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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All Is Grace: A Ragamuffin Memoir

All Is Grace: A Ragamuffin Memoir

The heartbreaking and beautiful memoir from a recovering alcoholic, a Franciscan priest, and beloved author of The Ragamuffin Gospel. Heartbreaking and beautiful. Such a good read, but grab your tissues.

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Roots and Sky: A Journey Home in Four Seasons

Roots and Sky: A Journey Home in Four Seasons

$7.84$1.99

Several years ago, Purifoy and her family made an intentional move to a big Pennsylvania farmhouse (minus the farm) in search of a community and a home. In these pages Purifoy tells the story of their first year at Maplehurst in beautiful yet unfussy prose. A lovely memoir.

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Wild in the Hollow: On Chasing Desire and Finding the Broken Way Home

Wild in the Hollow: On Chasing Desire and Finding the Broken Way Home

$9.99$1.99Audiobook: 3.99 (Whispersync)
Author:
Series: Quick Lit 8/15
Genre: Memoir
Tag: Quick Lit

Fans of Amber's writing love her distinctive, lyrical voice. I was so happy to see that it works in this book-length spiritual memoir. The details give the story richness: the scent of wild grapes, the cacophony of the woods on a Southern evening, the ginormous swimming pool slide with no pool at the bottom. A must-read for fans of Amber's blog.

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Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People

Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People

$15.58
Author:
Series: Quick lit 1/16
Genre: Memoir
Tag: Quick Lit

Fans of the author's first memoir Pastrix won't want to miss this new one: Bolz-Weber delivers another wildly irreverent, profanity-filled spiritual memoir about how God chooses who he chooses, even if those people seem to us like the most unlikely candidates. Poignant and hilarious stories give life to this concept: in my favorite chapter, Bolz-Weber and her "token" conservative friend fire off rifles at the local shooting range. The second half lags a little but I'm glad I stuck it out.

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When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice

When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice

$10.14

What do you do when your mom dies and leaves you her old journals? And then you discover that her journals are blank? In 54 separate meditations, Williams unfolds the mystery of her mother's life, and of her empty journals, and explores the power of words—and withholding them.

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Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion

Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion

$12.99$1.99Audiobook: 7.49 (Whispersync)
Author:
Series: Quick lit 1/16
Genre: Memoir
Tag: Quick Lit

I've been meaning to read this book for years: it's been highly recommended by readers with great taste. But it wasn't until my family started volunteering at our church's food pantry that it vaulted to the top of my list. I knew our church began the food pantry BECAUSE of Sara Miles's visit to the church a few years ago, and after reading her inspiring story, I understand why her enthusiasm for community food pantries is contagious. A compelling spiritual memoir. Add Audible narration for $3.99.

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Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: (A Mostly True Memoir)

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: (A Mostly True Memoir)

Jen from Conversion Diary calls the Bloggess “The Blogger That I Cannot Link To,” and for these same reasons I’m afraid to recommend her to you:

I know. Bad etiquette. But I simply don’t have the vocabulary to craft a content warning that would be strong enough to give readers unfamiliar with her writing a proper idea of what they might find there. Ten f-bombs, to be sure. But also discussion of insane taxidermy experiments. Pictures of insane taxidermy experiments. Sexual references that would make Hugh Hefner blush. And that’s just in the first paragraph.

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Night

Night

"What does it mean to remember? It is to live in more than one world, to prevent the past from fading and to call upon the future to illuminate it." In this moving memoir, Wiesel recalls his experience as a young boy with his father in the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps in 1944-45, during the Holocaust at the height of World War II. It's amazing how much Wiesel packs into 100 pages. "Never shall I forget ... "

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Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)

This one made me laugh out loud in places. The backstory about how Mindy developed her comedic talent was really interesting, especially in light of all the deliberate practice reading I've been doing.

