True Story

New Political Biographies, Memoirs and Adaptations

This week’s newsletter has gotten pretty political, thanks to new biographies, adaptations and memoirs by and about major political figures. Let’s dive in!

Sponsored by Timber Press, an imprint of Workman Publishing

At the age of thirty-four, Leslie Buck put her personal life on hold to pursue her passion. She became the first American woman to join Uetoh Zoen, one of the oldest and most highly acclaimed landscape companies in Kyoto. The work was often grueling and the cultural differences challenging, but a reverence for nature brought her and the dedicated craftsmen together. Cutting Back recounts Buck’s journey and her revelations along the way. This delicate and reflective memoir powerfully appeals to women working in a man’s world, visitors in foreign lands, and the other in us all.

New Books On My Radar

Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama by David Garrow (May 9 from William Morrow) – Is the world ready for a nearly 1,500 page biography of Barack Obama’s early years, covering his childhood through his run for the White House? I’m not sure, but it’s here anyway.

Bonus Read: The New York Times has a good review of the book, covering some of the more controversial aspects. The author also spoke about his process and motivations on Inside Edition.

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson (May 2 from W.W. Norton) – In this book, “Tyson brings the universe down to Earth succinctly and clearly, with sparkling wit, in tasty chapters consumable anytime and anywhere in your busy day.” Woo, science!

Bonus Read: CBS News published some excerpts from the book, which will give you a good taste of what’s to come.

The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich (May 16 from Flatiron Books) – This book is one of my most anticipated reads of the year, thanks to the overwhelming good buzz about it on the Book Riot backchannels. Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich, a young lawyer, begins to question her long-held beliefs about the death penalty after exploring a shocking case. As she digs deeper, she also has to grapple with long-buried family secrets and her past.

Bonus Listen: You can listen to about 10 minutes of the prologue read by the author at this link.

Adaptation News

There’s been some interesting news trickling out about some upcoming film and TV adaptations.

Mindy Kaling has optioned Alyssa Mastromonaco’s memoir Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the White House. The book, published just last month, chronicles Mastromonaco’s time working for Barack Obama. Kaling plans to turn the book into a tv series, which sounds SO GOOD.

Reviews for The Lost City of Z, based on the 2009 book by David Grann, have been largely good (although not totally glowing). I liked this one from the New York Times, and this one in The Atlantic. I’m excited by the notes about how it feels like a classic Hollywood movie updated with more contemporary awareness.

The Glass Castle finally has a release date, August 11! The adaptation of Jeannette Walls’ 2005 best-selling memoir stars Brie Larson, Woody Harrelson and Naomi Watts. This is another one of those big nonfiction books I haven’t read, but it looks like it’s on my summer reading list.

And in more political news, Shattered, a new book by journalists Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes about Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential bid, has been optioned for a limited television series. I honestly can’t decide what I think about this… it feels too soon, but maybe it’s what we all need in order to put 2016 to bed? What do you think, dear readers?

Book Review Schadenfreude

Normally, I am not into reading bad reviews of books just for the fun of it… but for Ivanka Trump, I will make an exception. The reviews for her new book, Women Who Work, have been almost universally terrible – you can get a peek at the highlights (or lowlights?) in this round up.

I did check Women Who Work out from the library to form my own opinion, but aside from the few eye-rolling moments highlighted in the reviews, it’s boring enough that I don’t think I’ll finish it. If you want some better books on working women, Rioter Trisha Brown put together a great list of books to read about women and work when your father isn’t a billionaire.

On My Nightstand

I’m currently in the middle of The Art of Grace: On Moving Well Through Life by Washington Post critic and senior arts writer Sarah L. Kaufman. By looking at grace in many forms, with an emphasis on arts and culture, Kaufman explores a “philosophy of living that promotes human connection and fulfillment.” I picked this one up impulsively while out shopping, and so far have been pleasantly surprised. I like the idea of trying to move through the world with more thoughtfulness and attention, and am enjoying the range of examples Kaufman has been drawing on to make her case.

Correction: A reader emailed to point out I made a mistake in my blurb for This Is Just My Face by Gabourey Sidibe. Sidibe is known for her role in the movie Precious, which was based on the novel Push by Sapphire. My mistake, apologies!

And that’s all for this week! As always, feedback and comments are always welcome. You can catch me on Twitter @kimthedork, Instagram @kimthedork, or via email at Happy reading!