The Best Autobiographies To Read Now

The Best Autobiographies To Read Now

Whether you’re looking for ways to pass the time at home or you find yourself in need of a new read, there are plenty of recent and forthcoming autobiographies to get stuck into. From a rock ‘n’ roll memoir to a behind-the-scenes look at the life of a restaurant critic, make some space on your bedside table for these top releases…

Intensive Care by Gavin Francis

Intensive Care is about how coronavirus emerged, spread across the world and changed all of our lives forever. But it's not, perhaps, the story you expect. Gavin Francis is a GP who works in both urban and rural communities, splitting his time between Edinburgh and the islands of Orkney. When the pandemic arrived, he saw how it affected every walk of life: the anxious teenager, the isolated care home resident, the struggling furloughed worker and homeless ex-prisoner, all united by their vulnerability in the face of a global disaster. And he saw how the true cost of the virus was measured not just in infections, or deaths, or ITU beds, but in the consequences of the measures taken against it. In this deeply personal account of nine months spent caring for a society in crisis, Francis takes readers from rural village streets to local clinics and communal city stairways. And in telling this story, he reveals others: of loneliness and hope, illness and recovery, and of what we can achieve when we care for each other.

Inspiring. I can't recommend it too strongly. You will learn a lot from it, and you will find much more that is encouraging.” – Allan Massie, Scotsman


No Such Thing As Normal by Bryony Gordon

From depression and anxiety to personality disorders, one in four of us experience mental health issues every year and, in these strange and unsettling times, more of us than ever are struggling to cope. Following last year’s brilliant Glorious Rock Bottom, No Such Thing As Normal, Bryony Gordon offers sensible, practical advice, covering subjects such as sleep, addiction, worry, medication, self-image, boundary setting, therapy, learned behaviour, mindfulness and, of course – as the founder of Mental Health Mates – the power of walking and talking. She also strives to equip those in need of help with tools and information to get the best out of a poorly funded system that can be both frightening and overwhelming. The result is a lively, honest and direct guide to mental health that cuts through the Instagram-wellness bubble to talk about how each of us can feel stronger, better and just a little bit less alone.

Journalist Bryony Gordon has inspired millions with her honesty and frankness about her mental health… this lively, accessible guide is comforting, reassuring and insightful.” – Independent 


Raceless by Georgina Lawton

In Georgina Lawton's childhood home, her Blackness was never acknowledged; the obvious fact of her brown skin, ignored by her white parents. Over time, secrets and a complex family story became accepted as truth and Georgina found herself complicit in the erasure of her racial identity. It was only when her beloved father died that the truth began to emerge. Fleeing the shattered pieces of her family life and the comfortable, suburban home she grew up in, at age 22 Georgina went in search of answers – embarking on a journey that took her around the world, to the DNA testing industry, and to countless others, whose identities have been questioned, denied or erased. What do you do when your heritage or parentage has been obscured in a complex web of deceit? How can you discuss race with your family, when you each see the world differently? Raceless is both the compelling personal account of a young woman seeking her own story amid devastating family secrets, and a fascinating, challenging and essential examination of modern racial identity.

A beautifully written account of an extraordinary story, Raceless is as eye-opening as it is profound.” – Otegha Uwagba, author of Whites: On Race and Other Falsehoods

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Stronger by Poorna Bell

Poorna Bell’s journey to get physically strong started with a heavy mattress that needed flipping and the realisation that – following the death of her husband, Rob – she had been relying on the men in her life to take out the bins, carry the luggage and move furniture. Part memoir, part manifesto, in Stronger, Poorna starts a conversation about women’s strength and fitness, tapping into the reservoir of mental strength we each have, in a way that has absolutely nothing to do with weight loss. Poorna shares her own story, as well as drawing on research and telling the stories other women who have forged their own path into strength and fitness. Now a competitive amateur powerlifter who can lift over twice her body weight, Poorna is the strongest she has ever been both physically and mentally. Weightlifting helped her to find the confidence that physical pursuits can amplify – the confidence that has been helping men to succeed in their careers their whole lives – and that women can find too. Doing away with old-fashioned notions and long-held beliefs about strength, Poorna lays out how strength can work for you, no matter what your age and goal might be.

Exploring both mental and physical empowerment, Stronger is an inspiring blend of memoir and manifesto, shaking off long-held, mistaken ideas about women and strength.” – The Best Books to Look Out For in 2021, Waterstones


Speak Your Truth by Fearne Cotton

Whether it's through television, radio or on her Happy Place podcast, beloved presenter Fearne Cotton has made a career out of her voice. So, when her doctor told her she was at risk of needing a throat operation followed by two weeks of being unable to speak, she found herself facing a period of unexpected contemplation. As she considered what silence would mean, Fearne began to think about other times her voice had gone unheard – as a young woman, as 'just the talent', as the foil to louder, more dominant figures. She found herself wondering, at what point do we internalise this message, and start silencing ourselves? When do we swallow down our authentic words to become pleasers and compromisers at the cost of our own happiness or wellbeing? This new release dives into all the ways we learn to stay quiet for the wrong reasons, and explores how to find your voice, assert yourself and speak out with confidence.

