Just for Fun: Memoir Recommendations

No links to the books just yet.  Someday, maybe.  This list is a work in progress  

february chickens.

Only listing books I like and recommend.  The thing about memoirs is one learns about people and places one hasn’t experienced, and can, with the best of these, discover more about the human endeavor.  So, with one or two exceptions, I have no memoirs listed here from anyone “famous”.  They usually don’t interest me.  Alphabetized by author.  Oh, note, liking a memoir hardly means I want to make the same life-choices as some of the folk detailed herein.  I read memoirs to find out how people think and decide.  Keeps me humble or something, perhaps.

  • Alison Bechdel, Fun Home:  A Family Tragicomic.  Graphic novel pertaining to her conflicted but still loving relationship to her father, and growing up in that household. 
  • Anthony Bourdain, Kitchen Confidential,  His first memoir of learning how to be a in-house chef.  
  • Bill Bryson, I’m a Stranger Here Myself:  Notes on Returning to America After Twenty Years Away.  Interesting observations from a distance come close.  Mostly with humor.
  • Bill Bryson. A Walk in the Woods:  Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail.  He didn’t finish the hike, but then again my own AT experience is about 30 total miles, all in New England.  About 10 or 12 years ago I had a total fascination with thru-hiker experiences, so  I have read a LOT of those memoirs.  I will add some of these in later.  Being as most were self-published, it may take a bit of time for me to hunt the best ones down.
  • Augusten Burroughs, Running with Scissors.  Brings a dysfunctional childhood to a new level, but written with wit.  
  • Augusten Burroughs, Dry. Deals with dealing with addiction.
  • George Carlin, Last Words..  This one wasn’t all that good of a book, but Carlin needs to be immortalized wherever possible.  Search out his more useful WORDS, please.  
  • Arthur C. Clarke.  The View from Serendip.  Science and science fiction author, who was a British ex-pat who made his home in Sri Lanka.  
  • Anderson Cooper.  The Rainbow Comes and Goes:  A Mother and Son on Life, Love and Loss.  THIS is the book by a known personage, and his well-known mother,, and I only read it a few years ago simply because I wanted to attend a local book club meeting.  Normally I suspect not my sort of thing.  I am glad I did. Our conversations were enlightening. 
  • Samuel R. Delany, The Motion of Light in Water: Sex and Science Fiction Writing in the East Village.  Delaney comes of age in NYC, as a Black gay man.  It wasn’t easy. 
  • Annie Dillard.  The Writing Life.  
  • Ivan Doig, This House of Sky:  Landscapes of a Western Mind.  
  • Alexandra Fuller, Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight:  An African Childhood.  An interesting tale here.  
  • Temple Grandin, Thinking in Pictures: My Life with Autism.  Temple Grandin is simply an amazing person, who has turned her autism into a means to relate to the livestock industry, improving conditions where she can.  
  • Andrew M. Greely, Confessions of a Parish Priest. Some of his fiction books were too “romancy” for me, but he did have a few good ones – I am more of a sucker for fiction placed in the past than the present, overall.  But at any rate, he wrote an interesting memoir.  
  • Linda Greenlaw, The Hungry Ocean:  A Swordboat Captain’s Jounney. When she was swordfishing, and nearly lost everything in a serious New England storm.
  • Linda Greenlaw,  The Lobster Chronicles:  Life on a Very Small Island.  Fascinating, and brings me back to Maine, even if I had no adventures at sea like she has had.  Delineates people well.  
  • Jim Harrison, The Raw and the Cooked, Adventures of a Roving Gourmand.  Makes me want to join in!  
  • Jim Harrison, Off to the Side, a Memoir. A fascinating life of an ordinary man (but really, when you get down to it, everyone has a bit of extra-ordinary in them.  The thing is, can you write it up well?)
  • Bernd Heinrich, The Snoring Bird: My Family’s Journey Through a Century of Biology,  One of my favorite memoirs.  As a child he and his family had to escape eastern Europe in the days of WWII.  His father was an old-style biologist, you collect anything related to your interest, and define that as you can.  The family eventually ended up in Maine.  As a biologist myself, I found this accounting fabulous, though of course I would wish for happier situations. 
  • Bernd Heinrich, A Year in the Maine Woods.  A tribute to one of my favorite states!  Haven’t visited every state in the Union yet, but Maine is on the short list for being one of the five best….
  • Tony HillermanSeldom Disappointed.  One of my favorite mystery writers, with an awesome tribute here to his life and influences.  
  • Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Infidel.  Making a break with her Moslem past.  
  • Madhur Jaffrey, Climbing the Mango Trees:  A Memoir of a Childhood in India.  Her first cookbook was the one I first bought on my own.  It isn’t a great cookbook, but still holds a spot in my house due to its being first.  Her childhood tale is interesting, of course. 
  • William Least Heat Moon,, Blue Highways.  One of the best travel books ever, and it has deservedly become something of a classic.  
  • William Least Heat Moon, River Horse. Quite good. This is many years after Blue Highways, but still important.  Travelling by riverways instead of backroads highways. 
  • Adam Nicolson, Sea Room:  An Island Life in the Hebrides. Personally… I LOVE SCOTLAND!  I think this is now out of print? 
  • Trevor Noah,  Born a Crime:  Stories from a South African Childhood.  Ok, a second well-known person with a memoir. .  
  • Dan O’Brien,: Buffalo for the Broken Heart:  Restoring Life to a Black Hills Ranch.  This also appears under homesteading.  Buffalo  (actually they’re bison), rather than cattle, are better adapted to the Black Hills, and to much of the western regions of this country.  .  
  • Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front..  One of Dad’s books that I grabbed when the parents downsized – a classic that should be read and re-read.  WWI.
  • David Sedaris, Naked.  Humor, and oftentimes a worthwhile point to consider.  
  • David Sedaris, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim. .As above.
  • Asne Seierstad, The Bookseller of Kabul:
  • Anthony Swofford.  Jarhead.  Being a Marine in the Iraqi war.    
  • Amy Tan, The Opposite of Fate:  Memories of a Writing Life.  She’s most noted for her fiction – the themes usually revolve around cultural adaptations from China to the US (and at least in one case, the reverse).  
  • JD Vance, Hillbilly Elegy:  A Memoir of Family and Culture in Crisis.  Read in some sort of measure to understand America today,  Excellent.
  • Izaak Walton, The Compleat Angler, or the Contemplative Man’s Recreation.  Do read this, despite the :”archaic” language.  A lot of wisdom herein. A classic.
  • Donna Williams, Nobody Nowhere:  The Extraordinary Autobiography of an Autistic Girl.  I think this came out prior to the Temple Grandin books.  Worth reading – not all autistic /spectrum experiences are the same.  

This Page is not completed.  I have plans for the below features that I’ve not yet materialized.  


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