Books Corner | Other people’s lives

There are few subjects, it seems, as intriguing as the lives of famous people. They may have started out ‘just like you and me’, but by some twist of fate or extraordinary talent and drive, they have turned out very different from ‘you and me’. This fascination with the lives of others manifests itself in the extreme popularity of biographies, and as I was taking a look at just a few published in recent days and weeks, the diversity was striking.

We start with 16-year-old Malala Yousafzai, a young Pakistani girl who has shown more courage than most by standing up for the right of education for girls in a country where speaking out about such issues could easily cost you your life. In I am Malala, journalist Christina Lamb expertly conveys the story of this young woman, which will hopefully in turn inspire other young women and men across the world to ?ght for the rights of all individuals to a decent education.
Next we have legendary football manager Alex Ferguson, a name familiar even to people who know absolutely nothing about the game and a man widely considered to be the best manager in British football history. It seems to me that 27 years as manager of Manchester United, with the pressure that that must entail, would make for a very interesting read.

Breakfast with Lucian: A portrait of the artist by Geordie Greig opens a window into the life and mind of Lucian Freud. Based on hours of conversation with friends, family and the painter himself, the book gives an intimate account of the ideas, thoughts and stories recounted by one of the greatest British painters of our time and his circle who met regularly for breakfast at Clarke’s on Kensington Church Street.

How does one begin to understand the genius of one of the world’s greatest composers, Johann Sebastian Bach? Perhaps through a lifetime of immersion into his life and work. In Music in the castle of heaven: A portrait of Johann Sebastian Bach, conductor and historian John Eliot Gardner aims to in his own words “give the reader a sense of inhabiting the same experiences and sensations that Bach might have had in the act of music-making”.

Finally on a different note and following the many awards given for ?ction, one of the most anticipated is the Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award and the nominees are … The Alchemists: Inside the Secret World of Central Bankers by Neil Irwin; Making it Happen: Fred Goodwin, RBS and the Men Who Blew Up the British Economy by Iain Martin; Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think by Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Kenneth Cukier; The Billionaire’s Apprentice: The Rise of The Indian-American Elite, The Fall of The Galleon Hedge Fund by Anita Raghavan; Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg; and ?nally The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone. The winner will be announced on November 18.