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Jez

Yes Please by Amy Poehler (2014)

yespleaseFans of Amy Poehler’s time on Saturday Night Live and Parks and Recreation will be impatient to get their hands on this autobiography. Poehler has written a book that is part memoir and part self-help book. The memoir portions cover her childhood, her time in improv with the Upright Citizen’s Brigade and Saturday Night Live, moving to her own show, her friends (Tina Fey and Seth Meyers, among others), her divorce, and her children. Poehler is unflinchingly honest and open in these chapters and I certainly learned a lot about her life.

The other parts of the book offer advice and talk about dealing with things like anxiety and self-doubt, especially when it comes to body image. These pages will resonate with readers and were perhaps my favorite part of Yes Please, though Poehler’s humor throughout makes this an enjoyable read no matter her topic.

For more memoirs of comedians, check out our Stand-Up Memoirs bibliography.
Jez

Smile by Raina Telgemeier (2010)

smileIn her graphic memoir, Raina Telgemeier relates her long and painful journey towards a perfect smile. It all began when Raina was in sixth grade, tripped, and lost her two front teeth, injuring the bones above in the process. The years that followed were filled with surgeries, head gear, retainers, and a painful amount of braces as dentists attempted to ultimately move all of Raina’s teeth towards the middle of her mouth. While she deals with all this, Raina is also trying to fit in at school, make friends, and (if she’s lucky) find a boyfriend.

Smile is a hilarious tale of a dental tragedy that is told expertly through the graphic format and Telgemeier’s engaging art, which won her an Eisner award. While this book is aimed at younger readers, the humor within is sure to garner laughs from any age reader, and readers in their 20s and 30s especially will find a lot of nostalgia in the early 90s setting.
Joan

Eye to Eye: Photographs by Vivian Maier (2014)

eyetoeyeVivian Maier was a nanny, not a professional photographer. Her work was never published until after her death. Her vision and talent were incredible. Maier, with her Rolleiflex in hand, captured the essence of her subjects and their time. Much of her work told a story of the people of Chicagoland in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, but her travels took her all over the world. With Maier, it was all about the people. Regardless of location, she managed to capture breathtakingly ordinary moments in time through the eyes of people all over the world – check out a sample in Eye to Eye.
Jennifer

The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories by Marina Keegan (2014)

oppositelonelyIn 2012, Marina Keegan’s final essay in the Yale Daily News went viral after her sudden tragic death five days after graduation. In The Opposite of Loneliness, her teachers and family compiled a selection of her writings, both fiction and nonfiction.

I enjoyed listening to Emily Woo Zeller’s narration – she captures the wry humor in Keegan’s writing. The title essay – “The Opposite of Loneliness” – is powerful, relatable, moving. “Against the Grain,” which tracked her life with celiac disease, brought tears to my eyes. And while I particularly enjoyed her nonfiction work, her short stories were lovely as well.

Check out a review from The New York Times.
Mary

March: Book One by John Lewis (2013)

marchbook1Jez, one of our Adult Services Associates, introduced me to this autobiography of U.S. Representative John Lewis written in a graphic novel format. I was skeptical that a graphic novel could adequately portray Congressman Lewis’ accomplishments as a young civil rights leader, but after reading several pages I found myself captivated by the narrative and accompanying illustrations. I learned that Lewis and other members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee used a comic book to educate civil rights workers about nonviolent resistance. It seemed fitting that Lewis would choose to write his autobiography as a graphic novel. My sole complaint is that March: Book One ends quite abruptly, and left this reader anxiously waiting for the next volume of Lewis’ autobiography.
Jennifer

Jennifer, Gwyneth & Me: The Pursuit of Happiness, One Celebrity at a Time by Rachel Bertsche (2014)

index.aspxI thoroughly enjoyed Rachel Bertsche's quest to emulate a different celebrity each month (Jennifer Aniston's workout regimen, Gwyneth Paltrow's cooking, etc.) in order to improve her happiness, well-being, etc. In Jennifer, Gwyneth, & Me, the planning and execution of the journey is balanced with her personal struggle with infertility. The author's engaging voice is humorous and relatable. She includes interesting perspectives on celebrity culture and how it has changed... whether you're a regular People or have a love-hate relationship with the current obsession with celebrities, Bertsche's voice will draw you in.
 
 
Mary

Dogtripping: 25 rescues, 11 volunteers, and 3 RVs on our canine cross-country adventure by David Rosenfelt (2013)

dogtrippingThe title alone provides an insight into this heartwarming, hilarious true story. David Rosenfelt, author of the Andy Carpenter mystery series, is a bona fide dog lover. He and his wife Debbie adopted hundreds of dogs that were about to be euthanized from overcrowded Southern California animal shelters. They eventually started their own dog rescue foundation. When they decide to relocate from Southern California to their new home in Maine, the logistics of transporting their 25 mostly geriatric dogs seemed insurmountable.

