Lynn's library: Lives of the…

Lives of the Bloggers. It might make for an interesting book title, but bloggers have yet to catch the interest of Kathleen Krull, author of several books about the oddities and foibles of some rather famous folk.

Krull tackles the lives of presidents, extraordinary women and athletes — with wit and wonderment appealing to both children and adults.

But it’s her three titles about the lives of great artists that I’m especially pleased to count among my personal library.

Ever wondered what motivated, amused or maddened famous musicians?

Krull’s Lives of the Musicians: Good Times, Bad Times (and What the Neighbors Thought) was my first foray into the series.

It’s a work at once instructive and amusing, revealing tidbits and tales about musicians of many ilks. Here are a bit of Krull’s own musings from her website…

The life stories of famous musicians — Bach, Chopin, Tchaikovsky, Woody Guthrie — are familiar to many. But what were they like really?

What kind of children were they? How did they die? And what went on in between? What did they eat? What did they wear? How did they spend their money? What were their phobias, quirks, and bad habits?

Who were their “significant others”? And what did the neighbors think? (Music is not a quiet career.)

The 16 musicians profiled — with caricatures — include Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Vivali, Bach, Beethoven, Brahms and Stravinsky. Also Joplin, Gilbert & Sullivan, Guthrie and more.

Given the book’s emphasis on classical music, I’d like to see Krull tackle another music-related title — Lives of the Rockers. Think Elvis, Lennon, Jagger and Springsteen (but please, no Bieber).

Seems some artists are rather odd.

Lives of the Artists: Masterpieces and Messes (and What the Neighbors Thought) tackles the quirks of 19 artists.

This is precisely its charm. One recognizes after reading it, as with other titles in the series, that famous folk are people too — and not without their shortcomings.

Featured artists include Leonardo, Michelangelo, Van Gogh, Cassatt, O’Keeffe, Matisee, Chagall, Picasso, Dali, Noguchi, Rivera, Kahlo and Warhol and others equally diverse.

The artist who illustrates Krull’s “Lives of the…” series is Kathryn Hewitt. And Krull herself is married to another children’s book illustrator, Paul Brewer.

Writers are indeed a quirky folk.

Finally, there’s Lives of the Writers: Comedies, Tragedies (and What the Neighbors Thought) — featuring twenty writers, mostly novelists and poets.

Targets of Krull’s tattle tail trivia include Poe, Dickinson, Twain, Austen, London, Cervantes, Andersen and Shakespeare.

I rather wish that Krull had included her own profile in this one, for surely a writer this drawn to others’ oddities must have a few of her own.

So far I’ve learned only that she lives in San Diego and was fired from her first job as a teen. Seems folks at the library expected her to work rather than read all those fascinating titles.

The latest book in my Krull collection came from the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix

Alas — we are left to wonder about the lives of all those fascinating dancers and actors who’ve yet to pique Krull’s curiosity. One should never peak (or peek) too soon, I suppose.

Or pehaps these stage folk are simply better than others at keeping their secrets. Certainly a lack of idiosyncrasies isn’t the issue.

But no matter. It’s always good to leave something to the imagination. As it is, these three titles will give you plenty of fodder for holiday festivities when conversations dwindle to celebrity gossip.

Your famous folk will be far more fascinating than those of partygoers enamored with the likes of “Snooki” or “The Situation.” There is a reason, after all, that no one has ever penned a book titled Lives of the Reality TV Stars.

— Lynn

One of Krull’s newest titles features the fine art of…

Note: Krull’s other works feature fascinating fare about the likes of Dr. Seuss, L. Frank Baum, Hilary Rodham Clinton, Cesar Chavez and many others. My latest Krull aquisition is M is for Music — which I picked up during a visit to the MIM gift shop. Visit her website at to learn more.

Coming up: Lives of the hippies — the musical “HAIR”