Category Archives: life stories

The Newest Sporting Biographies

Some people make what they do look effortless and easy. That’s the beauty of being the best at what you do. In sport, athletes are often held on a pedestal and celebrated as if they are heroes. However, if they slip up in life they are very quickly, and ruthlessly, scrutinised.

But we really know that it is never as easy as it seems. To be the at the top of your game, in whichever field you choose, you need grit, determination and hours of hard work.  This week we are taking a look at 6 new biographies of some of these legends. What these biographies share is an insight into the world in which these sporting greats live, their families, friends, and reality behind their success. 

Roger Federer: The Biography by René Stauffer 

Rene Stauffer has been closely covering Roger Federer’s career for nearly 25 years. In this comprehensive biography, Stauffer talks at length to the man himself, his family, friends, coaches and rivals to paint an unrivalled picture of the greatest male tennis player of all time.

From his early life in Basel, Switzerland, where he first picked up a tennis racquet, to the heights of his 20th Grand Slam victory and all points in between, Stauffer reveals the secrets to Federer’s success, the hardships and doubts that he has faced and examines the legacy that Federer has created in the modern game.

Barty: Much More Than Tennis by Ron Reed and Chris McLeod

Of all the uplifting sports stories that have captured the imagination of Australia as a nation, few have been greeted with such spontaneous and unanimous acclaim as tennis champion Ashleigh Barty.
Her inspirational 2021 Wimbledon win delivered a celebration not seen since Cathy Freeman’s immortal Olympic triumph 21 years ago. This book covers her journey from knockabout kid from Queensland to world champion and explores her rare gift for the game, engaging personality, innate modesty and relentless determination to be the best.

Barty’s mantra is that being a good human being is far more important than being a good tennis player, and it has been widely hailed as a lesson for all. In other words, she now transcends sport. Her unfolding, unfinished narrative has come to resonate with overtones of national pride and inspiration, community morale, cultural issues ancient and modern, the importance of family and friends, the regard for humility and grace over rampant ambition, the escalating battle for gender equality, and perspectives on fame and fortune. In this new edition of the top seller, award-winning sports writer Ron Reed and journalist Chris McLeod pay tribute to the World No. 1 covering all her games and unforgettable moments. 

Tour de Force: by Mark Cavendish 

Just how did Mark Cavendish, the greatest sprint cyclist of all time, return from being seemingly dead and buried at 36 to become the Tour de France’s most successful ever stage winner?
Deep down, Mark Cavendish thought he was finished. After illness, setbacks and clinical depression, the once fastest man in the world had been written off by most. And at the age of 36, even he believed his explosive cycling career would fade out with a whimper. The Man  x man hadn’t won a single Grand Tour stage in Italy, Spain or France since 2016.

But then came his incredible resurrection at the 2021 Tour de France. Included on the Deceuninck Quick-Step team at the very last minute, only after Sam Bennett suffered an injury, Mark set about rewriting history. He claimed back the green jersey he first wore in 2011, and his four stage victories finally saw him matching Belgian legend Eddy Merckx’s all-time record of 34 Tour de France stage wins. Cycling greats are never content, and Cavendish’s dogged determination and inner strength had earned him the record that few believed he could ever achieve. This is his own intimate account of that race, right from the saddle of the miracle tour. 

Murray Walker: Incredible by Maurice Hamilton

His was the voice I heard every weekend growing up while my dad and brother watched Formula One with eager anticipation of a shiny red car winning.  Murray Walker was the voice of Formula One, matching the thrill of the track with his equally fast-paced and exhilarating commentary, delivering the euphoria of motor racing to millions.

Commentating on his first grand prix for the BBC at Silverstone in 1949, Murray’s broadcasting career spanned over fifty years. His natural warmth and infectious enthusiasm won great affection with audiences, whilst his passion and knowledge of motorsport allowed him to hone his instinctive presenting style into a craft.

When Murray passed away in March 2021, tributes came flooding in from every corner of the sporting world. This book, compiled by Murray’s great friend and colleague Maurice Hamilton, celebrates the extraordinary life of this truly legendary man. With contributions from drivers and industry figures, and many friends from the world of motorsport and beyond, Incredible! combines fond memories, never-before-told stories and famous Murrayisms with reflections on the highlights of a life lived at full throttle. 

Be Water, My Friend: The Teachings of Bruce Lee by Shannon Lee

Bruce Lee’s daughter illuminates her father’s most powerful life philosophies, demonstrating how martial arts are a perfect metaphor for personal growth, and how we can practice those teachings every day.

