Born to Run
By Bruce Springsteen (Simon & Schuster)
For all of Springsteen’s fame, there is much about his story — about the people and events and dreams and fears that shaped him — that isn’t widely known. Like his four-hour concerts, this memoir delivers enough punch and laughter, sorrow and succor to satisfy your soul and still, somehow, leave you wanting more.
In the Darkroom
By Susan Faludi (Metropolitan)
Faludi had not spoken to her sometimes-violent father for years when, one day in 2004, he told her that at 76, he had undergone sexual-reassignment surgery. Faludi does what any estranged child will recognize as heroic: She visits her father and masters her irritation long enough to get to the heart of things.
By Hope Jahren (Knopf)
Blending the scientific and the personal, Jahren tells the story of how she became a geobiologist despite the seemingly endless struggles for recognition. Persistent gender bias and harassment are given their due alongside everything else, because that’s exactly how Jahren has to deal with them: They’re facts, like gravity or rainfall.
Shroder describes the life of his grandfather MacKinlay Kantor, one of the most famous and successful writers in the world in the mid-20th century but who is now all but forgotten. Shroder, a former editor at The Washington Post, offers an object lesson in the ultimate fading away of the best-selling, prizewinning success of which many writers dream.
A Mother’s Reckoning
By Sue Klebold (Crown)
Seventeen years after the Columbine shooting, the mother of Dylan Klebold tells her story. This book is an apology to the loved ones of the victims, an account of the Klebold family’s life in the days and months after the shooting and a catalogue of warning signs missed.
By Mark Slouka (Norton)
In vivid, novelistic detail, the author writes about the harrowing lives of his Czech parents, who were teenagers when Hitler’s army invaded in 1939. But the heart of this book is Slouka’s difficult relationship with his mother, whose love for him inexplicably turned to hate.
On My Own
By Diane Rehm (Knopf)
Rehm’s husband decided to die when Parkinson’s disease had deprived him of the ability to care for himself, but his doctor was legally forbidden to help him end his life. In this memoir, the host of the nationally syndicated “Diane Rehm Show” writes candidly about that experience, her first year of widowhood and her determination to advocate for the right to die.
The Pigeon Tunnel: Stories From My Life
By John le Carré (Viking)
The master spy novelist was recruited to be a spy by the Intelligence Corps of the British Army when he was just 17. Here he takes us around the world, showing us the people and situations that inspired his best-selling fiction.
Switched On: A Memoir of Brain Change and Emotional Awakening
By John Elder Robison (Spiegel & Grau)
Robison, who has Asperger’s syndrome, underwent an experimental brain operation meant to eliminate some of his symptoms. His chronicle of that experience is both poignant and scientifically important.
When Breath Becomes Air
By Paul Kalanithi (Random House)
Written by a young neurosurgeon as he faced terminal cancer, this memoir is inherently sad. Still, this moving and thoughtful tale of family, medicine and literature is well worth the emotional investment.