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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.
Chosen as a LoveReading Star Book, this is an engaging and absolutely riveting read following the memories of two sisters during the Second World War. Pat and Jean Owtram were still teenagers when the war began and signed up as soon as they were old enough, with Pat intercepting German radio and Jean becoming a Code and Cipher Officer. Each sister tells her own story in sequence, with letters to each other and family members adding a real insight into their lives and the times. Having signed the Official Secrets Act, they were unable to divulge their roles even to each other, but nonetheless the actual letters reveal their courage, resilience, and spirit. It is fascinating to discover that both women owed their wartime duties to their fluency in German, a skill that was honed after their family had taken in two Austrian Jewish refugees. I am intrigued by the world of intelligence, so found this a compelling read. It is the little things, such as Jean nearly not passing on a seemingly irrelevant yet vital piece of information that makes this so fascinating. Their wartime work shaped the women they became and I want to hand on heart, salute them both. Codebreaking Sisters is a worthwhile, truly lovely and enthralling read I can highly recommend.
A thoughtful, sometimes emotionally painful, yet unforgettable medical memoir I feel everyone should read. Our expectations of our medical and emergency teams are high, we trust, we rely, we hope. When a best-selling novelist, with the most beautiful way with words, tells the story of her time as a junior doctor, you just have to sit up and listen. Each chapter begins with thoughts from different people and roles within the medical profession. Joanna Cannon opens her arms wide and lets you in to her story, her way with words ensures you can see a full and vivid picture. Heartbreakingly honest, we see how she is overstretched, twanging like elastic that is on the point of completely fraying. A number of times her words resonated so strongly, they gave me goose-bumps. She not only made me look with different eyes at our medical practitioners, she also made me think about my own thoughts and words. I don’t think I will ever forget her “we each measure words with different scales”. Breaking and Mending is a LoveReading Star Book... I smiled, I cried, afterwards I sat and hugged it!
JOHN BOLTON READS THE EPILOGUE! As President Trump’s National Security Advisor, John Bolton spent many of his 453 days in the room where it happened, and the facts speak for themselves. The result is a White House memoir that is the most comprehensive and substantial account of the Trump Administration, and one of the few to date by a top-level official. With almost daily access to the President, John Bolton has produced a precise rendering of his days in and around the Oval Office. What Bolton saw astonished him: a President for whom getting reelected was the only thing that mattered, even if it meant endangering or weakening the nation. “I am hard-pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my tenure that wasn’t driven by reelection calculations,” he writes. In fact, he argues that the House committed impeachment malpractice by keeping their prosecution focused narrowly on Ukraine when Trump’s Ukraine-like transgressions existed across the full range of his foreign policy—and Bolton documents exactly what those were, and attempts by him and others in the Administration to raise alarms about them. He shows a President addicted to chaos, who embraced our enemies and spurned our friends, and was deeply suspicious of his own government. In Bolton’s telling, all this helped put Trump on the bizarre road to impeachment. “The differences between this presidency and previous ones I had served were stunning,” writes Bolton, who worked for Reagan, Bush 41, and Bush 43. He discovered a President who thought foreign policy is like closing a real estate deal—about personal relationships, made-for-TV showmanship, and advancing his own interests. As a result, the US lost an opportunity to confront its deepening threats, and in cases like China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea ended up in a more vulnerable place. Bolton’s account starts with his long march to the West Wing as Trump and others woo him for the National Security job. The minute he lands, he has to deal with Syria’s chemical attack on the city of Douma, and the crises after that never stop. As he writes in the opening pages, “If you don’t like turmoil, uncertainty, and risk—all the while being constantly overwhelmed with information, decisions to be made, and sheer amount of work—and enlivened by international and domestic personality and ego conflicts beyond description, try something else.” The turmoil, conflicts, and egos are all there—from the upheaval in Venezuela, to the erratic and manipulative moves of North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, to the showdowns at the G7 summits, the calculated warmongering by Iran, the crazy plan to bring the Taliban to Camp David, and the placating of an authoritarian China that ultimately exposed the world to its lethal lies. But this seasoned public servant also has a great eye for the Washington inside game, and his story is full of wit and wry humor about how he saw it played.
