This fall sees some striking memoirs by and biographies of movie and TV notables, big-name athletes, and important political figures.

Top 10

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life: A Sortabiography

Eric Idle. Crown Archetype, Oct. 2

Idle, a founding member of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, looks back at his life and the creation of one of the most successful sketch comedy shows.

The Banished Immortal

Ha Jin. Pantheon, Jan. 8

National Book Award–winning novelist Jin (Waiting) turns to nonfiction with this biography of Li Bai, an eighth-century Chinese poet who was influenced by Daoist thought and who in turn influenced Jin.


Michelle Obama. Crown, Nov. 13

This was all the talk at BookExpo, as the former first lady details her growing up on Chicago’s South Side, working as an executive while raising kids, and what it meant to be the first African-American first lady.

The Big Fella: Babe Ruth and the World He Created

Jane Leavy. Harper, Oct. 16

Leavy, who has written bestselling books on baseball legends Sandy Koufax and Mickey Mantle, focuses on Babe Ruth.

Churchill: Walking with Destiny

Andrew Roberts. Viking, Nov. 6

Roberts (Napoleon and The Storm of War) bases this 1,000-plus-page epic biography of Churchill on extensive new material, including Churchill’s private correspondence and war cabinet meeting minutes.

Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom

David W. Blight. Simon & Schuster, Oct. 2

Blight draws on archival records to trace Frederick Douglass’s life as an escaped slave through his role as an orator traveling the country during Reconstruction and the Jim Crow era.

Heartland: A Daughter of the Working Class Reconciles an American Divide

Sarah Smarsh. Scribner, Sept. 18

Smarsh’s memoir, according to our starred review, is a “candid and courageous memoir about growing up in a family of working-class farmers in Kansas during the 1980s and ’90s.”

In Pieces

Sally Field. Grand Central, Sept. 18

Actress Field—known to generations from her role as the Flying Nun—promises a literary memoir. And with a 500,000-copy announced first printing, the publisher is banking on her fans showing up for it.

Legend: My Life in Football

Joe Namath. Little, Brown, Oct. 30

“Broadway Joe” Namath, who led the New York Jets to their first and only Super Bowl win in 1969, was one of the first superstars of the NFL; the release of this memoir is timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Jets’ victory.

Reagan: An American Journey

Bob Spitz. Penguin Press, Oct. 2

Biographer Spitz turns his attention to the 40th president in this full-length biography, incorporating previously unavailable documents. Spitz’s earlier biographies of Bob Dylan and Julia Child were hugely popular, and his book on the Beatles was a bestseller.

Memoirs & Biographies Listings


Fame: The Hijacking of Reality by Justine Bateman (Oct. 2, hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-1-61775-660-3). Director and actress Bateman, known for her roles in Family Tiesand American Housewives, ponders the notion of fame, what drives the desire to achieve it, and what it means in American society. 20,000-copy announced first printing.


A Forger’s Tale: Confessions of the Bolton Forger by Shaun Greenhalgh (Oct. 1, trade paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-1-76029-528-8). An expert art forger, Greenhalgh copied Modernist art, Anglo-Saxon brooches, Leonardo drawings, and more until he was caught and sentenced in 2007. Here, he tells his story, which he wrote while in prison.


My Love Story: A Memoir by Tina Turner (Oct. 9, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-1-5011-9824-3). Rock and roll legend Turner narrates her upbringing in Tennessee, as well as her music career, tumultuous love life, and her battles with abuse and illness.


My Years with Townes Van Zandt: Music, Genius, and Rage by Harold F. Eggers Jr. and L.E. McCullough (Oct. 16, hardcover, $29.99, ISBN 978-1-61713-708-2). Eggers writes of life on the road and in the recording studio with country singer-songwriter Townes Van Zandt, whom he managed. 12,500-copy announced first printing.


John Marshall: The Man Who Made the Supreme Court by Richard Brookhiser (Nov. 6, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0-465-09622-0). Biographer Brookhiser takes a deep look into John Marshall, a founding father, Revolutionary War veteran, and the fourth chief justice of the Supreme Court, largely responsible for establishing that body’s role in the federal government.

