Autobiography

The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography

By Sidney Poitier

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I have no wish to play the pontificating fool, pretending that I've suddenly come up with the answers to all life's questions. Quite that contrary, I began this book as an exploration, an exercise in self-questing. In other words, I wanted to find out, as I looked back at a long and complicated life, with many twists and turns, how well I've done at measuring up to the values I myself have set.
--Sidney Poitier

"In this luminous memoir, a true American icon looks back on his celebrated life and career. His body of work is arguably the most morally significant in cinematic history, and the power and influence of that work are indicative of the character of the man behind the many storied roles. Sidney Poitier here explores these elements of character and personal values to take his own measure--as a man, as a husband and a father, and as an actor.

"Poitier credits his parents and his childhood on tiny Cat Island in the Bahamas for equipping him with the unflinching sense of right and wrong and of self-worth that he has never surrendered and that have dramatically shaped his world. 'In the kind of place where I grew up,' recalls Poitier, 'what's coming at you is the sound of the sea and the smell of the wind and momma's voice and the voice of your dad and the craziness of your brothers and sisters...and that's it.' Without television, radio, and material distractions to obscure what matters most, he could enjoy the simple things, endure the long commitments, and find true meaning in his life. Poitier was uncompromising as he pursued a personal and public life that would honor his upbringing and the invaluable legacy of his parents. Just a few years after his introduction to indoor plumbing and the automobile, Poitier broke racial barrier after racial barrier to launch a pioneering acting career. Committed to the notion that what one does for a living articulates to who one is, Poitier played only forceful and affecting characters who said something positive, useful, and lasting about the human condition. Here is Poitier's own introspective look at what has informed his performances and his life."

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Never Have Your Dog Stuffed: And Other Things I've Learned

By Alan Alda

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"He's one of America's most recognizable and acclaimed actors--a star on Broadway, an Oscar nominee for The Aviator, and the only person to ever win Emmys for acting, writing, and directing, during his eleven years on M*A*S*H. Now Alan Alda has written a memoir as elegant, funny, and affecting as his greatest performances. 'My mother didn't try to stab my father until I was six,' begins Alda's irresistible story. The son of a popular actor and a loving but mentally ill mother, he spent his early childhood backstage in the erotic and comic world of burlesque and went on, after early struggles, to achieve extraordinary success in his profession.

"Yet Never Have Your Dog Stuffed is not a memoir of show-business ups and downs. It is a moving and funny story of a boy growing into a man who then realizes he has only just begun to grow. It is the story of turning points in Alda's life, events that would make him what he is--if only he could survive them. From the moment as a boy when his dead dog is returned from the taxidermist's shop with a hideous expression on his face, and he learns that death can't be undone, to the decades-long effort to find compassion for the mother he lived with but never knew, to his acceptance of his father, both personally and professionally, Alda learns the hard way that change, uncertainty, and transformation are what life is made of, and true happiness is found in embracing them."

His tales continue in Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself.

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Memories of a Munchkin: An Illustrated Walk Down the Yellow Brick Road

By Meinhardt Raabe

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"...one of the last surviving cast members of The Wizard of Oz reveals his life story and shares his memories of making that beloved Hollywood classic. Born into a family of German dairy farmers, Meinhardt Raabe grew up in Farmington, Wisconsin. In 1934, before starting college, he heard about a special 'Midget Village' exhibit at the World's Fair in Chicago. Raabe was hired to participate in that event, followed by years of appearing at other fairs and exhibitions. In 1938, he heard a rumor that MGM was going to make a movie with Judy Garland and 'they wanted as many little people as they could find.' Through an agent, Raabe was cast in the film.

"And what follows is his own account of life as a Munchkin on the set of The Wizard of Oz: enduring tough auditions, watching as the glorious Munchkinland set was built, putting up with long days of rehearsal, being costumed by legendary MGM designer Adrian, hob-nobbing on the set with the stars, witnessing various mishaps during filming, being visited on the set by curious Hollywood royalty such as Spencer Tracy and Clark Gable, and much more. Here, too, is Raabe's life after the The Wizard of Oz: His career as an accomplished pilot with the Civil Air Patrol during World War II; more than 30 years as 'Little Oscar,' spokesman for the Oscar Mayer Company; his charity work and his role as advocate and kindred spirit to Little People everywhere. This is a charming, humorous and inspiring memoir..."

