Nonfiction Previews, Oct. 2013, Pt. 5: Memoirs, from Chelsea Handler to Elizabeth Smart

Buffett, Howard. 40 Chances: Finding Hope in a Hungry World. S. & S. Oct. 2013. 352p. ISBN 9781451687866. $26. MEMOIR
Farmers can anticipate 40 growing seasons—that is, 40 chances to improve their land’s yield. Son of mega-investor Warren Buffett, who once challenged him to consider what he really wanted to accomplish in life, Howard Buffett likewise has given himself 40 years to put more than $3 billion to work. Here he uses 40 stories to outline his worldwide search for new ways to alleviate suffering, particularly with regard to hunger. His interest in farming might come as a surprise, but he seems to have used it well.

Cheney, Dick & Jonathan Reiner, M.D. Heart: An American Medical Odyssey. Scribner. Oct. 2013. 352p. ISBN 9781476725390. $28. MEMOIR/MEDICINE
Former vice president Cheney has been staring down heart disease for 35 years, having had five heart attacks and a heart transplant. Here he offers not just a personal account of crisis and treatment but a history of cardiology over the last several decades, ending with today’s cutting-edge technology. Reiner, his cardiologist, clarifies the medical details. Of special interest to the many who suffer from heart disease.

Crystal, Billy. Still Foolin’ ’Em: Where I’ve Been, Where I’m Going, and Where the Hell Are My Keys? Holt. Oct. 2013. 256p. ISBN 9780805098204. $26. CD: Macmillan Audio. MEMOIR
Originally scheduled for March 2013, this book is not just a look back at Crystal’s career as an actor and Academy Awards host; it also captures for every baby boomer (and other interested readers) the joys and horrors of turning 65, as Crystal does next year. With chapters like “Drugs We Did Then, Drugs We Do Now,” the book will surely be wry, but expect touching moments as Crystal reflects on his final conversation with his father and more.

Dershowitz, Alan. Taking the Stand: My Life in the Law. Crown. Oct. 2013. 528p. ISBN 9780307719270. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780307719294. CD/downloadable: Random Audio. AUTOBIOG/LAW
Topnotch lawyer Dershowitz, now Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard, expressly offers a legal autobiography that considers how he came to the law and the many cases he has tried over 50 years. He also explains how his thinking has evolved on key issues like censorship, civil rights, and abortion. Not just Dershowitz’s legal education, then, but ours.

Handler, Chelsea. Untitled Chelsea Handler. Grand Central. Oct. 2013. 272p. ISBN 9781455599738. $27. CD: Hachette Audio. MEMOIR
E! network star Handler has proved to be as hot an author as she is a comedian; Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea has sold over 1.2 million in hardcover and trade paperback combined, while the recent Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang has sold over 800,000 copies so far in both formats. Here she lambastes troubles while traveling. With an 800,000-copy first printing and innumerable media opportunities.

Retzlaff, Amanda. One Hundred and Four Horses: A Memoir of Farm and Family, Africa and Exile. Morrow. Oct. 2013. 304p. ISBN 9780062204370. $26.99. MEMOIR/HORSES
It’s not just increased interest in fiction and nonfiction about Africa that makes this book so promising; it’s the poignant story. Retzlaff and husband Pat loved life on their ranch in Zimbabwe—until 2001, when the notorious farm invasions by mostly pro-Mugabe war veterans forced them out, along with other white farmers. As they marched into exile, they took not only their beloved horses but, notably and nobly, other horses abandoned by those who had left. With a 75,000-copy first printing; the travel blog outreach makes sense because the Retzlaffs now manage Mozambique Horse Safari, which affords vacationers fun horseback riding on the beach.

Smart, Elizabeth & Chris Stewart. My Story. St. Martin’s. Oct. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9781250040152. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466835405. CD: Macmillan Audio. MEMOIR
Kidnapped at age 14 by religious fanatic Brian David Mitchell and his wife, Smart endured nearly a year of relentless rape and intimidation before being rescued. Here she chronicles her horrific experience, the faith and determination that helped her endure, and her subsequent life, including her establishing a foundation to help those similarly abused and her 2012 marriage to Matthew Gilmour, whom she met during her Mormon missionary work in Paris. Much anticipated.

Steel, Danielle. Pure Joy: The Dogs We Love. Delacorte. Oct. 2013. 176p. ISBN 9780345543752. $20; ebk. ISBN 9780345543769. MEMOIR
Steel doesn’t just love to write blockbusters; she loves dogs. Here’s her valentine to all the dogs she’s raised (looking to be mostly of the small sort), with lots of black-and-white photos throughout. A heady commercial combo.

Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president, treasurer, and awards chair of the National Book Critics Circle.