As Rosenfelt reaches out to his readers online and at book talks, he discovers some truly wonderful people who are crazy enough to want to be part of the cross country road trip. Eleven wonderful volunteers help transport the dogs in three rented RVs over five days. Dogtripping is a feel-good story that will have you laughing out aloud.
IPPL Staff

The Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel with Bret Witter (2009)

The Monuments Men is a remarkable story of a unique chapter in the history of World War II. The author uses the key battles of the war in Italy, France, and Germany to document the story of the men who risked their lives saving the fine art treasure of Europe, which General Eisenhower saw as the symbols of “all that we are fighting to preserve.”

As Adolf Hitler was attempting rule the western world, his armies were seeking and hoarding the finest art treasures in Europe. A special force was created by the Allies to prevent the destruction of thousands of years of culture. Behind enemy lines, often unarmed, these American and British museum directors, curators, art historians, and others, called the Monuments Men, found and saved many priceless and irreplaceable pieces of art.

This book is recognition of the work of these brave individuals and a very good read.
Mary S.

I, Toto: the autobiography of Terry, the dog who was Toto by Willard Carroll (2001)

Did you know that the cute cairn terrier that played Dorothy’s dog, Toto, in The Wizard of Oz performed in fourteen major motion pictures? This is a timely book to read since August 2014 is the 75th anniversary of the release of The Wizard of Oz movie (and check Bill’s review last month on other films of 1939). I, Toto, a charming book, is written from Terry’s point of view and is filled with photographs and newspaper clippings. Her first film was with Shirley Temple in Bright Eyes.

Other books about animal performers are Rin Tin Tin: the life and the legend by Susan Orleans and Zamba: the true story of the greatest lion that ever lived by Ralph Helfer.

 
IPPL Staff

Majestic Hollywood: the greatest films of 1939 by Mark A. Vieira (2013)

A few years ago on Shows ’n Tunes, I wrote about movies released in 1939. Majestic Hollywood provides short articles on fifty great movies that were released that year. Each article provides small bits of information about each film, such as stories about the stars in the picture; stories about the directors, producers, and writers; short movie reviews written by some of the critics at the time the film was released; and other miscellaneous information. There are also beautiful black and white photographs for each film of either the stars or scenes from the movies.

I recommend this book by Mark Vieira for anyone who enjoys movies from the golden era, students of cinema, and anyone who loves well made movies. Also, there are some movies discussed in the book that I have never scene and I plan to see them soon.

 
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Jennifer

The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History by Robert M. Edsel and Brett Witter (2009)

My grandfather was a WWII veteran, plus I've always been fascinated by history. He spent time in Hawaii, New Guinea, and the Philippines, so my explorations of the war focused primarily on the home front and the Pacific theater.

My forays into WWII fiction covered Poland, England, and France, among others, but I had never before considered this slice of history. What happened to the irreplaceable artwork during wartime? Robert M. Edsel (with Brett Witter) explores that question in this fascinating study of a group of monuments men. In the real world, they were architects, museum directors, and conservationists. Now, they were racing across Europe in a war zone to preserve cultural treasures.

I love a personal take on history. It's why I'm a fan of Unbroken, The Girls of Atomic City, and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. The Monuments Men is another exhilarating tale from the front lines. It's a gripping combination of art, history, biography, war, and adventure.

Oh, and George Clooney turned it into a movie. Learn more about these heroes.
 
Joan

The Longest Road by Philip Caputo (2013)

Caputo, his wife, and his two hunting dogs travel from the southernmost to the northernmost point of the U.S. trying to answer the question: what is the glue that holds Americans together? We are such a diverse people spread out over such a diverse landscape from sea to shining sea.

Historical trivia, local color, and a few laughs follow Philip Caputo on his long trip. It's all in the journey, not the destination. Also, it is a very personal journey. Each one of us could write a very different memoir about the same trip. I anxiously await my opportunity.

The Longest Road is the 2014 Big Read selection. Find discussions, programs, and author visit information here, he’ll be at Ashton Place on May 1.
Mary S.

Still Foolin’ ‘Em: Where I’ve Been, Where I’m Going, and Where the Hell Are My Keys? by Billy Crystal (2013)

Upon turning 65, Billy Crystal, a comedian, actor, and director, wrote this entertaining, humorous, and sometimes poignant book. It alternates between quips about aging and reflections on his family life and career. In the audio version of Still Foolin’ ‘Em, the chapters on aging seem right out of his stand-up act complete with laugh track. I especially enjoyed the sections on the making of the movies When Harry Met Sally and City Slickers and learning about his friendship with Muhammad Ali. Reading about his early marriage years with Janice through being a grandpa gave me a different perspective on this funny man.
Joan

Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer (2011)

In Moonwalking with Einstein, Joshua Foer recounts his experiences preparing for the U.S. Memory Championship. He includes extensive information on the brain as well as his personal anecdotes and personalities encountered along the way. With Kevin Trudeau behind bars, we may be looking to Foer for tips on how to develop a superior memory.
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Mary

BYOB February 2014 Book Party Recommendations

Here are the books that people shared at our May 30, 2013 book party:

Fiction
Purgatory by Ken BruenThe Outlander by Diana GabaldonThe Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil GaimanDouble Exposure by Michael ListerMe Before You by Jo Jo MoyesThe Snowman by Jo NesboWonder by R.J. PalacioA Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True by Brigid PasulkaStill Life by Louise PennyThe Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger
NonfictionThe Journal of Best Practices by David Finch