Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson (2011)
Biography fans will devour this in-depth look at the life of a man whose ideas transformed the modern world’s computers, music, phones, digital publishing, and even animated movies by Pixar. Jobs chose Isaacson to be his biographer since he did such impressive work writing bios of other famous men. Jobs gave more than 40 interviews to his approved author and insisted that he would neither read the book nor tell Isaacson to leave anything out. Photos of Steve Jobs’ life help to make the story come alive.

For further reading, see the author’s other biographies of Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, and Henry Kissinger.

Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend by Susan Orlean

Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend by Susan Orlean (2011)
Did you know that the original Rin Tin Tin was very nearly the greatest, most favored star of the silent movie era? Did you know that he was found as a puppy on a battlefield in France by a young American soldier named Lee Duncan? Duncan brought his well trained German Shepherd back to his native California where he soon began trying to get his dog into the movies.

Rin Tin Tin and his offspring starred in the movies, made countless public appearances and was again a star in the early days of television. Orlean explores the dog, his myth, and the many interesting people who surrounded Rin Tin Tin. She also gives you the history of the German shepherd breed and the early days of both television and the movies.

Here is a clip of Rin Tin Tin

You Better Not Cry by Augusten Burroughs

You Better Not Cry by Augusten Burroughs (2009)
The holidays have you frazzled and frustrated? Then you can’t miss this Christmas memoir. Burroughs’ witty writing style will have you laughing all the way to 2012!

Looking for more books that will make you laugh out loud here is our list of humorous stories.

B.Y.O.B. Party Book Recommendations

Here is a list books that people shared at our book party this week:

Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Aleph by Paulo Coelho
Cat Who Could Read Backwards by Lillian Jackson Braun
Greater Journey by David McCullough
In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larsen
Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Loving Frank by Nancy Horan
Mrs. Ted Bliss by Stanley Elkin
One Amazing Thing by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Paris Wife by Paula McLain
Polish Officer by Alan Furst
Sandalwood Tree by Elle Newmark
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
South of Broad by Pat Conroy
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
Still Life by Louise Penny
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose
The Women by T.C. Boyle

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (2010)
Laura Hillenbrand, the author of this book and the earlier book Seabiscuit, has written another winner. This book hooks you in from page one. It’s a great story of an American POW held by the Japanese during World War II. I learned a lot from this book, too.

By the way, did you know the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor was yesterday?

Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo

Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo (2011)
This book is a quick read and is a very gripping, sweet story and true. A 4-year old minister’s son has a near death experience in surgery. In the weeks and months to come, Colson reveals things that make you realize he’s seen God and glimpses of Heaven.

Read an excerpt of the book here.

Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff

Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff (2010)
Perhaps this book should be called “The Truth about Cleopatra, Last Queen of Egypt.” In reality, her life, filled with intrigue, danger, political upheaval, reads like an unbelievable adventure film. She lived by her wits with constant loyalty to Egypt.

Pulitzer Prize winning author Stacy Schiff showcases her authentic research  in this remarkable work. The historical truth of Cleopatra’s life demands that she be taken seriously. You don’t have to be a history buff to appreciate the way Schiff presents myth versus truth.

The way she saved her skin and her kingdom from Julius Caesar is one story; the way she tried to preserve that same kingdom from another Roman soldier, Mark Antony, is another. The ability to present the truth is Schiff’s strength. She was more than a steamy seductress; she was a power unto herself.

To find about more about the book check out this Q&A with the author.

Spotlight: Man’s Best Friend

Spotlight: Man’s Best FriendWaiting for Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend by Susan Orlean (2011)? Try one of these classic stories about man’s best friend.

Lassie Come Home by Eric Knight (2003) is the classic story of a beloved collie, sold by his impoverished family, who makes his way back home to his boy. Jack London's The Call of the Wild (1981) is another story of loyalty. Buck the dog is rescued from a brutal existence as a Yukon sledge dog by John Thornton, to whom he becomes devoted. The Incredible Journey (1996) is another story, this time two dogs and a cat, that make their way over hundreds of miles of Canadian wilderness to find a home. Roger Caras’ Treasury of Great Dog Stories (1987) brings together stories by such well known authors as Mark Twain and Stephen Crane.

What to Wear for the Rest of Your Life: Ageless Secrets of Style by Kim Johnson Gross

What to Wear for the Rest of Your Life: Ageless Secrets of Style by Kim Johnson Gross (2010)
Are you “feeling fat” and wondering what to wear? Is your closet jammed full with a lot of things you seldom wear but you reach for the same tried and true outfits? I prescribe this quick read by a former model, fashion editor, and magazine columnist who has felt your pain and knows what you should do to feel better about yourself and your clothing choices.

