Best Arts & Literature Biographies of October 2020

Last updated: May 29, 2020 By John Bruner

Rating of 10 popular Arts & Literature Biographies available for sale in 2020, based on reader reviews.

1
TOP Choice

Open Book: A Memoir

HarperAudio

10
Open Book: A Memoir

Approx. price: $31. You may saved up to 12%.

The number-one New York Times best seller

Includes six new songs by Jessica Simpson, available exclusively in the Open Book audiobook. Performed by the author featuring her music throughout.

Jessica reveals for the first time her inner monologue and most intimate struggles. Guided by the journals she's kept since age 15, and brimming with her unique humor and down-to-earth humanity, Open Book is as inspiring as it is entertaining.

This was supposed to be a very different book. Five years ago, Jessica Simpson was approached to write a motivational guide to living your best life. She walked away from the offer, and nobody understood why. The truth is that she didn’t want to lie.

Jessica couldn’t be authentic with her listeners if she wasn’t fully honest with herself first.

Now, America’s Sweetheart, preacher’s daughter, pop phenomenon, reality TV pioneer, and the billion-dollar fashion mogul invites listeners on a remarkable journey, examining a life that blessed her with the compassion to help others but also burdened her with an almost crippling need to please. Open Book is Jessica Simpson using her voice, heart, soul, and humor to share things she’s never shared before.

First celebrated for her voice, she became one of the most talked-about women in the world, whether for music and fashion, her relationship struggles, or as a walking blonde joke. But now, instead of being talked about, Jessica is doing the talking. Her audiobook shares the wisdom and inspirations she’s learned and shows the real woman behind all the pop-culture clichés - "chicken or fish", "Daisy Duke", "football jinx", "mom jeans", "sexual napalm..." and more. Open Book is an opportunity to laugh and cry with a close friend, one that will inspire you to live your best, most authentic life, now that she is finally living hers.
Includes the songs "Heartbeat", "Practice What You Preach", "Sweet Temptation", "Your Fool" (featuring Willie Nelson), "Party of One", and "Free Will" by Jessica Simpson.

2
Fan Favorite

Apropos of Nothing

Arcade

9.8
Apropos of Nothing

Approx. price: $24. You may saved up to 37%.

In this candid and often hilarious memoir, the celebrated director, comedian, writer, and actor offers a comprehensive, personal look at his tumultuous life. Beginning with his Brooklyn childhood and his stint as a writer for the Sid Caesar variety show in the early days of television, working alongside comedy greats, Allen tells of his difficult early days doing standup before he achieved recognition and success. With his unique storytelling pizzazz, he recounts his departure into moviemaking, with such slapstick comedies as Take the Money and Run, and revisits his entire, sixty-year-long, and enormously productive career as a writer and director, from his classics Annie Hall, Manhattan, and Annie and Her Sisters to his most recent films, including Midnight in Paris. Along the way, he discusses his marriages, his romances and famous friendships, his jazz playing, and his books and plays. We learn about his demons, his mistakes, his successes, and those he loved, worked with, and learned from in equal measure.
This is a hugely entertaining, deeply honest, rich and brilliant self-portrait of a celebrated artist who is ranked among the greatest filmmakers of our time.

3
Best High Quality

Like Brothers

Random House Audio

9.6
Like Brothers

Approx. price: $23. You may saved up to 14%.

The multitalented writers, directors, producers, and actors (as seen on The League, Transparent, and The Mindy Project) share the secrets of their lifelong partnership in this unique memoir.

"A book that anyone will love... You can enjoy it even if you have no idea who the Duplass brothers are." [Janet Maslin, The New York Times ("17 Refreshing Books to Read This Summer")]

Whether producing, writing, directing, or acting, the Duplass Brothers have made their mark in the world of independent film and television on the strength of their quirky and empathetic approach to storytelling. Now, for the first time, Mark and Jay take listeners on a tour of their lifelong partnership in this unique memoir told in essays that share the secrets of their success, the joys and frustrations of intimate collaboration, and the lessons they've learned the hard way.

