Story of a Life - Biographies & Memoirs

Story of a Life

Get acquainted with someone new and interesting this spring by checking out one of these digital books or movies.

All the items on this digital display are available for free online with your NPL library card.

Click on each section below to browse our recommendations. Each title is available through one (or more) of the Naperville Public Library's digital resources.

Elon Musk

Ashlee Vance
Ashlee Vance captures the full spectacle and arc of the genius's life and work, from his tumultuous upbringing in South Africa and flight to the United States to his dramatic technical innovations and entrepreneurial pursuits. Catalog Hoopla OverDrive Axis360

L.A. Son: My Life, My City, My Food

Roy Choi, Tien Nguyen, and Natasha Phan
Los Angeles: A patchwork megalopolis defined by its unlikely cultural collisions; the city that raised and shaped Roy Choi, the boundary-breaking chef who decided to leave behind fine dining to feed the city he loved-and, with the creation of the Korean taco, reinvented street food along the way. Catalog Hoopla

Love, Loss, and What We Ate

Padma Lakshmi
A vivid memoir of food and family, survival and triumph, Love, Loss, and What We Ate traces the arc of Padma Lakshmi's unlikely path from an immigrant childhood to a complicated life in front of the camera. This book is an intimate and unexpected story of food and family-both the ones we are born to and the ones we create-and their enduring legacies. Catalog Hoopla OverDrive Axis360


Roxane Gay
With the bracing candor, vulnerability, and power that have made her one of the most admired writers of her generation, Roxane Gay explores what it means to learn to take care of yourself: how to feed your hungers for delicious and satisfying food, a smaller and safer body, and a body that can love and be loved in a time when the bigger you are, the smaller your world becomes. Catalog Hoopla OverDrive Axis360

Conversations with McCartney

Paul Du Noyer
Conversations with McCartney is the culmination of Du Noyer's long association with McCartney and his music. Drawing from their interview sessions across 35 years and coupling McCartney's own, candid thoughts with Du Noyer's observations and analysis, Conversations with McCartney is beautifully written—a sensitive, shrewd portrait of one of the most accomplished artists of our time. Catalog Hoopla


Abby Wambach
With stunning candor, Abby Wambach shares her inspiring and often brutal journey from girl in Rochester, New York, to world-class athlete. Far more than a sports memoir, Forward is gripping tale of resilience and redemption—and a reminder that heroism is, above all, about embracing life's challenges with fearlessness and heart. Catalog Hoopla

Everything is Going to be K.O.

Kaiya Stone
In Everything is Going to be K.O. Kaiya Stone writes about her own experiences of living with specific learning difficulties: from struggling at school to being diagnosed with dyslexia and dyspraxia while at university, to performing her own one-woman stand up show inspired by her journey. Hoopla

The Honey Bus

Meredith May
An extraordinary story of a girl, her grandfather and one of nature's most mysterious and beguiling creatures: the honeybee. Part memoir, part beekeeping odyssey, The Honey Bus is an unforgettable story about finding home in the most unusual of places and how a tiny, little-understood insect could save a life. Catalog Hoopla OverDrive

Over the Top

Jonathan Van Ness
Over the Top uncovers the pain and passion it took to end up becoming the model of self-love and acceptance that Jonathan is today. In this revelatory, raw, and rambunctious memoir, Jonathan shares never-before-told secrets and reveals sides of himself that the public has never seen. JVN fans may think they know the man behind the stiletto heels, the crop tops, and the iconic sayings, but there's much more to him than meets the Queer Eye. Catalog Hoopla OverDrive Axis360

Dolly Parton, Songteller

Dolly Parton
Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics reveals the stories and memories that have made Dolly a beloved icon across generations, genders, and social and international boundaries. Catalog Hoopla OverDrive Axis360

Love Her Madly: Jim Morrison, Mary, and Me

Bill Cosgrave
A riveting memoir that works its magic like a slow-acting drug, revealing the story of Jim Morrison's first love, a long-lost friendship, and the man who existed before the Doors. Catalog Hoopla

Bruce Lee: Words of the Dragon

John Little & Bruce Lee
Words of the Dragon is an anthology of rare newspaper and magazine interviews with Bruce Lee, many not previously published in the United States, revealing new words and explanations of Bruce about himself, his art, and philosophy. Interesting and insightful, Words of the Dragon provides the reader a means to understand the real Bruce Lee, offering us a unique keyhole through which to view the private life and personal struggles of the late martial arts superstar. Hoopla

Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhnik
An original hybrid of reported narrative, annotated dissents, rare archival photos and documents, and illustrations, the book tells a never-before-told story of an unusual and transformative woman who transcended generational divides. Catalog Hoopla OverDrive Axis360


Paula J. Giddings
In this definitive biography, which places Ida B. Wells firmly in the context of her times as well as ours, Giddings at long last gives this visionary reformer her due and, in the process, sheds light on an aspect of our history that is often left in the shadows. Hoopla Axis360

All Blood Runs Red: The Legendary Life of Eugene Bullard-Boxer, Pilot, Soldier, Spy

Tom Clavin & Phil Keith
The incredible life story of Eugene Bullard, the first African American military pilot in WWI, who went on to become a self-taught jazz musician, a Paris nightclub impresario, a spy in the French Resistance and an American civil rights pioneer, for readers of Unbroken and Hidden Figures. Catalog Hoopla

The Hidden Lives of Tudor Women

Elizabeth Norton
Historian Elizabeth Norton explores the life cycle of the Tudor woman, from childhood to old age, through the diverging examples of women such as Elizabeth Tudor, Cecily Burbage, Mary Howard, Elizabeth Boleyn, and Elizabeth Barton. Their stories are interwoven with studies of topics ranging from Tudor toys to contraception to witchcraft, painting a portrait of the lives of queens and serving maids, nuns and harlots, widows and chaperones. Norton brings this vibrant period to colorful life in an evocative and insightful social history. Hoopla

A Word for Nature

Robert L. Dorman
The careers and ideas of four figures of monumental importance in the history of American conservation—George Perkins Marsh, Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, and John Wesley Powell—are explored in A Word for Nature. Robert Dorman offers lively portraits of each of these early environmental advocates, who witnessed firsthand the impact of economic expansion and industrial revolution on fragile landscapes from the forests of New England to the mountains of the West. Hoopla

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin
Left unfinished at the time of his death, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin has endured as one of the most well-known and influential autobiographies ever written. From his early years in Boston and Philadelphia to the publication of his Poor Richard's Almanac to the American Revolution and beyond, Franklin's autobiography is a fascinating, personal exploration into the life of America's most interesting founding father. Catalog Hoopla OverDrive Axis360

The Good Neighbor

Maxwell King
The Good Neighbor, the first full-length biography of Fred Rogers, tells the story of this utterly unique and enduring American icon. Drawing on original interviews, oral histories, and archival documents, Maxwell King traces Rogers's personal, professional, and artistic life through decades of work, including a surprising decision to walk away from the show to make television for adults, only to return to the neighborhood with increasingly sophisticated episodes, written in collaboration with experts on childhood development. Catalog Hoopla OverDrive

Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and WWII

Robet Matzen
Twenty-five years after her passing, Audrey Hepburn remains the most beloved of all Hollywood stars, known as much for her role as UNICEF ambassador as for films like Roman Holiday and Breakfast at Tiffany's. Audrey's own reminiscences, new interviews with people who knew her in the war, wartime diaries, and research in classified Dutch archives shed light on the riveting, untold story of Audrey Hepburn under fire in World War II. Catalog Hoopla OverDrive

The Woman Who Smashed Codes

Jason Fagone
Fagone unveils America's code-breaking history through the prism of Elizabeth Smith's life, bringing into focus the unforgettable events and colorful personalities that would help shape modern intelligence. Blending the lively pace and compelling detail that are the hallmarks of Erik Larson's bestsellers with the atmosphere and intensity of The Imitation Game, The Woman Who Smashed Codes is page-turning popular history at its finest. Catalog Hoopla OverDrive

The Duchess

Saul Dibb
Chronicles the life of 18th century aristrocrat Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, an ancestor of Princess Di. Catalog Hoopla

A Street Cat Named Bob

Roger Spottiswoode
Based on the international bestselling book. The true, feel-good story of how James Bowen, a busker and recovering drug addict, had his life transformed when he met a stray ginger cat. Catalog Hoopla Kanopy

Winnie Mandela

Darrell Roodt
A drama that chronicles the life of Winnie Mandela from her childhood through her marriage and her husband's incarceration. Catalog Hoopla


Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman
James Franco delivers a career defining performance as poet Allen Ginsberg. Through his search for personal and creative expression, Ginsberg writes HOWL, and must contend with attorney Jake Ehrlich (Jon Hamm) during HOWL’S bizarre obscenity trial. Catalog Hoopla Kanopy

