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British journalist Gary Younge has a sharp eye for how political events impact on ordinary lives. While living in Chicago, he investigated the stories behind the blunt statistics of ten children and teenagers shot dead in a single day. Never intrusive, but quietly devastating, Another Day in the Death of America illuminates with rare power.

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Sylvia Patterson was a doyenne of the British music press throughout the 80s and 90s, and beyond. This book winningly combines her many interviews with pop’s heroes (and zeroes) with a moving and funny personal memoir.

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True stories about some of the eccentrics, crooks, stars and fools who have made waves in London over the last hundred years. Based on Rob Baker’s Nickel in the Machine blog, this is a literary time capsule.

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For many people, Julie Christie is an icon of the Sixties: blonde, beautiful and free-spirited. But Melanie Bell’s short biography reveals how successfully Christie has managed her life and career on her own terms.

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An engaging study of Natalie Wood, a child star in the classic Hollywood mould who came of age just as the studio system broke down. An eternal ingenue, she was torn between creative ambition and fulfilling her celebrity status.

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Lana Del Rey’s meteoric career is measured song by song, from her earliest incarnations to last year’s Honeymoon, in this thoughtful study by F.A. Mannan – the first book to consider her as a creative artist.

9c4920eb-02c8-4e57-9a5c-b85ffac8dc4c-2789-000000d54e899e8c_tmpAsked to write a short biography for a French film guide, journalist Nathalie Leger went in search of the real Barbara Loden, and found instead a uniquely American fable of dreams fulfilled and lost.

6be91b00-2173-42bb-a980-2c31a2e562ed-2285-000000f59a5b5c48_tmpBritain’s most popular wartime actress, Margaret Lockwood was a refined, yet steely siren. In just under 200 pages, Lyndsy Spence shows that ‘less is more’ with her bewitching portrait of a very British star.

f89732d4-d96b-44b9-9889-bbc320d21a27-3986-000001f373e11d66_tmpChris Wade, a prolific musician and writer, gives an unabashed fan’s opinionated take on Madonna’s entire discography, from her 1983 debut to last year’s Rebel Heart. He has also published a companion volume on her movie ventures

img_1975Among other treasures I’ve enjoyed this year are the letters of Jean Rhys; Elena Ferrante’s Frantumaglia; Kembrew McLeod on Blondie’s Parallel Lines; and Peter Shelley’s biography of Hollywood renegade Frances Farmer. And this Christmas I’ll be reading Amy: A Life Through the Lens, and a critical study of her masterpiece, Back to Black; Natalie Wood: Reflections on a Legendary Life; and in contrast, British Witch Legends of Sussex.

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