June’s Best Biographies & Memoirs

Naturally Tan, by Tan France
While retaining the sense of fun, the more recent Queer Eye series has done the original one better, broadening the horizons of its makeover subjects and wresting more than a few tears from what might otherwise be a fun, but surface-level reality show. Tan France is a big part of the remake’s success, with a background that inspired his brand of radical compassion: the youngest in his family, he grew up in a South Asian Muslim family in a white community in South Yorkshire, England. At a distance from his neighbors because of his heritage and from his own family due to his sexuality, he eventually learned how to love himself, a skill he now passes along via the show. His new memoir takes us from his childhood to the present day, and goes behind the scenes of the show—and it even includes some of his trademark fashion tips.

The Kennedy Heirs: John, Caroline, and the New Generation – A Legacy of Triumph and Tragedy, by J. Randy Taraborrelli
Across years, journalist and celebrity biographer J. Randy Taraborrelli has visited the stories of the Kennedy family from a variety of angles. Until now, however, his books have largely focused on the generation led by JFK, Robert, and Ted. His newest looks at those that followed: the children of the three prominent siblings, who faced triumphs and tragedies in equal measures. Based on hundreds of interviews as well as first-hand research, The Kennedy Heirs explores the lives of John Kennedy, Jr., groomed as the heir to the family legacy before his tragic death; lawyer and politician Caroline; and the other younger Kennedys, all who grew up under the guidance of the family’s still-indomitable matriarch, Ethel. It’s a fascinating look into the world of American royalty.

Small Fry, by Lisa Brennan-Jobs
You can imagine Lisa Brennan-Jobs’ memoir as a portrait of her life as the daughter of the late Apple CEO, Steve Jobs. And yes, that’s a big part of it, but she is also careful to craft a story of her own identity and coming-of-age. As a child, Lisa’s father was a largely mythical figure who wanted nothing to do with her or her mother, loudly denying his paternity even after a DNA test made the facts clear. Brennan-Jobs grew up under the cloud of that public rejection until, years later, her father reentered her life. Suddenly, she was ushered into a world of mansions and private schools, and struggled with the sense of whiplash. It’s a fascinating and heartbreaking journey, told with tremendous compassion and love by a writer with real literary chops.

Inside the Five-Sided Box: Lessons from a Lifetime of Leadership in the Pentagon, by Ash Carter
With a career in public policy spanning almost four decades, Ash Carter has as much insider knowledge as anyone about what goes on inside the Pentagon, the building in which he’s spent many of those years—including a stint as secretary of defense. His goal with this new memoir is to demystify the five-sided building that’s so integral to American government, and yet almost entirely a mystery to most of the American public. The building houses the world’s most complex information network, a massive research and development infrastructure, and a bureaucracy that implements policies with global consequences—it’s probably about time we learned more about what goes on behind those walls. This memoir promises to be a fascinating look inside.

The Sixth Man: A Memoir, by Andre Iguodala
Andre Iguodala is one of basketball’s most impressive players on one of its best teams: the Golden State Warriors, winners of three of the last four NBA championships. Over the course of his career, he’s earned respect for more than his athletics: successful tech investments and broad-ranging philanthropy have made him an icon off the court as well. In this book, Iguodala discusses all of that, and also returns to a topic that’s generated controversy for him in the past: the conflicts that come from having a professional league largely made up of African American male athletes who play on teams mostly coached and owned by white men. Taking us from his childhood in Illinois dreaming of being the next Jordan to the top off the game, Iguodala shares insights into the conflicts that have driven him on the court, in business, and in his personal life.

Whose story inspires you?

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