Memoir

The only street in Paris : life on the Rue des Martyrs book cover

The only street in Paris : life on the Rue des Martyrs

Elaine Sciolino

944.361 /Sciolino
Nonfiction, Memoir

Rue des Martyrs is more than just a street, it's an enchanting and bustling community in Paris. At just over half a mile long, spanning between the Ninth and 18th arrondissements, this street is filled with four- and five-story buildings of varying architectural designs, with picturesque wrought-iron balconies and shuttered windows and small businesses at street level. As the author (La Seduction), a former Paris bureau chief for the New York Times, explores her neighborhood, she describes its fascinating history, from ancient churches and the saints and martyrs the street may be named after to the 19th-century Cirque Medrano. The quaint cafés and shops remain locally owned, per Paris law, and their merchants and artisans are the leading characters of the book--and of the street. There's Roger Henri, who pushes a cart with a bell offering his knife-sharpening services; Michou, the owner and creator of the transvestite cabaret at No. 80; and Laurence Gillery, the woman who restores antique barometers, the last of her kind. The atmosphere on rue des Martyrs is refreshing and enticing in our modern world.

Candice's picture

Elaine Sciolino's book is a lovely paean to the Rue des Martrys, a street that runs north-south through the 9th arrondisement of Paris, and into the village of Montmartre. She chronicles the lives and activities of the storefronts and shopkeepers who live and work there, as well as the life and changing nature of the street itself. The assortment of shops--many of them providing fresh foods and personal services--help to create a sense of community among the residents that seems uniquely Parisian, and possibly of a bygone era. -Candice

The sun does shine : how I found life and freedom on death row book cover

The sun does shine : how I found life and freedom on death row

Anthony Ray Hinton

364.66 /Hinton
Memoir

"A powerful, revealing story of hope, love, justice, and the power of reading by a man who spent thirty years on death row for a crime he didn't commit"--

Meredith's picture

I recently read Bryan Stevenson's book, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, and had The Sun Does Shine on my TBR list not knowing it was written by one of the innocent people Stevenson and his Equal Justice Initiative fought to free. Hinton was wrongly convicted of a crime he did not commit and was sentenced to death. The evidence proving his innocence was overwhelming, but a racist system paid no attention and an innocent man spent years waiting for death. Hinton's inner strength is incredible. He has every right to be angry, to be bitter. He has every right to hate the people who did this to him. And yet he remained hopeful, never giving in despite a system that looks at color before facts. To read his story in his own words is so amazingly heart-breaking and frustrating, and so incredibly difficult at times. I wanted to stop, but I couldn't. Closing our eyes to reality doesn't make the injustice go away. There are more people like Hinton than we want to believe and they deserve the fairness we've been told our justice system is built upon. Unfortunately, reality paints a different picture. -Meredith

Heavy : an American memoir book cover

Heavy : an American memoir

Kiese Laymon

BIOGRAPHY Laymon, Kiese
Memoir

"Laymon writes eloquently and honestly about the physical manifestations of violence, grief, trauma, and abuse on his own body. He writes of his own eating disorder and gambling addiction as well as similar issues that run throughout his family. Through self-exploration, storytelling, and honest conversation with family and friends, Heavy seeks to bring what has been hidden into the light and to reckon with all of its myriad sources, from the most intimate--a mother-child relationship--to the most universal--a society that has undervalued and abused black bodies for centuries"--

Meredith's picture

The honesty in Kiese Laymon's writing is powerful. It will make you uncomfortable, but it will also make you think. -Meredith

Wild : from lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trail book cover

Wild : from lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Cheryl Strayed

917.9 /Strayed
Memoir

A powerful, blazingly honest, inspiring memoir: the story of a 1,100 mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe--and built her back up again.

Meredith's picture

I don't know why I waited so long to read this book, but I'm so glad I did! I loved nearly every part of it, from her relationship to her mother and the need to do something different, to the honest truth that she was totally unprepared for her journey and still she walked. There were a few instances that kind of dragged, but they were few and far between. She was walking for miles on end; what did I expect? -Meredith

Hey, kiddo book cover

Hey, kiddo

Jarrett Krosoczka

362.2913 /Krosoczka
Graphic Novels, Memoir, Young Adult

"In kindergarten, Jarrett Krosoczka's teacher asks him to draw his family, with a mommy and a daddy. But Jarrett's family is much more complicated than that. His mom is an addict, in and out of rehab, and in and out of Jarrett's life. His father is a mystery -- Jarrett doesn't know where to find him, or even what his name is. Jarrett lives with his grandparents -- two very loud, very loving, very opinionated people who had thought they were through with raising children until Jarrett came along"--

Angela's picture

This book is getting rave reviews and was easy to see why. Hey, Kiddo is the graphic memoir of author-illustrator Jarrett J. Krosoczka. Raised by his colorful grandparents, who adopted him because his mother was an incarcerated heroin addict, Krosoczka didn't know his father's name until he saw his birth certificate when registering for a school ski trip. Hey, Kiddo traces Krosoczka's search for his father, his difficult interactions with his mother, his day-to-day life with his grandparents, and his path to becoming an artist. The artwork does, as intended, look like a memory or dream sequence and adds to the intensity of the book. It is a very honest description of his life growing up and at times can be very dark. Knowing the books he now writes and illustrates for children, it is amazing to see him overcome his upbringing to be the success he is today, it proves to be a very powerful message for everyone to take away. -Angela

