Biographies & Memoirs

The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World’s Greatest Piece of Cheese by Michael Paterniti

The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World’s Greatest Pi

In Michael Paterniti’s The Telling Room, he first encounters Páramo de Guzman while working in a deli after graduate school in the early 1990s. At $22 a pound he wasn’t going to taste it, but he wanted to know its story.

You Don't Know Me But You Don't Like Me by Nathan Rabin

You Don't Know Me But You Don't Like Me by Nathan Rabin

You Don't Know Me But You Don't Like Me documents Nathan Rabin's journey into two vastly different but equally mocked musical fan bases. Phish and Insane Clown Posse are about as far away as you can get from each other in terms of sound, lyrics, and subject matter. The one thing that they do have in common is that their fans have very few qualms about conscious-altering substances.

That's how Rabin finds his ticket in. He's been going through some issues lately—actually he's been going through issues his whole life. Lower-class with a foster-home upbringing, Rabin managed to carve a niche for himself in Chicago writing for the A.V. Club, a cultural review publication that belongs to The Onion. Despite that success, it certainly cannot help to be diagnosed bipolar, which is exactly what happened to Rabin on his journey.

Born Standing Up by Steve Martin

Born Standing Up by Steve Martin

In Born Standing Up, Steve Martin looks back at his comedy career in a way that few artists are able to do. He not only has succeeded in his craft, he also has the luxury of being able to step back from the act and make sense of just what it was all about.

In the 1970's and 80's, Martin attained a kind of success usually reserved for rock stars. He filled up arenas and released number one albums, but  Martin is quick to point out that this was no overnight sensation. He spent his youth trying to break into the entertainment business by working at Disneyland and writing for the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.

My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf

My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf

First off, yes, it is that Dahmer. Secondly, yes, this book is written and drawn by a man named Derf Backderf.

My Friend Dahmer is much more than just a grisly expose on the teenage life of a future serial killer; it is also a rumination on the culture of 1970's suburbia, where teens were left to their own devices in the wake of divorce or career-minded parents.

A Street Cat Named Bob by James Bowen

A Street Cat Named Bob cover

 A Street Cat Named Bob is the true story of a young man who is a recovering heroin addict who was homeless in London. He became part of a government program that found him an apartment and started him in a rehab program. Then he met Bob, the orange street cat who became attached to him and refused to leave the apartment’s hallway for weeks. James finally let Bob into his apartment, and they developed a fast friendship that benefited both of them. 

Jim Henson: The Biography by Brian Jay Jones

Jim Henson: The Biography by Brian Jay Jones

Jim Henson: The Biography approaches the man through his work. This makes sense since, as he was the artist who redefined puppetry, Henson created and entertained almost non-stop for four decades.

Kate Waller Barrett

Kate Waller Barrett

Kate Waller Barrett (1857-1925), gently-raised daughter of a prominent Stafford County family, was confronted as a young woman by a heart-wrenching scene that played out before her in her home. It stirred her heart and propelled her into a public life. The humanitarian work inspired by Kate Waller Barrett’s experience led eventually to established shelters and services across this country and abroad known generally as the Florence Crittenton Mission.

Lost Boy, Lost Girl: Escaping the Civil War in Sudan by John Bul Dau and Martha Arual Akech

Lost Boy, Lost Girl: Escaping the Civil War in Sudan by John Bul Dau and Martha

When you’re thirteen, it seems as though everything will be the same always, especially if you live in a traditional culture. For John Bul Dau, life with his large family and many friends as cattle keepers in the Dinka tribe was wonderful. The elders were wise and taught them what they needed to know to become strong men and women. There was time for work and time for play. All of that changed the night the Northern soldiers destroyed their village, as told in John Bul Dau and Martha Arual Akech’s Lost Boy, Lost Girl: Escaping the Civil War in Sudan.

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley

Lucy Knisley's graphic novel Relish: My Life in the Kitchen zigzags between biography, cookbook, travelogue, and manifesto of all things culinary. What's more, her fun, vibrantly colorful artwork often made me very hungry. This is the mark of success for such a book.

Relish explores every aspect of food's vast appeal, whether it is for purposes of comfort, nourishment, or to just satisfy that insatiable craving for sautéed mushrooms.

Feynman by Jim Ottaviani

Feynman by Jim Ottaviani

Richard Feynman was one of the younger scientists entrusted to work on the atomic bomb, but the graphic novel biography Feynman shows that there is so much more to his life than just those few years.

For one thing, the Nobel-winning physicist was equally fascinated with art, using diagrams to explain his science in a way for which he could not always find the right words. What better representation for an artistic scientist's life than a graphic novel?