Bloomsbury USA

How to Leave: Quitting the City and Coping with a New Reality by Erin Clune (Oct. 9, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-63286-854-1). Comedic writer Clune shares her experiences moving from Manhattan back to her hometown of Madison, Wis., in this clever and amusing memoir-cum–“practical coping guide.” 40,000-copy announced first printing.

Blue Rider

Pale Horse Rider: William Cooper, the Rise of Conspiracy, and the Fall of Trust in America by Mark Jacobson (Sept. 4, hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-0-399-16995-3). Journalist Jacobson examines Milton William Cooper, author of the conspiracy theory manifesto Behold a Pale Horse that was first published in 1991 and is widely associated with right-wing militia movements.

Center Street

Where You Go: Life Lessons from My Father by Charlotte Pence (Oct. 23, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-5460-7618-6). The daughter of Vice President Mike Pence explains how his wisdom and religious faith have inspired her.

Chicago Review

Anything for a Hit: An A&R Woman’s Story of Surviving the Music Industry by Dorothy Carvello (Sept. 4, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-0-912777-91-7). The first female A&R executive at Atlantic Records tells of her rise in the music business and shares her stories of working with Michael Jackson, Madonna, Steven Tyler, and others.

City Lights

Tosh: Growing Up in Wallace Berman’s World by Tosh Berman (Jan. 22, trade paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-0-87286-760-4). Tosh, the son of well-known beat artist Wallace Berman, recalls his childhood in California and his encounters with William S. Burroughs, Marcel Duchamp, Dennis Hopper, Neil Young, and others.


The Feud of the Fan Dancers: Sex, Scandal, and the Showgirl by Leslie Zemeckis (Oct. 2, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-64009-114-6). Burlesque historian and actress Zemeckis looks at two blonde showgirls and feminists in the 1920s and ’30s, Faith Bacon and Sally Rand.


Becoming by Michelle Obama (Nov. 13, hardcover, $32.50 ISBN 978-1-5247-6313-8). The former first lady tells of growing up on Chicago’s South Side, working as an executive while raising kids, and of what it meant to be the first African-American first lady.

Rush: Revolution, Madness and the Visionary Doctor Who Became a Founding Father by Stephen Fried (Sept. 25, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0-8041-4006-5). Benjamin Rush, medical pioneer and founding father, gets his due by bestselling author Fried, who gives life to this all-but-forgotten American leader.

Crown Archetype

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life: A Sortabiography by Eric Idle (Oct. 2, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-1-984822-58-1). A founding member of Monty Python and Spamalot creator looks back on his life both off and on the set of one of the great British comedy series. 125,000-copy announced first printing.

Da Capo

Matters of Vital Interest: A Forty-Year Friendship with Leonard Cohen by Eric Lerner (Oct. 16, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0-306-90270-3) looks back on Lerner’s decades-long friendship with the late singer and poet Leonard Cohen, and on the bond that formed from their sharing a house when they were younger and lasted through marriages and divorces.

Dey Street

From the Outside: My Journey Through Life and the Game I Love by Ray Allen and Michael Arkush (Dec. 11, trade paper, $16.99, ISBN 978-0-06-267548-4). NBA player Allen, who won championships with the Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat, reflects on his life and shares anecdotes from his career.


On Sunset: A Memoir by Kathryn Harrison (Oct. 2, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0-385-54267-8). The author of The Kiss tells of her unusual childhood, raised by her grandparents in a mansion that fell into disrepair when they could no longer afford to keep it up.


Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back) by Jeff Tweedy (Nov. 13, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-1-101-98526-7). Wilco and Uncle Tupelo member Tweedy writes about his youth in Belleville, Ill., his road to becoming an internationally known musician, and his creative process.


