Dean and Me – A Love Story by Jerry Lewis and James Kaplan

Find in catalogThe unlikely pair of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis teamed up in 1946. The world had never seen the likes of this handsome crooner and hyperactive comic, and they soon became mega stars in night clubs, radio, TV, and movies. They spent 10 years working together, then broke up as the pressures of stardom eroded their partnership. Both men went on to have very successful solo careers but there was always sadness at the loss of their friendship. This is a fascinating look at the world of entertainment in post war America.

A Primate’s Memoir by Robert M. Sapolsky

Find in catalogRobert Sapolsky knew that he wanted to be a primatologist when he grew up. He volunteered at the Museum of Natural History, wrote fan letters to Jane Goodall, and badgered his high school principal to let him study Swahili to prepare for travel in Africa. Sapolsky spent 20 years studying a troop of baboons in Kenya and discovered that their behavior and social structure is quite different than previously believed. His stories are both fascinating and hilarious and the reader will learn a lot about both the animals and the people of Africa.

Producer: Lessons Shared from 30 Years in Television by Wendy Walker

ProducerI really enjoyed reading this book because I work behind the scenes in the television industry and I identified with some of the same experiences the author, Wendy Walker went through.

In this book, Walker names the chapters after lessons she’s learned. These include lessons like “freaking out is not an option” and “everything happens for a reason.”

As the senior executive producer of Larry King Live, Walker illustrates these lessons with anecdotes about the famous people she’s met and worked with and the challenges she’s faced at her fast-paced job.

I also liked reading about her career path from college, to working at a clothing store, to working for the Kennedy family, and beyond.

I recommend this book for anyone who likes to read about interesting people and places and wants to learn lessons in the process.

Reviewed by Laura

Let’s Just Say It Wasn’t Pretty by Diane Keaton

Let's Just Say It Wasn't PrettyA rather revealing autobiography of actress Diane Keaton. This is not a tell-all about her co-actors or movies but rather a true life history of her relationships with her parents, her fascination with male actors and especially their appearance and fashion (which she has adopted–fashion is a nonstop topic in this book), and her children. Oh, also her seeming compulsion to buy, renovate, sell, and find the ‘perfect house’–I think she said she’d renovated around 50?? It seemed to be frank and an admirable attempt at being honest and trying to learn from one’s experiences from the vantage point of the mid-seventh decade of life.

Reviewed by Laura R.

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the culinary underbelly by Anthony Bourdain

Kitchen ConfidentialThis is an honest autobiography of a ne’er-do-well adolescent maturing into a renown world-traveling chef. It’s an entire book of sometimes horrifying, sometimes salacious, sometimes more-than-I-wanted-to-know, but very informative ‘dishing’ about the workings of restaurant kitchens. Bourdin really shows that he cares about his field by giving hard advice to anyone who wants to be a restaurant chef in one of the last chapters. After reading this, I felt rather full and not desiring any more (writings by Bourdain) for quite a while, similar to how one feels after an extensive and rich meal.

Reviewed by Laura

Unorthodox: the scandalous rejection of my Hasidic roots by Deborah Feldman

Raised by grandparents in a NYC community of an extremely orthodox Jewish sect, Deborah never felt like she belonged, and she never felt she would be good enough for either others or God. This memoir can be disturbing at times, and some revelations, such as this group’s belief that even speaking English or reading books written in English can be polluting and are therefore forbidden show the extent that some cultures go to enforce their beliefs on others. Needless to say, this author kept many of her own secrets and broke many rules to become a good enough writer to use her memoir as a main vehicle for freeing herself from the oppression of her childhood and early married years.

How long will life be a trial for her? Will she be able to take her baby boy with her when she escapes? This book kept me reading and reading. It is yet another example of ‘ideas’ not being the enemy, but rather ‘fear of ideas’ being the true danger.

Reviewed by Grace

American Sniper: the autobiography of the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history by Chris Kyle

I read this so I could walk my talk about being open-minded and out of curiosity about just what is inside a sniper’s head. This is the autobiography of our American Navy Seal who has the most confirmed kills. I quickly found I was not interested in the details of the weapons nor the fights; I focused on finding his statements of beliefs and emotions, as well as the lengthy thoughts by his wife, who along with their sons, lived through his being deployed four separate times over several years. The focus on his wife’s experience definitely gave both sides of the story more definition.

Mr. Kyle loved his job and believed every single kill target was evil and deserved to die. He drew the line at killing a child who was used by adults to have a grenade. He successfully defused that situation.

I was surprised to also see Mr. Kyle say he had fun.  Frankly, the book literally gave me a nightmare the night after finishing reading it: I dreamed about an environment where ‘an eye for an eye’ is followed as the rule.  I won’t be as quick to take on books for the reason of being open-minded in the future, but it was an interesting look into the mind of someone who believes himself to be honest and upright and totally different from me. While I gained understanding, I cannot say I gained any sympathy, except for the loss of his friends who died.

Reviewed by Grace

Grace and Grit: my fight for equal pay and fairness at Goodyear and beyond by Lily M. Ledbetter

Lily Ledbetter’s autobiography.

She takes us from her childhood through the signing, by President Obama, of the Lily Ledbetter Act.   It’s a quick read and it is heartbreaking, inspirational and historical.   She tells a story almost painful in its honesty.   A must read for those who may question why we need additional laws to insure pay equity.

Reviewed by Iris

Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life by Steve Martin

Mr. Martin says, “I was not naturally talented–I didn’t sing, dance, or act–though working around that minor detail made me inventive.”  He writes thoughtfully and honestly about the development of his particular style of wackiness, and his fascinating rise from having audiences of 8 or 12 at Knotts Berry Farm to over 45,000 at the end of his time in stand-up comedy. I do not call it ‘the height’ of his career because at the end, he felt his creative soul juices drying up, and for those of us in his generation, it’s hard to believe he has been gone from stand-up for 25 years.  Today he is author of nonfiction, plays, screenplays, novels, and of course is a banjo musician since his childhood.  Behind- the-scenes accounts of people, place, and time especially in the 60s and 70s are entwined with his search for love, both familial and soul-partner types, are moving, though he simply describes the highs and lows and keeps his emoting to himself. I respect and admire him more than ever now.

Reviewed by Laura