People and their antics are infinitely interesting—whether they are historical, literary, or criminal figures, or their tales are told by themselves or others. If you are interested in stories of famous, infamous, or ordinary people having adventures, overcoming adversity, finding happiness by leaving the city, taking to the road, accepting the inevitable, giving back, or rescuing a pet, read on.
Memoirs & Biographies Top 10
Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor’s Reflections on Race and Medicine
Damon Tweedy. Picador, Sept. 8
One doctor’s passionate memoir of his experience grappling with racial identity, bias, and the unique health problems of African-Americans.
Chasing Ghosts: A Memoir of a Father, Gone to War
Louise DeSalvo. Fordham Univ. Press, Oct. 12
Scholar and memoirist DeSalvo recounts her search to achieve reconciliation with her father when he finally broke his silence about his WWII military experience
Deep South: Four Seasons on Back Roads
Paul Theroux. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Sept. 29
Travel writer Theroux turns his unflinching eye on the too-often-overlooked American South.
Empire of Self: A Life of Gore Vidal
Jay Parini. Doubleday, Oct. 13
Vidal’s longtime friend looks behind the glittering surface of the writer and intellectual’s colorful life to reveal complex emotional and sexual truths.
John Leguizamo. Abrams Comicarts, Oct. 13
The graphic novel adaptation of Leguizamo’s stage show about his personal and professional life.
Patti Smith. Knopf, Oct. 6
The follow up to Smith’s NBA-winning Kids is an odyssey into her artistic mind, by way of her favorite cafes and haunts around the world.
Margo Jefferson. Pantheon, Sept. 8
A meditation on race, sex, and American culture through the prism of the author’s rarefied upbringing and education.
Vigilance: My Life Serving America and Protecting Its Empire City
Ray Kelly. Hachette, Sept. 8
Former New York Police Commissioner Kelly talks about his life fighting crime and the plots foiled by his anti-terrorist teams after 9/11.
The White Road: Journey into an Obsession
Edmund de Waal. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Nov. 3
After The Hare with the Amber Eyes, de Waal tackles a narrative history of his lifelong obsession with porcelain, or “white gold.”
Writing Across the Landscape: Travel Journals 1950–2013
Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Sept. 7
A panoramic portrait of art and life across the 20th century from the nonagenarian poet and living link to the Beat generation.
Memoirs & Biographies Listings
Ghetto Klown by John Leguizamo, illus. by Christa Cassano and Shamus Beyale (Oct. 13, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-1-4197-1518-1). The graphic novel adaptation of Leguizamo’s award-winning stage show highlights his personal and professional highs and lows from New York to Hollywood and lays bare his early years in blue-collar Queens, his salvation through acting and writing, and his colorful career trajectory.
And Then I Danced: Traveling the Road to LGBT Equality by Mark Segal (Oct. 6, paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-1-61775-399-2). The pioneering gay rights activist chronicles his advocacy for gay and lesbian equality with tales of his involvement with the Stonewall riots and crashing live TV broadcasts, including the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite.
The Face That Changed It All by Beverly Johnson, with Allison Samuels (Aug. 25, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-1-4767-7441-1). The first black model to grace the cover of American Vogue offers stories of her glamorous three-decade modeling career as well as her struggles with racism, drug addiction, and divorce in this revelatory and redemptive memoir.
My Journey by Donna Karan (Oct. 13, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-1-101-88349-5). A personal and provocative memoir by the lifestyle guru and designer whose “Seven Easy Pieces” fashion collection in 1985 exemplified her goal: to empower women and define herself as a spiritual seeker and a philanthropist.
Empire of Imagination: Gary Gygax and the Birth of Dungeons & Dragons by Michael Witwer (Oct. 6, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-63286-279-2). This biography of Gygax, the godfather of all fantasy adventure games, traces his life from his childhood in Lake Geneva, Wis., through the complete story behind the invention of Dungeons & Dragons, to his death in 2008 at age 70.
One-Straw Revolutionary: The Philosophy and Work of Masanobu Fukuoka by Larry Korn (Oct. 6, paper, $19.95, ISBN 978-1-60358-530-9) looks at natural farming and the philosophy and work of Masanobu Fukuoka, who remains a major influence in the ever-growing organic and farming movement.
