Best Selling Books in Biographies & Memoirs - Regional U.S.

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release date: Apr 21, 2009
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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
release date: Jan 31, 2017
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How to Murder Your Life: A Memoir
From Cat Marnell, “New York’s enfant terrible” (The Telegraph), a candid and darkly humorous memoir of prescription drug addiction and self-sabotage, set in the glamorous world of fashion magazines and downtown nightclubs.

At twenty-six, Cat Marnell was an associate beauty editor at Lucky, one of the top fashion magazines in America—and that’s all most people knew about her. But she hid a secret life. She was a prescription drug addict. She was also a “doctor shopper” who manipulated Upper East Side psychiatrists for pills, pills, and more pills; a lonely bulimic who spent hundreds of dollars a week on binge foods; a promiscuous party girl who danced barefoot on banquets; a weepy and hallucination-prone insomniac who would take anything—anything—to sleep.

This is a tale of self-loathing, self-sabotage, and yes, self-tanner. It begins at a posh New England prep school—and with a prescription for Attention Deficit Disorder medication Ritalin. It continues to New York, where we follow Marnell’s amphetamine-fueled rise from intern to editor through the beauty departments of NYLON, Teen Vogue, Glamour, and Lucky. We see her fight between ambition and addiction and how, inevitably, her disease threatens everything she worked so hard to achieve.

From the Condé Nast building (where she rides the elevator alongside Anna Wintour) to seedy nightclubs, from doctors’ offices and mental hospitals, Marnell shows—like no one else can—what it is like to live in the wild, chaotic, often sinister world of a young female addict who can’t say no.

Combining lightning-rod subject matter and bold literary aspirations, How to Murder Your Life is mesmerizing, revelatory, and necessary.
release date: Jan 09, 2007
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Kitchen Confidential Updated Edition: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly (P.S.)

A deliciously funny, delectably shocking banquet of wild-but-true tales of life in the culinary trade from Chef Anthony Bourdain, laying out his more than a quarter-century of drugs, sex, and haute cuisine—now with all-new, never-before-published material.

release date: Nov 02, 2010
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Just Kids

In Just Kids, Patti Smith’s first book of prose, the legendary American artist offers a never-before-seen glimpse of her remarkable relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in the epochal days of New York City and the Chelsea Hotel in the late sixties and seventies.  An honest and moving story of youth and friendship, Smith brings the same unique, lyrical quality to Just Kids as she has to the rest of her formidable body of work—from her influential 1975 album Horses to her visual art and poetry.

release date: Oct 27, 2009
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Letter to My Daughter
Dedicated to the daughter she never had but sees all around her, Letter to My Daughter reveals Maya Angelou’s path to living well and living a life with meaning. Here in short spellbinding essays are glimpses of the tumultuous life that taught Angelou lessons in compassion and fortitude: how she was brought up by her indomitable grandmother in segregated Arkansas, taken in at thirteen by her more worldly and less religious mother, and grew to be an awkward six-foot-tall teenager whose first experience of loveless sex paradoxically left her with her greatest gift, a son.

Whether she is recalling lost friends such as Coretta Scott King and Ossie Davis, extolling honesty, decrying vulgarity, explaining why becoming a Christian is a “lifelong endeavor,” or simply singing the praises of a meal of red rice, Maya Angelou writes from the heart to millions of women she considers her extended family.
release date: Aug 01, 1997
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The Lost Boy: A Foster Child's Search for the Love of a Family

Imagine a young boy who has never had a loving home. His only possesions are the old, torn clothes he carries in a paper bag. The only world he knows is one of isolation and fear. Although others had rescued this boy from his abusive alcoholic mother, his real hurt is just begining -- he has no place to call home.

This is Dave Pelzer's long-awaited sequel to A Child Called "It". In The Lost Boy, he answers questions and reveals new adventures through the compelling story of his life as an adolescent. Now considered an F-Child (Foster Child), Dave is moved in and out of five different homes. He suffers shame and experiences resentment from those who feel that all foster kids are trouble and unworthy of being loved just because they are not part of a "real" family.

Tears, laughter, devastation and hope create the journey of this little lost boy who searches desperately for just one thing -- the love of a family.

release date: Apr 23, 1989
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The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts

In her award-winning book The Woman Warrior, Maxine Hong Kingston created an entirely new form—an exhilarating blend of autobiography and mythology, of world and self, of hot rage and cool analysis. First published in 1976, it has become a classic in its innovative portrayal of multiple and intersecting identities—immigrant, female, Chinese, American. 

