It’s hard to know whether to call Boyd Varty’s Cathedral of the Wild a memoir, a true adventure story or a self-help book. All I know is that it made me cry with its hard-won truths about human and animal nature, distilled by Varty from his experiences living on Londolozi, the game reserve his family runs in South Africa.
Blake Bailey has written notable biographies of authors John Cheever and Richard Yates, both difficult and brilliant men. While he was sifting through their lives, he was also reflecting on his own. The Splendid Things We Planned is the resulting portrait, a story of mental illness and addiction and the difficult orbits they force upon the healthy. It’s also a tribute to one family’s best efforts and inevitable failings.
In her memoir, The Ogallala Road, Julene Bair chronicles the last days of her family’s Kansas farm, as well as the bittersweet love affair that feeds her hope of saving the place her folks called home. She makes the case that modern farming practices are inexorably eroding the vast resources her ancestors took for granted, and she mourns the unraveling of the tapestry that once bound together her family, their history and the land they shared.
One of those guys seemingly born to wear a tux, Robert Wagner proves an expert tour guide in the sometimes dishy, always perceptive You Must Remember This: Life and Style in Hollywood’s Golden Age.
At first, Carol Wall’s memoir, Mr. Owita’s Guide to Gardening, sounds like a book you might have read before: An unlikely friendship develops between two people who appear to have nothing in common. Giles Owita is an immigrant from Kenya who works part-time as a gardener. Wall is a high school English teacher and writer whose work has graced the pages of magazines like Southern Living. But things are not as they seem.
Cheryl Strayed wrote about how the death of her mother changed her life in the best-selling Wild. In a similar and yet very different vein, Kelly Corrigan writes about the effects of her mom’s presence in a wonderful new memoir, Glitter and Glue.
Leah Vincent is a good girl who loves her rabbi father. In her Yeshivish community—a sect within ultra-Orthodox Judaism—she’s a girl “who would never sneak a kosher candy bar that did not carry the extra strict cholov Yisroel certification.”
Cindy Chupack is a writer extraordinaire: She's had columns in Glamour, Oprah, The New York Times, et al; she wrote the best-selling essay collection The Between Boyfriends Book; and she won Golden Globes and Emmys for her work on "Sex and the City" and "Modern Family." It's no surprise, then, that The Longest Date: Life as a Wife is a truly enjoyable read, a collection of essays about love and marriage that hits a range of notes—madcap, poignant, self-deprecating, thoughtful—and ultimately makes it sound like there's fun to be had when Cindy and Ian are around.
One of the unlikeliest marriages in American history—between a staunch conservative and a diehard liberal—is still going strong after 20 years.
David R. Dow has spent his life dealing with death. He is an attorney who specializes in death penalty issues as a professor at the University of Houston Law Center. He also founded the Texas Innocence Network, which has represented more than 100 death row inmates. Dow picked a good place to practice: Texas has long been the top state for executions. When you spend your time filing court...