From a childhood spent wielding an oversize home video camera in the suburbs of New Orleans to their shared years at the University of Texas in early '90s Austin, and from the breakthrough short they made on a three-dollar budget to the night their feature film Baghead became the center of a Sundance bidding war, Mark and Jay tell the story of a bond that's resilient, affectionate, mutually empowering, and only mildly dysfunctional. They are brutally honest about how their closeness sabotaged their youthful romantic relationships, about the jealousy each felt when the other stole the spotlight as an actor (Mark in The League, Jay in Transparent), and about the challenges they faced on the set of their HBO series Togetherness - namely, too much togetherness.

But Like Brothers is also a surprisingly practical road map to a rewarding creative partnership. Rather than split all their responsibilities 50-50, the brothers learned to capitalize on each other's strengths. They're not afraid to call each other out, because they're also not afraid to compromise. Most relationships aren't - and frankly shouldn't be - as intense as Mark and Jay's, but their brand of trust, validation, and healthy disagreement has taken them far.

Part coming-of-age memoir, part underdog story, and part insider account of succeeding in Hollywood on their own terms, Like Brothers is as openhearted and lovably offbeat as Mark and Jay themselves.

"Wright. Ringling. Jonas. I'm sure you could name a bunch of famous brother teams. They're all garbage compared to Mark and Jay. I can't wait for you to read this book." (From the foreword by Mindy Kaling)

9.3
This is Not a Fashion Story: Taking Chances, Breaking Rules, and Being a Boss in the Big City

Approx. price: $20. You may saved up to 44%.

A revealing (in more ways than one) tell-all from Long Island girl-turned-international fashion influencer, designer, CEO, and tech entrepreneur Danielle Bernstein, the creative force behind the renowned style platform @WeWoreWhat.

Danielle Bernstein spent her youth shopping at discount department stores, getting boozy in suburban backyards and proposing marriage to every boy she met. By age nineteen, she was a college dropout living in a West Village shoebox with three roommates and only six months to prove that her blog, @WeWoreWhat, could become a full blown career... or else board the train back to her mom's house.

Flash forward ten years. Danielle is more than a famed influencer with over two million followers. She's a bonafide business woman . Despite these successes, Danielle has never been your typical play-by-the-rules fashionista. She disrupted the fashion industry using her own playbook--one that she's finally ready to share with you, her readers.

This Is Not A Fashion Story is the down and dirty tale of how a Long Island-born teenager became one of the most recognizable names in fashion. It's a story that proves success isn't about a college degree or who your parents are. It's about trusting your gut, knowing when to take risks and fighting to get what you want in life, love and business. But above all it's the story of how a young girl made in the concrete jungle that is New York City--and how you can too.

9.2
The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company

Approx. price: $26. You may saved up to 12%.

A memoir of leadership and success: The executive chairman of Disney, Time’s 2019 businessperson of the year, shares the ideas and values he embraced during his 15 years as CEO while reinventing one of the world’s most beloved companies and inspiring the people who bring the magic to life.


Named one of the Best Books of the Year by NPR


Robert Iger became CEO of The Walt Disney Company in 2005, during a difficult time. Competition was more intense than ever, and technology was changing faster than at any time in the company’s history. His vision came down to three clear ideas: Recommit to the concept that quality matters, embrace technology instead of fighting it, and think bigger - think global - and turn Disney into a stronger brand in international markets.


Fourteen years later, Disney is the largest, most admired media company in the world, counting Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, and 21st Century Fox among its properties. Its value is nearly five times what it was when Iger took over, and he is recognized as one of the most innovative and successful CEOs of our era.


In The Ride of a Lifetime, Robert Iger shares the lessons he learned while running Disney and leading its 220,000-plus employees, and he explores the principles that are necessary for true leadership, including:



  • Optimism. Even in the face of difficulty, an optimistic leader will find the path toward the best possible outcome and focus on that, rather than give in to pessimism and blaming.

  • Courage. Leaders have to be willing to take risks and place big bets. Fear of failure destroys creativity.

  • Decisiveness. All decisions, no matter how difficult, can be made on a timely basis. Indecisiveness is both wasteful and destructive to morale.

