Today in My History
Books Read in 2022
Books Read in 2022
Cast (updated 7/21)
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17 May 2022
National Biographer’s Day is celebrated every year on May 16 to commemorate a very special event. It was the first time Samuel Johnson — a famous poet, essayist, literary critic, editor, and lexicographer, and his biographer James Boswell met.
In the mid-1700s, Samuel Johnson, a biographer himself, met with his biographer
James Boswell in London, England on May 16. According to Johnson, the best
biographers ate, drank, and maintained social relations with the person they
were writing about.
I am a big reader of biographies and autobiographies. I have 510 books listed on GoodReads. 28 of them are biographies and 52 are autobiographies. Of the 22 books I have read so far in 2022, seven are biographies or autobiographies. Two of them are stand outs.
I read Kate Mulgrew's first autobiography, "Born with Teeth," which takes her up to the time she was cast in Star Trek: Voyager and I was disappointed that it didn't go up to Orange is the New Black, which I loved her in. But the writing was wonderful. Most celebrity autobiographies have co-authors, but this one doesn't and her writing style is very impressive, so I was eager to read her second book, hoping it would continue her performing life. But it was even more personal because it tells the story of how she took a performing break so she could return to her home and take care of her father, who was dying of cancer, and her mother, who had Alzheimers. Again, it's beautifully written and the story of her growing relationship with her father was impressive.
Randy Rainbow's autobiography was the second book that impressed me this year. His writing is more like journaling and while you'd think that this very funny man would write a very funny autobiography, there were parts of his life that were anything but funny and he deals with them very openly.
It's so typically him, complete with all the comments breaking the 4th wall and talking to the readers. He's become a big star with friends like Stephen Sondheim, Carol Burnett and Patti LuPone, yet with as much shyness about meeting celebrities as I would have. I love that he describes himself as a "hard core, out-and-proud, full blown introvert.." I know exactly how he feels!
The subjects of the books I've read range from the autobiography of the guy who found the dog for the original production of Annie to how he became an animal trainer for just about every animal you saw on stage or on the screen for many years to the story of Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani girl shot for trying to get an education, who sued for divorce at age 10.
Two celebrity autobiographies surprised me, one for how good it was and one for how disappointing it was. I expected to love Alan Alda's book and ended up giving it one star on GoodReads. In contrast, I was very surprised at what a good writer Rob Lowe turned out to be. His book was interesting from start to finish and, like Mulgrew, very well written.
Of course I have read several biographies of Judy Garland and it's surprising how new books can be filled with information I had not read before. I thought that by now I pretty much knew most of her life, so what a shock to discover that probably 80% of Gerald Clark's 2009 "Get Happy," a 500+ page book, was new to me!
And it's surprising that I have read several books written by friends. My friend Char wrote her autobiography, only available to family, but a 200+ page book nonetheless, which I loved because so much of it was about our life together.
Jim Brochu's "Watching from the Wings: 50 years of working with the stars" was fascinating. Jim knows everybody (including me) and it was such fun reading about his life growing up on Broadway, and especially his friendship with Lucille Ball.
"Forever Restless" was the story of Joseph O'Looney, a Paulist priest who worked in South America and was in the Navy. He was also the priest who baptised my mother in 1953 and the two remained friends until his death. She also typed this book.
Robert Rummel Hudson's "Schuyler's Monster: A Father's Journey with his Wordless Daughter" was excellent. I know Rob through his blog, though I've never met him, and have followed his daughter, Schuyler from before she was born to her adulthood.
As I look over the list of autobiographies and biographies I've read many jump out at me, like Alan Cummins's "Not My Father's Son," a painful book of growing up in an abusive household, and "Between the Stops," by comedienne Sandi Toksvig, which I read because she was on the Great British Baking Show. Her life, told by way of a bus journey from the studio to her home, passing streets she remembers from throughout her life, was unique and such fun.
I also read a book by a woman who was in the Daughters of Charity, which I planned to enter when I graduated from high school. She was in the order for several years before she left and her memories are so terrible that I was glad I changed my mind and never entered.
I am currently reading a fiction book by David Baldacci, but when I finish, next
on the list is the autobiography of Dame Daphne Sheldrick, who founded and ran
the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, which rescues orphan elephants and rhinos,
until her death (the trust is now run by her daughter).
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This is entry #8079