The best biographies and memoirs of February

Al Woodworth on February 18, 2020
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The best biographies and memoirs of February

Terrific biographies and memoirs are publishing this month: Adrienne Miller’s In the Land of Men, which we named one of the top 10 best of the month, a dishy memoir from the first ever female literary editor at Esquire, a New Orleans parole officer’s story, Diane Keaton’s memoir of her troubled brother, and so much more. Below are five memoirs that made our list, and to see the full list of our Best Biographies and Memoirs click here.


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In the Land of Men: A Memoir by Adrienne Miller

Fully of dishy details and reflection, Adrienne Miller’s memoir In the Land of Men lives up to the hype of being named one of the most anticipated books of the year by Vogue and Esquire. At the age of 25, Miller became the literary editor of Esquire—a feat impressive enough but even more so considering it was the nineties at a magazine devoted to men and led by men. She recounts the testosterone driven culture, learning to become a magazine editor, and her personal (yes, they dated) and professional (yes, she published him) relationship with David Foster Wallace. It is a fascinating, funny, and bold tale of a young woman who dares to ask the question: how does a woman fit in a male dominated culture and at what cost?


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Brother & Sister: A Memoir by Diane Keaton

Diane Keaton first waltzed onto the literary scene with her memoir Then Again, which quickly soared to the top of bestseller lists. Keaton’s knack for turning a phrase and her descriptions of her leading roles, family, and loves was enchanting. And so it is a thrill that she has once again availed her life to fans and readers. In Brother & Sister Keaton is searching and honest, recounting her childhood and wondering how she and her brother turned out so differently: “why was his life so fraught with fear and anxiety? Even though we shared the same parents, the same schools, why were we so different?” Of course we know her story, and in her probing memoir she grapples with her brother and how he lived on “the other side of normal.”


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The Second Chance Club: Hardship and Hope After Prison by Jason Hardy

Jason Hardy’s The Second Chance Club is a personal, appealingly honest, and eye-opening look at what it means to be a parole officer in New Orleans. From home visits and cuffing offenders so they dry out in jail to forming genuine bonds, Hardy grapples with the dichotomous job of trying to both catch and protect the 220 souls—offenders—he is responsible for. He is at once a hero and a savior, a friend, and a foe. The Second Chance Club offers a candid look at America’s system of parole: how it is set up for failure, and yet it saves lives.


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Everything I Know About Love: A Memoir by Dolly Alderton

Here’s a teaser: Dolly Alderton’s memoir is Nora Ephron for the Tinder age. Dolly is a wild, funny, audacious young woman growing up obsessed with boys and fun. The memoir is a romp through her teens and twenties—the parties, the relationships with men, which began in online chatrooms. At times her decisions are shocking (deciding in a drunken stupor to get in a car early in the morning to visit a boy two hours away), but also redeeming—she throws dinner parties for her friends and the invitations (via email) are pages long and describe the hilarity that will ensue. There is comfort in Alderton’s stories—she’s the friend you want, or might even already have—and you’ll laugh hilariously at her antics and maybe even a little bit at yourself too. Fueled by booze, humor, and female friendship, Everything I Know About Love is a lot of fun to read.


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My Autobiography of Carson McCullers by Jenn Shapland

Part detective story, part memoir, Jenn Shapland’s My Autobiography of Carson McCullers is an engrossing portrait of longing, discovery, and obsession. When Shapland stumbles upon Carson McCullers' love letters to a woman named Annmarie, she is surprised that not only do they not reflect the public version of McCullers, but they also feel familiar to her own experiences. What follows is a full-fledged submersion into McCullers' life as a gay woman, and as Shapland digs deeper, she reveals and discovers even more about her own identity. A moving portrait of the stories we share, the stories we hide, and the stories we read.


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