We Fed an Island: The True Story of Rebuilding Puerto Rico, One Meal at a Time by José Andrés (Sept. 11, hardcover, $27.99, ISBN 978-0-06-286448-2). Michelin-starred chef Andrés describes arriving in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria devastated the island in 2017 and setting up an operation that cooked 100,000 meals per day. 200,000-copy announced first printing.

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Fryderyk Chopin: A Life and Times by Alan Walker (Oct. 16, hardcover, $40, ISBN 978-0-374-15906-1). Nineteenth-century pianist and composer Frédéric Chopin emerges as a reserved, inward man who created passionate music in this expansive, authoritative biography.


Small Animals: Parenthood in the Age of Fear by Kim Brooks (Aug. 21, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-1-250-08955-7) is, according to our review, a “disturbing, ultimately affirming look at why parenting in the contemporary United States is defined by fear.”


Eliza Hamilton: The Extraordinary Life and Times of the Wife of Alexander Hamilton by Tilar J. Mazzeo (Sept. 18, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-1-5011-6630-3). The bestselling author of Irena’s Children turns her attention to Eliza Hamilton, the wife of founding father Alexander Hamilton, a pioneer woman and philanthropist.

Grand Central

Acid for the Children: A Memoir by Flea (Sept. 25, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-1-4555-3053-3). The bassist and cofounder of the Red Hot Chili Peppers tells his story, from growing up on the streets of L.A. to forming the popular band. 400,000-copy announced first printing.

In Pieces by Sally Field (Sept. 18, hardcover, $29, ISBN 978-1-5387-6302-5). Actress Field depicts her personal life on and off the screen, beginning with her first role, as Gidget, at age 17 and moving on to her roles in Smokey and the Bandit, Sybil, and Norma Rae, and portraying Mary Todd Lincoln in Lincoln. 500,000-copy announced first printing.


Small Fry by Lisa Brennan-Jobs (Sept. 4, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-8021-2823-2). Brennan-Jobs explores her upbringing as the daughter of Apple founder Steve Jobs and Chrisann Brennan, an artist and writer, in what our review calls an “incisive” debut memoir.


Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive by Stephanie Land (Jan. 29, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0-316-50511-6). In a study of poverty the publisher is comparing to Nickled and Dimed, Land details working as a maid for several years to support herself and her daughter.

Unnecessary Roughness: Inside the Trial and Final Days of Aaron Hernandez by Jose Baez (Aug. 21, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-1-60286-607-2). The late New England Patriots football player gets a close examination by Baez, who was also his attorney and defended him in a double-murder trial.


The Big Fella: Babe Ruth and the World He Created by Jane Leavy (Oct. 16, hardcover, $32.50, ISBN 978-0-06-238022-7). The bestselling author of The Last Boy and Sandy Koufax focuses on another baseball great: Babe Ruth, the first modern superstar athlete; includes 32 pages of b&w photos.


Untitled by Roger Daltrey (Oct. 23, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-1-250-29603-0). The Who’s lead singer relates his rise to music stardom in his first memoir. 200,000-copy announced first printing.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Let It Bang: A Young Black Man’s Reluctant Odyssey into Guns by R.J. Young (Oct. 23, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-1-328-82633-6). Young reports on gun culture in America, writing about white fear and reporting on such organizations as the U.S. LawShield and the National African American Gun Association.


Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Life by Jane Sherron de Hart (Oct. 16, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-1-4000-4048-3). In this first biography of the life of the 107th Supreme Court justice, Sherron de Hart revisits the education and experiences that shaped Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s career in jurisprudence. 40,000-copy announced first printing.

Little A

The Tenth Island: Finding Joy, Beauty, and Unexpected Love in the Azores by Diana Marcum (Aug. 1, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-1-5039-4132-8). Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter Marcum explores her feelings of loss and aging while traveling to the remote Azorean islands in the Atlantic Ocean.

Little, Brown

Legend: My Life in Football by Joe Namath (Oct. 30, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0-316-42110-2). Namath, who led the New York Jets to their first and only Super Bowl win in 1969, writes of his upbringing in Beaver Falls, Pa., his college years at the University of Alabama, and the drug- and alcohol-fueled New York of the 1960s and ’70s.