  • Fairness. Treat people decently, with empathy, and be accessible to them.


This audiobook is about the relentless curiosity that has driven Iger for 45 years, since the day he started as the lowliest studio grunt at ABC. It’s also about thoughtfulness and respect, and a decency-over-dollars approach that has become the bedrock of every project and partnership Iger pursues, from a deep friendship with Steve Jobs in his final years to an abiding love of the Star Wars mythology.


"The ideas in this book strike me as universal", Iger writes. "Not just to the aspiring CEOs of the world, but to anyone wanting to feel less fearful, more confidently themselves, as they navigate their professional and even personal lives."

9.1
I Can't Make This Up: Life Lessons

Approx. price: $28. You may saved up to 13%.

Superstar comedian and Hollywood box-office star Kevin Hart turns his immense talent to the written word by writing some words. Some of those words include: the, a, for, above, and even even. Put them together and you have the funniest, most heartfelt, and most inspirational memoir on survival, success, and the importance of believing in yourself since Old Yeller.

It begins in North Philadelphia. He was born an accident, unwanted by his parents. His father was a drug addict who was in and out of jail. His brother was a crack dealer and petty thief. And his mother was overwhelmingly strict, beating him with belts, frying pans, and his own toys.

The odds, in short, were stacked against our young hero, just like the odds that are stacked against the release of a new book in this era of social media (where Hart has a following of over 100 million, by the way).

But Kevin Hart, like Ernest Hemingway, J.K. Rowling, and Chocolate Droppa before him, was able to defy the odds and turn it around. In his literary debut, he takes the listener on a journey through what his life was, what it is today, and how he's overcome each challenge to become the man he is today.

And that man happens to be the biggest comedian in the world, with tours that sell out football stadiums and films that have collectively grossed over $3.5 billion.

He achieved this not just through hard work, determination, and talent: It was through his unique way of looking at the world. Because just like a book has chapters, Hart sees life as a collection of chapters that each person gets to write for himself or herself.

"Not only do you get to choose how you interpret each chapter, but your interpretation writes the next chapter," he says. "So why not choose the interpretation that serves your life the best?"

7

Inside Out: A Memoir

HarperAudio

9
Inside Out: A Memoir

Approx. price: $27. You may saved up to 12%.

Famed American actress Demi Moore at last tells her own story in a surprisingly intimate and emotionally charged memoir.

For decades, Demi Moore has been synonymous with celebrity. From iconic film roles to high-profile relationships, Moore has never been far from the spotlight - or the headlines.

Even as Demi was becoming the highest paid actress in Hollywood, however, she was always outrunning her past, just one step ahead of the doubts and insecurities that defined her childhood. Throughout her rise to fame and during some of the most pivotal moments of her life, Demi battled addiction, body image issues, and childhood trauma that would follow her for years - all while juggling a skyrocketing career and at times negative public perception. As her success grew, Demi found herself questioning if she belonged in Hollywood, if she was a good mother, a good actress - and, always, if she was simply good enough.

As much as her story is about adversity, it is also about tremendous resilience. In this deeply candid and reflective memoir, Demi pulls back the curtain and opens up about her career and personal life - laying bare her tumultuous relationship with her mother, her marriages, her struggles balancing stardom with raising a family, and her journey toward openheartedness. Inside Out is a story of survival, success, and surrender - a wrenchingly honest portrayal of one woman’s at once ordinary and iconic life.

8.7
Next Level Basic: The Definitive Basic Bitch Handbook

Approx. price: $19. You may saved up to 55%.

Discover how to embrace your best basic self in this laugh-out-loud funny guidebook from the breakout star of Bravo’s hit reality show Vanderpump Rules, perfect for fans of the relatable and entertaining books by The Betches and Andi Dorfman.

Millions of Vanderpump Rules viewers and podcast listeners know Stassi Schroeder as a major defender of Basic Bitch rights. There’s nothing more boring than people who take themselves too seriously or think that you have to be pretentious to be cool. Stassi champions the things that many of us are afraid to love publicly for fear of being labeled basic: lattes, pugs, bubbly cocktails, millennial pink, #OOTD (outfit of the day, obvs), astrology, hot dogs, the perfect pair of Louboutins, romantic comedies...the list goes on and on.