(dist. by PGW)
Goddess of Love Incarnate: The Life of Stripteuse Lili St. Cyr. by Leslie Zemeckis (Sept. 15, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-1-61902-568-4) relates the story of the “highest paid stripteaser in America,” who went against the traditional roles and mores expected of women, achieving fame and wealth, only to lose it all and end her life as a recluse.
The Rising: Murder, Heartbreak, and the Power of Human Resilience in an American Town by Ryan D’Agostino (Sept. 15, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-8041-4016-4). The harrowing yet uplifting story of William Petit, whose entire family was murdered in a gruesome Connecticut home invasion.
White Eskimo: Knud Rasmussen’s Fearless Journey into the Heart of the Arctic by Stephen R. Bown (Nov. 10, hardcover, $27.99, ISBN 978-0-306-82282-7). Arctic adventure, exotic cultures, and timeless legend appear in this tale of the explorer who made a courageous three-year journey by dog sled from Greenland to Alaska.
Empire of Self: A Life of Gore Vidal by Jay Parini (Oct. 13, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-0-385-53756-8). Resulting from 30 years of friendship and conversation, Parini’s biography excavates many buried skeletons in Vidal’s celebrity-strewn life without losing sight of his talents.
My History: A Memoir of Growing Up by Antonia Fraser (Oct. 13, hardcover, $28.95, ISBN 978-0-385-54010-0) is a love letter to a British way of life that has all but disappeared, by the well-regarded author and aristocrat. Downton Abbey fans will be enthralled.
The Gratitude Diaries: How a Year Looking on the Bright Side Transformed My Life by Janice Kaplan (Aug. 18, hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-0-525-95506-1). This inspiring memoir is backed by pioneering research, in which journalist and former Parade editor-in-chief Kaplan explores how gratitude can transform every aspect of life, including marriage and friendship, money and ambition, and health and fitness.
Brief Candle in the Dark: My Life in Science by Richard Dawkins (Sept. 29, hardcover, $27.99, ISBN 978-0-06-228843-1). In this sequel to his memoir, An Appetite for Wonder, Dawkins takes a candid look at the events and ideas that encouraged him to shift his attention to the intersection of culture, religion, and science.
The Lost Landscape: A Writer’s Coming of Age by Joyce Carol Oates (Sept. 8, hardcover, $27.99, ISBN 978-0-06-240867-9) delivers an affecting and observant look at the author’s hardscrabble childhood in rural western New York State, from her first friendships to her earliest experiences with death.
(dist. by Legato)
Across Canada by Story: A Coast-to-Coast Literary Adventure by Douglas Gibson (Sept. 15, paper, $22.95, ISBN 978-1-77041-253-8). One of Canada’s premier editors and storytellers shares his literary tour of Canada, including stories of writers like Alice Munro and Robertson Davies.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Great Is the Truth: Secrecy, Scandal, and the Quest for Justice at the Horace Mann School by Amos Kamil and Sean Elder (Nov. 3, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-374-16662-5). A journalist and Horace Mann alumnus, Kamil details a decades-long pattern of sexual abuse by teachers at the prestigious school as he and his coauthor, Elder, uncover the full story of what happened and its aftermath.
The White Road: Journey into an Obsession by Edmund de Waal (Nov. 3, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0-374-28926-3). In this blend of history and memoir, the author of The Hare with the Amber Eyes documents his lifelong obsession with porcelain, structured around five journeys.
Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson (Sept. 22, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-1-250-07700-4). A humor memoir tinged with tragedy and pathos by blogger Lawson examines her experience with severe depression and a host of other conditions, leading her to live life to the fullest.
Chasing Ghosts: A Memoir of a Father, Gone to War by Louise DeSalvo (Oct. 12, paper, $24.95, ISBN 978-0-8232-6884-9) tracks literary biographer and memoirist DeSalvo’s journey to learn why the father whom she both adored and reviled because of his mistreatment of her came home from WWII a changed man.
Beyond Their Years: Stories of Sixteen Civil War Children by (Dec. 2, paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-1-4930-1757-7). Tales of children of the Civil War include a 13-year-old drummer boy who survived Confederate prison camps, and writer Maggie Campbell, only eight years old when the war ended.
Vigilance: My Life Serving America and Protecting Its Empire City by Ray Kelly (Sept. 8, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0-316-38381-3). A memoir from former New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who transformed the NYPD into a counterterrorism force to surpass the FBI and the Pentagon.