Slowhand: The Life and Music of Eric Clapton by Philip Norman (Nov. 6, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0-316-56043-6). The author of Shout! turns his attention to 17-time Grammy winner Eric Clapton, focusing on his life and music career with the Yardbirds, Cream, and Derek and the Dominoes, followed by his solo career.


In the Name of the Father: Family, Football, and the Manning Dynasty by Mark Ribowsky (Aug. 7, hardcover, $28.95, ISBN 978-1-63149-309-6). Ribowsky (The Last Cowboy), as we say in our review, “exuberantly explores the ongoing story of the Manning dynasty: former NFL quarterback Archie Manning and the sons who followed in his footsteps.”


Bettie Page: The Lost Years by Tori Rodriguez, illus. by Ronald Charles Brem (Nov. 1, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-1-4930-3450-5). Brem, a musician and only nephew of entertainer Bettie Page, shares photos and stories of his aunt’s colorful life, from 1949 to her death in 2008. Brem collaborates with journalist Rodriguez, editor of the website Bettie Page.

Melville House

The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell (Sept. 4, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-1-61219-724-1) is a narrative of Scotland’s largest secondhand bookstore, the Bookshop, located in the country’s most remote region.


Kitchen Yarns: Notes on Life, Love, and Food by Ann Hood (Dec. 4, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-0-393-24950-7). Hood (Comfort: A Journey Through Grief) shares stories from her Italian-American upbringing, raising her own family, and her marriage to food writer Michael Ruhlman.


The Banished Immortal by Ha Jin (Jan. 8, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-1-5247-4741-1). National Book Award–winner Jin (Waiting) renders the life of Li Bai, an eighth-century Chinese poet who was influenced by Daoist thought.

Penguin Press

The Last Temptation of Rick Pitino: A Story of Corruption, Scandal, and the Big Business of College Basketball by Michael Sokolove (Sept. 25, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0-399-56327-0). New York Times Magazine writer Sokolove delves into the 2017 corruption scandal of NCAA basketball Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino and the University of Louisville.

Reagan: An American Journey by Bob Spitz (Oct. 2, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-1-59420-531-6). Bestselling biographer Spitz turns his attention to the 40th president in this biography that takes readers from Reagan’s impoverished Midwestern upbringing, through his acting and political careers.

Random House

I Should Have Honor: A Memoir of Hope and Pride in Pakistan by Khalida Brohi (Sept. 4, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0-399-58801-3). Brohi, who grew up in Pakistan, writes of her plight as a young woman who eventually became an activist, hoping to empower women and educate them about their rights.

The Unwinding of the Miracle by Julie Yip-Williams (Nov. 27, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0-525-51135-9). In this posthumously published memoir, Yip-Williams, a lawyer and 37-year-old mother with Stage IV metastatic colon cancer, writes of her life as a Vietnamese immigrant and her cancer treatment.

Random/Spiegel & Grau

Place of Gold: Coming of Age with South Africa by Trevor Noah (Oct. 23, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0-525-51077-2). The Daily Show host follows Born a Crime with a work that focuses on his young adulthood and his achievement of global fame.


There Will Be No Miracles Here: A Memoir by Casey Gerald (Oct. 2, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0-7352-1420-0). The creator of the MBAs Across America movement describes growing up in his grandfather’s black evangelical church while living on his mother’s disability checks. He attended Yale and received an MBA from Harvard, and takes a look into that privileged world from his unique vantage point.

Rowman & Littlefield

Bill Duke: My 40-Year Career on Screen and Behind the Camera by Bill Duke (Nov. 15, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-1-5381-0555-9). One of the first African-American directors leads readers on his road to success in a predominantly white Hollywood.


Amateur: A True Story About What Makes a Man by Thomas Page McBee (Aug. 14, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-5011-6874-1). In this memoir, McBee views masculinity and violence in society from the perspective of a transgender man training as an amateur boxer.

