memoir

Relish

By Lucy Knisley
4
Rated by Hannah Jane C.
Feb 21, 2020

I am super late to the Lucy Knisley party and I'm a little perturbed with myself. I cannot believe I waited this long to read Relish. It has a lot of things I love about a good book: 


- memoir   
- lotsa foodie talk 
- incredible illustrations 
- stories about malicious birds.  


I was hooked by page 8 when Knisley talks about having poached salmon in cream for her baptism day. 


Other favorite moments: 
* The hate writing on the wall of one of her childhood homes: "The former residents had split in a nasty divorce, prompting the furious wife to use olive oil to write 'Fred

Orange is the New Black

By Piper Kerman
5
Rated by Megan K.
Dec 6, 2019

Many of you may be familiar with Piper Kerman’s story but I’ll give you a quick summary: in 1993, 24 year old Piper smuggled money for her then-girlfriend who was involved in an international drug ring. Following the money smuggling incident, she cut off all ties to the people involved and got started on a new life. However, her past caught up to her and Piper was indicted for her involvement in 1998. Six years later, in 2004, she was sent to Danbury, a minimum-security facility to serve 15 months. Piper ended up serving 13 months, and detailed her experience in this book.


It is important

Hook: A Memoir

By Randall Horton
5
Rated by Lisa A.
Oct 18, 2019

“We script our lives on reaction rather than action, meaning daily life is always in response to, or a reply to, a command or demand. The world uses us in that way...The world does this--holds us down.”― Randall Horton, Hook: A Memoir


Randall Horton and I have lived wildly different lives. His memoir, Hook, tells part of his story: as an undergrad at Howard University, as an addict, as a cocaine smuggler, as a prisoner, as a reader, as a poet, as an author, as an educator, as a mentor, as a friend. Yes, all of this is part of his story—and, like his story, the book itself is unique. It’s

Oct 9, 2019

“Every ten years or so, I either go back to therapy or I write a book in order to tell myself again, in a new way, my life story. This current version is death heavy, feminism heavy, whale heavy, but also multilayered, even multigenerational. I’m not only fifty-six but also seven, twelve, twenty-seven, thirty-four, and forty-eight. My story is like a choral piece with many different parts. In fact there are so many separate but connected narratives that I sometimes feel a temporal vertigo—I am all ages and no age at all.”--Darcey Steinke, Flash Count Diary: Menopause and the Vindication of

Once More We Saw Stars

By Jayson Greene
3
Rated by Lisa A.
Jul 12, 2019

Once More We Saw Stars is a story no one wants to tell, one of a two-year-old daughter’s death and how her parents try to move in the world after their world—their daughter—has died. While it is, in the end, hopeful and filled with love, the journey this book takes the reader on is one of genuine, visceral loss: there’s anguish, anger, fighting, and desperation.


This story is painful, to say the least, and it’s not something I can comment on. As Greene writes in the part about going to grief counseling: no one else gets it. No one else can. I can read his story and weep for his loss and

Jun 26, 2019

T Kira Madden's debut memoir in essays is brutal in the best way: gorgeously written, relentlessly honest, and impossible to put down. If you're into stories about daughters who love and struggle with imperfect parents, read this. If you relate to families filled with dysfunction, read this. If you love someone who is queer, read this. If you have a soft spot for essays that make you cry at work, read this. Seriously--I could find a reason for everyone to read this book. Been touched somehow by adoption? By trauma? By being a lost teenager? By having to leave home to find it again? This book

Nov 1, 2018

I placed a hold on this book because of rave reviews without realizing the author , Jarrett J. Kroscozka, was known for his juvenile graphic novels about a Lunch Lady who fights crime and children's books Good Night, Monkey Boy and Peanut Butter and Jellyfish .  Hey, Kiddo How I Lost My Mother, Found My Father and Dealt with Family Addiction  is an honest and powerful depiction of his family and all its complications. When asked to draw a picture of his family in preschool, Jarrett was confused. Not only was his mom incarcerated for heroin related charges, but he had never met his father