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Kiss Me Like a Stranger: My Search for Love and Art

By Gene Wilder

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"In this personal book from the star of many beloved and classic film comedies -- from The Producers to Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles to Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory -- Gene Wilder writes about a side of his life the public hasn't seen on the screen. Kiss Me Like a Stranger is not an autobiography in the usual sense of the word, and it's certainly not another celebrity 'tell-all.' Instead, Wilder has chosen to write about resonant moments in his life, events that led him to an understanding of the art of acting, and -- more important -- to an understanding of how to give love to and receive love from a woman. Wilder writes compellingly about the creative process on stage and screen, and divulges moments from life on the sets of some of the most iconic movies of our time. In this book, he talks about everything from his experiences in psychoanalysis to why he got into acting and later comedy (his first goal was to be a Shakespearean actor), and how a Midwestern childhood with a sick mother changed him. Wilder explains why he became an actor and writer, and about the funny, wonderful movies he made with Mel Brooks, Woody Allen, Richard Pryor, and Harrison Ford, among many others. He candidly reveals his failures in love, and writes about the overwhelming experience of marrying comedienne Gilda Radner, as well as what finally had to happen for him to make a true and lasting commitment to another woman."

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My Sergei: A Love Story

By Ekaterina Gordeeva with E.M. Swift

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A heartwarming story of two young Soviet iceskaters who were a team both on and off the ice. The wife, Ekaterina Gordeeva, became a widow very suddenly and at a very young age. This is her story of their life.

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Zombie Spaceship Wasteland by Patton Oswalt

Zombie Spaceship Wasteland by Patton Oswalt

Not all stand-up comedians can translate their live energy and timing into textual representation. For Patton Oswalt, however, the transition from stage to page feels effortless and strangely appropriate. In Zombie Spaceship Wasteland, Oswalt treats us to an engaging romp through a motley assortment of his personal experiences, pop-culture obsessions, and comedic experiments. Oswalt introduces the book with a very appropriate confession: “Comedy and terror and autobiography and comics and literature – they’re all the same thing. To me.” And, for once, he isn’t joking.

Zombie Spaceship Wasteland is extremely eclectic, which makes it difficult to relegate to a singular category.  There are sections that lean towards the autobiography/memoir side of the spectrum. But there are also humor pieces and miscellaneous experiments, such as an illustrated chapter that feels like a slightly zanier, compressed version of Dylan Dog. There is also an epic poem dedicated to Ulvaak, the last character Oswalt played in Dungeons and Dragons. While the sheer variety of Zombie’s vignettes might seem overwhelming, the book is actually compulsively readable. I found myself eagerly turning the pages, wondering what Oswalt’s fevered brain would churn out next.

Gift from the Sea

By Anne Morrow Lindbergh

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"In this inimitable, beloved classic--graceful, lucid and lyrical--Anne Morrow Lindbergh shares her meditations on youth and age; love and marriage; peace, solitude and contentment as she set them down during a brief vacation by the sea. Drawing inspiration from the shells on the shore, Lindbergh's musings on the shape of a woman's life bring new understanding to both men and women at any stage of life. A mother of five, an acclaimed writer and a pioneering aviator, Lindbergh casts an unsentimental eye on the trappings of modernity that threaten to overwhelm us: the time-saving gadgets that complicate rather than simplify, the multiple commitments that take us from our families. And by recording her thoughts during a brief escape from everyday demands, she helps readers find a space for contemplation and creativity within their own lives. With great wisdom and insight Lindbergh describes the shifting shapes of relationships and marriage, presenting a vision of life as it is lived in an enduring and evolving partnership."

Also available in large print and on audio.

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The Path to Power

By Margaret Thatcher

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In a prequel to The Downing Street Years, Thatcher describes her childhood, Oxford education, early entry into politics, and rise to power in Parliament, sharing insights into the influences that shaped her life and political career.

 

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Love, Lucy

By Lucille Ball

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Lucille Ball wrote this book in the years leading up to 1964 and put it aside to avoid hurting Desi Arnaz. How fortunate we are that it has been found and published. It describes the many years of hard work that it took for her to become the star that we knew.

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The Majesty of the Law: Reflections of a Supreme Court Justice

By Sandra Day O'Connor

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"Tracing some of the origins of American law through history, people, and ideas, O'Connor sheds new light on the basics, and through personal observation she explores the development of institutions and ideas we have come to regard as fundamental. O'Connor discusses notable cases that have shaped American democracy and the Court as we know it today, and she traces the turbulent battle women have fought for a place in our nation's legal system since America's inception. Straight-talking, clear-eyed, inspiring, The Majesty of the Law is more than a reflection on O'Connor's own experiences as the first female Justice of the Supreme Court; it also contains a discussion of how the suffrage movement changed the lives of women--in voting booths, jury boxes, and homes across the country."

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