Memoir
A Circle of Quiet (The Crosswicks Journals)

A Circle of Quiet (The Crosswicks Journals)

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

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

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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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