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The Best Biographies of the Year

There’s nothing like immersing yourself in the life of a fascinating person with a well-written memoir or biography. Biographies make great summer reading and they’re also perfect Christmas gifts. Here are some of the best biographies of 2015:

Remembering Richie by Richie Benaud and friends, foreward by Michael Parkinson

You don’t need to be into cricket to have been moved by the death of true Aussie legend Richie Benaud. Benaud was one of the greatest of cricket’s all-rounders and became a leading commentator and thinker on the game. This celebratory book is a compilation of the best writing from Richie Benaud’s books, along with moving tributes and obituaries from those who knew and worked with him. It covers a range of subjects from his love of cricket as a child to his all time XIs; from his thoughts on T20 to insight into his family life, along with his most loved sayings and best known pieces of commentary.

A Mother’s Story by Rosie Batty

Rosie Batty experienced horror on a level few of us could begin to imagine when her son was killed by his father in a violent incident in February 2014, a horrendous event that shocked not only the nation, but the world. Greg Anderson murdered his 11-year-old son Luke and was then shot by police at a cricket oval. Batty had suffered years of family violence, and had had intervention and custody orders in place in an effort to protect herself and her son. Since then, she has become an outspoken crusader against domestic violence, winning hearts and minds all over Australia with her compassion, courage, and forgiveness. Her advocacy work has forced an unprecedented national focus on family violence, with the Victorian Labor government establishing Australia’s first royal commission into family violence. In January 2015, Batty was named Australian of the Year, 2015.  A Mother’s Story is her inspiring and profoundly moving story.

Legacy by Tim Cahill

Who could possibly forget Tim Cahill’s World Cup goals for Australia? In one of the most anticipated sports autobiographies of the year, the international football star tells us his story. The son of a Samoan mother and English father, Cahill grew up in Sydney’s western suburbs playing football with his brothers and for his local club sides. As a teenager, his parents took out a loan so that he could travel to England and chase his dream of becoming a professional soccer player. He became one of the most admired Australian sportsmen of all time. With his trademark honesty and directness, Australia’s top goal scorer reflects on what it takes to make it to the top.

The Promise by Jamie Zimmerman 

The Promise is the extraordinary story of two mates, Jamie and Brett, each with two families – the family at home, and the brotherhood that bonds military servicemen in times of war. It charts Jamie’s evolution from a bullied boy in the suburbs to an elite soldier and team leader with the 2nd Commando Regiment of Australia’s special forces, waging war in Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan. As Jamie and Brett face ever more dangerous missions, the pressures intensify on the home front. Marriages crack, families fracture and the aftershocks of combat fatigue threaten both men’s lives. After Brett’s is killed, Jamie watches all certainty slip away. He commits mind and body to the one thing he can control: he will honour his friend, he will keep his promise.

Phillip Hughes: The official Biography by Malcolm Knox and Peter Lalor

Another cricketer who made the nation weep. When Hughes scored twin centuries in his second Test –the youngest man in cricket’s 135-year history to achieve the feat – the world hailed the arrival of a brilliant new star. Here was a batting prodigy from a tiny country town with a twinkle in his eye and a wizardry with the willow to fill the dreams of a generation. But those dreams were lost in November 2014 when Hughes was felled, playing the game he loved. Told through the voices of those who knew him best, Phillip Hughes:­ The Official Biography is the incredible story of the boy from Macksville who became Australian Test cricketer 408. Drawing on almost 100 interviews and featuring more than 200 photographs – among them scores of images and talismanic mementos from the Hughes family’s personal collection – this is a stirring biography about the life of Phillip Hughes: son, brother, friend, farmer, cricketer, inspiration.

Big Blue Sky by Peter Garrett

From an idyllic childhood growing up in the northern suburbs of Sydney, to an early interest in equality and justice; from the height of 1960s culture shock at ANU to fronting iconic Australian band Midnight Oil; from his time as a galvanising activist for the environment to being the only unaligned Cabinet minister in two Labor governments, Garrett has an extraordinary story to tell. Peter Garrett writes movingly about his lifelong mission to protect the environment and his connection with Aboriginal people, about his love for his family and his passion for his country; what it means to him and what it can become. Provocative, entertaining, impassioned and inspiring, this memoir goes to the heart and soul of a remarkable Australian and raises questions crucial to us all.

Binge by Tyler Oakley 

Pop-culture tastemaker Tyler Oakley has amassed more than 10 million social media followers through his humorous, no-holds-barred YouTube videos, high-profile interviews and social rights advocacy. After uploading his first video eight years ago, Oakley took the Internet by storm. With successes ranging from interviews with First Lady Michelle Obama and boy band One Direction, a worldwide, multi-city live tour and a record-breaking social media following, Oakley is a YouTube icon. He lives in Los Angeles, California, where he uploads weekly videos from his living room.Tyler Oakley brings you his first collection of witty, personal, and hilarious essays written in the voice that’s earned him more than 10 million followers across social media.

Reckoning by Magda Szubanski

Magda Szubanski’s autobiography takes us right back to her roots. Her father is the Polish ‘assassin’, who fought in the Polish resistance against the Nazi occupation in World War 2. Her mother is from a working class Scottish background with Irish Catholic roots. After her father meets Szubanski’s mother, they settle in the north of England where Magda is born, before emigrating to Australia. Growing up in an outer Melbourne suburb, the half Polish, half Scottish child with an English accent never quite fits in. Her anecdotes from early childhood through her schooldays are by turns funny and deeply poignant. She describes in compelling detail her attraction to the rites of Catholicism, her struggle for acceptance at convent school in Melbourne, her hilarious attempts to be one of Melbourne’s ‘sharpies’, and her dawning sexuality. This is an engaging and soul-searching memoir, one that hooks us from the word go and is as page turning as any great fiction. It’s a deep and meaningful, often funny, book of family, morality and destiny.

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