Bruce Lee is a cultural icon, renowned the world over for his martial arts and film legacy. But Lee was also a deeply philosophical thinker, learning at an early age that martial arts are more than just an exercise in physical discipline, they are an apt metaphor for living a fully realised life.

Now, in Be Water, My Friend, Lee’s daughter Shannon shares the concepts at the core of his philosophies, showing how they can serve as tools of personal growth and self-actualisation. Each chapter brings a lesson from Bruce Lee’s teachings, expanding on the foundation of his iconic “be water” philosophy. Over the course of the book, we discover how being like water allows us to embody fluidity and naturalness in life, bringing us closer to our essential flowing nature and our ability to be powerful, self-expressed, and free.

Be Water, My Friend is an inspirational invitation to us all, a gentle call to action to consider our lives with new eyes. It is also a testament to how one man’s exploration and determination transcended time and place to ignite our imaginations and to inspire many around the world to transform their lives.

Unguarded by Scottie Pippen

This is an unflinching master class of a memoir from two-time Olympic gold medalist and NBA Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen. Scottie Pippen has been called one of the greatest NBA players for good reason. Simply put, without Pippen, there are no championship banners, let alone six, hanging from the United Center rafters. There’s no Last Dance documentary. There’s no Michael Jordan as we know him. The 1990s Chicago Bulls teams would not exist as we know them.

So how did the youngest of twelve go from growing up poor in the small town of Hamburg, Arkansas, enduring two family tragedies along the way, to become a revered NBA legend? How did the scrawny teen, overlooked by every major collegiate basketball program, go on to become the fifth overall pick in the 1987 NBA Draft? And, perhaps most compelling, how did Pippen set aside his ego (and his own limitless professional ceiling) in order for the Bulls to become the most dominant basketball dynasty of the last half century?

In Unguarded, the six-time champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist finally opens up to offer pointed and transparent takes on Michael Jordan, Phil Jackson, and Dennis Rodman, among others. Pippen details how he cringed at being labeled Jordan’s sidekick, and discusses how he could have (and should have) received more respect from the Bulls’ management and the media.

Pippen reveals never-before-told stories about some of the most famous games in league history, including the 1994 playoff game against the New York Knicks when he took himself out with 1.8 seconds to go. He discusses what it was like dealing with Jordan on a day-to-day basis, while serving as the facilitator for the offence and the anchor for the defence.

Pippen is finally giving millions of adoring basketball fans what they crave; an unvarnished, closely observed, and uncommonly modest look into his life and role within one of the greatest, most popular teams of all time.

Enjoy!

The Newest Arts and Entertainment Biographies

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.

Only Wanna Be with You: The Inside Story of Hootie & the Blowfish by Tim Sommer

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. 

Enjoy!

Author Spotlight: Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of twenty-eight novels which have been translated into thirty-four languages in thirty-five countries. Jodi has a penetrating insight into the hearts and minds of real people and writes these insights in page-turning detail. 

Born and raised on Long Island in America, Jodi thought her uneventful childhood would not help her as a writer, in fact it was the opposite. The core of a family and the tangle of relationships is something that is central to all of her stories. Jodi studied creative writing at Princeton and published two stories while studying and then went on to further her study with a Master’s of Education at Harvard. 

Jodi is the recipient of many awards, including the New England Bookseller Award for Fiction, the Alex Awards from the YALSA, a lifetime achievement award for mainstream fiction from the Romance Writers of America, and the NH Literary Award for Outstanding Literary Merit. Her stories have also been made into movies and television series. 

Here are six of our favourite Picoult stories (you can buy all of Jodi’s books here)

My Sister’s Keeper 

Anna is not sick, but she might as well be. By age thirteen, she has undergone countless surgeries, transfusions and shots so that her older sister, Kate, can somehow fight the leukaemia that has plagued her since childhood. Anna was conceived as a bone marrow match for Kate, a life and a role that she has never questioned until now. Like most teenagers, Anna is beginning to question who she truly is. But unlike most teenagers, she has always been defined in terms of her sister – and so Anna makes a decision that for most would be unthinkable, a decision that will tear her family apart and have perhaps fatal consequences for the sister she loves.

Told from multiple points of view, My Sister’s Keeper examines what it means to be a good parent, a good sister, a good person. Is it morally correct to do whatever it takes to save a child’s life, even if that means infringing upon the rights of another? Should you follow your own heart, or let others lead you? What happens when emotion catches up to scientific advances?

