Friday, May 31, 2013

Armchair BEA: Non-Fiction

Alice:  As the resident non-fiction reader in the group, memoirs are a topic I am always glad to discuss.  I have always been drawn to memoirs. There is something about diving into a person’s life in their own words. I like how it doesn’t focus on their entire life but a single event that helped change them, that helped them grow. Truth is usually better than fiction. Memoirs take courage and an inner strength to share a part of you that you are usually too afraid to show. I am in awe of that strength. That is why I read them and why I will always recommend them. If you are looking for a place to start, here are three memoirs I highly recommend.

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls It still amazes me she was able to recover from her childhood yet recovery is not quite the right way to describe it. Her childhood was a blessing to her, deeply rooted in family and love. Although challenging and difficult, it gave her the motivation and moxie to do something with her life, to make her own success.

Bitter is the New Black by Jen Lancaster This memoir is hands down the funniest I have ever read in my life. Jen Lancaster is a comedic genius and a natural storyteller. Three pages into any of her memoirs and you feel like you’re sitting on a couch together sharing a bottle of Trader Joe’s Two Buck Chuck and she’s your new best friend.  That openness is why she is a favorite on our blog.

Lost Edens: A True Story by Jamie Patterson This is a short memoir about the abandonment d betrayal of a husband written in his wife’s point of view. I loved her writing style, it was brutally and fearfully honest. It hurts to read because my heart aches for her. It’s simply wonderful. (Read my review here.)

All But My Life: A Memoir When I read non-fiction, it tends to be about the Holocaust.  I have a macabre relationship with it...  I cannot  seem to get passed how many wonderful souls were lost ...and I think it is important to find ways to remember them.  My absolute favorite is the novel, All But My Life: A Memoir by Gerda Weissmann Klein which I read in high school but have since re-read as a group just before we started the blog.  This is a must read and I can't recommend it enough.

ColumbineOccasionally, I read biographies of people that interest me too.  For example, I think I've read everything out there about Katharine Hepburn...

Sometimes it just subject matter that attracts me, like  's Columbine (my review) which is a fascinating book that explores the events leading up to the tragedy and the aftermath.  It's a book I think everyone should read.

Stories I Only Tell My FriendsI really don't read a lot of non-fiction but if I do it has been memoirs. I loved it when Jenn had us read All But My Life, it moved me and it is one of those books I do recommend to people when they are looking for a first person view of the Holocaust. For me the most entertaining one I've read was by Rob Lowe, yes Rob Lowe. I can't recommend Stories I Only Tell My Friends: An Autobiography enough. I think people will be surprised about how open and honest he is about his life.

Ever since the debacle with a memoir a few years ago, I think editors/publishers are more cautious or maybe we have redefined memoirs.  To me a memoir is one person's account of their personal history or journey. It might not fully factual but it's how they experience it. I don't read memoirs because I want facts, I read them to have an idea of someone's experience.



Monika @ Lovely Bookshelf May 31, 2013 at 5:21 AM  

Great post that has not helped my TBR pile shrink any! ;)

Tanya Patrice May 31, 2013 at 6:48 AM  

Ooh thanks for all these recommendations! I've only read The Glass Castle from among the books you mentioned - and agree - just wow!

Jen May 31, 2013 at 10:18 AM  

The Glass Castle has always looked interesting to me. Memoirs are a good choice in Non-Fiction

The Relentless Reader May 31, 2013 at 11:58 AM  

You have some great nonfiction listed here! I see that you're currently reading The World's Strongest Librarian, it's a great book!

Unknown May 31, 2013 at 1:41 PM  

Thanks for sharing! the lost edens is truly a very moving story.

Anonymous ,  May 31, 2013 at 7:08 PM  

Love your recommendation for Bitter is the New Black. I will definitely check it out now!

DoingDewey May 31, 2013 at 8:20 PM  

Bitter is the New Black sounds awesome! If you haven't given it a try yet, you may also like How To be a Woman, which was also extremely funny :)

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