Summer Reading Highlights: Biography and Memoir

Everyone has reading preferences. If you’re not sure what kinds of books you like to read, ask yourself this question: when you go into a library or a bookstore, which section do you look at first? Once you get past the display tables of new books, staff picks, local authors, etc. (if you get past them!), do you find yourself in Mystery? History? Literature? Young Adult? Science? Biography?

For those who answered “yes!” to Biography (autobiographies, now often called memoirs, are usually mixed in with biographies), here are a few staff picks for you:

Journey From the Land of No: a Girlhood Caught in Revolutionary Iran, Roya Hakakian, 2004
This book provides excellent insight into the coming of age story of a Jewish teenager directly before and after the 1979 Iranian revolution. The Boston Globe called it “a spectacular debut,” and the Washington Post called Hakakian “a lyrical storyteller.”

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: (A Mostly True Memoir), Jenny Lawson, 2012
Fans of Jenny Lawson (a.k.a. The Bloggess) will love this book, which is written in the same irreverent manner as her blog. Lawson shares personal family stories, as well as observations from work and home life in Texas, that will amaze and amuse, horrify you and break your heart. From taxidermy to Human Resources, anxiety disorder to miscarriage, marital fights to big metal chickens, this book will doubtless keep you entertained, and likely in tears of laughter. Be warned, there is some unladylike language.

Louisa May Alcott, Harriet Reisen, 2009
This biography by an Arlington resident is a wonderfully written portrayal of the real Louisa May Alcott. A page turner with insights into her many genres and her famous family. To bring Alcott’s story to life, the author used her journals and letters, as well as those of her friends, family, and contemporaries, to place her life in the context of her fiction—most of which was autobiographical to some degree.

Just Like Someone Without Mental Illness Only More So: A Memoir, Mark Vonnegut, 2010
If you enjoyed Mark Vonnegut’s first book – The Eden Express: a memoir of insanity – his current book will not disappoint. Son of Kurt, he crafts an inspiring and witty book. The picture on front of the book jacket will grab you as well! Highly recommended for a different kind of reading experience.

If biographies and memoirs are your favorite kinds of books to read, this is just a start. Come visit the library and venture up to the third floor, where we have hundreds of biographies (after the 900s, in the aisles closest to Mass Ave). Or, ask a librarian at the reference desk for a personal recommendation!

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