What We Are Reading Today: Janis by Holly George-Warren

Updated 03 December 2019

What We Are Reading Today: Janis by Holly George-Warren

  • Her significance has been muted by the brevity of her career

Over the decades, several books have been written about Janis Joplin. 

Now comes Holly George-Warren’s masterfully researched Janis: Her Life and Music — the significance-establishing project Joplin appreciators have been waiting for. 

Her significance has been muted by the brevity of her career (she died, at 27, in 1970).

“Although the book is full of lovers and almost lovers, and music-world-familiar producers, musicians and compadres, it zeros in on Janis’s singing skill,” Sheila Weller said a review for The New York Times.

Weller said Janis “died in the motel she was staying at in Los Angeles just before her last — and biggest — solo album, Pearl, was released. She had done all of her boundary breaking by the time she was three years shy of 30.”

Janis “was a perfectionist: A passionate, erudite musician who was born with talent but also worked exceptionally hard to develop it. She was a woman who pushed the boundaries of gender long before it was socially acceptable,” said a review in goodreads.com.


What We Are Reading Today: Parisian Lives by Deirdre Bair

Updated 08 December 2019

What We Are Reading Today: Parisian Lives by Deirdre Bair

  • Parisian Lives “pulls you in slowly but deeply

Award-winning biographer Deirdre Bair explores her 15 remarkable years in Paris with Samuel Beckett and Simone de Beauvoir, painting intimate new portraits of two literary giants and revealing secrets of the biographical art.

Parisian Lives “pulls you in slowly but deeply. It isn’t just about writing about two famous authors but the memoir (of the) writer’s life as well and what it takes to be a biographer,” said a review published in goodreads.com. 

It said the stories relating to both Beckett and de Beauvoir “are different but equally compelling. These stories are page turners.”

The review added: “Drawing on Bair’s extensive notes from the period, including never-before-told anecdotes and details that were considered impossible to publish at the time, Parisian Lives is full of personality and warmth and give us an entirely new window on the all-too-human side of these legendary thinkers.”

It said that Bair’s memoir “is the interrelated stories of writing biographies of Beckett and de Beauvoir and Bair’s own journey of discovery while launching her academic career.”