memoir

Jul 11, 2015

Bill Klein and Jen Arnold are little people with their own show called The Little Couple on TLC. When the show began, they'd already established themselves in their careers and were about to get married. Life is Short covers the early years leading up to the show, addressing the unique challenges they individually faced being small, as well as the challenges common to many of us. Chapters alternate between Jen and Bill, beginning with their early childhood years. Both are very open about painful experiences, but also focus on how important attitude, love, support, and hard work are in

Lips Unsealed

By Belinda Carlisle
3
Rated by Diane H.
Oct 26, 2014

Belinda Carlisle seems to have lived the quintessential rocker’s life—starting off poor and dreaming of a magical life, being in love with music at a young age, starting a band almost on a whim, seeing her band rise to fame, drowning in drugs. Belinda’s story, Lips  Unsealed, is one of brutal honesty about how her own shortcomings and insecurities kept her in the grip of addiction even while her life seemed perfect and almost fairy-tale like to those on the outside. Her life reads as an inspiring and cautionary tale. It also made me want to dig up The Go-Go’s albums and listen with a greater

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

Love is a Mix Tape

By Rob Sheffield
5
Rated by Rachel S.H.
Aug 21, 2013

I like to think of myself as a modern woman -- cool, level-headed, doesn’t cry easily, likes Duran Duran, but not too much. Leave it to Rolling Stone editor Rob Sheffield and his ruminations on Pat Benatar, Whitney Houston, Sleater-Kinney and Pavement to make me cry like a baby. It also wreaked havoc on my bank account as I went on an iTunes downloading spree. Hanson's "MMMBop," anyone?In Love is a Mix Tape, written half a decade ago, Rob Sheffield chronicles his marriage to a punk rock, hell-raising Appalachian girl; a love affair that ended tragically when she suffered a pulmonary embolism

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

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

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)

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

Apr 23, 2014

In his new book, Scott Stossel describes his harrowing experience with clinical anxiety as well as its origins as a psychiatric disease. He looks at the philosophical and biological underpinnings of anxiety and the amazing response from pharmacology, both as a benefit for those who suffer from the illness and as an industry that pathologizes normal emotions upon the arrival of drugs that can alter them.


Most amazing of all is how Scott holds nothing back while not seeming to whine as so many others do in memoirs about personal challenge. Read this book if you’re curious about what can be

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

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 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

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

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

Picnic in Provence

By Elizabeth Bard
4
Rated by Stefanie E.
Sep 23, 2015

A few years ago I read Elizabeth Bard's Lunch in Paris. It spoke to me at the time. She was recently married—I was recently married. She fell in love with someone outside of her culture—I fell in love with a Midwesterner (I'm a New Mexican). She loved to cook in her small kitchen—ditto! You get the point. She was my new literary best friend. I enjoyed her nuances into French life, her ability to look outside herself and see the larger picture and, most importantly, laugh about it all. Now Bard has written her second memoir in which she tells of her journey into first-time parenthood the French

Jan 12, 2015

Having read all the Little House books many, many times, I was very excited when I heard about Pioneer Girl: the Annotated Autobiography. I would get to read the true story behind the beloved fictional narrative.


The book was full of surprises. First, it was much larger than I was anticipating—it would make a lovely coffee table book. Next, I discovered from the introduction that Laura Ingalls Wilder’s daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, played a huge part in the editing and publishing of the Little House Books, something I had never known. Finally, while it was enjoyable to read how closely 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

Rascal

By Sterling North
5
Rated by Hannah Jane C.
Nov 22, 2014

Enchanting language, lush scenery, a romping, completely factual story and a rascally, joyful raccoon are the fixings for this adorable and happy memoir by Sterling North. 


This was my favorite animal story as a child.  And it is still at the top of my list.  I started squealing the moment Rascal was swiped from the woods, and made no efforts to contain my delight for the duration of the book.  My adult squeals echoed the squeals of my 10 year-old self as Rascal snuggled his way into Sterling’s bed, made a sugar lump disappear and trilled all of his desires, questions, indignations and love

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

Dec 20, 2013

The smell of baking cookies brings back memories of mother's kitchen...Biting into a fresh tomato recalls the garden behind your childhood home...Watching the yellow powder and milk combine to create delicious macaroni and cheese reminds you of your first apartment. For author Lucy Knisley, as for many of us, food is a trip down memory lane. With a caterer mother and foodie father, her life has been defined and marked by some of the best (and worst food).