The Victorian and the romantic : a memoir, a love story, and a friendship across time book cover

The Victorian and the romantic : a memoir, a love story, and a friendship across time

Nell Stevens

BIOGRAPHY Stevens, Nell
Memoir

"History meets memoir in two true-life love stories between two sets of writers--one unfolding in nineteenth century Rome, one in present-day Paris and London--which both reveal the longings and ambitions of the very contemporary Nell Stevens. In 1857, English novelist Elizabeth Gaskell completed her most famous work: the biography of her dear friend, the recently deceased Charlotte Bronte. As publication loomed Elizabeth was keen to escape the reviews and, leaving her wholesome, dull minister husband at home, traveled with her daughters to Rome. And it was there that she met the American writer and critic, Charles Eliot Norton. Seventeen years her junior, he was the love of her life. She knew they could never be together--it would be an unthinkable breach--but when she returned home to Mr. Gaskell, she discovered to her horror that while she was gone he had betrayed her--betrayed her work--in a way that she is not sure she can ever forgive. In 2013 Nell Stevens is in a PhD program in London, halfheartedly pursuing a post in academia to keep her afloat while she follows her true vocation as a writer. Her dissertation on the artistic expatriate community of nineteenth-century Rome isn't quite coming together. But questions of scholarly methodology take a back seat to her budding romance with Max, a soulful American with an unfinished screenplay. That is, until their relationship begins to founder, and the echoes between Nell's life and that of her historical subject become too strong to ignore. As these two storylines meet up in delightful, funny, and unexpected ways, The Victorian and the Romantic evokes the bittersweet ache of lost love and the consolations of female writerly ambition"--

Heidi L's picture

An in depth look at one slice of Elizabeth Gaskell's life, in the context of a similar modern-day situation. Author Nell Stevens writes beautifully, and you probably wouldn't guess from the subject matter that this book is a page-turner. Recommended for Gaskell fans. -Heidi L

Relish : my life in the kitchen book cover

Relish : my life in the kitchen

Lucy Knisley

641.5092 /Knisley
Memoir

"Lucy Knisley loves food. The daughter of a chef and a gourmet, this talented young cartoonist comes by her obsession honestly. In her forthright, thoughtful, and funny memoir, Lucy traces key episodes in her life thus far, framed by what she was eating at the time and lessons learned about food, cooking, and life. Each chapter is bookended with an illustrated recipe-- many of them treasured family dishes, and a few of them Lucy's original inventions" -- from publisher's web site.

Meredith's picture

Reading this book will make you hungry. It will also make you approach preparing dinner in a new light. You aren't just making a meal, you're making a memory. -Meredith

Let your mind run : a memoir of thinking my way to victory book cover

Let your mind run : a memoir of thinking my way to victory

Deena Kastor

796.42092 /Kastor
Memoir, Sports, Health

"From an Olympic medalist runner and the record-holder in the women's marathon and half-marathon, a vividly inspirational memoir on using positive psychology and brain science to achieve unparalleled athletic success"--

Candice's picture

Deena Kastor is a phenomenal runner with numerous medals and records, but it hasn't always been easy. Her book is engaging and inspirational, and shows how some of the more turbulent times in her life and career have made her the head-strong, committed person she is today. -Candice

Lab girl book cover

Lab girl

Hope Jahren

570.92 /Jahren
Nonfiction, Science, Memoir

"An illuminating debut memoir of a woman in science; a moving portrait of a longtime friendship; and a stunningly fresh look at plants that will forever change how you see the natural world,"--Amazon.com.

Jason's picture

Added by Jason

Furiously happy : a funny book about horrible things book cover

Furiously happy : a funny book about horrible things

Jenny Lawson

BIOGRAPHY Lawson, Jenny
Memoir

"In Furiously Happy, #1 New York Times bestselling author Jenny Lawson explores her lifelong battle with mental illness. A hysterical, ridiculous book about crippling depression and anxiety? That sounds like a terrible idea. But terrible ideas are what Jenny does best.As Jenny says: "Some people might think that being 'furiously happy' is just an excuse to be stupid and irresponsible and invite a herd of kangaroos over to your house without telling your husband first because you suspect he would say no since he's never particularly liked kangaroos. And that would be ridiculous because no one would invite a herd of kangaroos into their house. Two is the limit. I speak from personal experience. My husband says that none is the new limit. I say he should have been clearer about that before I rented all those kangaroos. "Most of my favorite people are dangerously fucked-up but you'd never guess because we've learned to bare it so honestly that it becomes the new normal. Like John Hughes wrote in The Breakfast Club, 'We're all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it.' Except go back and cross out the word 'hiding.'"Furiously Happy is about "taking those moments when things are fine and making them amazing, because those moments are what make us who we are, and they're the same moments we take into battle with us when our brains declare war on our very existence. It's the difference between "surviving life" and "living life". It's the difference between "taking a shower" and "teaching your monkey butler how to shampoo your hair." It's the difference between being "sane" and being "furiously happy."Lawson is beloved around the world for her inimitable humor and honesty, and in Furiously Happy, she is at her snort-inducing funniest. This is a book about embracing everything that makes us who we are - the beautiful and the flawed - and then using it to find joy in fantastic and outrageous ways. Because as Jenny's mom says, "Maybe 'crazy' isn't so bad after all." Sometimes crazy is just right"--

Amanda's picture

A truly hilarious book about mental illness! -Amanda