In an article in Publishers' Weekly concerning the impact of the economy on book sales between January and September 2009, a chart shows the top ten genres in sales. "Biography and Autobiography" is the only nonfiction heading on the chart. If I read the chart correctly, about 3 out of every 100 books sold are biographical. See "Women Cutting Book Purchases" from December 21, 2009.
Centennials and Bicentennials and Such
2010 can not compare with 2009 for its big name biography bicentennials. 1809 was the year of birth for Abraham Lincoln, Charles Darwin, Edgar Allan Poe, and Felix Mendelssohn. The person most likely to be widely celebrated from the births of 1810 is Frederic Chopin. Circus master P. T. Barnum is a distant second. Readers interested in women's rights may seek books about Margaret Fuller, born May 23, 1810.
Jacques Cousteau, Mother Teresa, and Bonnie and Clyde were all born in 1910. All have fairly recent biographies.
Scottish reform theologian John Knox was born in 1510.
Biography Picks for the First Quarter of 2010
Winter is usually a slower period for all publishing than fall or spring, and 2010 will be no exception. There are, however, a few biographies and memoirs that interest me.
Mark Twain: Man in White: The Grand Adventure of His Final Years by Michael Sheldon
A Mountain of Crumbs by Elena Gorokhova
Mrs. Adams in Winter: A Journey in the Last Days of Napoleon by Michael O'Brien
Princess Noire: The Tumultuous Reign of Nina Simone by Nadine Cohodas
Tammy Wynette: Tragic Country Queen by Jimmy McDonough
Willie Mays: The Life, The Legend by James H. Hirsch