Best of the week | 3 book extracts to read this weekend

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Dolly Parton, Songteller | The story behind Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5 and why she credits her nails
Dolly Parton, Songteller | The story behind Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5 and why she credits her nails

Dolly Parton, Songteller | The story behind Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5 and why she credits her nails

Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics is a landmark celebration of the remarkable life and career of a country music and pop culture legend. As told by Dolly Parton in her own inimitable words, explore the songs that have defined her journey. Illustrated throughout with previously unpublished images from Dolly Parton's personal and business archives. Mining over 60 years of songwriting, Dolly Parton highlights 175 of her songs and brings readers behind the lyrics.  


I remember when I first started doing TV [in Knoxville], I was a little scared of the camera. One cameraman said, “Just follow those two red lights on the camera with your eyes and pretend that they are the eyes of somebody you know. Pretend you’re singing to a friend.” So I kind of became friends with the camera. Because of all my TV experience, I was more comfortable with cameras than most people.

But the movies are a whole different world. As far as lighting and standing on your marks are concerned, there’s a whole lot of stuff to learn. And you’re not allowed to look at the camera, so I had to unlearn some things.

Lily and Jane were very helpful. Jane is the one who got me in the movie. She was thinking, “Dolly will get us the South.” I told her later as a joke, “Well, I might get you some North and East and West, too,” because I had a lot of fans.

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Joe Biden book cover
Joe Biden: American Dreamer | How Biden survived aneurysms during his '88 presidency bid

Joe Biden: American Dreamer | How Biden survived aneurysms during his '88 presidency bid

Blending up-close journalism and broader context, Evan Osnos illuminates Biden's life and captures the characters and meaning of an extraordinary presidential election. He draws on lengthy interviews with Biden and on revealing conversations with more than a hundred others, including President Barack Obama, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg, and a range of progressive activists, advisers, opponents, and Biden family members. In this nuanced portrait, Biden emerges as flawed, yet resolute, and tempered by the flame of tragedy – a man who just may be uncannily suited for his moment in history. 


A forty-five-year-old man—white male, father of three—awoke on the floor of his hotel room. He had been unconscious for five hours. He could barely move his legs. He did not know how he got there. He remembered only a flash of agony; he had given a speech in Rochester, New York, and returned to his room, where he felt a sensation akin to a cleaver parting his skull. 

For months, he had ignored a strange ache in his head and neck, burying it in Tylenol, blaming it on the ludicrous rigour of running for president while heading the Judiciary Committee of the United States Senate. The campaign had ended in embarrassment—a product of his own arrogance, he admitted to himself—but the headaches had continued. 

The man heaved himself onto the bed. From there, his assistant got him to a plane to Delaware, where doctors identified a cranial aneurysm, the ballooning of an artery that fed the brain.

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Oliver Stone book cover
Chasing the Light - Oliver Stone | A true insider's story of Hollywood's years of upheaval

Chasing the Light - Oliver Stone | A true insider's story of Hollywood's years of upheaval

In this powerful and evocative memoir, Oscar-winning director and screenwriter, Oliver Stone, takes us right to the heart of what it's like to make movies on the edge. Written fearlessly, with intense detail and colour, Chasing the Light is a true insider's story of Hollywood's years of upheaval in the 1970s and '80s, and Stone brings this period alive as only someone at the centre of the action truly can. 


I’m moving swiftly through the cobblestone streets of a small, sixteenth-century Mexican town complete with churches, plazas, and stone bridges over a meandering stream traversing this small gem of a location. 

Hundreds of extras and technical people, as well as actors, are waiting in the heat for me to decide where, when, how. I’m in the middle of Zapata country, in Morelos state, two hours south of Mexico City. 

On one street, I have 150 Mexican army soldiers dressed as Salvadoran troops circa 1980. On another street, neighing and pawing the pave stones impatiently are seventy horses with riders gathered from the best vaqueros in the state, a rebel cavalry. I’ve decided they’re going to charge over a bridge onto the main plaza for a final overwhelming of besieged government forces.

There will be multiple explosions which we’ve set along the line of the charge. Between the two sides are several dozen villagers, civilians gathered as extras, who will scatter in all directions on cue.

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