|May 2011: Biography, Autobiography and Memoirs|
|Politics and Law|
| The lives of others|
|Why did I begin reading biographies is a question I often ask myself? I had to complete book reviews at school and when teaching I had them written for me as assignments, however I found reading about the real lives of others did not interest me greatly.
The first time I really enjoyed reading about another person’s life was when I obtained biographies of Harry Secombe and then Spike Milligan, for my husband ( a Goons fan), which I also read (these books are now out of print). Later, I had to read a particular author, Robin Klein, for a children’s literature study. The scope of her work in writing for young children using picture story books through to novels for teens, was interesting. I found myself wanting to know more about her work and personality. The fact that she is an Australian spurred my interest.
I began to read more biographies when I was doing the community literature and library promotion spot on 3RPP. The station had gathered together a group of three people. We all read a particular book and the discussion was broadcast. The listening audience was given the name of the book a month in advance so they could also participate. It was part of my input to speak about the author of the book that we had all read. We read fiction mostly, but we also read Pleasure and Pain by Chrissie Amphlett (who had really lived the rock’n’roll lifestyle) and other non-fiction books were discussed. I found the lives of those I admired or authors that I had read becoming more interesting and began to read biographies more often. They were real people, with real lives, who had found answers to some of life’s problems, often in an amusing way.
I then began reading books about comedians, Billy and Bravemouth by Pamela Stephenson about her husband Billy Connolly. These were insightful and held many poignant surprises, as well as being amusing.
Then came a very eclectic dabble in biographies, following my tastes and those of my family. Many of the authors are actors on television or were in films. The Moon’s a Balloon by David Niven was funny and entertaining. His anecdotes and stories about the films he made and his fellow actors are well worth reading. Alan Alda was a favourite television personality of mine from Mash who wrote about his life in Never Have Your Dog Stuffed. This brilliant comedian on screen did not have an easy time as a child. Michael J Fox and the difficulties he has had to overcome, were inspiring in Lucky Man and Always Looking Up. Dame Judi Dench, a popular and brilliant actress in As Time Goes by and M in James Bond has written two autobiographies, Judi Dench: Scenes from my life and And Furthermore.
Parky by Michael Parkinson was another excellent read about his childhood and all the interesting people he had interviewed. He should also come under cricket as many of his anecdotes are about cricketers. While on English people Stella Rimington who was the former director-general of MI6, wrote Open Secret about her secret life as a spy for England. She has also written in fiction the Liz Carlyle spy series. I had lived in England and found this series recalled those times. Irish writer Frank McCourt’s Teacher Man: A memoir brought back happy memories of my teaching days, although he taught in a different country.
The struggle sports people have to maintain fitness and gain selection in their chosen field can be interesting and downright mind-boggling. We have all played sport at some level and in January cricket was the chosen genre of sport. Out of My Comfort Zone by Steve Waugh was a favourite. Don’t forget Australian Rules football – there are always biographies about the players in your favourite team.
One of the most enjoyable books I have read this year has been Anh Do’s The Happiest Refugee. This book is an autobiography, both amusing and the take on the Australian way of life is insightful.
The way to find biographies is to find the separate section in your branch where they are shelved. They are under Dewey order, depending on what that person did in their life, so that is the section where they are catalogued. Look them up on Our Library Catalogue or ask for help from your friendly Librarians.
If you visit the library, here are just a few Dewey numbers to help find your favourite author:
Spies – 327.12
Teaching – 371.1
Comedians – 791.7028
Australian rules footballers – 796.336
Actors and actresses – 791.43028
Janita is your friendly Librarian at our Somerville Library.
|Politics and Law|