John le Carré by Adam Sisman (Nov. 3, hardcover, $28.99, ISBN 978-0-06-210627-8). This authorized biography reveals the man behind the bestselling persona, exploring his background in British intelligence, as well as his struggle to become a writer.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Deep South: Four Seasons on Back Roads by Paul Theroux (Sept. 29, hardcover, $29.95, ISBN 978-0-544-32352-0). After 50 years of criss-crossing the globe, Theroux, in his 10th travel book, explores a piece of America—the Deep South—in a road trip spanning four seasons.
Custer’s Trials: A Life on the Frontier of a New America by T.J. Stiles (Oct. 27, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0-307-59264-4). The Pulitzer Prize and NBA-winning author offers a new biography of Gen. George Armstrong Custer that casts surprising light on one of the best-known figures of American history.
M Train by Patti Smith (Oct. 6, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-1-101-87510-0). A memoir structured as a journey through 18 “stations” that begins in a Greenwich Village cafe and moves across a landscape of creative aspirations and inspirations, from Mexico to Berlin, with black-and-white Polaroids taken by Smith herself.
Underground in Berlin: A Young Woman’s Extraordinary Tale of Survival in the Heart of Nazi Germany by Marie Jalowicz Simon, trans. by Anthea Bell (Sept. 8, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0-316-38209-0). The true account of a young Jewish woman who survived WWII in Berlin by taking off her yellow star and vanishing into the city.
Where the Bodies Were Buried: Whitey Bulger and the World That Made Him by T.J. English (Sept. 15, hardcover, $28.99, ISBN 978-0-06-229098-4) covers the infamous New England mob moss, who while informing for the FBI, used their cover to consolidate his power and protect himself from prosecution until, in 2011, he was arrested, tried, and convicted in Boston of racketeering and murder.
Scream: A Memoir of Fame, Family, and Dysfunction by Tama Janowitz (Jan. 19, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-0-06-239132-2). Literary “it girl” Janowitz recalls the quirky literary world of young downtown New York in the go-go 1980s and reflects on her life today far away from the city.
A Beginner’s Guide to Paradise: 9 Steps to Giving Up Everything by Alex Sheshunoff (Sept. 1, hardcover, $25.95, ISBN 978-0-451-47586-2). Part travelogue, part sociological study, this is the story of a quarter-life crisis that led to love, adventure, and a lot of weirdness on an island in the Pacific.
The Blue Touch Paper by David Hare (Oct. 5, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-0-393-24918-7) delivers a vibrant and affecting account of becoming a writer amid the enormous flux of postwar England, from Hare’s university days at Oxford to his breakthrough successes as a playwright in the 1970s.
Wagstaff: Before and After Mapplethorpe; A Biography by Philip Gefter (Nov. 2, paper, $19.95, ISBN 978-1-63149-095-8). In this biography, Sam Wagstaff—the legendary curator, collector, and patron of the arts, who is remembered primarily as the mentor and lover of Robert Mapplethorpe—emerges as a cultural visionary.
Writing Across the Landscape: Travel Journals 1950–2013 by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, edited by Giada Diano and Matthew Gleeson (Sept. 7, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-1-63149-001-9), collects the legendary poet’s travel journals spanning six decades.
Negroland by Margo Jefferson (Sept. 8, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-0-307-37845-3) looks at race, sex, and American culture from the perspective of the author’s upbringing and education among a black elite, and charts the twists and turns of a life informed by psychological and moral contradictions.
In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom by Yeonmi Park (Sept. 29, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-1-59420-679-5) details the story of a harrowing escape from tyranny and into a new life of advocacy, by a North Korean defector and human rights activist.
Kissinger, Vol. 1: The Idealist, 1923–1968 by Niall Ferguson (Sept. 29, hardcover, $36, ISBN 978-1-59420-653-5). The first volume of this definitive biography by historian Ferguson is based on unprecedented access to Henry Kissinger’s private papers.
Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor’s Reflections on Race and Medicine by Damon Tweedy (Sept. 8, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-250-04463-1) examines the complex ways in which both black doctors and patients must navigate the difficult and often contradictory terrain of race and medicine, and explores the difficulties confronting black doctors.
