The Summer Reading Program is technically over, but we had so much fun during our Online Book Club that we’re continuing the series for another few weeks to bring you some great posts from our staff members – including this one, written by Lewis A. Ray Library‘s branch manager, Donna McEachern.

We still have a few library-themed coffee mugs left; would you like one? Just comment below, let us know what you think about the genre, what your favorite books, etc, and we’ll enter you into the drawing. We’ll announce the winner next Tuesday.

Ready to learn more about Donna’s favorite books? Read on!

worlds-strongest-librarianWhat is a memoir?

Memoirs are life stories told by the person living the experiences.   Memoirs are written in the first person.  They differ from autobiography by exploring specific personal  events or time periods rather than the entire course of a life.  A memoir reads like a continuous story or like fiction.  Frequently there is a focus on the effect of events or of a time period on the author rather than “just the facts.”  Memoirs are not only found in the biography section but are also in other nonfiction areas, including cooking, sports, history, and health.

What was your favorite book when you were young?

A Place in the Woods by Helen Hoover.   She and her husband left their careers in Chicago in 1954 to move to the wilderness of northern Minnesota.  What most impressed me at the time their choice to order all their food by mail so they could better be a part of the woods without disturbing it.  Her descriptions of daily life in the middle of the woods and animals captivated me.  This book is available through Interlibrary loan or online booksellers.

 my-reading-lifeWhat was the most recent book you enjoyed?

“Enjoy” is not the word for Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala (A BIOG DERANIY DERANIY).  Deraniyagala was in Sri Lanka in 2004 when the tsunami hit, taking her husband, children and parents.  Her world shattered, she writes unsparingly of her shock, grief and rage, and she writes in such a way to evoke strong responses from her readers.  Thought-provoking read.

Name one of your favorite books.

My Reading Life by Pat Conroy is his recollection of people and books with a significant impact on Conroy’s life and writing.  Each chapter is a self-contained story of a particular book or person.  I finished the book in awe of the magic of words.

invisible wall

Other books in the genre:


Ashe, Arthur.  Days of grace: a memoir.  (A BIOG ASHE)
Hampton, Dan. Viper pilot : a memoir of air combat (A BIOG HAMPTON).  “One of the greatest aviation memoirs ever written.”  Enough said.

Bernstein, Harry, The invisible wall : a love story that broke barriers (A BIOG BERNSTEIN)

Hanagarne, Joshua.   The world’s strongest librarian : a memoir of Tourette’s, faith, strength, and the power of family.  (A 020.92 HANAGAR)  Inspiring story of how the author overcame obstacles

Herriot, James. All creatures great and small. (A 636.089 HER).  The story of Herriot’s first years as a country veterinarian in rural England.

Kingsolver, Barbara.  Animal, vegetable, miracle : a year of food life.  (Call # A 641.0973).  Kingsolver, her husband and two daughters decide to eat only locally-grown foods.  They moved from Arizona to Virginia and set about growing and raising their food.   It is their story of a year-long adventure, but it’s also about endless consumption regardless of cost.

Lawson, Jenny. Let’s pretend this never happened : (a mostly true memoir). (A BIOG LAWSON).  Note: R-rated language abounds.  She wrote the book while in her 20s, so the story of how her experiences shaped her to that point qualifies as memoir.  Plus, it is incredibly funny.

Moorjani, Anita, Dying to be me: my journey from cancer, to near death, to true healing (A 362.1969 MOORJAN)

Obama, Barack. Dreams from my father: a story of race and inheritance. (A BIOG OBAMA).  Tells of his search for meaning and identity.

Powell, Colin L.  It worked for me : in life and leadership.  (A 973.931 POWELL)

Powell, Julie.   Julie and Julia: 365 days, 524 recipes, 1 tiny apartment kitchen : how one girl risked her marriage, her job, and her sanity to master the art of living . (A 641.5092 POWELL).  Julie decides she will prepare every recipe in Julia Childs’ Mastering the Art of French Cooking in one year.

lots-of-candlesRushdie, Salman. Joseph Anton A BIOG RUSHDIE RUSHDIE. Joseph Anton (chosen for his favorite authors:  Joseph Conrad and Anton Checkov) was the code name for Salman Rushdie when he was forced to go into hiding after a fatwa was issued against him for his book The Satanic Verses.  This is an account of his years under the fatwa.

Quindlen, Anna.  Lots of Candles plenty of cake. (A BIOG QUINDLEN).  The 60-year old writer ponders aging and the meaning of life.

Woods, Stuart.  Blue Water, Green Skipper. A memoir of sailing alone across the Atlantic.  (A 797.14 Woods) This is Woods’ first book, a chronicle of his decision as a novice sailor to participate in a transatlantic race in 1976.

Online Book Club: Memoirs