Nonfiction Beach Reads

With the arrival of summer, and warm, sunny weather settling in, the beach seems to be calling. Of course, no trip to the beach is complete without some beach reading: something entertaining, captivating, and enjoyable.

Traditionally, summer reads are mostly fiction, but some real-life nonfiction stories could be even more engaging and compelling than any fiction.

True-life spy stories are just one of the examples of very entertaining beach reading (check out the previous post, Spies Among Us), especially if they have been written by British historian and brilliant writer Ben Macintyre. A collection of books on espionage in the 20th century by Ben Macintyre is superb and captivating reading; these are books that you will not be able to put down until the end.

Lives of celebrities (check our previous post, Celebrate Celebrities) is another entertaining subject; you might be curious to read one of the celebrity memoirs, enjoying their stories told in their own voices. 

Could a biography of a politician be entertaining? Pelosi, by Susan Ball, is a recent biography of Nancy Pelosi, a politician and current House Speaker, that seems to be entertaining and full of anecdotes, while at the same time offering an admiring account of the politician as the greatest legislator of our time, who is committed to truth and justice. The book is very well regarded and very well reviewed in The New York Times.

Samantha Irby, humorist and essayist, called one of the most entertaining but poignant essayists of our time, started out as a blogger. Now, she has three very well reviewed books of essays under her belt, one of which was bought for development into a TV series. 

In her essays, she writes about very personal topics, such as poverty, blackness, failed relationships, struggles with chronic disease, eating too much junk food, spending too much time with her cat, watching too much television, and more. She uses her sense of humor to deal with life that sabotages and impairs her every step.

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In her latest book Wow, No Thank You, which came out just a couple months ago, she applies her naughty sense of humor to subjects that cover everything from love and marriage to the art of “detachment parenting” of her two white stepchildren. The review in NYT assessed the book, and the author, very highly. The book is available in audio format, as well. 

All titles are available through Overdrive/Libby with your library card.

So grab a blanket, and enjoy a perfectly relaxing sunny day at the beach!

Celebrate Celebrities!

Life of celebrities is usually imagined as fascinating, glamorous, and exciting. And who better to tell us all about it but themselves? Here are the memoirs written in their own voices.

Actor and an avid reader and book lover who hosts a book club, Reese Witherspoon wrote Whiskey in a Teacup, full of charming recipes, various kinds of advice, and personal stories. Born in New Orleans and raised in Nashville, it is also her ode to Southern cuisine, hospitality, and etiquette. If you’d like to read more about the actress, check out her recent interview with the LA Times, in which she discusses her views on faith, ageism in Hollywood, and other issues.

Popular TV actors Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman wrote an uproariously funny chronicle of their 18-year-old marriage, The Greatest Love Story Ever Told. The book covers a variety of topics, such as religion, award ceremonies, and art. They also share secrets of their enduring marriage, undeterred by their significant age difference and varying interests.

In his engaging and amusing memoir, Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, Eric Idle, of Monty Python fame, reminisces about his childhood, his very successful career in comedy, television, theater and film, and numerous eminent people he mixed and became friends with, luminaries such as Mick Jagger, Steve Martin, Paul Simon, John Cleese, and others.

This 2019 New York Times bestseller marks the 50th anniversary of the Pythons.

Room to Dream is a memoir/biography of the avant-garde film director David Lynch (The Elephant Man, Twin Peaks, Mulholland Drive), who won multiple awards at Cannes, Venice, and other film festivals, and is a recipient of an Honorary Academy Award in 2019.

In the book, written by David Lynch and the journalist/biographer Kristine McKenna, personal memories alternate with chapters written by the biographer. It is an inside look into the imagination and life of this unique filmmaker. While in his chapters, Lynch explores his creativity and its roots. McKenna writes biographical chapters based on numerous interviews with family members, colleagues, and friends. The result is a very captivating and entertaining read.

The Destiny Thief is a book of autobiographical essays by Richard Russo, a bestselling author of novels and short stories, and a Pulitzer Prize winner. Through these essays, the reader can catch a glimpse of the author’s creative process, ponder on his reflections of being a writer, learn about his literary and musical interests, and appreciate Russo’s wisdom and sense of humor.

My Girls by the Hollywood producer and director Todd Fisher is a tribute to the lives of his mother, Hollywood legend Debbie Reynolds, and his sister, actress Carrie Fisher, both of whom passed away within 24 hours of each other in 2016.  Sometimes funny, but mostly poignant, this is a story of the family permanently in crisis, the story of love, perseverance, and loyalty. The narrative is accompanied by photos and memorabilia from the family archives.

All these books are accessible through Overdrive/Libby with your library card!