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What’s hot in biographies and memoirs

Each month, Candace of Beth Fish Reads invites you to meet fascinating people by reading buzz-worthy memoirs or biographies. Do you have music lovers on your gift list this holiday? Relax, we have you covered. This month’s picks include something for all your musical friends, no matter what their taste.

Roll me up and smoke me when i die cover

Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die
by Willie Nelson

Texas native Willie Nelson is an icon in the music world, garnering fans across the genres, especially in country, rock and folk. In his latest book, Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die, Nelson invites us to get to know him as person instead of as a star. In a series of short pieces, he muses about his family, shares the inspiration behind some of his songs, talks about his advocacy efforts, and thanks the people who helped his success. Fans will love the illustrations, photos, song lyrics, and jokes that bring this collection of personal essays to life. A great choice for baby boomers.

Cyndi Lauper

Cyndi Lauper: A Memoir
by Cyndi Lauper with Jancee Dunn

You might be surprised to learn that Cyndi Lauper was the first female artist to have had four singles from a debut album hit the top five lists. In her eponymous memoir, Lauper lets us see the complete woman behind her quirky fashion sense and the famous single “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” Besides stories about the pop music industry of the 1980s, Cyndi Lauper: A Memoir uncovers the singer’s fierce independence and long-term commitment to women’s issues and gay rights. Lauper leaves little out of her life story, talking about her mistakes as well as her successes. A hit for pop and rock fans of any age.

Life is a Gift cover

Life Is a Gift: The Zen of Bennett
by Tony Bennett

Although Tony Bennett’s music was first published on 78 rpm records, his voice is still being recorded in the modern digital age. Few performers have had the staying power of this music legend. In his upbeat Life Is a Gift, Bennett focuses on the positive forces in his life and career, offering advice to young singers and standing as a model for how to age gracefully. Besides sharing stories of many of the great 20th century stars, from Nat King Cole to k. d. lang, Bennett reveals the secrets to his success, including staying true his vision, working hard, and committing to family and friends. Perfect for big band and jazz lovers.

The One

The One: The Life and Music of James Brown
by R. J. Smith

James Brown was a game changer in both the music industry and the broader context of American culture. Based on meticulous research and many hours of interviews, R. J. Smith’s new biography, The One, builds the case that the Godfather of Soul influenced generations of musicians and was instrumental in breaking down racial barriers in several unique ways. Smith shows how Brown’s individuality — in personal style, voice, and dance — drew the attention of white audiences to black culture, cracking racial barriers. Later black musicians, from reggae to hip-hop, owe their popular success in part to Brown’s pioneering efforts. Recommended for soul, funk, and music history buffs.

More memoirs

What’s hot in memoirs and biographies (October)
Must-read memoir: All Gone by Alex Witchel
Must-read memoir: Aftermath by Rachel Cusk

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