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Salman Rushdie’s memoir relives the years under Khomeini’s fatwa. (David Shankbone)
Salman Rushdie’s memoir relives the years under Khomeini’s fatwa. (David Shankbone)

15 must-read fall non-fiction titles Add to ...

From the shelves of autumn, groaning with memoirs, histories, polemics, politics, science etc., Martin Levin plucks 15 titles you must sample

Joseph Anton

By Salman Rushdie

Joseph Anton was Rushdie’s pseudonym while he was trying not to be killed by fanatics spurred on by Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini’s Satanic Verses-inspired fatwa. This memoir of that time may be the season’s most eagerly awaited book.

28 Seconds

A True Story of Addiction, Injustice, and Tragedy

By Michael Bryant

It’s not King Lear, but don’t we all love a good how-the-mighty-have-fallen story? This account by Ontario’s former attorney-general tells of his killing a disturbed cyclist, and the even grimmer aftermath.

Vagina

A New Biography

By Naomi Wolf

Author of The Beauty Myth looks at cutting-edge science linking the vagina with the female brain. (We knew about men already.) She’s after nothing less than redefining women.

Waging Heavy Peace

By Neil Young

Hey hey, my my, old rockers never die: They just write their memoirs. The Canadian idol pumps up the volume on his life and his music, from the Squires in Winnipeg to Crazy Horse everywhere. Long may he run.

1982

By Jian Ghomeshi

Ghomeshi may be all that on CBC at the moment, but he was once just a suburban Iranian-Canadian kid defining his emergent life through, particularly, the songs of David Bowie.

The End of Men

And the Rise of Women

By Hanna Rosin

This began as article in the Atlantic that went viral. Rosin claims that, by almost every measure, women have pulled decisively ahead of men, with profound implications for marriage, sex, children and work. In Saudi Arabia too, Hanna?

Mortality

By Christopher Hitchens

A small but mighty book, based on the eloquent controversialist’s Vanity Fair columns detailing his “battle” (a term he hated) with cancer. As always in his debates, he has the last word.

Glittering Images

A Journey Through Art from Egypt to Star Wars

By Camille Paglia

With her usual erudition and eloquence, what the mouth that walks did for poetry, she now does for Western art, in a sure-to-be-provocative thrust through more than two dozen seminal images.

Among the Islands

Adventures in the Pacific

By Tim Flannery

Flannery, the Aussie mammalogist better known as an environmentalist, is our tour guide to remote, magnificent and challenging islands of the South Pacific, from snake-wrestling to coping with local customs.

There Was a Country

A Personal History of Biafra

By Chinua Achebe

One of Africa’s, and the world’s, leading novelists on coming of age in a country that struggled to be born by seceding from Nigeria, 1967, and then died very young and very tragically.

Total Recall

My Unbelievably True Life Story

By Arnold Schwarzenegger

From small-town Austria to movie A-lister to governor of California to serial philanderer in 500,000 not-so-easy reps. Hasta la vista, baby!

Plutocrats

The Rise of the New Global Super Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else

By Chrystia Freeland

Never mind the 1 per cent; it’s the .01 per cent who run things, says former Globe editor and Bill Maher regular of the men – and they are men – at the apex of the world economy. Occupy this book!

Brain on Fire

My Month of Madness

By Susannah Cahalan

The young New York journo wakes up in hospital with a terrifying brain disorder in the season’s most promising misery memoir: psychosis, violence and a saving intervention by Cahalan’s very own Dr. House.

Far from the Tree

Parents, Children and the Search for Identity

By Andrew Solomon

The author of the award-winning The Noonday Demon (on depression) looks at families with extreme identity differences: autism, children of rape, genius, mental illness.

Chronic Condition

Why Canada’s Health Care System Needs to be Dragged into the 21st Century

By Jeffrey Simpson

Our much-lauded health-care system is unsustainable and breaking down, and nobody wants to talk about it, says Globe columnist Simpson, who looks at all the potions to fix it.

Globe Books' editor’s picks of must-read music titles

Neil Young’s memoir is noted among our 15 must-reads, but three other Canadian music icons are getting between-the-covers treatment. In Joni: The Creative Odyssey of Joni Mitchell, film journalist Katherine Monk gives us what promises be both sides (and any others to be uncovered) of the reclusive pop diva. British music writer Sylvie Simmons will, we hope, tell us what everybody doesn’t know in I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen. And the youngest member of the band gets Far from Over: The Music and Life of Drake, an appropriately titled bio of the young rapper by Dalton Higgins. (Drake is joined in the literary rap world by Lil Wayne, in his memoir Gone Till November.)

Some of the biggest names in the history of rock will be rolling into bookstores soon. Christopher Andersen’s recent Mick was heavy on the Stones’ front man’s many sexual conq … er, partners, but Mick Jagger, by veteran rock journo Philip Norman, should paint a broader picture, though perhaps not a black one. Readers of David Remnick’s recent massive portrait of Bruce Springsteen in The New Yorker may want to devour Peter Ames Carlin’s larger one of the Boss in Bruce, while Who stalwart Pete Townshend joins Neil Young in the memoir field with Who Am I? And yes, we really want to know.

If it’s more Brit superstars you seek, look for The John Lennon Letters, edited by Hunter Davies, with 300 of the Beatle’s epistles, and Light & Shade: Conversations with Jimmy Page, in which the Led Zeppelin axman ascends the conversational stairway with Brad Tolinski.

In How Music Works, Talking Heads leader David Byrne shows no fear of music as he switches to the pen as a historian/musician/anthropologist/cultural critic.

And, out of the world of rock and rap, there’s Hello, Gorgeous: Becoming Barbra Streisand, by William J. Mann, which looks at the diva before she was a diva. For classicists, there’s The First Four Notes: Beethoven’s Fifth and the Human Imagination, by Matthew Guerrieri. Da da da dum.

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