Heart-rending, inspirational and all-encompassing, Poems for a Pandemic will undoubtedly become a matchless historic document of how it was to live - and die - during the Covid-19 pandemic. And right now, in June 2020, with most of the world still in the clutches of Covid-19, it’s an invaluably empathic volume that shows we are not alone even when we feel at our loneliest. A book that will move readers to tears, to give thanks for life, and to the NHS. Poems for a Pandemic came about due to the drive of Angela Marston, a retired Palliative Care Nurse who devoted almost forty years of her life to the NHS. While struck with Covid-19 symptoms, Angela was inspired to write her first poem in years. On recovering she was compelled to “do something meaningful”, and so the anthology was born. Angela set about collecting poems by people from all walks of life - nurses, doctors, pharmacists, teachers, food bank volunteers – whose varied, powerful thoughts grace this 100-poem collection, with several professional writers adding their voices to the poignant chorus. Her vision was to raise money for the NHS (all proceeds of this anthology will go to NHS Charities Together), and to “record for all eternity the thoughts and feelings of ordinary people at an extraordinary time”. By Jove, she’s done that and more. The anthology spans raw, elemental subjects - health professionals holding the hands of the dying, acute lockdown loneliness, the fears of the proud relatives of NHS staff - to poems that document shifts in behaviour and collective consciousness – interacting online, staying home to save lives, staying apart on eerie streets, the hailing of new kinds of heroes. Then there’s nine-year-old Harry Husselbee who speaks for all humanity when he writes, “How I wish I could get this virus/And throw it to the moon”. And ten-year-old Cory Yeoman who warns, “Coronavirus you better watch out, because these doctors and nurses don’t want you about. This is our world…Get out! Get out! Get out!” We’re with you, Harry and Cory. In his stirring foreword Darren Smith, author of the powerful anti-racist poem “You Clap for Me Now”, writes “At its heart poetry is about trying to express something too big for words. Fear. Loneliness. Love. Community. Death.” With that definition in mind, Poems for a Pandemic is the very epitome of what poetry is about. Download your copy on Amazon here or from any other ebook retailer now
I know Jesus Christ is Real, as you can tell by the title places a lot of emphasis on the author’s religious beliefs. A personal memoir covering a difficult childhood in Jamaica and an adult life spent in America, it is clear that the author’s faith has provided support and strength throughout her life and the challenges she has faced. It was interesting to me to step into the shoes of a deeply spiritual person and see their perception of the world. I read this book as a learning experience, the author’s views didn’t and still don’t match my own, but I admire the strength of her conviction. I was interested in the author’s story, growing up in Jamaica, in extreme poverty and alone at times and this book offers insight into life and education in Jamaica, it is a country I haven’t visited and know very little about. It made me happy that she managed to build a life of happiness with her family in America, especially one that is in such direct contrast to her upbringing. I would recommend this book to readers who want to learn about other people. I think that this is a good book to find out more about spirituality from a personal perspective, and ultimately I think that viewpoints aside, this is a book about hope and faith.
Wow, what a story! Roses down the Barrel of a Gun is an incredible memoir of one British woman’s experience working and living in a tumultuous Georgia. I have learned so much about this country, its culture and its history by reading this wonderful book and the author’s love of Georgia really shined through as I read. This book manages to convey the warmth and welcoming nature of the people Jo met as well as more difficult living and working conditions as Jo arrived at the British Council in Tbilisi. As well as giving insight into life before, during and after the Rose Revolution in 2003, which I found incredibly interesting in itself, the author manages to include a more personal narrative filled with the difficulties of transferring to an overseas role, the culture and warmth of the new country and the development of new friendships and relationships. I like the descriptions of the meals, and the toasting and felt as though I had a seat at the table as I read. In addition to not knowing much about Georgia, I’m also unfamiliar with the work carried out by foreign embassies and initiatives like the British Council. I enjoyed finding out about the exhibitions and performances and I think that this book highlights the vital importance of the arts to society. Roses Down the Barrel of a Gun is a fascinating insight into a country that I knew little about and I highly recommend this book.
Hailed by Toni Morrison as “required reading,” a bold and personal literary exploration of America’s racial history by “the most important essayist in a generation and a writer who changed the national political conversation about race” (Rolling Stone) NAMED ONE OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL BOOKS OF THE DECADE BY CNN • NAMED ONE OF PASTE’S BEST MEMOIRS OF THE DECADE • NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New York Times Book Review • O: The Oprah Magazine • The Washington Post • People • Entertainment Weekly • Vogue • Los Angeles Times • San Francisco Chronicle • Chicago Tribune • New York • Newsday • Library Journal • Publishers Weekly In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis. Americans have built an empire on the idea of “race,” a falsehood that damages us all but falls most heavily on the bodies of black women and men—bodies exploited through slavery and segregation, and, today, threatened, locked up, and murdered out of all proportion. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves from its burden? Between the World and Me is Ta-Nehisi Coates’s attempt to answer these questions in a letter to his adolescent son. Coates shares with his son—and readers—the story of his awakening to the truth about his place in the world through a series of revelatory experiences, from Howard University to Civil War battlefields, from the South Side of Chicago to Paris, from his childhood home to the living rooms of mothers whose children’s lives were taken as American plunder. Beautifully woven from personal narrative, reimagined history, and fresh, emotionally charged reportage, Between the World and Me clearly illuminates the past, bracingly confronts our present, and offers a transcendent vision for a way forward.
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.
This companion to the work of one of Britain's best-loved novelists celebrates the centenary of her birth.
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!
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
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.