Heartland: A Daughter of the Working Class Reconciles an American Divide by Sarah Smarsh (Sept. 18, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-5011-3309-1). Smarsh delivers what our starred review calls “a candid and courageous memoir of growing up in a family of working-class farmers in Kansas during the 1980s and ’90s.”

Simon & Schuster

Arthur Ashe: A Life by Raymond Arsenault (Aug. 21, hardcover, $37.50, ISBN 978-1-4391-8904-7). Historian Arsenault (Freedom Riders) follows Ashe’s career through epochal shifts in tennis and society; Ashe practiced on segregated courts in Virginia in the 1950s, matured as the sport opened fully to African-Americans in the ’60s, and became an antiapartheid activist and integrated the South African Open in 1973.

Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom by David W. Blight (Oct. 2, hardcover, $40, ISBN 978-1-4165-9031-6). In what promises to be the definitive biography of Frederick Douglass (1818–1895), Blight, drawing on archival records, traces Douglass’s life as an escaped slave through his role as an orator traveling the country during Reconstruction and the Jim Crow era.


Johnny Cash: The Life and Legacy of the Man in Black by Alan Light (Oct. 23, hardcover, $40, ISBN 978-1-58834-639-1). Music writer Light (Let’s Go Crazy) looks closely at Johnny Cash’s life—both professional and personal—through notes and lyric sheets held by the Cash family.


Elizabeth Warren: Her Fight. Her Work. Her Life. by Antonia Felix (Aug. 28, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-1-4926-6528-1). Felix recounts Elizabeth Warren’s life, from her childhood in a working-class family in Oklahama to her work in the Senate—where a rebuke aimed at her by Mitch McConnell (“Nevertheless, she persisted”) gave rise to a feminist battle cry.

St. Martin’s

Been So Long: My Life and Music by Jorma Kaukonen (Aug. 28, hardcover, $29.99, ISBN 978-1-250-12548-4). “The Jefferson Airplane guitarist’s candid and affectionate memoir,” we write in our review, “resembles the rambling and free-flowing road trips he enjoys.”

St. Martin’s/Dunne

Let the Good Times Roll: My Life in the World’s Greatest Rock Bands by Kenney Jones (Sept. 25, hardcover, $29.99, ISBN 978-1-250-19356-8). Jones, who drummed for the Faces and the Who, depicts his musical life during the mod revolution and the British Invasion of the 1960s through the excesses of the 1980s.

Univ. of Illinois

Bill Monroe: The Life and Music of the Blue Grass Man by Tom Ewing (Sept. 1, hardcover, $34.95, ISBN 978-0-252-04189-1). Music writer Ewing gives his full attention to Bill Monroe, “The Father of Bluegrass Music” and a major player at the Grand Ole Opry.

Univ. of Nebraska

Bitterroot: A Salish Memoir of Transracial Adoption by Susan Devan Harness (Oct. 1, hardcover, $29.95, ISBN 978-1-4962-0746-3) exposes Harness’s struggles growing up in the 1960s as a Native American child adopted by white parents.


Churchill: Walking with Destiny by Andrew Roberts (Nov. 6, hardcover, $40, ISBN 978-1-101-98099-6). Drawing on extensive new material, Roberts (Napoleon and The Storm of War) promises a definitive biography of the prime minister of the U.K. during WWII.


Always Another Country by Sisonke Msimang (Sept. 4, trade paper, $16.99, ISBN 978-1-64286-000-9). Msimang, a South African writer focusing on race and gender who had a popular TED Talk, writes of her path to adulthood, beginning with her birth in exile in Zambia. 100,000-copy announced first printing.

Yale Univ.

Jerome Robbins: A Life in Dance by Wendy Lesser (Oct. 9, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-0-300-19759-4) celebrates the life of director and choreographer Jerome Robbins (1918–1998), known for his productions of Fiddler on the Roof, Peter Pan, and West Side Story.

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Correction: A previous version of this article used an incorrect pronoun when referring to Tilar J. Mazzeo.