Tuesday, April 5, 2011
I like reading biographies and autobiographies.
I like reading about actors and entertainment professionals to learn a bit more about their career paths and the industry in general. Sometimes, it'll give me leads on plays I should check out, and at the very least, it helps me know that I'm not alone - lots of people have paid lots of dues before achieving any kind of success.
Born Standing Up by Steve Martin is a terrific read in this category. It's great to know that he's held some weird actor jobs (like working in the magic shop in Sleeping Beauty's castle at Disneyland), and he's a terrific and articulate writer.
I also like reading historical biography/autobiography as a way to deepen my understanding of human nature, and to get the personal stories that are part of the greater story of human history. Two recent ones that I liked:
The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson is sort of a multi-faced biography. It is a history of the 20th century Great Migration of African-Americans out of the south beginning in the 1930's - she tells the specificstories of 3 people who migrated in the 30's, 40's and 50's and also intersperses their stories w/general information about the Great Migration, life for African-Americans in the south at that time, etc. It just won the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the author is a Pulitzer winner. Reading this book made recent experiences of seeing Clybourne Park at ACT, and the 90's film Mississippi Burning, into much richer experiences.
Cleopatra: A Life by Stacey Schiff. The cast of characters in this book include the biblical Herod, as well as Mark Antony and Julius Caesar. This biography put several ancient cities of Europe and the Middle East in a better context for me, and I'm looking forward to revisiting some of these characters in Shakespeare soon.
What biographies or autobiographies have you enjoyed recently?