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The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help

The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help

$28.503.95 (AUDIBLE DEAL)
Author:
Series: Juicy memoirs
Genre: Memoir

TED-talk-turned-book is not the typical publication path for a juicy memoir, but this one sure is. Amanda Palmer's TED talk about what she learned working as a human statue (I kid you not, and it's fascinating) went viral, and a book deal followed soon thereafter. In her memoir/inspirational book, she discusses how relying on others has led to her success in life and all kinds of work, although she's certainly traveling the road less taken. There's some sensitive content, for sure, but I found her insights into the creative life, stardom, and (especially) life with husband Neil Gaiman fascinating.

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The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: A Memoir of Life in Death

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: A Memoir of Life in Death

A wonderful and moving memoir. Following a catastrophic stroke, Jean-Dominique Bauby spent several weeks in a coma, then wakened to a new reality. The 44-year-old sharp, high-living editor of French Elle was now a victim of "locked-in syndrome": he was mentally alert but unable to move or speak. Through sheer determination and a dose of the miraculous, Bauby learns a new way to communicate: by blinking to "speak," selecting one letter at a time, as someone read aloud a new alphabet rearranged in order of the letters' frequency of use. The diving bell of the title is the sheer weight of his useless body, but the butterfly is the human spirit that flies free.

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A Circle of Quiet (The Crosswicks Journals)

A Circle of Quiet (The Crosswicks Journals)

$14.99$1.99Audiobook: 7.49 (Whispersync)

I’ve adopted Madeleine L’Engle as an honorary mentor. Anyone who can coin a phrase like “the tired thirties” and admit that her kids told her to sit down at the typewriter and write when she got cranky is worth listening to. I suspect our brains work the same way (except for the part where hers cranks out gorgeous fiction and mine is terrified of the genre).

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Yes Please

Yes Please

A juicy memoir. From <em>Newsweek</em>: "Delightful...Poehler is frank and funny throughout, as is her nature, but her writing unearths a wise narrator who's seen some of the worst of life and come out the other side unscathed…Can we get more from Amy Poehler? Yes, seriously, please." Add Audible narration, with a full cast narration including Carol Burnett, Seth Meyers, Kathleen Turner, Patrick Stewart (who reads haikus), and even Amy's parents.

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Touching the Void: The True Story of One Man’s Miraculous Survival

Touching the Void: The True Story of One Man’s Miraculous Survival

Author:
Series: Quick Lit 2/16
Genre: Memoir
Tag: Quick Lit

I've been meaning to read this modern adventure classic for years, largely because I'm obsessed with Into Thin Air. I expected the two books to be similar but—aside from the fact that they both deal with life and death in the icy mountains—the books didn't feel at all the same. Krakauer's is reflective and journalistic; in Touching the Void, Simpson and his climbing partner alternately tell the tale of their disastrous ascent of a remote peak in the Peruvian Andes.

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Gift from the Sea

Gift from the Sea

$7.99$4.99Audiobook: 7.49 (Whispersync)

This one has been highly recommended to me by numerous readers with excellent taste, and I’ve checked it out of the library at least 4 times, only to return it unread. Not this year.

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Why Not Me?

Why Not Me?

This collection of essays covers everything from body image to inner confidence to Hollywood life. When it's good, it's very, very good: my favorite stories were about The Office and Mindy's personal career trajectory.

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When Breath Becomes Air

When Breath Becomes Air

Author:
Series: Quick Lit 3/16
Genre: Memoir

Kalanithi is nearing the end of his long and arduous training in neurosurgery when he receives his own terminal cancer diagnosis, and the role reversal is immediate: suddenly he's the patient, not the doctor. This is the book he wrote after his diagnosis: he'd always dreamed of writing a book "one day," and when his own timeline was dramatically shortened, he got to work. He didn't quite finish: one of the best parts of the book is the moving epilogue written by his widow. Recommended for fans of Atul Gawande: his Being Mortal is an excellent companion.

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Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life

Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life

$8.99$1.99
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

$11.99$3.99

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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