Our list of this year's best biographies focuses on books about individuals who lived their lives off the beaten path. From the story of a spy turned chef to the story of the real Count of Monte Cristo, these books chronicle subjects who refused to conform to the expectations of others.
In A Man of Misconceptions: The Life of an Eccentric in an Age of Change, John Glassie writes of 17th-century Jesuit priest and scientist Athanasius Kircher, a renaissance man who studied magnetism, Mount Vesuvius, even the blood of plague victims. The only problem? His theories were often wrong.
From medieval medicine to18th-century English "crack", gin has come a long way. But according to Richard Barnett, author of The Book of Gin, now is "the best time in the last 500 years to be drinking" it.
Chef Amanda Cohen's Dirt Candy is a turducken of a book: graphic novel, cookbook and memoir in one. Cohen's East Village restaurant in New York City is focused entirely on vegetables — and with just nine tables, it's become a foodie destination.
Conventional wisdom says e-books are destroying the traditional publishing business model. But the story's not that simple. For one thing, flexible pricing allows publishers to hold what amount to one-day-only sales on any given title — which means more people will discover that book.
About three-quarters of public libraries offer e-books, according to the American Library Association. But finding the book you want to read can be a challenge when every publisher has its own licensing rules for libraries — and several major houses don't sell e-books to libraries at all.
Charles Dickens wrote many of his greatest works in serial form, but serial publishing has fallen by the wayside since his day. Now, it's being revived online, and Margaret Atwood is publishing a future-dystopia novel called Positron in installments via the literary website Byliner.
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