle, at the dawn of the eighteenth century. o Discover the multiple journeys around the world undertaken in the 1840s by the Austrian Ida Pfeiffer. Dora d'Istria, a mountain-climbing duchess and polymath, travelled widely through Europe but her account of ascending Mont Blanc in 1860 is perhaps the most striking. Read about Isabel Burton's adventures as a government employee's wife stationed all over the world. Explore the writing of Isabella Bird who travelled around the world on doctor's orders - until finally retraining as a doctor and missionary in her sixties for a trip to India and its surrounding countries. Find out what motivated Marie Kingsley to travel solo to the deepest parts of West Africa and how her journeys shaped not only her own way of thinking but that of Europe as whole. Learn how May Kellogg Sullivan undertook her journey to Alaska and the Yukon to seek her fortune in the gold-mining world. Astonish yourself by finding out that, on a trip to Burma, India, Ceylon and Indonesia with her husband, Fanny Bullock Workman cycled 15,000 miles (as a welcome break from glacier-climbing in the Himalayas). Follow investigative journalist Nellie Bly as she takes up Jules Verne's gauntlet to travel around the world in eighty days. Or find out how Ella Sykes once rode on horseback from the Caspian Sea all the way to India.
Elma Napier's Black and White Sands (Papillote Press) is one of my favourite books of all time. It's the enthralling autobiography of a Scottish-born aristocrat who in 1932 abandoned the trappings and vacuity of high society for a dramatically different new life in the wildly majestic Caribbean island of Dominica. Like the island, Elma's spirit is indomitable (indeed, she was the first woman to sit in a West Indian parliament), her voice witty and engaging as she recounts the trials and tribulations, the joys and jubilations she and her husband experienced while building their home and new lives on their beloved adopted island: With Dominica we fell in love at first sight, an infatuation without tangible rhyme or reason, yet no more irrational than any other falling in love. Sublime. From our Best Autobiographies Ever Blog Read our 'Book-aneers of the Caribbean' listicle to find more unforgettable books by Caribbean writers.
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.