In what is definitely the biggest music book of the year, Sir Elton John follows the release of his biopic Rocketman with Me (Holt, $30), his first and only official autobiography. Elton John does not need an introduction, but this book is a cathartic, no-holds-barred memoir. There are dark years of addiction and recovery, losses of friends, and a battle with cancer. The memoir was written with the help of British music critic Alexis Petridis, but John’s voice comes through clearly in the final version. He is a candid and warm narrator of his own struggles and actions, good and bad, and his passion for life, his friends, and his music shines throughout the volume. Ultimately, Me is about hardearned wisdom and life changes, and while many of us might not carry on such a star-studded dramatic existence, we can definitely appreciate recognition of mistakes and coming to face the darkest parts of our lives. This is a wonderful account of an incredible life.
High School (MCD, $27), perhaps unsurprisingly, is like one of Tegan and Sara’s songs in book form: intimate yet vivid, urgent and animated. Yet their memoir is not only about music, although it does culminate with the duo landing their first record deal, which would lead to nine full-length albums. The twins tell their stories of growing up in ‘90s Calgary in alternating chapters, narrating their teenage confl icts, coming out, fi nding allies, having unrequited crushes, and discovering music. The songwriters’ candid prose style perfectly evokes that time in life when everything was too much, when every moment seemed like a crisis, but also when one desperately needed to know that they were not alone. High School is a queer coming-out-of-age story, a messy journey of adolescence, and a book I wish my teenage self had read.
Fabulous mortician extraordinaire and founder of the Order of the Good Death Caitlin Doughty is back with another book, this one specifi cally designed to educate and create a more honest engagement with death. Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? (W.W. Norton, $25.95) includes answers to more than fifty questions posed to Doughty by her young fans. The kids are great at getting to the heart of any matter, even death, in the most straightforward fashion, hence their no-nonsense queries such as, “why do we turn colors when we die?” and “what happens when the cemetery is full?” Doughty is equally candid in her answers, bringing both her expertise and her engaging writing style to brief and fascinating chapters. The essays are accompanied by wonderfully macabre and quirky drawings by Dianné Ruz, making this book a great library addition for readers of any age.