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Inspired by young climate strikers, Jane Fonda - who was first arrested in 1970 –leveraged her celebrity wattage to protest inaction on climate change in Washington, D.C., where she was arrested five more times. Photo: Kypros/Getty Images

> First Person

Dig Deep Into Extraordinary Lives With These Hot Memoirs

Read on for a glimpse into the lives of Fonda, comedian Jerry Seinfeld and more / BY Athena McKenzie / July 23rd, 2020


Obsessive Book Buyers: Zoomer editors have carefully curated our book coverage to ensure you find the perfect read. We may earn a commission on books you buy by clicking on the cover image. 

>JANE FONDA’S CRI DE COEURWhat Can I Do? My Path From Climate Despair to Action by Jane Fonda (Sept.8)

Born into Hollywood royalty, Jane Fonda’s life has been famously shaped by activism, from the Black Panthers fight against police brutality in the ’70s to anti-Vietnam War protests to recent calls to defund the police in the wake of George Floyd’s death on May 25. Last year, the 82-year-old had “an epiphany about the state of our planet,” inspired by young climate strikers like Greta Thunberg. In October 2019, Fonda moved to Washington, D.C., to lobby against U.S. inaction on climate change. “This is the last possible moment in history when changing course can mean saving lives and species on an unimaginable scale,” she writes. “It’s too late for moderation.” No stranger to jail cells, she was arrested five times in four months as she protested week after week on Capitol Hill for her Fire Drill Fridays. Her first arrest, on trumped-up drug charges in 1970, resulted in a mug shot seen around the world. Fifty years later, Fonda still has one fist in the air.


>THAT’S GOLD, JERRY! Is This Anything? by Jerry Seinfeld (Oct. 6)

With his first comedy special in 23 years on Netflix this spring and Is This Anything?, his first book in 25, Jerry Seinfeld is back, baby. Ever since he appeared at the New York nightclub Catch a Rising Star as a 21-year-old college student, Seinfeld has kept his best comedy bits – which he wrote down on yellow legal pads – in a file.“I have everything I thought was worth saving from 45 years of hacking away at this for all I was worth,” he says. Organized by decade, the book is a hilarious and insightful overview of a comic who has always been at the top of the game, from Seinfeld to Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. The book reminds us that Seinfeld’s one-liners from a show about nothing are so legendary, they’ve crept into the pop-culture vernacular, from double dipping to Festivus to yada yada  yada. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.


>BIRD’S-EYE VIEW Field Notes From an Unintentional Birder by Julia Zarankin (Sept. 12)

Toronto writer Julia Zarankin was auditioning hobbies when she landed on bird watching. The last thing she expected was to join the flock, but she explains how, at a crossroads in her academic career and newly divorced, she found solace – and ultimately love – through her new obsession. Her first trip out, she didn’t even have binoculars; in July 2020, she reviewed field glasses for Cottage Life magazine. Zarankin traces her journey from her birthplace in the former Soviet Union – her parents, both concert pianists, are Russian Jews – to Canada, and finds a parallel between her flight path and those of birds. Ultimately, she decides she is a migratory species, too: she was raised in Vancouver and Toronto, lived in Paris and worked as a professor of Russian literature in the U.S. From personal crisis to finding meaning in mid-life, Zarankin’s current aspirations say it all: “To sport the hairdo of a cedar waxwing, acquire the wardrobe of a Northern flicker and develop the confidence of a Ross’s goose.”


>LUCKY PEACH Eat a Peach: A Memoir by David Chang (Sept. 8)

If you were hoping for a cookbook, this is not it. If, however, you want a heartfelt memoir that explores the U.S. chef’s winding road to success, his battle with mental illness and passion for bringing an Asian dining ethos to the West, consider this your appetizer, main course and dessert.
Chang, the restaurateur behind the Momofuku empire and star of Netflix’s Ugly Delicious, starts his book off with a disclaimer: “Frankly, I just don’t understand my appeal.” But for anyone who watched him pal around Vancouver with Seth Rogen on Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, his charm – and storytelling ability – are evident.

After growing up in a deeply religious, conservative Korean-American family in Virginia, Chang studied religion in college and dabbled in both cooking and finance. He moved to Japan to teach English – where he had his first manic episode – and, upon his return, discovered he “didn’t hate” cooking. He opened his first restaurant, Momofuku Noodle Bar, in New York’s East Village in 2004, in part to keep suicidal thoughts at bay. When the restaurant started making money, he paid for more therapy.

Momofuku means lucky peach in Japanese, but Chang has said it was a nod to the man who invented instant ramen, Momofuku Ando.

Chang takes the reader along on his journey to culinary superstardom with stories about his legendary outbursts of anger in the kitchen and his dark days of depression. Long before there was a ramen joint on every corner, Chang’s authentic version – along with his pork buns and crispy chicken – made his restaurants a destination for foodies and earned him five James Beard awards for his cooking. His influence on American restaurant cuisine is undeniable. As he writes, “Food across the country has become porkier, spicier, brighter, better.”


THE SCROLL

Brian Thomas Isaac’s “All the Quiet Places” wins $5,000 Indigenous Voices AwardThe B.C. author, a retired bricklayer, drew on his childhood growing up on the Okanagan Indian reserve for his coming-of-age story set in 1956


Canadian-American Author Ruth Ozeki Wins Women’s Book Prize for “The Book of Form and Emptiness”The UK judges said her fourth novel, inspired in part by the Vancouver Public Library, contained "sparkling writing, warmth, intelligence, humour and poignancy."


