One reason memoirs are popular is because they let us get a peek into somebody else's life. But what makes a really good memoir? Author, English professor, and book reviewer Carole Barrowman is back with her recommendations for must-have memoirs.
For more information on Carole and her own books, visit BarrowmanBooks.com. And check out her quick reviews below:
"Educated" by Tara Westover (Random House) - No surprise that this memoir is my first choice. It’s about how one young woman’s education changes her life. Literally. Born and raised by survivalist parents in the mountains of Idaho, she got no formal education, no medical care, and had no idea of the world outside of her family whom she loves dearly until one of her brothers leaves and returns after college. She decides to take the same risk, eventually earning a PhD. This is an elegant memoir full of sorrow and grace and insight about the nature of family and what it means to be educated.
"A Thousand Naked Strangers" by Kevin Hazard (Scribner) - This is not the memoir of you think it is…. It’s the reflections of a First Responder on the streets of Atlanta. It’s sad (you’ll cry), but it’s riveting, and darkly funny. The author was a journalist before he became an EMT and he knows how to tell a story.
"It’s Okay to Laugh (Crying is Cool Too)" by Nora McInerny Purmort (Dey Street Books) - Despite the premise of this memoir, I found this memoir to be deeply moving in a life-affirming way. It’s about a young couple who fall in love and pretty soon after he is diagnosed with terminal cancer. They get married, have a son, and live each day with purpose BECAUSE it is his last.
"Talking as Fast As I Can" by Lauren Graham (Random House) - This is full of sweet self-deprecating humor (no surprise there) and lots of charming stories about her early family life (live on a houseboat), and how she got started in acting, including lots of stories from Gilmore Girls and Parenthood. This book is just like her most famous character, Lorelei. It wanders off on tangents from her life-story to anecdotes and advice, which I think gives her memoir quite a distinctive personality.