This book is for people tired of pretending they would rather see a Daniel Day-Lewis movie about sewing or read War and Peace than watch a Saw marathon or read...well, this book!

In Next Level Basic, the reality star, podcast queen, and ranch dressing expert gives you hilarious and pointed lessons on how to have fun and celebrate yourself, with exclusive stories from her own life and on the set of Vanderpump Rules. From her very public breakups to her most intimate details about her plastic surgery, Stassi shares her own personal experiences with her trademark honesty—all with the hope you can learn something from them.

9

I'm Your Huckleberry: A Memoir

Simon & Schuster

8.3
I'm Your Huckleberry: A Memoir

Approx. price: $20. You may saved up to 54%.

Legendary actor Val Kilmer shares the stories behind his most beloved roles, reminisces about his star-studded career and love life, and reveals the truth behind his recent health struggles in a remarkably candid autobiography.

Val Kilmer has played many iconic roles over his nearly four-decade film career. A table-dancing Cold War agent in Top Secret! A troublemaking science prodigy in Real Genius. A brash fighter pilot in Top Gun. A swashbuckling knight in Willow. A lovelorn bank robber in Heat. A charming master of disguise in The Saint. A wise-cracking detective in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Of course, Batman, Jim Morrison and the sharp-shooting Doc Holliday.

But who is the real Val Kilmer? With I’m Your Huckleberry—published ahead of next summer’s highly anticipated sequel Top Gun: Maverick, in which Kilmer returns to the big screen as Tom “Iceman” Kazansky—the enigmatic actor at last steps out of character and reveals his true self.

In this uniquely assembled memoir—featuring vivid prose, snippets of poetry and rarely-seen photos—Kilmer reflects on his acclaimed career, including becoming the youngest actor ever admitted to the Juilliard School’s famed drama department, determinedly campaigning to win the lead part in The Doors, and realizing a years-long dream of performing a one-man show as his hero Mark Twain. He shares candid stories of working with screen legends Marlon Brando, Tom Cruise, Robert Downey Jr. and Robert De Niro, and recounts high-profile romances with Cher, Cindy Crawford, Daryl Hannah, and former wife Joanne Whalley. He chronicles his spiritual journey and lifelong belief in Christian Science, and describes travels to far-flung locales such as a scarcely inhabited island in the Indian Ocean where he suffered from delirium and was cared for by the resident tribe. And he reveals details of his recent throat cancer diagnosis and recovery—about which he has disclosed little until now.

While containing plenty of tantalizing celebrity anecdotes, I’m Your Huckleberry—taken from the famous line Kilmer delivers as Holliday in Tombstone—is ultimately a singularly written and deeply moving reflection on mortality and the mysteries of life.

10
Best Value

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Ballantine Books

7.8
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Approx. price: $7.1. You may saved up to 23%.

Key Features:

  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Here is a book as joyous and painful, as mysterious and memorable, as childhood itself. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings captures the longing of lonely children, the brute insult of bigotry, and the wonder of words that can make the world right. Maya Angelou’s debut memoir is a modern American classic beloved worldwide.

Sent by their mother to live with their devout, self-sufficient grandmother in a small Southern town, Maya and her brother, Bailey, endure the ache of abandonment and the prejudice of the local “powhitetrash.” At eight years old and back at her mother’s side in St. Louis, Maya is attacked by a man many times her age—and has to live with the consequences for a lifetime. Years later, in San Francisco, Maya learns that love for herself, the kindness of others, her own strong spirit, and the ideas of great authors (“I met and fell in love with William Shakespeare”) will allow her to be free instead of imprisoned.

Poetic and powerful, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings will touch hearts and change minds for as long as people read.

“I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings liberates the reader into life simply because Maya Angelou confronts her own life with such a moving wonder, such a luminous dignity.”—James Baldwin

Semi-Autobiographical Novels

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