Plano Reads: Join Second Tuesday Book Club on March 12 for ‘The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man: A Memoir’
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Plano Reads: Join Second Tuesday Book Club on March 12 for ‘The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man: A Memoir’

Second Tuesday Book Club will meet in person from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 12, in the program room at Schimelpfenig Library, to discuss our third book of 2024, The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man, by Paul Newman. Kirkus Reviews describes the posthumously published memoir by the Hollywood icon, racecar driver and philanthropist as the “raw reflections…on an extraordinary life steeped in sadness.”

Please email Alice McGoldrick at or Nicole Border at or you may call Schimelpfenig Library at 972-769-4200, if you have questions or comments. See you there!

The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man: A Memoir, by Paul Newman

Available as Print | Large Print | eBook  | eAudiobook

In 1986, Paul Newman and his closest friend, screenwriter Stewart Stern, began an extraordinary project. Stuart was to compile an oral history, to have Newman’s family and friends and those who worked closely with him, talk about the actor’s life. And then Newman would work with Stewart and give his side of the story. The only stipulation was that anyone who spoke on the record had to be completely honest. That same stipulation applied to Newman himself. The project lasted five years.

The result is an extraordinary memoir, culled from thousands of pages of transcripts. The book is insightful, revealing, surprising. Newman’s voice is powerful, sometimes funny, sometimes painful, always meeting that high standard of searing honesty. The additional voices–from childhood friends and Navy buddies, from family members and film and theater collaborators such as Tom Cruise, George Roy Hill, Martin Ritt, and John Huston–that run throughout add richness and color and context to the story Newman is telling.
Newman’s often traumatic childhood is brilliantly detailed. He talks about his teenage insecurities, his early failures with women, his rise to stardom, his early rivals (Marlon Brando and James Dean), his first marriage, his drinking, his philanthropy, the death of his son Scott, his strong desire for his daughters to know and understand the truth about their father. Perhaps the most moving material in the book centers around his relationship with Joanne Woodward–their love for each other, his dependence on her, the way she shaped him intellectually, emotionally and sexually.
The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man is revelatory and introspective, personal and analytical, loving and tender in some places, always complex and profound.

NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER * The raw, candid, unvarnished memoir of an American icon. The greatest movie star of the past 75 years covers everything: his traumatic childhood, his career, his drinking, his thoughts on Marlon Brando, James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor, John Huston, his greatest roles, acting, his intimate life with Joanne Woodward, his innermost fears and passions and joys. With thoughts/comments throughout from Joanne Woodward, George Roy Hill, Tom Cruise, Elia Kazan and many others.


“Newman at his best…with his self-aware persona, storied marriage and generous charitable activities…this rich book somehow imbues his characters’ pain and joy with fresh technicolor.” —The Wall Street Journal

One of the most famous big-screen actors of the 20th century, Paul Newman began his acting career on the stage, making his Broadway debut in the Pulitzer Prize winning play, Picnic.

Throughout his lifetime he was also a businessman, philanthropist and competitive racecar driver. He was nominated for an Academy Award for one of his first major film performances in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, playing opposite Elizabeth Taylor. Newman made dozens of blockbuster films over the years, including The Long Hot Summer, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Hud, Coolhand Luke, Absence of Malice, The Sting, The Color of Money, and The Verdict. He was a contemporary of such film giants as James Dean, Marlon Brando, Robert Redford, and Sydney Poitier.

Paul Newman’s salad dressing empire, Newman’s Own, still provides the funding for one of his most beloved philanthropic ventures, the Hole in the Wall camps for children with life-threatening illnesses.

His 50-year marriage to actress Joanne Woodward is one of the most enduring and passionate in the history of Hollywood love affairs.

Paul Newman died of cancer in 2008 at his home in Westport, CT. He was 83.

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