New at the library

As 2013 starts out with snow on the ground and cold temperatures in the air, and with a few more months of that same weather, we wonder what there is to read. As a baby boomer, and there are many of us out there, we remember some of the people we watched on television and in the movies. With that in mind, listed below are a few biographies of people we grew up with.

Hello, Gorgeous. Becoming Barbara Streisand by William J. Mann: She was a 17-year-old Brooklyn kid with plenty of talent but no connections, and certainly no money. Just four years later, Barbara Streisand was the top-selling female recording artist in America. Hollywood biographer William Mann tells the riveting behind-the-scenes story of how Streisand and her team transformed her from an unknown dreamer into a worldwide superstar. Drawing on private papers and interviewing scores of friends and lovers, Mann recreates the vanished world of 1960s New York City and uncovers the truth behind the myths of her formative years. Mann incisively illuminates the woman before she became the icon, and pays tribute to one of the world’s most beloved performers.

My Extraordinary Ordinary Life by Sissy Spacek, with Maryanne Vollers: In her delightful and moving memoir, Academy Award-winning actress Sissy Spacek writes about her idyllic, barefoot childhood in a small East Texas town with the clarity and wisdom that comes from never losing sight of her roots. She grew up a tomboy, tagging along with two older brothers and absorbing grace and grit from her remarkable parents, who taught her that she could do anything. She also learned fearlessness in the wake of a family tragedy, the grief propelling her “like rocket fuel” to follow her dreams to becoming a performer. With a keen sense of humor and a bighearted voice, she describes how she arrived in New York City one star-struck summer as a 17-year-old carrying a suitcase and two guitars, and how she built a career that has spanned four decades. Sissy’s memoir is poignant and laugh-out-loud funny, plainspoken, and utterly honest.

Kiss Me Like A Stranger, My Search For Love and Art by Gene Wilder: In this personal book from the star of many beloved and classic film comedies, Gene Wilder writes about a side of his life the public hasn’t seen on the screen. It is not a autobiography in the usual sense of the word, and it’s certainly not another celebrity “tell-all.” Instead, Wilder has chosen to write about resonant moments in his life, events that led him to an understanding of the art of acting, and, more important, to an understanding of how to give love to and receive love from a woman. Wilder writes compellingly about the creative process on stage and screen, why he got into acting and later comedy, and how a Midwestern childhood with a sick mother changed him. It is a thoughtful, revealing, and winsome book about life, love and the creative process in one actor’s life in his own words.

My Mother Was Nuts, A Memoir by Penny Marshall: Most people know Penny Marshall as the director of “Big” and “A League of Their Own.” What they don’t know is her trailblazing career was a happy accident. In this funny and intimate memoir, Penny takes us from the stage of “The Jackie Gleason Show” in 1955 to Hollywood’s star-studded sets, offering up some hilarious detours along the way. This book is an intimate backstage pass to Penny’s personal life, her breakout role on “The Odd Couple,” her exploits with Cindy Williams and John Belushi, and her travels across Europe with Art Garfunkel on the back of a motorcycle. We see Penny get married, divorced, and married again. We meet young Carrie Fisher, whose close friendship with Penny has spanned decades. And we see Penny at work with Tom Hanks, Mark Wahlberg, Whoopi Goldberg, Robert De Niro and Whitney Houston. Through it all, from her childhood spent tap-dancing in the Bronx, to her rise as the star of “Laverne & Shirley,” Penny lived by simple rules: “Try hard, help your friends, don’t get too crazy, and have fun.” With humor and heart, “My Mother was Nuts” reveals there’s no one else quite like Penny Marshall.

– Arlette Dubord

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