Goodbye, Sweet Girl

By Kelly Sundberg
5
Rated by Cheryl M.
Oct 22, 2018

Kelly Sundberg's beautifully written memoir, Goodbye, Sweet Girl: A Story of Domestic Violence and Survival, is about her almost decade-long marriage to her husband Caleb. But it is more than a story of domestic violence and systematic abuse.  It's also about love, leaving, and moving from victim to victor.  Sundberg holds a PhD in Creative Nonfiction and before publishing her memoir worked as an essayist.  Her essay, "It Will Look Like a Sunset," was her first attempt at examining her marriage and telling the world about her abuse. This essay's literary success and Sundberg's desire to tell

Jun 1, 2018

This book serves as both a moving memoir about the author’s relationship with her pet rat and a brilliant nonfiction book about domesticated rats in general. This book blends history and science with stories of  interesting people while at the same time sets the record straight on this amazing animal. Readers will come away with a deep appreciation and a better understanding of rats. You might even be convinced to adopt a rat after reading this wonderful book. Highly recommended for people afraid of rats!


I'm happy to see a book about the joys of rat ownership (I used to have one myself)

Mar 27, 2018

This book tells the story of a Jewish survivor of Hitler’s Europe, and his son, a cartoonist trying to come to terms with his father’s story and the death of his mother. This book follows the story of his father’s experiences in Poland and Auschwitz, as well as that of his entire family. It tells of the romance between his father and mother during this time and their struggles to stay together despite the circumstances. This book shows the relationship between the author and his father throughout. This graphic novel portrays the Jews as mice and the Nazis as cats during the Holocaust.


This

Dec 6, 2017

​They Left Us Everything is an emotional journey through Plum Johnson's grief and search for self after losing her parents and childhood home. After almost twenty years spent caring for her aging parents, Alex and Virginia, Plum is both liberated and burdened by their deaths, which happen just a mere three years apart. Though Plum loses them, and the loss is enormous, she finds them again through their belongings as she clears out their house, her childhood home, and prepares to sell it.


In packing her parent's belongings, she discovers who they really were, and also what it means to be

Moonglow

By Michael Chabon
4
Rated by Jed D.
Sep 21, 2017

A majority of Moonglow's plot focuses on a Jewish grandfather reminiscing on his deathbed to his grandson Mike, an author. 


There are stories about the Holocaust, rockets, the Challenger explosion, hunting a dog-eating snake, and the 18 months the grandfather spent in prison after a fit of rage at his job. As a reader, we aren’t given all the details of every story. We know Mike’s dad is out of the picture, but we can tell what kind of father he was by what he packed in a suitcase for his son when dropping him off at the grandparents’ house:  pajama tops, swim trunks, a fake leather vest

Stir

By Jessica Fechtor
4
Rated by Hannah Jane C.
Jul 9, 2017

​I'll admit I wasn't sure about a memoir that alternated between recipes and recovery from an aneurysm​, but Stir must have won me over because I not only felt the unique disappointment that only happens when finishing a good book, I also can't stop talking about it. Jessica Fechtor's recovery from a brain aneurysm while running on a treadmill is memoir-worthy without the wonderful observations, recipes, and memories. That's why Stir is a multi-layer cake of a memoir, a cake so fluffy with life and beauty, not even an aneurysm can sour it.


Each chapter is comprised of both an intimate essay

May 5, 2017

In July of 2007, Catherine Tidd lost her husband, Brad, in an accident and suddenly found herself a 31-year-old widow with three small children. In Confessions of a Mediocre Widow, Tidd chronicles her experience with sudden widowhood and the journey of self-discovery her husband's loss prompted. 


The first half of the book focuses on the loss and immediate aftermath of Brad's death. Tidd discusses her last moments with Brad, the shock of his death, how her mind (like so many other widows) could only process the loss in pieces, the crowds of people in the days after, and her new relationship

Bastards

By Mary Anna King
4
Rated by Hannah Jane C.
Feb 28, 2017

Mary Anna King’s first six years of life are anything but stable.  Three out of her five siblings are put up for adoption, and as a small child, Mary Anna tags along with her mother to meet with potential adoptive parents for each of her unborn sisters.  Mary Anna explores the many reasons for her mom’s unwanted pregnancies, and though she’s never certain of any particular one, she is sure about one thing.  She’s going to meet those sisters someday, no matter what.  Bastards is not only Mary Anna's journey of discovering who her adopted sisters are, but also discovering who she is and how