Loving Vincent

Hugh Welchman & Dorota Kobiela
The life and controversial death of Vincent Van Gogh told by his paintings and by the characters that inhabit them. The intrigue unfolds through interviews with the characters closest to Vincent and through dramatic reconstructions of the events leading up to his death. Catalog Hoopla Kanopy


Julie Taymor
A product of humble beginnings, Frida Kahlo earned fame as an artist with a unique vision. From her enduring friendship with her mentor and husband, Diego Rivera, to her scandalous affairs, her uncompromising personality inspired her greatest creations. Hoopla


S.J. Clarkson
Based on the bittersweet story of food writer Nigel Slater's childhood, this film is a delicious love letter to the tastes and smells that a young boy associates with his journey into adulthood. Catalog Hoopla

Walt Before Mickey

Khoa Le
The true story of a boy whose dreams built a kingdom. The legendary Walt Disney had a tumultuous childhood, yet he was determined to overcome obstacles in his path, before the creation of his first iconic character: Mickey Mouse. Catalog Hoopla


Steve James
The true-life story of legendary track star Steve Prefontaine, the exciting and sometimes controversial "James Dean of Track," whose spirit captured the heart of the nation! Hoopla

A Quiet Passion

Terence Davies
Cynthia Nixon personifies the wit, intellectual independence, and pathos of 19th Century American poet Emily Dickinson in this masterful biographical drama from acclaimed director Terence Davies. Catalog Hoopla Kanopy

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

David Gelb
Jiro Dreams of Sushi is the story of 85-year-old Jiro Ono, considered by many to be the world's greatest sushi chef. He is the proprietor of Sukiyabashi Jiro, a 10-seat, sushi-only restaurant inauspiciously located in a Tokyo subway station. Despite its humble appearances, it is the first restaurant of its kind to be awarded a prestigious three-star Michelin Guide rating. Catalog Hoopla Kanopy


Ian Bonhôte
A personal look at the extraordinary life, career and artistry of Alexander McQueen. Through exclusive interviews with his closest friends and family, recovered archives, exquisite visuals and music, "McQueen" is an authentic celebration and thrilling portrait of an inspired yet tortured fashion visionary. Catalog Hoopla Kanopy

Take Me Home: The John Denver Story

Jerry London
The chronicles the ups and downs of the professional and personal life of the world-renowned singer John Denver. A story of triumph, anguish, success and a life of great potential, spiraling out of control. Hoopla

Burt's Buzz

Jody Shapiro
This documentary takes an intimate look at the world of Burt Shavitz, the face and co-founder of Burt's Bees, exploring his fascinating and unique life. Exposing the collision between business and personal values, the film is a compelling and fascinating portrait of this highly idiosyncratic pioneer, and a revealing study of what it means to be a living icon. Hoopla

The Dance Goodbye

Ron Steinman
What is life like for a dancer when they can no longer dance? Inspired by Merrill Ashley's departure from the New York City Ballet as an acclaimed principal dancer, this new documentary captures the poignancy of this life turning point. After struggling to find her next step, today Merrill Ashley travels around the world teaching Balanchine to dance companies which perform his works as once she did. Hoopla

Bruno Mars: The Finest

Matt Salmon
To date he has sold over 130 million records worldwide making him one of the bestselling artists of all time. This is one of music's greatest success stories still being written today. This is Bruno Mars. Hoopla

The Loving Story

Nancy Buirski
A racially charged criminal trial and a heartrending love story converge in this documentary about Mildred and Richard Loving, set during the turbulent Civil Rights era. Catalog Hoopla

10 Questions for the Dalai Lama

Rick Ray
A lone filmmaker is granted one hour to ask 10 questions of the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet. The story is woven between a journeyman's personal observations, a government in exile, and the life and wisdom of one of the premier spiritual leaders of our time. Catalog Hoopla Kanopy

Alexander Calder

Roger M. Sherman
A co-production of American Masters and Florentine Films/Sherman Pictures, 'Alexander Calder' is the definitive portrait of the inventor of the mobile. This acclaimed film shows Calder at work in his studio, and features never-before-seen archival films and photographs. It includes contemporary shooting of dozens of works, seen as Calder meant them to be viewed, in dynamic motion. Hoopla Kanopy

John Lewis: Good Trouble

Dawn Porter
An intimate account of legendary U.S. Representative John Lewis' life, legacy and more than 60 years of extraordinary activism—from the bold teenager on the front lines of the Civil Rights movement to the legislative powerhouse. Catalog Hoopla