Thursday, July 19, 2007

The 2006 List: Non-Fiction

A.L.T.: A Memoir
By Andre Leon Talley. “The autobiography of a Vogue editor, who leaves the deep South and family traditions to become a gay NYC fashionista, meeting the who’s who of pop culture along the way. (Also, he went to Brown & was art history major so there’s a lot of art stuff in it too) Really well told. Made a big impression on me – e.g., how certain moments in your childhood, and little things you take for granted, can stay with you long after you’ve left…”

The City of Falling Angels
By John Berendt. He’s the author of
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. This book traces the events surrounding the fire which destroyed an opera house in Venice. Some have told me that this was not as gripping as “midnight,” but the Amazon reviews were pretty good.

The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to his White Mother
By James McBride.

Courtesans: Money Sex and Fame in the 19th Century
By Katie Hickman. Biography of five “kept women” of the 19th century. Very interesting and dishy. These women were total rule-breakers in that Victorian era, yet they were enormously influential and quite famous.

Five Sisters By James Fox. This is another biography about a Virginia family, in this case the Langhorne sisters, who include Irene (the original Gibson girl) and Nancy Astor. Their family was remarkable – almost Kennedyesque. It was a quick read, and very entertaining.

Finding George Orwell in Burma
By Emma Larkin. Travel memoir, literary biography of George Orwell and political analysis all in one.

Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship
By Jon Meacham. This recounts the complicated friendship of FDR and Churchill. “It was great.”

Garlic and Sapphires: : The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise
By Ruth Reichl. This is the autobiography of a New York Times food critic. “It's humorous and light and not too long. The book also includes some of her reviews and recipes. An engaging and easy read.”

Lee Miller: A Life
By Carolyn Burke. “Lee Miller is the Forest Gump of the art & photography world….was a muse of Man Ray, Conde Nast & other arty men….then ended up taking all the most amazing photos of WW2 as a correspondent for Vogue (inc. bathing in Hitler’s tub). Wild.”

Magical Thinking
By Augusten Burroughs. “This is more like a composition of short stories about the author and so far it is very funny - a good light and quick read for the beach.” This is the guy who wrote
Running with Scissors and Dry. I haven’t read any of his works, but they have all been popular, and people have appreciated his entertaining them with his basket-casedness

My Life in France
By Julia Child and Alex Prud’Homme. “Lots of food talk, haven't finished yet.” Looks like a good one for the “foodies” among you.

Night By Elie Wiesel. “His acct of the Holocaust, I hadn’t read it since I was in 8th grade & clearly didn’t get it all. Unbelievable. Short & dense.”

Reading Lolita in Tehran
By Azar Nafisi. Two of you mentioned this, though I’ve heard mixed reviews since its publication. One of you offered a possible explanation, saying, “I think Reading Lolita in Tehran is only enjoyable if you've read Lolita.”

The Sisters: the Saga of the Mitford Family:
By Mary S. Lovell. This was a fantastic book about an absolutely astonishing family. The parents were “middling” British aristocracy. The daughters, however, include Nancy Mitford, who was a best-selling novelist; Diana Mitford, the great beauty who left her prominent husband for the head of the brownshirts (Fascists) and was a friend of Hitler’s; Unity, who also became a great friend of Hitler’s; and Jessica who eloped at 18, became a communist, moved to America and also became a best-selling author. The youngest married a man who became Duke of Devonshire. If any of you read it, please tell me, as I’m dying to discuss it. Only thing is, don’t bring it on a plane, as they would probably make you count it as a carry-on.

Time To Think: Listening to Ignite the Human Mind
By Nancy Kline….”kind of a philosophical book about ‘seeking first to understand,’ how to get calm in our every day busy lives…. “
Unwise Passions
By Alan Pell Crawford. I read this recently and found it riveting. The subtitle is, “A True Story of a Remarkable Woman---and the First Great Scandal of Eighteenth-Century America.” It’s an accessible biography, a potboiler but true story. I thought it was great fun. .

Under the Banner of Heaven: a Story of Violent Faith
By Jon Krakauer. “It might be a bit heavy for the summer but fascinating.” It’s the story of homicidal Mormon fundamentalists. This is the guy who wrote
Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster, which I know Drew really liked.

Ultraprevention: The Six-Week Plan that Will Make you Healthy for Life
By Mark Hyman, Mark Liponis. (co-directors of Medicine at the Canyon Ranch) “I had to read this for work & it’s just fascinating. Shows you the importance of certain habits, really eye-opening – how you CAN outwit certain traits/genes. Not the usual health fare.”

Waiting for Snow in Havana
By Carolos Eire. “This isn’t bad for the non-fiction types. It’s about a Cuban boy who is one of 14000 children who were flown out of Havana w/o their parents during the first years of the Castro regime.”

What Would Jackie Do: An Inspired Guide to Distinctive Living
By Shelly Branch and Sue Callaway. “I’m not afraid to say I paid full fare for this book while waiting for a flight. It’s hilarious! Very useful too.” A self-help/etiquette book with Jackie O as role model.

Not Buying It By Judith Levine. “The author, a writer, chronicles her year without spending. It's a bit high brow and delves into philosophy, anthropology, and economics. A bit heavy for the beach but thought provoking.”

Wine and War: the French, the Nazis and the Battle for France’s Greatest Treasure
By Donald and Petie Kladstrup. “I heard this was really good about 2nd WW and germans stealing wine from the french -- and more...”

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