Handling the Truth: On the Writing of Memoir, Beth Kephart
Kephart is terrific at helping the memoir writer make a scene richer through a variety of devices, and she is empathetic and encouraging to the fearful side of everyone who opens their lives to scrutiny. She assigns exercises to make writing stronger, and there is a treasure trove of suggested reading material.
I’ll Go Home Then; It’s Warm and Has Chairs, David Thorne
Yet another delightful, wicked collection of snark.
(Note: I like to encourage supporting writers by purchasing their books and directing folks to places to do that. Sometimes a book I recommend is so old, though, that it’s either really expensive vintage or just not available to purchase. That’s when I’ll insert a link to the library.)
Dave Barry’s History of the Millennium (So Far)
Even on my fourth or fifth read of this classic, my stomach hurt from laughing. Just read it. I can’t do more justice to it than that.
Just read everything he’s done.
The Internet is a Playground, David Thorne
Rather than a review, just a note of caution:
If you’re a laugh-out-loud reader like I am, don’t read this in the hospital waiting room with all the other folks waiting for follow-up cancer tests. Unless you enjoy scowling looks of disapproval as much as I do.
I didn’t make any noise, but they still didn’t appreciate my shaking shoulders and the occasional drool as I tried to breathe.
Bossypants, by Tina Fey
I just love an intelligent, funny woman who is generous in giving it up to other women of tremendous skill. One of the best, brightest women in entertainment ever.
How to Sleep Alone in a King-Size Bed, by Theo Pauline Nestor
A warm, courageous story about a woman finding a new life after divorce. Nestor’s vulnerability, candor, and humanity make this memoir hugely relatable.
I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on being a Woman, by Nora Ephron
Empathetic, engaging, and hilarious. Inspires me to write a memoir called I’m Sorry About My Ass.
The Liar’s Club, Mary Karr
I know it was first published in 1995, but it resonates with me in 2017. Hilarious, poignant, shocking, and relatable.
Karr uses imagery with pinpoint accuracy, and her phraseology resonates even after I stopped reading:
“It turned out to be impossible for me to ‘run away’ in the sense other American teenagers did. Any movement at all was taken for progress in my family.”
Your Life as Story, by Tristine Rainer
This is a fantastic, encouraging guide book if you want to get started on mining your life for memoir material, but you’re unsure about committing a huge amount of tuition on a class quite yet. It’s also great if you’re already in a class. It’s just great.
Writing is My Drink, by Theo Pauline Nestor
I’ll admit I’ve already raved so much about Theo’s teaching skills in memoir writing that if she’s reading my blog, Theo’s sick of it too. But I have to say that for me, this book changed my creative direction just when I needed that nudge. The exercises in this book are fantastic, and they led me to two of her seminars at Hugo House. I plan to take her nine-month course there this fall.
Okay, I’m obsessed, but trust me. If you’ve been thinking about writing your memoirs but have no clue where to begin, this book is a valuable tool and sympathetic guide. Plus Theo’s got great references for other books that will help you on your journey.
(Keep in mind: Memoirs can be written to explore your life, not sharing the story with anyone. You can write them to share with your descendants. And of course you can write them to publish and then turn into a blockbuster movie and become rich beyond your imagination. Your choice.)
Year of No Sugar: A Memoir, by Eve O. Schaub
I found this book just as I felt so bloated from sugar overload that I was a tick about to pop. This isn’t about just foregoing desserts, folks. It’s a way to sieve sugar out of everyday life in a way that doesn’t lead to a death row sentence.
Eve’s story is heartwarming and funny, and she made me believe that I could do this too. And I have.
The Sweet Poison Quit Plan, by David Gillespie
Eve Schaub’s memoir (just above) led me to this wonderful book. David offers solid reasoning behind giving up sugar. Although he can sometimes be a little more science-oriented than I can follow, I was so inspired by his encouragement that I ordered his cookbook (links to both books below).
Note: I don’t like the idea of using electronic cookbooks, so if Amazon still doesn’t have a paper version, just go to David’s website and order The Sweet Poison Quit Plan Cookbook from him. It takes a while because he’s in Australia, but mine came with an autograph at the front, which is fun.
Dealing with Asshats
Emotional Vampires: Dealing with People Who Drain You Dry, by Albert J. Bernstein, Ph.D.
This book and my patient husband were the only reasons I survived eighteen months being tormented by three abusive staff members at my last office job. If you’ve got someone in your life you have to deal with but fantasize about murdering, read this book before grabbing the cleaver.
(By the way, Bernstein uses questionnaires to help determine which dysfunctional personality type you’re currently struggling with, and all three of mine were 18 out of 20 in the Yes, These Are Seriously Sick Fucks column. He helped me manage them instead of the other way around, all while they considered me to be the least relevant person on the planet.) *
* He might not have used the “Seriously Sick Fucks” phrase.
Peter the Great, by Robert K. Massie
I think I first fell in love with this kind of storytelling with Massie’s gorgeous book. I felt as though I were there in the room with Peter as he planned to conquer as much of the world as possible. Tough to put down.
The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov
I first read these when I was about 18 years old, and I’m still in love with this writer. I’m thinking it’s time I read them again. If you want to get lost in a fascinating world created by one of the most brilliant minds to exist in any century, try these.
In Its Own Category of Wow
The Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling
‘Cause damn. I know it’s an obvious recommendation, but not mentioning this achievement seems sacrilegious. I’m keeping it at the bottom of the page only because for most people, these is a duh-type suggestion.
Got a recommendation? Insert a comment or contact me through this site.
I’m always looking for memoir, biography, humor, satire, well-written science fiction (let’s face it, that’s tough to find), historical novels, great cookbooks – or just surprise me.