Inspiring people come into our lives at all different times, some are there from the beginning guiding us with their values, others are friends during our schooling years holding our hands through challenging times, and some are fleeting interactions where someone offers us words of wisdom when we needed it most.
It it with the memory of these amazing people that we are looking into the world of biographies this month. There are so many people who we can learn from, be inspired by and propelled forward by. This week we are exploring art and entertainment biographies. We have found six of our favourite stories but hold on tight because they are a mixture of amusement, heartache and devastatingly honest views of the world and each offers us a little nugget of inspiration to take away.
In 1985, Mark Bryan heard Darius Rucker singing in a dorm shower at the University of South Carolina and asked him to form a band. For the next eight years, Hootie & the Blowfish, completed by bassist Dean Felber and drummer Soni Sonefeld, played every frat house, roadhouse, and rock club in the mid-Atlantic and Southeast, becoming one of the biggest independent acts in the region. In Only Wanna Be with You, Tim Sommer, the ultimate insider who signed Hootie to Atlantic Records, pulls back the curtain on a band that defied record-industry odds to break into the mainstream by playing hacky sack music in the age of grunge. He chronicles the band’s indie days, their chart-topping success and near-cancelation of their major-label debut along with when the band inspired a plotline on the TV show Friends, also the lean years from the late 1990s through the early 2000s and one of the most remarkable comeback stories of the century. Featuring extensive new interviews with the band members, some of their most famous fans, and stories from the recording studio, tour bus, and golf course, this book is essential reading for Hootie lovers and music buffs.
Finding Me: A Memoir by Viola Davis
In this book, you will meet a little girl named Viola who ran from her past until she made a life changing decision to stop running forever. This is Viola’s story, from a crumbling apartment in Central Falls, Rhode Island, to the stage in New York City, and beyond. This is the path she took to finding her purpose and her strength, but also to finding her voice in a world that didn’t always see her.
In her words: As I wrote Finding Me, my eyes were open to the truth of how our stories are often not given close examination. They are bogarted, reinvented to fit into a crazy, competitive, judgmental world. So I wrote this for anyone who is searching for a way to understand and overcome a complicated past, let go of shame, and find acceptance. For anyone who needs reminding that a life worth living can only be born from radical honesty and the courage to shed facades and be…you. Finding Me is a deep reflection on my past and a promise for my future. My hope is that my story will inspire you to light up your own life with creative expression and rediscover who you were before the world put a label on you.
A Funny Life by Michael McIntyre
Laugh along with Michael McIntyre as he lifts the curtain on his life in his long-awaited new autobiography. Michael’s first book ended with his big break at the 2006 Royal Variety Performance. Waking up the next morning in the tiny rented flat he shared with his wife Kitty and their one-year-old son, he was beyond excited about the new glamorous world of show business. Unfortunately, he was also clueless . . . In A Funny Life, Michael honestly and hilariously shares the highs and the lows of his rise to the top and desperate attempts to stay there. It’s all here, from his disastrous panel show appearances to his hit TV shows, from mistakenly thinking he’d be a good chat show host and talent judge, to finding fame and fortune beyond his wildest dreams and becoming the biggest-selling comedian in the world. Along the way he opens his man drawer, narrowly avoids disaster when his trousers fall down in front of three policemen and learns the hard way why he should always listen to his wife. Michael has had a silly life, a stressful life, sometimes a moving and touching life, but always A Funny Life.
Spinning Plates by Sophie Ellis-Bextor
Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s kitchen discos became a source of much needed escapism, catharsis and sequinned joy for a swathe of the population during lockdown. From knackered mothers and fed up fathers, to cooped up partiers with nowhere to go, Sophie’s gloriously chaotic Friday kitchen performances have cheered and revived us. Now Sophie is bringing that same mixture of down to earth candour and optimistic sparkle to her first book. Part memoir, part musings, Sophie writes about the conjuring act of adulthood and motherhood and how her experience of working while raising her five sons has given her the inescapable lesson of how to navigate life in the face of failure and imperfection.
Covering relationships, good enough parenting, the importance of delusion and dancing, Sophie writes about the things that take on greater importance as life becomes more complicated. From the non negotiables (solitude, music, glitter) to the unimportant (clean hair, deadlines, appropriate behaviour), this is a book about learning from our experiences and not being afraid to smash a few plates for the sake of what we actually need want and value.
The Hockneys: Never Worry What the Neighbours Think by John Hockney
Technically this book isn’t a new release, but it’s a goodie. The Hockneys is a never before seen insight into the lives of one of the world’s most famous artists and his family by youngest brother John, from growing up in the Second World War in Bradford through to their diverse lives across three continents. Hardship, successes as well as close and complex relationships are poignantly illustrated by both famous and private pictures and paintings from David Hockney. With a rare and spirited look into the lives of an ordinary family with extraordinary stories, we begin to understand the creative freedom that led to their successful careers and the launchpad for an artist’s work that has inspired and continues to inspire generations across the world.
To the End of the World by Rupert Everett
Okay, so this isn’t totally new…but it is a new paperback version, and also a great read. Rupert Everett tells the story of how he set out to make a film of Oscar Wilde’s last days, and how that ten-year quest almost destroyed him. (And everyone else). Travelling across Europe for the film, he weaves in extraordinary tales from his past, remembering wild times, freak encounters and lost friends.
There are celebrities, of course. But we also meet glamorous but doomed Aunt Peta, who introduces Rupert (aged three) to the joys of make-up. In ’90s Paris, his great friend Lychee burns bright, and is gone. While in ’70s London, a ‘weirdly tall, beyond size zero’ teenage Rupert is expelled from the Central School of Speech and Drama. Unflinchingly honest and hugely entertaining, To the End of the World offers a unique insight into the ‘snakes and ladders’ of filmmaking. It is also a soulful and thought-provoking autobiography from one of our best-loved and most talented actors and writers.