Memoir
You Learn by Living: Eleven Keys for a More Fulfilling Life

You Learn by Living: Eleven Keys for a More Fulfilling Life

Roosevelt penned this book--part memoir, part advice manual--in 1960, when she was 76 years old. It’s striking how fresh and wise her insight seems today, over fifty years later. Roosevelt offers an interesting perspective on history, unique insights into her life (which contained a surprising amount of personal tragedy), and a good bit of wisdom you might just apply to your own life.

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A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, And The Things That Really Matter

A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, And The Things That Really Matter

Deresiewicz had zero interest in reading Jane Austen—he thought it was chick-lit, fluffy and boring. But then as a young grad student he was forced to read Emma for class, and actually reading Austen shattered his preconceptions. A Jane Austen Education is part memoir, part literary criticism: Deresiewicz reflects on the path of his own life through each of Jane Austen’s novels in turn. It works.

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Surprised By Oxford

Surprised By Oxford

Weber's memoir of how she converted to faith while studying at Oxford is sincere and smart. Weber clearly intended the book to be as much Christian apologetics as memoir, and the writing often has an academic, rather than a personal, feel. I’m afraid the dialogue suffers a bit for it, but it’s definitely worth a go if spiritual memoirs are your cup of tea.

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My Life in France

My Life in France

Child didn’t stumble into the world of French cooking until she was 36, when she moved to Paris with her husband Paul, who worked for the U.S. Foreign Service. It was 1948. Since she had no job and nothing else to do, she began shopping the French markets, learning the style, and taking cooking classes at Le Cordon Bleu. Julia’s tales will entertain, inspire, and make you laugh out loud.

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Help Thanks Wow: The Three Essential Prayers

Help Thanks Wow: The Three Essential Prayers

In this short memoir of sorts, Lamott distills everything she's learned from a lifetime of praying down to the basics. She wanders a bit, but there are so many gems in these pages.

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Stitches

Stitches

$9.10$1.99Audiobook: 4.45 (Audible)

I didn’t dog-ear this one to death like I did Help, Thanks, Wow. Despite that, I loved Lamott’s central metaphor about stitches and repair, and I used half a box of Kleenex.

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Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life

Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life

Author:
Genre: Memoir

This is Shauna NIequiest's first book of loosely connected personal essays; this collection focuses on the extraordinary moments in our everyday lives. I'm a fan.

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Angela’s Ashes: A Memoir

Angela’s Ashes: A Memoir

This alternately heartwarming and heartbreaking tale about McCourt's Irish childhood won the Pulitzer Prize and landed at the top of the New York Times bestseller list. (Mary Karr cited it often as a stunning example in her recent book The Art of Memoir.) McCourt's brogue makes the story leap off the page.

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H Is for Hawk

H Is for Hawk

This memoir from a Cambridge professor landed on more than 25 "best of the year" lists. After her father dies, McDonald stumbles upon a unique way to assuage her grief: she purchases and attempts to train an English goshawk with the deceptively quaint name Mabel. McDonald had been a falconer since she was a child, but her hawk is wild, unpredictable, irascible—as is her grief. Part memoir, part nature story: her tale is moving, poignant, and surprising.

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Geography of Memory

Geography of Memory

I ordered this immediately after hearing the author speak last April, and spent the next six months staring at it on my bookshelf, afraid to begin. I worried it would be really depressing, but the preface put my mind at ease. (The first line: "I wrote this book because I believe the news about Alzheimer's is more hopeful than what we hear on the street.")

A book about Alzheimer's, but also about mothers and daughters, understanding your past, and the power of memory. Poignant and powerful.

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84, Charing Cross Road

84, Charing Cross Road

This is the story of the twenty-year relationship between a New York writer and a gentlemanly London bookseller, as told through their correspondence. A must-read for bibliophiles. (And yes, I promise to follow this up with its sequel-of-sorts, The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street. )

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Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person

Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person

This inspirational memoir's epigraph bears quotes from Maya Angelou and Christina from Grey's Anatomy, which gives you a good idea of what you'll find inside. Rhimes is the queen of Thursday night tv, creating and producing smash hits like Grey's and Scandal. This time she's telling her own story of how her sister issued her a six-word wake-up call—You never say yes to anything—and the year of YES that followed. I saw parts of myself all over this and absolutely loved the last chapter when the author discovers what her big year was really about. Heads up for audio lovers: Rhimes reads her own work for the audio version. Published November 10 2015.

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The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World’s Greatest Piece of Cheese

The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World’s Greatest Piece of Cheese

I have recommended this one in Books You'll Just Have to Talk To Someone About, What Makes a Great Book Club Novel, and other places. I picked this one up when Michael Pollan raved about it, saying it “embodied the spirit of slow food and life.” Paterniti had me from the words Zingerman’s Delicatessen. The story artfully weaves itself right into the heart of Catelonian Spain, but then it becomes muddled and confused. The reader can decide if this is weakness, or metaphor. Book club highlight: the ending. Is it altogether unsatisfying, or completely perfect?

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An American Childhood
Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis

Author:
Series: Quick Lit 9/16
Genre: Memoir
Tag: Quick Lit

The Wall Street Journal calls this "A riveting book." From the publisher: "From a former marine and Yale Law School graduate, a powerful account of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town that offers a broader, probing look at the struggles of America’s white working class."

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Me Talk Pretty One Day

Me Talk Pretty One Day

$12.99$2.99

Sedaris writes masterful tales of family dysfunction. His best essays make me laugh until I cry (and--bonus!--leave me feeling pretty good about my own family's functionality). But he is sometimes cynical and often crass, the language can be totally objectionable, and the themes ensure that I don't forget to put his books on high shelves instead of leaving them on the coffee table where my young readers might flip them open.