Fearne Cotton is a tireless seeker of the truth, and a wonderful communicator of sanity, hope, and (most refreshingly of all) reality. This is, simply put, a beautiful book.” – Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love


My Rock ‘n’ Roll Friend by Tracey Thorn

In 1983, backstage at the Lyceum in London, Tracey Thorn and Lindy Morrison first met. Tracey's music career was just beginning, while Lindy, drummer for The Go-Betweens, was ten years her senior. They became confidantes, comrades and best friends, a relationship cemented by gossip and feminism, books and gigs and rock 'n' roll love affairs. Morrison – a headstrong heroine blazing her way through a male-dominated industry – came to be a kind of mentor to Thorn. They shared the joy and the struggle of being women in a band, trying to outwit and face down a chauvinist music media. In My Rock 'n' Roll Friend Thorn takes stock of 37 years of friendship, teasing out the details of connection and affection between two women who seem to be either complete opposites or mirror images of each other. This book asks what people see, who does the looking, and ultimately who writes women out of – and back into – history.

"What a wise and funny book. Nostalgic but unsentimental, Thorn beautifully captures the aspirations, ennui and angst of suburban teenage life. I loved it" – David Nicholls, author of One Day


The Madness of Grief by Reverend Richard Coles

Whether it is pastoral care for the bereaved, discussions about the afterlife, or being called out to perform the last rites, death is part of the Reverend Richard Coles' life and work. But when his partner the Reverend David Coles died, shortly before Christmas in 2019, much about death took Coles by surprise. For one thing, David's death at the age of 43 was unexpected. The man that so often assists others to examine life's moral questions now found himself in need of help. He began to look to others for guidance to steer him through his grief. The flock was leading the shepherd. Much about grief surprised him: the volume of 'sadmin' you have to do when someone dies, how much harder it is travelling for work alone, even the pain of typing a text message to your partner – then realising you are alone. The Reverend Richard Coles' deeply personal account of life after grief will resonate, unforgettably, with anyone who has lost a loved one.

Emotionally charged yet clear-sighted and reflective, the Reverend Richard Coles’ account of grief in the wake of his partner’s sudden death provides much comfort and profound insight into the nature of life, death, religion and community.” – Waterstones


Diary of an MP’s Wife by Sasha Swire

What is it like to be a wife of a politician in modern-day Britain? Sasha Swire finally lifts the lid. For more than 20 years she has kept a secret diary detailing the trials and tribulations of being a political plus-one and gives readers a ringside seat at the seismic political events of the last decade. A professional partner and loyal spouse, Swire has strong political opinions herself and smashes the stereotype of the dutiful wife. From shenanigans in Budleigh Salterton to state banquets at Buckingham Palace, gun-toting terrorist busters in pizza restaurants to dinners in Downing Street, Devon hedges to partying with City ‘hedgies’, she observes the great and the not-so-great at the closest of quarters. Here are the friendships and the fallouts, the general elections and the leadership contests, the scandals and the rivalries. Swire wrote it all down. The result – Diary of an MP's Wife – is an honest, wildly indiscreet and often uproarious account of what life is like in the thick of it.

“A gossipy, amusing, opinionated account of what it's like to be married to an MP… Good fun and eye-opening” – The Times


Some Body to Love: A Family Story by Alexandra Heminsley

A truly brave and beautiful memoir about everything Heminsley experienced when her marriage ended, after her ex-husband realised she was ready to transition. Heminsley writes so powerfully about pain and love. This is an honest, moving and authentic examination of the end of a relationship, and the way that our lives can fracture and recover from sudden, seismic shifts. Heminsley’s writing is sharply resonant – you don’t have to share her experiences to be struck by her observations about letting go with love, and how we can find strength in self-love too. Fans of Glennon Doyle’s seminal Untamed will adore this. 

Insightful and wise, generous and kind.” – David Nicholls, author of Us

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Quite by Claudia Winkleman

Claudia Winkleman’s warmth, humour, no-holds-barred attitude and smokey eye have made her the favourite broadcaster of millions and a much-loved household name. In this, her first ever book, Claudia invites us all into her world. She shares her observations on topics such as the importance of melted cheese, why black coats are vital, how it’s never okay to have sex with someone who has an opinion on your date outfit, how nurses are our most precious national treasure, and why colourful clothing is only for the under-tens. This is a love letter to life – the real, sometimes messy kind. Quite celebrates friendship, the power of art, the highs and lows of parenting, and of course, how a good eyeliner can really save your life. Heartfelt, wry and unmistakably her, this book gets to the heart of what really matters.

Full of hilarious insights.” – Vanity Fair


Hungry by Grace Dent

From an early age, Grace Dent was hungry. As a little girl growing up in Currock, Carlisle, she yearned to be something bigger, to go somewhere better. Hungry traces Grace’s story from growing up eating beige food to becoming one of the much-loved voices on the British food scene. It’s also everyone’s story – from treats with your nan, to cheese and pineapple hedgehogs, to the exquisite joy of cheaply-made apple crumble with custard. It’s the high-point of a chip butty covered in vinegar and too much salt in the school canteen, on an otherwise grey day of double-maths and cross-country running. It’s the real story of how we have all lived, laughed, and eaten over the past 40 years. Warm, funny and joyous, Hungry is also about love and loss, the central role that food plays in all our lives, and how a Cadbury’s Fruit ‘n’ Nut in a hospital vending machine can brighten the toughest situation.

Extraordinary. Vivid, irreverent, heart-breaking.”– Nigel Slater, author of Eat


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