By: Rachel Rich, MLS
Collection Development Librarian, Ingram Library Services
It seems as if we said goodbye to more celebrities and well-known figures in 2016 than we have in any other year in recent memory. Nothing can replace these beloved personalities, but their legacies do live on in print.
As it’s been a full year since the passing of David Bowie, several books have been released or reprinted to celebrate his life and career. For a full look of his personal life, Bowie: The Biography, The Age of Bowie, and the newly updated The Complete David Bowie are a good place to start. To hear about David in his own words, look to David Bowie: The Last Interview. Spider from Mars: My Life with Bowie, written by his former drummer, is getting lots of buzz as well.
When Prince died unexpectedly in April, there were already several very good biographies available that are worth revisiting, such as Let’s Go Crazy: Prince and the Making of Purple Rain, Prince: The Man and His Music and also Prince: Inside the Music and the Masks, which was updated to include the last 5 years of his life. A beautiful pictorial biography is presented in Prince: Chapter and Verse – A Life in Photographs, and the exciting new title written by Prince’s first wife The Most Beautiful: My Life with Prince will publish in April.
With as interesting a life as Nancy Reagan, there’s no shortage of information about her life in the public sphere, but readers get to see a more intimate view of her relationship with Ronald in I Love You, Ronnie: The Letters of Ronald Reagan to Nancy Reagan. She also tells what she really wanted to say all those years in the White House in My Turn: The Memoirs of Nancy Reagan. Another unexpected death in 2016 was that of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, and he will continue to be in the news with the contentious nature of the choosing of his replacement. Aside from all the legal text he wrote over his career, a more thorough exploration of his life is found in American Original: The Life and Constitution of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Scalia’s Court: A Legacy of Landmark Opinions and Dissents takes some of Scalia’s own writings from Scalia’s Dissents and adds even more of the outspoken justice’s essays and commentaries.
The world lost three beloved sports figures in 2016: Muhammad Ali, Arnold Palmer, and Gordie Howe. Thankfully each wrote books in their lifetime in addition to the many biographies published about them. Ali wrote The Greatest: My Own Story in 1975 and then The Soul of a Butterfly: Reflections on Life’s Journey with his daughter in 2004. Other good Ali titles include The Fight, Sting Like a Bee: Muhammed Ali vs. the United States of America, 1966-1971, and Muhammed Ali: A Tribute to the Greatest. Palmer wrote three titles A Golfer’s Life, A Life Well Played: My Stories, and Playing by the Rules: All the Rules of the Game, Complete with Memorable Rulings from Golf’s Rich History. Hockey fans won’t want to miss Gordie: A Hockey Legend or Howe’s own words in Mr. Hockey: My Story.
Elie Wiesel painted a horrific picture of the Holocaust with his many writings (Night, Dawn, Day, to name a few) and gets even more personal in 1995’s All Rivers Run to the Sea: Memoirs. Fidel Castro also shared his life experiences in Fidel Castro: My Life: A Spoken Autobiography and in The Prison Letters of Fidel Castro. Although very different men from opposite sides of the world, it’s fascinating to hear their stories in their own words.
Harper Lee passed not long after publishing Go Set a Watchman, and we can learn more about this reclusive writer in the updated Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee and new title Mockingbird Sings: My Friendship with Harper Lee. Along with Harper Lee, 2016 saw the loss of many great writers including Anna Dewdney, Lois Duncan, Pat Conroy, Umberto Eco, and Jackie Collins whose backlists will be sure to stay in print for some time.
In a year of shocking deaths, perhaps the most unexpected was that of Carrie Fisher and then her mother Debbie Reynolds the next day. Two of America’s favorite princesses who gave us much to laugh and love about them over their lives. Carrie wrote several acclaimed titles including 2008’s Wishful Drinking and The Princess Diarist, which was released less than a month before her death. Debbie also left us with her own stories in Make ‘em Laugh: Short Term Memories of Longtime Friends and Unsinkable.
Even though 2016 was a tough year, library patrons can continue to celebrate and enjoy the lives and achievements of these beloved personalities through the stories they’ve left behind in print.