Well, now that day six is over, we’re on to day seven for the RealityLapse Christmas Countdown and we’re five days away from Christmas! Today we’re celebrating some of my favorite biographies, memoirs and nonfiction.
Discovered in the attic in which she spent the last years of her life, Anne Frank’s remarkable diary has since become a world classic—a powerful reminder of the horrors of war and an eloquent testament to the human spirit.
In 1942, with Nazis occupying Holland, a thirteen-year-old Jewish girl and her family fled their home in Amsterdam and went into hiding. For the next two years, until their whereabouts were betrayed to the Gestapo, they and another family lived cloistered in the “Secret Annexe” of an old office building. Cut off from the outside world, they faced hunger, boredom, the constant cruelties of living in confined quarters, and the ever-present threat of discovery and death.
In her diary Anne Frank recorded vivid impressions of her experiences during this period. By turns thoughtful, moving, and amusing, her account offers a fascinating commentary on human courage and frailty and a compelling self-portrait of a sensitive and spirited young woman whose promise was tragically cut short.
Anne Frank and her story changed the way I looked at war. Every single book about war since I read THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK has been read by me because of this book. The tragedy and cruelty of the time and her beliefs on what was happening really spoke to me. Not only that, but the way she wrote really struck me through this book. The elements are all there, and she herself pulls it together. Recommended read for all people at any point in time.
Over the course of the last five years, Tim Tebow established himself as one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of college football and a top prospect in the NFL. During that time he amassed an unparalleled resume—winning two BCS national championships, becoming the first sophomore in NCAA history to win the Heisman trophy, and in the face of massive public scrutiny, being drafted in the first round of the NFL draft by the Denver Broncos.
Now, in Through My Eyes, Tebow brings readers everywhere an inspirational memoir about life as he chose to live it, revealing how his faith and family values, combined with his relentless will to succeed, have molded him into the person that he is today. As the son of Christian missionaries, Tebow has a unique story to tell—from the circumstances of his birth, to his home-schooled roots, to his record-setting collegiate football career with the Florida Gators and everything else that took place in between.
At every step, Tebow’s life has defied convention and expectation. While aspects of his life have been well-documented, the stories have always been filtered through the opinions and words of others. Through My Eyes is his passionate, firsthand, never-before-told account of how it all really happened.
This book was my first step into the world of sports biographies and memoirs. THROUGH MY EYES is a great story about Tim Tebow’s rise as a football player and how he got there. I feel like this book really taught me a lot and it was a great journey into understanding his life. This book is remarkable and inspiring and I highly recommend it even if you’re not a football fan. If you liked this book and want to find more like this you can try Drew Brees’s COMING BACK STRONGER, Michael Oher’s I BEAT THE ODDS and Tony Dungy’s QUIET STRENGTH. For my full review of this book, click here.
Which is more dangerous, a gun or a swimming pool? What do schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common? Why do drug dealers still live with their moms? How much do parents really matter? How did the legalization of abortion affect the rate of violent crime?
These may not sound like typical questions for an economist to ask. But Steven D. Levitt is not a typical economist. He is a much-heralded scholar who studies the riddles of everyday life—from cheating and crime to sports and child-rearing—and whose conclusions turn conventional wisdom on its head.
The first time I read FREAKNOMICS, I had a great time. And every time since then, it’s been the same way. It’s fascinating and often times hilarious to hear about all the different things in this book, from quirky facts to things that happen in everyday life–and why it happens. If you’ve already read this book, you might want to check out the movie. I enjoy both a lot and the facts in them are light and fun.
Fast food has hastened the malling of our landscape, widened the chasm between rich and poor, fueled an epidemic of obesity, and propelled American cultural imperialism abroad. That’s a lengthy list of charges, but Eric Schlosser makes them stick with an artful mix of first-rate reportage, wry wit, and careful reasoning.
Schlosser’s myth-shattering survey stretches from California’s subdivisions, where the business was born, to the industrial corridor along the New Jersey Turnpike, where many of fast food’s flavors are concocted. Along the way, he unearths a trove of fascinating, unsettling truths — from the unholy alliance between fast food and Hollywood to the seismic changes the industry has wrought in food production, popular culture, and even real estate.
Both this book and the SUPER SIZE ME documentary were really eye-opening for me. I knew that fast food was bad for people, why it was bad and what it did to your body. But I never really knew about the history of fast food, the process of how it got to this point today and how it’s grown over time, as well as the all-important standpoint of exactly what is it doing today. I really liked the process of reading this book and watching SUPER SIZE ME and I feel like this is a great answer to all of my questions. You can read my full review here.
When Temple Grandin was born in 1947, autism had only just been named. Today it is more prevalent than ever, with one in 88 children diagnosed on the spectrum. And our thinking about it has undergone a transformation in her lifetime: Autism studies have moved from the realm of psychology to neurology and genetics, and there is far more hope today than ever before thanks to groundbreaking new research into causes and treatments. Now Temple Grandin reports from the forefront of autism science, bringing her singular perspective to a thrilling journey into the heart of the autism revolution.
Weaving her own experience with remarkable new discoveries, Grandin introduces the neuroimaging advances and genetic research that link brain science to behavior, even sharing her own brain scan to show us which anomalies might explain common symptoms. We meet the scientists and self-advocates who are exploring innovative theories of what causes autism and how we can diagnose and best treat it. Grandin also highlights long-ignored sensory problems and the transformative effects we can have by treating autism symptom by symptom, rather than with an umbrella diagnosis. Most exciting, she argues that raising and educating kids on the spectrum isn’t just a matter of focusing on their weaknesses; in the science that reveals their long-overlooked strengths she shows us new ways to foster their unique contributions.
Back when I was really first getting into my study of autism and other disorders, I stumbled upon Temple Grandin’s books and decided to read them. That book led to another and led to another and before I knew it, I found myself fascinated with the life and works of Temple Grandin. The way she explained things and the impact that she’s made on the world is amazing and everything she’s done–for animals and humans–really inspired me. I haven’t read this book all the way through yet–I only got a few-chapters-long teaser from a friend of mine–but I feel like this is her best book yet and I can’t wait to get to read the rest of it! I’m also really looking forward to THE REASON I JUMP Naoki Higashida.
He was a gentle dreamer whose genial bearded visage was recognized around the world, but most people got to know him only through the iconic characters born of his fertile imagination: Kermit the Frog, Bert and Ernie, Miss Piggy, Big Bird. The Muppets made Jim Henson a household name, but they were only part of his remarkable story.
This extraordinary biography–written with the generous cooperation of the Henson family–covers the full arc of Henson’s all-too-brief life: from his childhood in Leland, Mississippi, through the years of burgeoning fame in Washington D.C., New York, and London, to the decade of international celebrity that preceded his untimely death at age fifty-three.
I love Jim Henson, and he was an amazing inspiration in my life as a child and now. From what I’ve seen already from this book, I love the format and the in-depth storytelling about Jim Henson’s life in his struggles, accomplishments and what led him to be the legend he is today. If you have any interest in Jim Henson’s life or his works, then I highly recommend that you read this book.
That’s it for day seven! A few other titles I’m dying to read are HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY by Phil Robertson and Malala Yousafzai’s biography. What about you? What are your favorite biographies, memoirs or nonfiction titles? For some great biographies for younger kids, you might want to check out the WHO WAS series and the CHILDHOOD OF FAMOUS AMERICANS series, both of which I loved growing up. Stay tuned tomorrow for Day Eight: Science Fiction.
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