Whichever way you prefer to pronounce memoir, this particular type of autobiography was relatively unknown when I started working in the library waaaay back in the early 1970s. Sure, we had the “biography/autobiography” titles cataloged for the 921 shelves, but an entire book based on a regular person’s memories was pretty much unheard of. Then back in the early 1990s, the genre exploded and now it’s as if any “Tom, Dick, or Harriett” can dredge up memories of their formative years and write a mesmerizing book. My favorites are celebrity memoirs, especially if they sprinkle a little dirt on the pages, but I also enjoy a well-done story filled with strife and struggle. Now whether they are all truth-driven is a topic for another post.
The most recent memoir I read and loved is the harrowing and inspirational Educated by Tara Westover. It’s the perfect book for those who loved The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls, and it also reminded me of Ruth Wariner’s heartbreaking story of growing up in a polygamous Mormon household, The Sound of Gravel. Another similar “readalike” is Cea Person’s North of Normal.
Another “life story” (of sorts) that had me enthralled from the start was I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death. I believe there are a large number of people who have had at least one experience of their “lives flashing before their eyes,” and if so this book is sure to generate a lot of discussions. This is another title sure to end up on my best list.
Other recent worthy titles include Katey Sagal’s Grace Notes (even though I’m not a fan I still enjoyed this), Gabrielle Union’s We’re Going to Need More Wine (ditto), Flor Edwards’ Apocalypse Child (for anyone interested in the Children of God cult), and, even though it’s not technically a memoir, Caroline Fraser’s Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Waiting in the wings on my TBR pile is Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Unmasked, Kari Byron’s (from Mythbusters) Crash Test Girl, and Robert Hilburn’s Paul Simon: The Life.
Here are a few more new titles around the bend that may tantalize. They are:
July – Allie Rowbottom, The Jell-O Girls
So what is your favorite memoir?
Watch for my next post for a report of the gripping psychological suspense novel I’m in the middle of reading.