As a girl, Kingston lives in two confounding worlds: the California to which her parents have immigrated and the China of her mother’s “talk stories.” The fierce and wily women warriors of her mother’s tales clash jarringly with the harsh reality of female oppression out of which they come. Kingston’s sense of self emerges in the mystifying gaps in these stories, which she learns to fill with stories of her own. A warrior of words, she forges fractured myths and memories into an incandescent whole, achieving a new understanding of her family’s past and her own present.

release date: Aug 12, 2008
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The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness
Elyn R. Saks is an esteemed professor, lawyer, and psychiatrist and is the Orrin B. Evans Professor of Law, Psychology, Psychiatry and the Behavioral Sciences at the University of Southern California Law School, yet she has suffered from schizophrenia for most of her life, and still has ongoing major episodes of the illness. The Center Cannot Hold is the eloquent, moving story of Elyn's life, from the first time that she heard voices speaking to her as a young teenager, to attempted suicides in college, through learning to live on her own as an adult in an often terrifying world. Saks discusses frankly the paranoia, the inability to tell imaginary fears from real ones, the voices in her head telling her to kill herself (and to harm others); as well the incredibly difficult obstacles she overcame to become a highly respected professional. This beautifully written memoir is destined to become a classic in its genre.

The title is a line from "The Second Coming," a poem by William Butler Yeats, which is alluded to in the book.
release date: Oct 18, 2016
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The New York Times Book of the Dead: 320 Print and 10,000 Digital Obituaries of Extraordinary People
The obituary page of The New York Times is a celebration of extraordinary lives. This groundbreaking package includes 300 obits in the book with exclusive online access to 10,000 more of the most important and fascinating obituaries the Times has ever published.
The Times' obituary editor, William McDonald, selected 320 of the most important and influential obits from the newspaper's archives. In chapters like "Stage and Screen," "Titans of Business," "The Notorious," "Scientists and Healers," "Athletes," and "American Leaders," the entries include a wide variety of newsmakers from the last century and a half, including Annie Oakley, Theodore Roosevelt, Joseph Stalin, Marilyn Monroe, Coco Chanel, Malcolm X, Jackie
Robinson and Prince.
Also included is a web-key which allows instant access to an exclusive website featuring 10,000 selected obituaries which are easily searchable by name, theme, dates, and more.
Designed with more than 150 black-and-white photographs, this tomb-sized book plus website package is the perfect gift.
release date: Mar 08, 2011
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Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison
NOW A NETFLIX ORIGINAL SERIES • #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
 
With a career, a boyfriend, and a loving family, Piper Kerman barely resembles the reckless young woman who delivered a suitcase of drug money ten years before. But that past has caught up with her. Convicted and sentenced to fifteen months at the infamous federal correctional facility in Danbury, Connecticut, the well-heeled Smith College alumna is now inmate #11187–424—one of the millions of people who disappear “down the rabbit hole” of the American penal system. From her first strip search to her final release, Kerman learns to navigate this strange world with its strictly enforced codes of behavior and arbitrary rules. She meets women from all walks of life, who surprise her with small tokens of generosity, hard words of wisdom, and simple acts of acceptance. Heartbreaking, hilarious, and at times enraging, Kerman’s story offers a rare look into the lives of women in prison—why it is we lock so many away and what happens to them when they’re there.
 
Praise for Orange Is the New Black
 
“Fascinating . . . The true subject of this unforgettable book is female bonding and the ties that even bars can’t unbind.”People (four stars)
 
“I loved this book. It’s a story rich with humor, pathos, and redemption. What I did not expect from this memoir was the affection, compassion, and even reverence that Piper Kerman demonstrates for all the women she encountered while she was locked away in jail. I will never forget it.”—Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love
 
“This book is impossible to put down because [Kerman] could be you. Or your best friend. Or your daughter.”Los Angeles Times
 
“Moving . . . transcends the memoir genre’s usual self-centeredness to explore how human beings can always surprise you.”USA Today
 
“It’s a compelling awakening, and a harrowing one—both for the reader and for Kerman.”—Newsweek.com
 
Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader’s Circle for author chats and more.
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