Americana (and The Act of Getting Over it), by Luke Healy (Nobrow, 2019)

A journal of an attempt to complete the Pacific Crest Trail, a hiking route through from Mexico to Canada. And an excellent thing it is too, detailing Healy’s fascination with the US and the Trail, and the challenges faced and friendships made on the route. Plenty to appreciate, not least the blend of simple illustrations and occasional prose sections. Recommended.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Digging up Mother: A Love Story [AKA The Long Version of a Suicide Post-It Note: A Love Story], by Doug Stanhope (Da Capo Press, 2016)

The stand-up comic’s autobiography, focusing on his relationship with – and the death of – his mother. A million miles from the “dead dad” comedy trope of a few years back, this is a scabrous, honest, and funny account of Stanhope’s life, loves and borderline criminal experiences to date, and of the influence of his mum on his worldview. Recommended.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England

Lowborn, by Kerry Hudson (Vintage, 2020)

A writer revisits her younger life and self. Excellent autobiographical exploration of how class, gender, substance abuse, poor mental health, homelessness, poverty and related issues may intersect and inform each other. Neither sentimental nor sensationalist, but clear and compassionate throughout. Plus, a Proustian moment (involving banana-flavoured vitamin drops) for me. Recommended.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist, by Adrian Tomine (Faber and Faber, 2020)

A socially-awkward cartoonist reflects on embarrassing incidents in their life. Lovely, touching and beautifully-presented kinda-memoir, that’ll ring true to anyone who’s tried to be creative and/or who’s struggled with being in public. Lots to appreciate, and wholly relatable even (or especially) if comix aren’t usually your thing.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Presto!: How I Made Over 100 Pounds Disappear and Other Magical Tales, by Penn Gillette (Simon & Schuster, 2016)

A stage magician’s account of his weight loss, and the unorthodox methods used to achieve this. A forceful, loquacious, funny and quite possibly at times too-salty-for-some diet memoir. Interesting and a fun read into the bargain, even if the approach used might not translate. As the author notes, though, this is a case study, not a recipe to follow.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Downsizing, by Tom Watson & Jo Lake (Kyle Books, 2020)

The former Labour politician’s account of his eight-stone weight loss, and the reversal of Type 2 diabetes. A scrappy book: equal parts name-droptastic autobiography, diet book (keto, basically), and Big Sugar polemic. While the core messages are sound, the scattershot approach – which reads as padding –  might be frustrating for some looking for focus.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England

Altitude, by Olivier Bouquet & Jean-Marc Rochette [trans. Edward Gauvin] (SelfMadeHero, 2020)

A talented young artist develops an obsession with mountaineering. An excellent autobiographical graphic novel about climbing, growing up, finding yourself, and losing yourself above the snow line. Beautifully sketched and told. Recommended, like the many routes to different mountain summits recounted in this volume.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Vacationland, by John Hodgman (Viking/Penguin Random House, 2017)

Ruminations on, among other things, owning two holiday homes. Similar in its approach to that of its follow-up Medallion Status, Hodgman discusses the advantages and the minor pitfalls of almost being a celebrity, rural v city life, and the odd responsibilities of homeownership. Deft, pleasant, amusing, melancholic as ever.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England

Medallion Status, by John Hodgman (Viking/Penguin Random House, 2019)

Reflections on perceived dwindling fame and airline loyalty schemes. We don’t really have humourists in the UK; maybe we should. Anyway, this is a funny, melancholy and perceptive look at Hollywood and other places thanks to Hodgman’s temporary access to the outer parts of the inner sanctum.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England