Biography/Memoir

Meeting September 10, 10:30 am in Community Room

The benchmark is one of the following 5 titles:

  • Why be Happy When You Can Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson is a shining example of the best memoirs can offer — the intimate re-telling of the author’s own life through a lens that is not the least bit self-indulgent. In brisk and beautiful prose, Winterson writes bravely and intimately about her horrifying childhood, coming-of-age, coming-out, and search for a way to reconcile her life.
  • Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Jon Meacham is an example of a political and cultural biography. Meacham, primarily explores the life of our third President in light of his political skill, intent, and philosophy. This is biography at its best, bringing Jefferson to life through  lively, expansive, and engaging writing, and setting him firmly in the context of his times.
  • Blue Nights by Joan Didion is a pitch-perfect work, stellar in its execution, and deeply reflective of the author’s failures and fears. Following her award-winning The Year of Magical Thinking, in which Didion recounts the death of her husband, she continues to explore the way grief haunts her later life, as she discusses the death of her daughter, Quintana Roo.
  • Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie is a royal biography centered on the history, culture, and politics of Russia during the mid- to late 1700s, as Empress Catherine II came to power. Brilliantly constructed, Massie’s work is notable for its story-rich approach, attention to fully formed portraits, and its intimate and engaging feel.
  • Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed recounts Strayed’s three-month long hike along the Pacific Crest Trail. Rootless after her divorce and deeply grieving the death of her mother, Strayed lost her way. This vivid and forthright portrait outlines how she eventually found her path as she followed the markers along the 2,663 mile long trail.

Please comment on this post with your second title choice to avoid duplication.

Some resources for finding a second title:

Getting Up to Speed in Biography & Memoir
Pulitzer Prize in Biography or Autobiography
Reading Memoirs, Remembering Ourselves (Novelist)
It’s a Better World Out There Today Because . . . (Novelist)
Must-read memoirs of 2012 (so far!) (Bookpage)
NPR Books Biography & Memoir

We also have 3 Readers Advisory books that you can browse:
Read On…Life Stories
Read On…Biography
Real Lives Revealed: A Guide to Reading Interests in Biography

These books have lists that appeal to a wide-range of interests and moods, and without which I might never have discovered the title:
Shaggy muses : the dogs who inspired Virginia Woolf, Emily Dickinson, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Edith Wharton, and Emily Brontë / Maureen Adams.

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6 Responses to Biography/Memoir

  1. Lisa says:

    I will be reading Look me in the eye : my life with Asperger’s by John Elder Robinson (brother of Augusten Burroughs)

  2. Paula says:

    I’m going to read The millionaire and the mummies by John M. Adams

  3. Faith says:

    I’m reading a biography of Jane Addams

  4. Julie says:

    I read The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food by Judith Jones. It is the memoir of Jones who is a writer, editor and publisher of cookbooks for Alfred A. Knopf. In 1960, she published Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The book also contains about 50 recipes with her notes on them.

  5. Lilly says:

    I am reading A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

  6. Molly says:

    Blue plate special : an autobiography of my appetites / Kate Christensen.

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