Jan 19, 2017

I Am Big Bird is a must-see for fans of Sesame Street, Jim Henson, Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, or all of the above. It’s a documentary focusing on the life of Caroll Spinney, the puppeteer who plays both Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, and also sometimes other famous Sesame Street characters like Bert. As I’m sure you already know, Sesame Street is like a big family where everyone helps one another to educate and entertain children. You will not only get the inside scoop on the puppets in this documentary, but you will also enjoy learning about Caroll Spinney, members of the Sesame Street team

My Struggle: Book One

By Karl Ove Knausgaard
4
Rated by Matt C.
Dec 7, 2016

This is the first in a six book series, totaling some 3,000 pages, about a quiet man from Norway reflecting on parts of his life. It is boring and breathtaking at the same time. The author ruminates on the death of his father and his own mortality as he shuffles through memories of his childhood and then the more recent past. Day-to-day events such as making breakfast, working at a computer, and making phone calls take center stage. We all do things like this every day and then forget about them. Somehow, Karl Ove Knausgaard makes them memorable.

Nov 16, 2016

In The Butterfly Hours, Dann uses “one-word memory triggers like ‘table’ or ‘car’ . . . as a way” for students, and eventually herself, “to stitch together the patches of [their lives].” Some of the stories shared are those of her students, some are her own. All are beautiful.


The reading could have gone quickly, but I saved and savored the chapters. Assignments are listed at the end of the book and a photocopy of them now rests in the cover of my journal.


Much like Abigail Thomas’ Thinking About Memoir, Dann illustrates how surprising we can be to ourselves. But we don’t have to take

Oct 9, 2016

Through a series of short essays, Thomas lovingly paints a picture of her best friend Chuck, a heartbreaking portrait of her daughter’s cancer, eloquently wrangles her addictions, and throws in all the other stuff that makes a life a life. Somehow she makes the whole mess look beautiful.


Each page can be read independently, and I’ve revisited certain sections. For example, in “Painting, Not Writing,” Thomas says, “instead of not-writing, I am painting. I’m not a painter, but I make paintings anyway.” While this perfect little sample is representative of what you’ll find in What Comes Next

Oct 1, 2016

The title of Love, Loss and What We Ate is what sparked my interest: what could be more relatable? I knew nothing about Padma Lakshmi and didn’t even recognize her name. But it doesn’t matter; anyone can find aspects of her story engaging. She writes with honesty and simplicity about the events of her life. Although she has been a model, actress, foodie, and was even married to the likes of Salman Rushdie, we can relate to her tales of cooking, childhood, career moves, relationships, and motherhood. She writes with a curious blend of candor and self-consciousness, which is both endearing and a

Sep 3, 2016

Caitlin Doughty’s memoir of her journey to becoming a licensed mortician is equal parts morbid, hilarious, inspiring and ruthlessly genuine. It’s also a memoir of her fight against the fear of death, a fight that almost destroys her. Much like the orange rot that sometimes trails our faces during death, we may never be ready to see it. But Caitlin stresses throughout Smoke Gets in Your Eyes that witnessing death is how we ready ourselves for it, and even embrace its terrible beauty.


Caitlin may be a mortician, but first and foremost she is an observer and writer, using description and self

In Other Words

By Jhumpa Lahiri
5
Rated by Sarah A.
Aug 13, 2016

It’s pretty daunting to even attempt to recommend something written by the Pulitzer Prize winning author, Jhumpa Lahiri (Interpreter of Maladies) and try to do it justice. She has presented us a beautifully written memoir in which she soulfully expresses the reasons why she feels compelled to master the Italian language – not only to speak it fluently as one who wants to live in the country, but to write it, one who yearns to express herself in another way, through a foreign language. Foreign as not just of another land, but foreign as unknown and unfamiliar and uncomfortable. She actually

The Big Tiny

By Dee Williams
5
Rated by Hannah Jane C.
Jun 9, 2016

I laughed most of the way through The Big Tiny. Dee Williams, a superhero of the tiny house movement, is a very funny and big-hearted lady. While at the doctor’s office waiting for one of her many appointments for her recently-diagnosed congestive heart failure, forty-one year-old Dee finds a magazine article about tiny-house designer Jay Shafer, and she’s instantly hooked. She knows immediately that she not only wants to downsize to a tiny house, but that she wants to build it.  She flies to Iowa to meet Tiny House Man, as she affectionately refers to him, and sets the plan into motion.   