Being Nixon: A Man Divided by Evan Thomas (Sept. 1, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-0-8129-9536-7). An infamous, polarizing, and enigmatic political figure—President Richard Nixon—comes to life in a surprising and engaging look at a man capable of great bravery and extraordinary deviousness.
Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush by Jon Meacham (Nov. 10, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-1-4000-6765-7). Pulitzer Prize–winning author Meacham pens a biography of George H.W. Bush based on research, private interviews with Bush, and exclusive access to his diaries.
My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem (Oct. 27, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0-679-45620-9). Celebrity, journalist, activist, Steinem’s first book in 20 years is a memoir of a lifetime of listening and learning from people, traveling America and the world.
Alexander McQueen: Blood Beneath the Skin by Andrew Wilson (Sept. 1, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-1-4767-7673-6). A biography of notoriously private British fashion designer Alexander McQueen, who committed suicide at age 40, explores the connections between his dark work and even darker life.
(dist. by IPS)
The Doctor and the Stork: A Memoir of Modern Medical Babymaking by K.K. Goldberg (Oct. 20, paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-1-63152-830-9). A mother relates the story of her modern medical babymaking—a post-IVF, high-risk pregnancy with twins—focusing upon the emotional and physical journey between high-tech conception and high-risk birth.
Simon & Schuster
Blue: The LAPD and the Battle to Redeem American Policing by Joe Domanick (Aug. 11, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-1-4516-4107-3). An investigative reporter reveals the troubled history of the LAPD in a drama of cops, crime, and politics, and a primer on American police policy and reform.
Dispatches from Pluto: Learning the Mississippi Delta by Richard Grant (Oct. 13, paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-4767-0964-2). A couple leave their shoebox apartment in New York City when they decide on a whim to buy an old plantation house in the Mississippi Delta and discover the wonders of alligators, hunting scenes, and swamp-to-table dining.
Slice Harvester: A Memoir in Pizza by Colin Atrophy Hagendorf (Aug. 11, hardcover, $23, ISBN 978-1-4767-0588-0). The story of a 20-something punk rocker who, over the course of two years, eats a cheese slice from every pizzeria in New York City, gets sober, falls in love, and starts a blog, Slice Harvester, that captures headlines around the world.
Amazing Fantastic Incredible: A Marvelous Memoir by Stan Lee, Peter David, and Colleen Doran (Oct. 6, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-1-5011-0772-6). In this full-color graphic memoir by the co-creator of Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Avengers, the Incredible Hulk, and a legion of other Marvel superheroes, the comic-book legend shares the story of his life.
The Crippler: Cage Fighting and My Life on the Edge by Chris Leben (Jan. 5, hardcover, $24.99, ISBN 978-1-63450-566-6) recounts the author’s rise to prominence within the UFC with his wild, head-first style of fighting, and the story of a renowned wild man dealing with his personal demons and learning that the toughest opponent is always yourself.
A Country Between: An American Woman, a French Monk, and a Home at the Edge of Two Worlds by Stephanie Saldaña (Dec. 1, paper, $14.99, ISBN 978-1-4926-0974-2). Finding love and redefining home in a war zone is the theme of this memoir of one family, a girl from Texas and a former French monk, living amid the daily violence of East Jerusalem.
Heist: The Oddball Crew Behind the $17 Million Loomis Fargo Theft by Jeff Diamant (Aug. 4, paper, $14.99, ISBN 978-1-4926-2516-2). The story by the lead reporter on the case for the Charlotte Observer dissects the down-on-their-luck characters behind the second-biggest heist in American history; soon to be a film starring Owen Wilson.
Hemingway in Love by A.E. Hotchner (Oct. 20, hardcover, $19.99, ISBN 978-1-250-07748-6). Hemingway’s reflective account of his destructive Paris affair and how it affected the legendary life he rebuilt after, was told in June of 1961 to his best friend, the writer A.E. Hotchner, who’s kept the story secret until now.
Mary McGrory: The First Queen of Journalism by John Norris (Sept. 22, hardcover, $28.95, ISBN 978-0-525-42971-5) details a biography of the trailblazing Washington columnist who reported from the front lines of American politics for five decades, from her first assignment reporting on the Army-McCarthy hearings in 1954 to her Pulitzer-winning coverage of Watergate and controversial observations of President Bush after 9/11.