Long before Pharaoh Nefertiti and Queen Cleopatra VII took power in ancient Egypt, there was a successful female ruler by the name of Hatshepsut who defied the usual tradition of having a male heir.
In Kara Cooney’s The Woman Who Would Be King, she details Hatshepsut’s rise to power. She was married to her brother Thutmose but failed to produce a male heir. He died young and she out-maneuvered her brother’s second wife for a place on the throne, which led to Hatshepsut being named co-regent for her nephew Thutmose III. Instead of regurgitating dry facts about the female Pharaoh’s life, Cooney weaves a fascinating tale that explores how Hatshepsut faced similar obstacles to today’s modern women.
|Recommended by Amanda Ferris||Monday, March 7th, 2016||No Comments »|
The infamous Salem Witch Trials have been a popular subject in both literature and media. From WGN America’s Salem to Arthur Miller’s popular play The Crucible, the horrific witch trials have haunted the public imagination for years.
She takes her time to lay out the personalities who started the Salem Witch Trials and painstakingly recounts the psychological factors that started the hysteria. Schiff points out that the darkness at night, the crippling fear of attack from neighboring Native American tribes, and local disputes all coalesced into the flames that would lead to the death of 20 people.
|Recommended by Amanda Ferris||Friday, January 15th, 2016||No Comments »|
Unlike other memoirs, Mary-Louise Parker’s non-fictional novel Dear Mr. You recounts her life via a series of letters both real and imagined to the men in her life. The actress’s letters all revolve around the men who have influenced her life for good or bad, and readers are given a glimpse of her life’s journey thanks to her poignant words.
Some of her memoirs will make you cry, especially with the letter to the uncle of the infant girl she adopted or her heartbreaking ode to her grandfather. However, not all of her stories are filled with joy. Parker delves into the dark side of life when she recounts a tale about an unnamed abusive ex, who she equated to Cerebus, the three-headed dog who guards the gates of the underworld in ancient Greek mythology. Parker’s tales of this toxic person is dark, but there’s also some humor in it too. Even though his behavior will send chills up your spine, you won’t be able to keep from snickering as the actress expertly skewers him with her words and exposes his faults for the entire world to see.
As the novel progresses, readers will get a chance to see the actress reflect on her life and her choices. Parker is brutally honest and makes no attempt to hide her own flaws.
Dear Mr. You is an emotional journey through Parker’s life that will leave you pondering about the people who have impacted your own existence — for better or worst.
|Recommended by Amanda Ferris||Thursday, December 17th, 2015||No Comments »|
While we’re mostly familiar with the Disney version of the 17th century European folk tale, the earliest version of Cinderella was undoubtedly Chinese, appearing a millennia before the original Neapolitan story. So it’s more than appropriate that when New York Times Bestselling author Adeline Yen Mah went to write an abridged version of her autobiography, Falling Leaves, she chose to invoke the classic fairy tale of a young girl’s triumph over abuse and adversity.
Chinese Cinderella and The Diary of Ann Frank were the only non-fiction books I read before entering high school. They provided prospective, not just in appreciating my own relative blessings, but also by being an introductory step into understanding different cultures and how one is so heavily shaped by circumstance.
|Recommended by J. Harbinger||Monday, June 29th, 2015||No Comments »|
Well before I was introduced to World War I politics, there was a little cartoon called Anastasia that had the hands-down best non-Disney music number of all time. I remember being thoroughly disappointed to learn the movie was total bollocks, but also feeling a tiny fraction of real despair for those ghostly figures emerging from a royal portrait dancing gracefully, once upon a December, who in real life were executed in a basement. I’m no monarchist, but there’s little dignity or progress to be had murdering children and their parents in the night.
I started reading Helena Rappaport’s The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra thinking that I’d be disillusioned of my sentimentality by how the royal family really was with their privileged lifestyles and ignorance. Instead, this look into their private diaries and letters, some of which has thus far remained unpublished, confirmed that truly no one deserved such a tragic end as the Romanov family faced. Continue Reading →
|Recommended by J. Harbinger||Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015||No Comments »|
If you were obsessed with The Princess Bride as a kid, that obsession is about to be reawakened by As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride, written by Cary Elwes. Yes, that’s right. If you buy the Audible version, Westley will talk about the infamous fencing scene, how he broke his toe driving Andre the Giant’s ATV, and even do fantastic impressions of his imposingly gentle costar.
It’s seriously a must for anyone who ever got an iota of pleasure from the cult classic movie that every good childhood must include. Everyone who contributed stories, from Billy Crystal to Rob Reiner, obviously have a lot of respect for each other and deep, abiding love for this project.
It’s a little about the craft of moviemaking, it’s a little about the wacky things stars do with each other behind the scenes, and it’s a little to do about R-O-U-S actor being late for a shoot. Inconceivable!
|Recommended by J. Harbinger||Wednesday, June 17th, 2015||No Comments »|
George Washington was honest about chopping down his father’s (nonexistent) cherry tree, Abraham Lincoln was born in a log cabin, Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, and John Adams got a bad ass HBO series starring Paul Giamatti and Stannis Baratheon. I’m not sure why we tell these abbreviated stories to our children and have to pay for cable in order to get a more in-depth story. Great heroes of the past always appear hollow without knowing their mortal foibles.
Thus, while some presidents could be satisfied with the short and concise volumes of HarperCollins’ Eminent Lives series, Jon Meacham made it his business to craft a more comprehensive tale for our third president in Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power.
|Recommended by J. Harbinger||Monday, June 15th, 2015||No Comments »|