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Short Trip to the Edge: Where Earth Meets Heaven–A Pilgrimage
Dimestore: A Writer’s Life

Dimestore: A Writer’s Life

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Genre: Memoir

In this essay collection, Lee Smith reflects on her early life in a Virginia coal town, and the influence it had on her life and work. Kirkus calls this "a warm, poignant memoir from a reliably smooth voice."

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Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

$6.99$3.99

I heard rave reviews from readers with good taste, but I only made it to page 40. The trouble started right at the beginning, as Strayed watched her mom die of cancer. Because of my personal history, I hate cancer books (though I adored A Homemade Life, which began with a similar story).

Wild reminded me of Julie Powell's (of Julie and Julia fame) Cleaving, a truly terrible book that I should have abandoned, but instead stuck with through the sad, sorry, never-should-have-been-published end. (For pure entertainment value, read the Amazon reviews of Cleaving, such as, "where insecurity and narcissism converge." I concur.)

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On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft

On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft

This is an exceptional book for book lovers and a must-read for writers, and I'm saying that as someone who has read a grand total of two books by King. (The other is 11/22/63.) I thoroughly enjoyed his descriptions of his fiction writing process (although his descriptions convinced me that I never, ever want to read Carrie.) I especially enjoyed the anecdotes he shared about his marriage, and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough when he explores his devastating car wreck and recovery.

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Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the White House

Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the White House

West Wing fans, listen up. This is a behind-the-scenes look at the workings of the Obama White House, through the eyes of someone who worked for him for more than ten years, first supporting him as a freshman senator, then as assistant to the president and director of scheduling, and finally as assistant to the president and deputy chief of staff at the White House. Word is this is like your "gossipy older sister" dishing on what really happens behind the political scenes.

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Eat Pray Love

Eat Pray Love

I didn't read the book, I never saw the movie, and it really didn't bother me any. But I love Gilbert's TED talks and have watched them multiple times, and I can't wait to read her next book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear coming out this fall. I feel like I ought to read the book that made her career—especially since everyone has read it but me.

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Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis

Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis

Of all Winner's books, this one has the lowest rating on Goodreads. I understand why: there are more than a few lackluster chapters breaking up the good parts. But the good parts are so good this book is well worth the effort, especially if you've resonated with Lauren's previous works.

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Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood

The Daily Show star does a masterful job of alternating the deathly serious with the laugh-out-loud funny, sometimes even combining the two, in this collection of coming-of-age essays about his South African childhood. His mischievous childhood and unconventional youth provide wonderful fodder for not-quite-polite (thus the "scandalous" part of this juicy memoir) but always entertaining stories. I highly recommend the audiobook, read by the author.

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Girl at the End of the World: My Escape from Fundamentalism in Search of Faith with a Future

Girl at the End of the World: My Escape from Fundamentalism in Search of Faith with a Future

I'm a longtime fan of Elizabeth Esther's writing. I snatched this up when it first came out, but for those who didn't, I'm happy for YOU that today's price is the lowest ever. Rachel Held Evans calls this "witty, insightful, courageous, and compelling, the sort of book you plan to read in a week but finish in a day. Elizabeth Esther is a master storyteller who describes her journey out of fundamentalism with a powerful mix of tenderness and guts. With this debut, Esther sets herself apart as a remarkable writer and remarkable woman. This book is a gift, and I cannot commend it enough.

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Coming Clean: A Story of Faith

Coming Clean: A Story of Faith

$8.99$2.99
Author:
Series: Best Nonfiction 2015
Genre: Memoir
Tag: Quick Lit

This was one of my favorite nonfiction books of the year. A new release shouldn't be priced this low, so snatch it up while it lasts.

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Scrappy Little Nobody

Scrappy Little Nobody

$12.99$2.99Audiobook: 11.49 (Whispersync)
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Genre: Memoir

Buzzfeed says, "Kendrick has won legions of fans for her movies and her quips on Twitter, and her wit continues in this collection of autobiographical essays recounting some of the most memorable, charming, and even relatable moments of her life—from growing up in New England suburbia to working her way up to become one of Hollywood’s darlings."

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Something Other Than God: How I Passionately Sought Happiness and Accidentally Found It
Four Seasons in Rome

Four Seasons in Rome

Author:
Series: Best Nonfiction 2015
Genre: Memoir

The subtitle on this one is a little weird: ignore it. This magical memoir is about the year Doerr, his wife, and his twin baby boys spent in Rome after he won a writer's residency grant. He found out about the award the same day they brought the twins home from the hospital. Doerr writes beautifully about his year abroad, from the everyday and the extraordinary: grocery shopping, sourcing baby gear (for twins!), his wife's illness, sightseeing, Pope John Paul II's funeral. I googled every street, church, and town he referenced. I loved his references to the novel he was writing while in Rome: many years later, it became All the Light We Cannot See.

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How to Be Loved: a Memoir of Life-Saving Friendship

How to Be Loved: a Memoir of Life-Saving Friendship

An unexpected health crisis confronts Eva Hagberg with the truth. She faces a tough recovery, she is vulnerable and lonely, and she needs friendship more than ever. Although it feels like her life has fallen apart, Eva finds that simple acts of friendship slowly pull it back together. A beautiful reflection on pain, hope, and joy—this book reminds us that friends hold us up when we can't get back on our feet alone.

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