Nineteen Minutes

Set in a small town in the wake of a horrific school shooting, Nineteen Minutes features the return of two beloved Picoult characters – Jordan McAfee, the lawyer from The Pact and Salem Falls, who once again finds himself representing a boy who desperately needs someone on his side; and Patrick Ducharme, the intrepid detective introduced in Perfect Match, whose best witness is the daughter of the superior court judge assigned to the case. As the story unfolds, layer after layer is peeled back to reveal some hard-hitting questions about the nature of justice, the balance of power and what it means to be different. Nineteen Minutes is a riveting, thought-provoking tale with a jaw-dropping finale.

The Pact

In this contemporary tale of love and friendship, Jodi Picoult brings to life a familiar world, and in a single terrifying moment awakens every parent’s worst fear: we think we know our children – but do we ever really know them at all? For eighteen years the Hartes and the Golds have lived next door to each other – they’ve grown so close it seems they have always been a part of each other’s lives. Parents and children alike have been best friends, so it’s no surprise that in high school Chris and Emily’s friendship blossoms into something more. They’ve been soul mates since they were born. So when midnight calls from the hospital come in, no one is ready for the appalling truth: Emily is dead at seventeen from a gunshot wound to the head. There’s a single unspent bullet in the gun that Chris took from his father’s cabinet – a bullet that Chris tells police he intended for himself. But a local detective has doubts about the suicide pact that Chris has described.

The Pact paints an indelible portrait of families in anguish, culminating in an astonishingly suspenseful courtroom drama as Chris finds himself on trial for murder.

The Storyteller

For seventy years, Josef Weber has been hiding in plain sight. He is a pillar of his local community. He is also a murderer. When Josef decides to confess, it is to Sage Singer, a young woman who trusts him as her friend. What she hears shatters everything she thought she knew and believed. As Sage uncovers the truth from the darkest horrors of war, she must follow a twisting trail between terror and mercy, betrayal and forgiveness, love – and revenge.

Keeping Faith

At her controversial and compelling best, Jodi Picoult explores the moment when boundaries break down, and when the only step left to take is a leap of faith. As Mariah White struggles with depression her seven-year-old daughter Faith seeks solace in a new friend – a friend who may or may not be imaginary. Faith talks to her ‘Guard’ constantly and begins to recite passages from the Bible-a book she’s never read. After a succession of visits to psychiatrists, all of whom conclude Faith is not hallucinating, the unimaginable starts to seem possible: perhaps Faith may actually be seeing God. When Faith’s cachet is enhanced by reported miracle healings and alleged stigmata, she is touted as a prophet. Amidst the gathering storm of controversy, most disruptive of all is the arrival of two men: one a renowned television atheist who plans to debunk Faith’s claims and help boost his flagging ratings, and the other her divorced father whose fear for his daughter’s safety leads him to battle for custody. As Mariah finds herself fighting to keep her daughter, she has to push past her own insecurities and stand up for herself and her competence as a parent. Keeping Faith explores a family plagued by the media, the medical profession, and organised religion in a world where everyone has an opinion but no one knows the truth.

The Book of Two Ways

Dawn thinks she knows everything there is to know about dying. As a death doula she helps her clients fix what is left undone so they can peacefully make the final transition. But when her plane plummets from the sky and she thinks she is experiencing the last moments of her life, she is shocked to find that she isn’t thinking of her husband or teenage daughter – but of a road she strayed from 15 years earlier, when she turned her back on her PhD studies. Against all odds, Dawn survives, and the airline gives her a free ticket to wherever she needs to get to. in alternating chapters, we see possible choices: Land – returning to her husband, a quantum physicist who studies the possibilities of parallel universes, she is faced with a test to her marriage and a daughter who is struggling with self-image issues. And Water: returning to her studies and the archaeological site she worked on 15 years earlier, where the man she abandoned is about to make the discovery of a lifetime. But time may not be as straightforward as we think. As Dawn explores her possible futures, she is finding out what a well-lived life means, what we leave behind of ourselves when we leave the earth, and who she might have been…

Enjoy!

Getting Organised with Booko: Your Best Life at Any Age by Andrew Fuller

Your Best Life at Any Age shares interviews with over 500 000 people to trace the most common identifiable stages of life. Understanding what stage you are in will lead to making changes that can improve your relationships and develop a more resilient mindset.