Hey guys! Today something very exciting is happening, I’m co-hosting The Book Chat! Don’t forget to check out our host’s post here. This week the theme is all about Memoirs and Autobiographies… I have to say that nowadays memoirs scare me. It seems increasingly easy to get famous, and everyone to have fifteen minutes in the spotlight seems to want to write a book about it… and some of them really shouldn’t! It’s can be hard wading through the swamp, but here are a few memoirs that have crossed my path over the years…
Boy/Going Solo – Roald Dahl
Boy was my first experience of a memoir and I absolutely *loved* it. Roald Dahl is a true magician, capable of transporting you to fabulous worlds… I adored all of his books, but I remember being convinced that his autobiography would be less magical. I was wrong. I remember sitting on the floor in room (because I couldn’t wait until I reached the bed) and read it in one go. Boy is the story of Dahl’s childhood, filled with hilarious anecdotes and a touch of social commentary, but ends as he leaves school and gets his first job. There are simply no words to explain how happy I was to find Going Solo (the chronicle of his later years, that tells of his journeys with Shell Oil and later with the RAF), so that I could continue on the journey with him. I think Boy sparked my fascination with memoirs, and ever since the first time I turned the first page, I’ve been looking for another that would capture my imagination. Let me tell you know, it’s been slim pickings.
Escape – Carolyn Jessop
Carolyn Jessop was raised in a polygamist sect and at the age of eighteen was forced into a marriage with Merril Jessop, a man 32 years her senior. Escape is the story of her life in this world, a world so far removed from our own, and her quest for freedom. This is one of those books that I started and kept reading ‘just one more chapter’ until ‘uh-oh it’s 3am’. I love it so much I now have a Kindle copy and a hard copy. It’s completely fascinating, disturbing and hopeful in equal measures, and there is not a doubt in my mind that I will read this book again and again.
My Most Recent
700 Sundays – Billy Crystal
I enjoyed his stories, but there was no major gripping event. His narrative tone was exactly what I imagined… hyperactive. reasonably interesting.
Driving Over Lemons – Chris Stewart
I was probably over critical of this book, as Stewart is sharing a part of his life that I can really relate to: his emigration to rural Spain. I moved to Spain when I was 12, and lived somewhere very, very similar, so I really picked up on some of the tiny problems that normal people probably wouldn’t notice (mostly discrepancies with his translation of Spanish swear words). Even so, I really liked the book (and it really made me nostalgic for growing up on the side of a mountain!. Stewart has a really easy voice to get a long with, and I have another of his memoirs ready and waiting on my Kindle.
Council of Dads – Bruce Feiler
This memoir had a very interesting premise; a man is diagnosed with cancer and decides to put together a group of men who can act as fathers to his daughters. All of the chosen men had some sort of impact on his life, and would be able to teach the girls something different about their Dad. The book is written in the form of letters, and tells of his encounters with his chosen few. To be honest, I’m torn about this one. It was very well written, and it was an interesting concept, but it didn’t make me feel anything. I wanted to be frantic, and heartbroken, and hopeful… but none of that came across.
These are a few more memoirs I have adorning my shelves right now…
Bossypants – Tina Fey
The Vow – Kim and Krickitt Carpenter
Running with Scissors – Augusten Burroughs
The Glass Castle – Jeanette Walls
I’ll get to them one day – but generally I like to take long breaks in between memoirs, they’re not my fave.
So… those are my thoughts on Memoirs & Autobiographies, fancy sharing yours?
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