A graphic memoir, this book touches on the food that has shaped her life, from sushi visiting a childhood friend in Japan to the junk

Simple Dreams

By Linda Ronstadt
3
Rated by Marty J.
Jun 19, 2015

Wow, what an amazing life Linda Ronstadt led! In a musical career that spanned almost half a century, she sang rock/pop, opera, American standards (accompanied by an orchestra), country, blues and Mexican rancheras (with a mariachi band)!  Along the way she performed, jammed, hung out and/or formed friendships with an eclectic group of famous musicians including Jim Morrison, the Eagles, Jackson Browne, Dolly Parton, and Rosemary Clooney—to name just a few.


Simple Dreams is not a particularly well-written memoir, and it doesn't reveal much personal information (like the names and ages of

Mar 20, 2014

Delia Ephron has written an entertaining group of personal essays that range from the deeply touching to the absurdly humorous in Sister Mother Husband Dog, (etc.)  The first essay in the book is a tribute to her late sister, the writer Nora Ephron.  The two sisters worked together writing  screenplays for several popular movies, including You’ve Got Mail and Sleepless in Seattle. Certainly she writes of her sister in a loving way, but she also shares with us the humanness of the relationship – the jealousy and the competition. Another of the more heartfelt essays titled, “Why I Can’t Write

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

Mar 4, 2011

Cartoonist Joyce Farmer has created a graphic masterpiece entitled Special Exits: A Graphic Memoir which chronicles the decline and death of her elderly parents. Living in southern Los Angeles, Lars and Rachel have enjoyed a long, happy life together but old age is starting to affect their ability to cope with everyday occurrences. Their daughter Laura (presumably Joyce) starts helping them with grocery shopping, cleaning, cooking, laundry, hygiene and doctor visits but as their health deteriorates, she finds it difficult to manage her own life plus care for them. Rachel eventually goes blind

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

Stitches

By David Small
5
Rated by Helen H.
Dec 27, 2009

When David was eleven, a family friend noticed a bump in his neck. Three and a half years later he would finally have the lump removed. Despite being told he was fine, two surgeries left David with only one vocal chord and a huge scar down his throat and neck. It wasn’t until later that David would learn he had had cancer and had not been expected to live. Small, a well-deserved award winning illustrator possesses an almost creepy ability to convey complex emotions through his drawings. The story itself is remarkable and the illustrations serve to heighten the impact. A must read regardless of

May 21, 2014

This memoir recounts the story of Malika Oufkir, whose father was the closest aide to the King of Morocco. We follow Malika from the age of five, as she is raised in the palace as the princess’ companion. While life in the harem is a kind of imprisonment itself, it is nothing compared to what awaits her, her mother, and her siblings after her father is executed for an attempt to assassinate the King.


She and her family spend the next 20 years in prisons. Sixteen years into their ordeal, sickly, starving, and desperate to the point of suicide, Malika and some of her siblings manage to dig a

Oct 16, 2012

Grant Morrison is something of a divisive figure in the world of comics. Some people love him, while others can't stand him, finding him pretentious and deliberately obtuse. I'm one of the people who think he's brilliant. I love his comics, especially when he writes superheroes, so I jumped on Supergods as soon as it came out.

Supergods is part overview of the history of superheroes, focusing mostly on the two big comics companies, DC and Marvel, and part autobiography/memoir. Morrison gives a broad history of superheroes, interjecting his own opinions on various trends, characters and

The Art of Asking

By Amanda Palmer
5
Rated by Josh N.
Feb 1, 2015

I've been a fan of Amanda Palmer, her music and her personality, for a while now. I admire how open, honest, brash, and brave she is. The Art of Asking is based on a TED talk she gave in 2013, expanded here to talk about her life as an artist and musician along with musings on why it's important to ask for help, why we often find it difficult to ask, and why sometimes asking for help doesn't get us what we asked for. (If you listen to the audiobook, you also get Amanda singing with her ukulele and some bonus songs by her and some of her friends.)


This is one of those books that smacked me