The best biographies and memoirs of January

Al Woodworth on January 09, 2020
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In the first month of 2020, we read--and you can read--some great biographies and memoirs: from wild-rides through Silicon Valley and start-up culture, to an emotional portrait of grief and loss, to memoirs from writers like Chuck Palahniuk and Will Self, to the stories of the elite airmen who flew in World War II. We've rounded up four of our favorites that struck a chord, but be sure to check out our full list of the Best Biographies and Memoirs of January 2020.


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Uncanny Valley: A Memoir by Anna Weiner

Uncanny Valley is our debut spotlight pick of the month – and it is a wild and dishy memoir of the bravado, debauchery, idealism, and recklessness of start-up tech culture during the height of Silicon Valley. As Sarah Gelman wrote in her Best Book of the Month Review: “Weiner’s observations and writing are razor sharp…This perfectly named memoir places Weiner on the map as an astute documenter of our time.”


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We Will Rise: A True Story of Tragedy and Resurrection in the American Heartland by Steve Beaven

On December 13, 1977, the entire five-time champion basketball team from the University of Evansville perished in a plane crash. They were just four games into their season, which promised to catapult them to the national stage. We Will Rise is the page-turning story of the tragedy, the rebuilding, and the new team that came together to honor the legacy of the game their peers played so well. As the editor of the book shared, “here is the greatest story of basketball you’ve never heard.” If you’re a sports fan, this book will make you root for a team like you’ve never rooted before.


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Father of Lions: One Man's Remarkable Quest to Save the Mosul Zoo by Louise Callaghan

In this engaging and moving book, Louise Callaghan recounts the true story of a Mosul Zoo—during the height of the Iraq war. As bullets zoom through open windows and food, safety, protection become scarcer by the day, people struggle to survive. But this is not the story of people – it’s the story of the animals in the Mosul Zoo and how one man cared, fed, and protected the animals as the war raged around them. This is a remarkable and heroic story of a man who when confronted with war, thought of the creatures around him before himself.


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Consider This: Moments in My Writing Life after Which Everything Was Different by Chuck Palahniuk

Chuck Palahniuk is perhaps best known for his 1996 novel, Fight Club, which has become a cult classic. In his memoir, Consider This, Palahniuk lays bare his life as a writer – the ups, the downs – and his pursuit of telling stories. There are postcards from the road, anecdotes about other writers and examples from their work. As his typical with his work, he pulls no punches and in doing so has written an entertaining memoir and guide to the writing life.

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