My sisters recommend a lot of books to me (we’re all big readers!), and last month I read this one that my sister, Kylee, has mentioned to me.
It’s not one I typically would have grabbed off a shelf, and I was reminded why I love memoirs so much: they are a window into someone else’s world and perspective.
Reading a memoir is the closest thing to sitting down with a prominent figure in pop culture or history or sports and saying, “ok, tell me your side of the story.”
It’s especially interesting when it’s someone you don’t agree with or like all that much…
Anyway, last month I read this memoir by the Bush twins, Barbara Pierce Bush and Jenna Bush Hager. (It’s not new; I think it was published about 5 years ago.) I honestly didn’t know much about the twins, although I’ve formed opinions about their family throughout the past few decades.
Without getting into the details of politics, I’ll just say that I had certain ideas about their immediate family members, and it was illuminating to hear them share their childhood stories and first-hand accounts of growing up in the White House. They actually didn’t include very much about politics; they just shared stories. I started feeling a deep sense of love and connection to them. Oh yeah… we’re all people with a lot of the same emotions.
I remember feeling the same thing when I read Jessica Simpson’s memoir recently. She’s someone who has been exploited in the tabloids, and hearing her tell her own story and share her experiences, fears, joys, was eye opening! I found that a deep sense of respect and appreciation for her. (I know! It was unexpected!) Open Book was a memoir that impacted me.
A few memoirs that I love:
A memoir that made me fall in love with food writing: this memoir by Ruth Reichl. I’ve read it twice!! I love her to pieces. The way she writes is so comforting, fun, and musical. She is, for sure, my favorite food writer.
A memoir that revealed a big hole in my understanding of size. Thanks for writing this one, Roxane Gay. “Fat isn’t the problem…it’s the prejudice against it.”
A memoir that made me laugh: I remember listening to the Aziz Ansari’s book on an international airplane flight and laughing uncontrollably out loud. Not sure if it was the jet lag or if it’s just that his writing is reeeaally really funny.
A memoir that made me think about fertility donors: this one by Dani Shapiro. We read this one in my book club, and it totally rocked me and made me think for a long time. Because infertility hasn’t directly touched my immediate little family of four, I haven’t thought about this topic a lot. But it impacts a lot of the world, and I’m thankful for all the open-ended discussions and thoughts this book brought up.
A memoir for feeling the feels about both life and death: Read this one when you’re ready to think about the big parts of life. (I finished the audiobook as I pulled into the parking lot of work. I let myself sit there for 15 minutes to let my tears dry before walking in.)
A fascinating memoir about a high functioning alcoholic: I didn’t even realize how much Elizabeth Vargas’s memoir impacted me until last week. I was driving in the car with Nate and started telling him about “this memoir I read years ago,” and he told me that I’ve already mentioned that book to him several times before. Oops.. I suppose her story really stuck with me.
A memoir about the restaurant industry: Gabrielle Hamilton is an excellent story teller and I love her memoir. She shares her grit that it takes to open a tiny restaurant in New York City. I loved this book so much that I went to NYC and ate at her restaurant.
What memoirs do you love?