Whether you're choosing for the booklover on your list or finding a little something for yourself, biographies are a wonderful way to escape from your own life and spend a little time in someone else's. There were plenty to choose from in 2011, but we've narrowed down the list to three.
Bossypants – Tina Fey
It's hard not to know of Tina Fey, even if you've never watched Saturday Night Live or 30 Rock – her skits lampooning Sarah Palin may have received more attention than many candidates in the 2008 elections. What may be surprising is how ordinary she is (even if funnier than average). She talks about early jobs and working with Second City and SNL, dating and marriage, juggling family life while working – everyday life exists even for the rich and famous.
Reagan Arthur Books. ISBN 0316056863
Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef – Gabrielle Hamilton
Sometimes it seems as though chefs are everywhere, with roughly 197 million cooking shows even before you get to the Food Network. If you're on overload and bored with the 'you can't possibly understand real food' ego trips, you might be tempted to pass by this book, but resist that temptation. Hamilton's story is as much about family, struggle, growing up and making your own way as it is about food. More so, in fact. It's not a kitchen story, it's a life story.
Random House. ISBN 140006872X
Keeper – Andrea Gillies
In many ways, the subtitle says it all: One House, Three Generations, and a Journey into Alzheimer's. Gillies bridges the divide between the science of the condition and the fears and stress of caring for a loved one suffering from it – in this case her mother-in-law, Nancy. One of the unique aspects is our opportunity to also hear Nancy's voice, since Gillies painstakingly recorded Nancy's own words as part of her daily diary. Her story is certainly not a laugh a minute, but Gillies also manages to tell her family's story without falling off the emotional cliff into despair, often sharing the dark humor of the situation.
Broadway Books. ISBN 030771912X (paperback)