Jun 8, 2016

The Fairy Tale Girl and Martha’s Vineyard, Isle of Dreams must be read together. The two books were originally meant to be one book, but Susan Branch’s life is so packed with living and inspiration that one book quickly became two very powerful volumes overflowing with growth, play, wisdom and a hefty dose of girl power. Though the books are heavy they are equally adorable, easy to tuck into and get lost for hours in. Susan Branch quickly becomes a sister within just a few pages and makes the reader feel like they are as much a part of her life as she is. 


The Fairytale Girl is a more than

May 11, 2016

Robert Benson always takes the question of “how to write a book” very seriously. For he was once "in the same spot and grateful for any help that might move [him] along . . . Sharing the things [he] knows about how a person goes about telling his story seems only right. Perhaps it is even, as the old prayer book says, a good and joyful thing.” He’s the perfect mentor to help nudge a new writer on her way.


One of my favorite things about Dancing on the Head of a Pen are the chapter titles. "Dark Marks on a Page", for instance, explains how different writers make their marks. Benson’s way is

A Fine Romance

By Susan Branch
5
Rated by Hannah Jane C.
Feb 19, 2016

I couldn’t have read A Fine Romance at a more perfect time. It was the perfect book to read while cooped up in a hospital room waiting for a loved one to heal. I sailed right along with Susan Branch and her husband, Joe, as they journeyed to England via ship and explored the country for two months. This book is not only Susan’s diary during their vacation in England, it is also a very informational and exhilarating guide to both well-known and hidden places in England, many of which belong to the National Trust. Above all else, this book is a journey of the senses, using a mixture of her

My Dog Skip

By Willie Morris
5
Rated by Hannah Jane C.
Jan 1, 2016

My Dog Skip is a rollicking jaunt through Willie Morris’ memories of his adventures with Skip, his boyhood dog and constant companion.  Skip is no ordinary dog, nor is the bond that Skip and Willie share.  In this playful and beautifully written memoir Willie writes about the years he spent with Skip, each page bursting with hilarious shenanigans, canine loyalty and ferocious exuberance.


Skip and Willie’s adventures are numerous and often outlandish.  Skip is a privileged dog who “drives” the family’s green DeSoto, roams the town with Willie, eats as much bologna and raisin bran as he likes

Dec 23, 2015

Some memoirs are just necessary. They speak to some form of triumph that appeals to our own innate sense or hope that we, too, can overcome any kind of weird, unforeseen adversity life can hand us.  Such is the case with Anna Lyndsey’s remarkable Girl in the Dark: A Memoir, an exceptionally well-written and unforgettable book that takes the reader into some truly dark emotional and physical territory that most of us fortunately can only imagine.


The book chronicles Lyndsey’s descent into a rare form of light sensitivity that prevents her from exposing her bare skin to all forms of light. It

Nov 13, 2015

If the phrase "training run" has ever been part of your vocabulary – whether in reference to you or someone near you – you're bound to get a laugh, cringe, and sigh out of My Year of Running Dangerously. Combining two of my favorite topics, memoirs and running, acclaimed journalist Tom Foreman uses his storytelling skills to recount his monumental return to distance running. His decades-long running hiatus came to an end when his daughter invited him to do a marathon with her, and after shaking some initial hesitation, Foreman went all in. You might worry that his story will run long, but the

Rapture Practice

By Aaron Hartzler
4
Rated by Peggy H.
Oct 13, 2015

This is the memoir of Aaron Hartzler, a writer and actor currently living in Los Angeles. The story covers his growing up years right here in the Kansas City metro.


Aaron was raised in an extremely conservative Christian home as the son of a preacher. As a child, he was thrilled by the idea of the Rapture, a highly anticipated event in which Jesus will return to Earth to gather his believers and take them directly into heaven. Aaron would jump as high as he could into the air while singing, hoping that he could catapult himself directly into heaven. But as he entered his teen years, Aaron