This upbeat book aimed at “the woman past her 30s” will initially help you rejuvenate your existing wardrobe without spending a penny by helping you discover your “Feel-Good Closet.” With clever tips and a humorous tone, Kim recommends that you analyze what feels comfortable and still looks good in the mirror. She will help you to realize that a good foundation of suitable undergarments may make all the difference in how you look. You will also be compelled to get rid of a lot of the clothes you never wear in your closet since you don’t feel “good” wearing them.

Complete with suggestions on what you should spend your cash on to make you feel confident about what you wear, you’ll also finally understand why you keep reaching for the same shoes or pants over and over. The brand names of the new “closet classics” you purchase may not be as upscale as the authors’ are, but you’ll begin to understand principles to guide you as you shop for new clothing to fit your own personal lifestyle.

For more tips from the author visit her website here.
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Life, On the Line by Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas

Life, On the Line: A Chef’s Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat by Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas (2011)
Famous for both his innovative cooking and beating Stage 4 tongue cancer, Grant Achatz (rhymes with Patches) co-wrote this autobiography with his restaurant business partner. Their five star Chicago culinary mecca Alinea has won many accolades, including Gourmet Magazine’s Best Restaurant in America (2006) while Restaurant Magazine boosted Alinea to No. 6 in the world for 2011. Chef Achatz has won numerous personal awards, including "Best Chef in the United States" for 2008 from the James Beard Foundation.

It’s amazing to read about the untold hours Chef Achatz spends at his restaurant and surprising that anyone can get by on so little sleep. His life experiences ultimately stress the importance of love, friendship, passion for your work and being your own health advocate, even if a fifth medical opinion is what it takes to get the help you need.

The book includes many photographs, but my curiosity led me to look at live footage of Grant Achatz on You Tube.

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand (2010)
Let me just say up front that I loved Laura Hillenbrand’s Seabiscuit. It is probably my favorite nonfiction book. Well, I think, she’s done it again with Unbroken, the biography of an extraordinary U.S. Army Air Force officer, Louie Zamperini, who was shot down over the Pacific. Laura Hillenbrand has presented a remarkable story of human endurance. Zamperini’s story, like Seabiscuit’s, is eternal and inspirational.

On a mission over the South Pacific, Zamperini was the bombardier on a B-24. When the plane crashes, he finds himself floating on a raft with little provision for survival. After more than a month on the raft, starving, thirsty and chased by sharks, the ordeal ends with the survivors being captured by the Japanese and imprisoned in a hellish Japanese POW camp.

Hillenbrand is an historian and biographer who places herself at the service of her subjects; this makes her books a rare combination of writer and story. Though her prose is short and straightforward, her books are written with a rich and vivid narrative voice that keeps you involved through even the worst of Zamperini’s ordeal.

Read an excerpt of the book here.

Gunn’s Golden Rules: Life’s Little Lessons for Making It Work by Tim Gunn

Gunn’s Golden Rules: Life’s Little Lessons for Making It Work by Tim Gunn (2010)
Tim Gunn made the phrase “Make It Work!” famous on the hit reality TV series Project Runway where he mentors the contestants and costars with model Heidi Klum. In this etiquette book/biography, Tim shares his 18 golden rules for a happy and successful life. The rules include “be a good guest or stay home” and “when you need help, get it.” Surprisingly, when it comes to appropriate clothing, he reminds us that “physical comfort is overrated,” but that he really doesn’t notice too much what other people wear, and will rarely comment on an outfit unless he is asked.

Just one of the interesting tidbits in the book is that Tim was an unpaid consultant on Project Runway for the first two seasons. Other juicy revelations include info on J. Edgar Hoover since Gunn’s father was an FBI special agent and also J. Edgar’s ghostwriter.

Visit Gunn's facebook page for more information on the fashion guru.

Throw out Fifty Things by Gail Blanke

Throw out Fifty Things by Gail Blanke (2009)
Do your clothes and your home represent the way you’d like to think of yourself? What has to change to make that happen?

This motivational speaker and former columnist for Real Simple magazine wrote this self-help book to inspire the reader to first clear our homes of clutter and then clear the clutter in our minds. After step-by-step directions for getting rid of the physical clutter in our homes, the author shows how letting go of the clutter in our minds can lead to happiness and productivity.

Let go of feeling inadequate. Let go of the mistakes of the past. Get started on the path to the next and greatest part of your life! Check out these additional tips on getting organized and living a simpler life.

The Downhill Lie by Carl Hiaasen

The Downhill Lie by Carl Hiaasen (2008)
This very funny tale is perfect for golfers or spouses of golfers over 40!

A popular satirical fiction writer, Hiassen brings his offbeat sense of humor to real life anecdotes about golf and life. Visit the author's website and improve your golf game!

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell (2005)
Interesting look at how the mind works or doesn't work. I especially liked learning that often instinct and experience have value over details and facts when people make decisions. Malcolm Gladwell seems to select topics to write about which are of interest to him so he can delve into them for answers. The current science on the way the mind works is very interesting. Fast, enjoyable read.

Watch the YouTube interview with the author.