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Audition by Barbara Walters

Audition by Barbara Walters (2008)
Barbara Walters "tells all" in this biography/memoir and doesn't come across as being exemplary in her personal life with her parents, sibling, daughter and husbands. But oh, what a life she has lead! Her retelling of her travels and the multitude of interviews she has done is mesmerizing. This woman has lived a full life and has taken us on her journey through the pages of this book. It was a great read.

On ABC's website, read an article about the book and view her photo album, which details various stages of her life. Read the New York Times review or listen to the NPR interview.

The Liars' Club by Mary Karr

The Liars' Club by Mary Karr (1995)
This is a coming of age memoir about a young girl growing up in what most would consider to be a dysfunctional family. The family itself, however, cares about each other in their own offbeat way. Proof of the power of love, the book is humorous and touching at the same time.

Visit Reading Group Guides for more about the book, discussion questions, and an interview with the author.

The 8:55 to Baghdad by Andrew Eames

The 8:55 to Baghdad: From London to Iraq on the Trail of Agatha Christie by Andrew Eames (2005)
Author Eames is in Aleppo, Syria, when he hears a reference to Agatha Christie coming regularly to Aleppo to "have her hair done." Knowing nothing of Christie's first visit to the Middle East and her many subsequent trips with her second husband, an archeologist, Eames reads up on Christie and the history of the paths of the Orient Express and Taurus Express that took her on her original trip. The book is full of the trials on traveling by train in the twenty-first century, the many interesting people along the way and the often fascinating history and culture of Eastern Europe and the Middle East. It will make you want to come right back to the library and check out the books (or see the DVDs) of Murder on the Orient Express and Murder in Mesopotamia.

Teacher Man by Frank McCourt

Teacher Man by Frank McCourt (2005)
A “must read” for every teacher and for anyone wanting a rich, well written story of classroom life in the trenches in the New York school system. My favorite Frank McCourt book.

Check out the author's appearance on CBS' The Early Show, or listen to an interview or read an excerpt on NPR.

An Ordinary Man by Paul Rusesabigina

An Ordinary Man by Paul Rusesabigina (2006)
Paul Rusesabagina, in powerfully simple prose and with the effective use of repetition, recounts the background and horrific facts of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, including how he sheltered—and thus saved--1200 of the Tutsi people. Don Cheadle played Rusesabagina in the motion picture Hotel Rwanda. I listened to the CD of this and highly recommend it.

Listen to an interview with Rusesabagina and hear an excerpt from the book at NPR.

The Game of My Life by Jason “J-Mac” McElwain

The Game of My Life: a true story of challenge, triumph, and growing up autistic by Jason “J-Mac” McElwain with Daniel PaisnerHis friends call him J-Mac. His mom prefers Jason. Sounds like your typical teenager, right? Not quite.

Jason “J-Mac” McElwain is considered a high functioning autistic. And in February 2006, J-Mac accomplished something that any “normal” person would have difficulty accomplishing: he scored 20 points – including six 3s – in the last FOUR minutes of a high school basketball game.

Read this inspirational story of a boy who didn’t talk till he was five. Read about how he became practically obsessed with basketball and how he was the team manager for three years. Read about how the coach let him dress for Senior Night – and how his unimaginable feat made him an instant celebrity across the country.



Sox and the City by Richard Roeper

Sox and the City: A Fan’s Love Affair with the White Sox from the Heartbreak of ’67 to the Wizards of Oz by Richard Roeper (2006)
From one White Sox fan to another, Roeper details his love of the White Sox and of baseball. His wry sense of humor takes you from his childhood in the 1960s through the championship season of 2005. It’s part memoir, part Sox history, and part baseball nostalgia. You don’t have to be a Sox fan to enjoy this book – and you can’t help but appreciate the movie and television trivia scattered throughout.

Get ready for Opening Day 2008 (March 31: Cubs vs. Milwaukee and the Sox at Cleveland) by checking out this book and others on our Chicago Baseball list. You can read about the Cubs and Sox in the World Series, look back at the history of Wrigley Field, and much more.

Ava’s Man by Rick Bragg

Ava’s Man by Rick Bragg (2001)
Author Bragg tells the story of his maternal grandfather, a man he never met, who kept a family going during the depths of the Depression in the deep South.

Check out the New York Times book review. You can also reserve Bragg's latest book -- The Prince of Frogtown -- which will be released in May.

The Greatest Generation Speaks by Tom Brokaw

The Greatest Generation Speaks: Letters and Reflections by Tom Brokaw (1999)
After the publication of the bestselling The Greatest Generation, Tom Brokaw received mail from readers across the country. The letters provide accounts of WWII soldiers who reconnected after fifty years because of a name mentioned in Brokaw’s book. Children and grandchildren wrote of the deceased soldiers they never knew – and how important the book was in understanding their ancestors. Others wrote of similar tales mentioned in The Greatest Generation, or pointed out areas of the war that Brokaw overlooked. At times heartrending and uplifting, Brokaw’s follow up to The Greatest Generation is truly inspiring.

The audiobook is a great way to “read” this book. Brokaw reads the introductions to the chapters, while a supporting cast reads the letters and accounts featured. The various voices allow the listener to move between stories with ease.

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson (1998)
An unlikely duo attempts to tackle the over 2000 mile hike that is the Appalachian Trail. Laugh out loud as they trudge through the wilderness toward a very distant goal.

According to a January 2008 articleRobert Redford plans to produce and star in a movie adaptation.

700 Sundays by Billy Crystal

700 Sundays by Billy Crystal (2005)
In great storyteller fashion, Billy Crystal gives us an entertaining story of his quirky life with his family and reveals his sometimes complex relationship with his Dad. Dad worked two jobs and died early but Crystal is glad he got those “700 Sundays” with him.

Lucky Man by Michael J. Fox

Lucky Man by Michael J. Fox (2002)
This book shows a Michael J. Fox you don’t know. Fox was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth but took his charismatic personality to Hollywood and almost destroyed himself in the process. Even after early onset Parkinson’s disease, he still considers himself a "lucky man." Read it and see why.

Never Have Your Dog Stuffed by Alan Alda

Never Have Your Dog Stuffed: and Other Things I’ve Learned by Alan Alda (2005)
Entertaining, revealing, but not about his career on MASH. This is a poignant story of an eccentric life with his Dad, a vaudeville performer, and his Mom who struggles with mental issues. Alda’s story is funny, conversational, and a great read. And, yes, they really did stuff his dog!

Also check out Alda’s 2007 biography: Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself.

Am I Old Yet? by Leah Komaiko

Am I Old Yet? by Leah Komaiko (1999)
This memoir is a delightful story of the friendship that forms between a 44-year old woman (Komaiko), who’s feeling old and empty inside, and a 94-year old woman, Adele, who is living in a nursing home. Leah learns much about love and life from Adele’s infectious enthusiasm and positive spirit. Everyone should have an Adele in their lives!