The Bill Gates Summer Reading List Includes a Sci-Fi Novel On Gender Inequality Suggested by His DaughterBill Gates' summer reading list includes fiction and non-fiction titles that cover gender equality, political polarization and climate change.


American novelist Joshua Cohen wins the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for “The Netanyahus”The 2022 Pulitzer prizes include this satirical look at identity politics, focused on the father of former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at a crucial time in the Jewish state’s history


Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro Among Canadian Authors Recognized in Commemorative Reading List Marking Queen’s Platinum JubileeThe authors are among six Canadian scribes included on the The Big Jubilee Read list.


Queen Elizabeth II’s Aide Reveals Details of Life in Royal Pandemic Lockdown in New Addition to BookAngela Kelly, who's worked for the Queen for 20 years, discusses everything from cutting the Queen's hair to "the light and laughter that was shared ... even in the darkest moments."


New Leonard Cohen Story Collection, ‘A Ballet of Lepers,’ Set for October ReleaseThe collection features a novel, short stories and a radio play written between 1956 and 1961.


Archived Letters Reveal How Toni Morrison Helped MacKenzie Scott Meet Future Husband Jeff BezosBezos hired Scott at the hedge fund where he worked after receiving a recommendation from Morrison. Shortly thereafter, the pair married and Scott helped Bezos launch Amazon.


Prince Harry’s Memoir is Set to Rock the MonarchyFriends say the California-based royal got a million-pound book deal to write "an intimate take on his feeling about the family."


European Jewish Congress Asks Publisher to Pull Anne Frank BookThe Congress says 'The Betrayal of Anne Frank' has "deeply hurt the memory of Anne Frank, as well as the dignity of the survivors and the victims of the Holocaust."


Canadian Author Details Anne Frank Cold-Case Investigation That Named Surprise Suspect in Her Family’s Betrayal in New BookAhead of the 75th anniversary of the publication of Frank's 'The Diary of a Young Girl' in June, a team that included a retired FBI agent and around 20 historians, criminologists and data specialists identified a relatively unknown figure as a leading suspect in revealing her family's hideout.


Man Who Tricked Authors Into Handing Over Unpublished Manuscripts Arrested by FBI in New YorkFilippo Bernardini, an employee of a well known publication house, has been arrested for stealing hundreds of unpublished manuscripts.


Hollywood Legend Betty White Has a Last Laugh in New Biographic Comic BookThe creators of the biographical comic book have released similar books about Hollywood legends like Carrie Fisher, Lucille Ball, David Bowie and Elizabeth Taylor.


Barack Obama Reveals His List of Books That Left “A Lasting Impression” in 2021Obama's favourite 2021 reads include two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author Colson Whitehead's 'Harlem Shuffle' and 'Klara and the Sun,' by Nobel Prize-winning author Kazuo Ishiguro


“Interview With the Vampire” Author Anne Rice Dies at 80 — Tributes Pour in From Stuart Townsend and OthersThe author, who was best known for her work in gothic fiction, died on Saturday evening as a result of complications from a stroke.


Norma Dunning wins $25,000 Governor General’s English fiction prize for ‘Tainna’The Edmonton-based Inuk writer explores themes of displacement, loneliness and spirituality in six short stories


Omar El Akkad wins $100,000 Giller prize for “What Strange Paradise”The former Globe and Mail reporter, who published "American War" to acclaim in 2017, tackles the global migrant refugee crisis in his second novel


South African Author Damon Galgut Wins the Booker Prize For ‘The Promise’Galgut received nominations for his 2003 and 2010 works before finally taking home the prize this year. 


Hollywood Legend Paul Newman Discusses Life, Acting and Aging Gracefully in Newly Discovered MemoirPublishers of the newly discovered memoir say the Hollywood legend wrote the book in the 1980s in response to the relentless media attention he received during that time.


Here’s What You Need to Know About the Toronto International Festival of AuthorsDirector Roland Gulliver lands in Toronto to open his second, much-expanded virtual festival with more than 200 events


Tanzanian Novelist Gurnah Wins 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature for Depicting the Impact of Colonialism and Refugee StoriesGurnah, 72, is only the second writer from sub-Saharan Africa to win one of the world's most prestigious literary awards


Miriam Toews Garners Third Giller Prize Nomination for “Fight Night” after Shortlist AnnouncedSophomore efforts from novelists Omar El Akkad and Jordan Tannahill join debut books from Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia and Angélique Lalonde


Tina Brown’s New Book, ‘The Palace Papers’, Covers the Royal Family’s Reinvention After Diana’s Tragic DeathTina Brown's sequel to her 2007 release 'The Diana Chronicles' is set to hit shelves April 12, 2022. 


Audible.ca Releases Andrew Pyper’s Exclusive Audiobook “Oracle” For New Plus Catalogue LaunchThe thriller about a psychic FBI detective is one of 12,000 titles now available for free to members


Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen to Release Book Based On Their “Renegades” PodcastThe new book will feature a collection of candid, intimate and entertaining conversations


Prince Harry Will Publish a Memoir in Late 2022Harry says he's writing the book "not as the prince I was born but as the man I have become."


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