Fascinating lives, unforgettable stories

“It is not my deeds that I write down, it is myself, my essence.”
Michel de Montaigne

Pick up a memoir this March, and get to know someone remarkable.

Whether it’s an ordinary person thrust into extraordinary circumstances, or someone who is already a household name but has a story about how an unexpected challenge or tragedy has shaped them, memoirs can inspire, make us laugh, cry or cheer, and see our own lives through a different perspective.

What makes a memoir different from a biography or an autobiography? While the forms are similar (and shelved together at AAPLD!) a memoir is an account of a person’s life, usually the author’s, that’s centered around a theme or experience. Whether that’s a harrowing childhood, a serious illness, addiction, tragedy; or a  fight to succeed against enormous odds, a good memoir can give us insight into the writer’s experience and how we can apply those lessons as well.

To celebrate our month-long focus on memoirs, we’ve created a special collection which you can browse by clicking here.  If you stop by the Main Library, you’ll find some of our staff’s favorite memoirs displayed by the Adult Services desk, on our Staff Picks shelves.

Listed below are memoirs that have been turned into films– bonus points if you’re also looking for a March “Twice Told Tales” Reading Challenge:

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls – A journalist tells the story of her nomadic childhood in a highly dysfunctional, but uniquely vibrant family.

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert – Following a divorce, a writer embarks on an international journey of healing and self-discovery.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed – After battling addiction and grieving the loss of her mother, a young woman sets out alone to hike the 1,100-mile Pacific Crest Trail.

Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt – A teacher recounts his poverty-stricken Irish childhood, with humor and compassion

If you’re looking for something new or a little different, try one of these titles:

Sanctuary: a memoir by Emily Rapp Black   After losing her three year old son, a mother questions and redefines the idea of resilience.

Surviving the White Gaze: a memoir by Rebecca Carroll    A black woman’s search for racial identity, after being adopted by white parents, and later meeting her racist white birth mother.

The Secret Life of Dorothy Soames: a memoir by Justine Cowen    A British woman explores her late mother’s secret past, growing up in a notorious English orphanage.

Floating In a Most Peculiar Way by Louis Onuroah Chude-Sokei  A unique coming to America story, told by an African immigrant who finds himself in the midst of racial unrest and the growing Los Angeles hip-hop scene, in the early 1990s.

To Be Honest: a memoir by Michael Leviton   A memoir about an unusual upbringing in a family fanatically devoted to honesty, and what came next.