Memoirs and Biographies We Love discussion

What'cha readin'?

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whichwaydidshego Tell us about any memoirs/biographies you have read recently or are in the process of reading. Did you like it or no? Why or why not?

message 2: by Jennie (new)

Jennie | 2 comments I just finished Gracie: a love story by George Burns. It was so sweet. It wasn't terribly cerebral, but I forgot just how funny Gracie Allen was, and this was a great reminder. She was the hardest working Mom in showbusiness for years, too. Their work life/marriage wasn't the norm for Hollywood then or now, so it was pretty interesting. I laughed out loud a lot with this book. I highly recommend it.

message 3: by Graceann (new)

Graceann (silentsgirl) I just finished Nazimova, by Gavin Lambert a couple days ago, and it was a mesmerizing read. Gavin Lambert is quite good, and I need to seek out his books on Norma Shearer and George Cukor now. Nazimova was a fascinating person, and Lambert was meticulous in his research.

I read My Heart Belongs, by Mary Martin, a few months ago, and while I quite enjoyed it for its discussion of backstage theatre issues, she didn't get very personal about herself. I would love to see an objective biography of her.

message 4: by karen (new)

karen reyes (ancientreader) | 3 comments I just finished reading Foreskin's Lament, A Memoir. I loved the title of this book, and had to read it. I ended up really enjoying it. Reading it took me only a few days, which I love with my busy lifestyle! In the beginning I felt the author whining too much, but hung in there and glad I did. As you travel through the book you begin to understand the relevance of his complaints and woes in life. I also found that many of the taboos in the orthodox Jewish faith are prevalent in strict Christianity as well. It seems that religion can screw up so much of mankind, when it's true intention is to give human beings a sense of hope and connection to God. Unfortunately, this is not always true, especially the stricter you go on the religion scale. You could have replaced the rabbis in this book with fundamentalist ministers - same story for us all! Ironically, both religions have more in common than not - always in search of the perfect rendition of a human being awaiting the messiah; and screwing it up along the way with temptation and humility. No matter what religion you are, you'll find this memoir funny, dark, sad, revealing and ironic. Great read!

message 5: by Shasta (new)

Shasta | 2 comments I am currently reading Dean & Me (a love story) by Jerry Lewis. I am reading very slow so that I can savor every page of this one. I can tell that Jerry loved Dean with every ounce of his soul and that makes it worth reading. However, everytime I pick it up ii feel like I'm traveling through a worm-hole to the 40's & 50's...i can feel the commotion, see the lights, hear the laughter...IT'S A REAL GOOD BOOK!!!

message 6: by David (new)

David (sfdavide) | 1 comments Just read River Town by Peter Hessler. It was a great read and a lot of fun. I have also read both the Ted Williams and Babe Ruth biographies, both written by Leigh Monteville. I have also read many other sports and movie star bios. Do we ever choose a book to read and discuss it?


message 7: by Gail (new)

Gail (book-a-holic) | 1 comments Hello,

I just joined this group. I read TONS of memoirs.
River Town was a great book, but I read it years ago. Hessler has a new book out called Oracle Bones and unfortunately, it's not very good. The writing is stilted and not written in the same style as River Town.

Currently, I am reading One Drop: My Father's Hidden Life by Bliss Broyard. The author writes about her father, Anatole Broyard, who was the book critic for The New York Times. It's tremendous!

I have many others that I can share with you. The next posting will have them.


message 8: by Ashley (new)

Ashley (readerandwriter) I am almost done reading a memoir called "Faith Under Fire" by LaJoyce Brookshire.

message 9: by Cheryl S. (new)

Cheryl S. | 12 comments My favorite recently read memoir is "Rocket Boys" by Homer Hickum. I will definately read it again, but might have to wait a while as it is currently making the rounds of my friends at work and everyone is loving it. It's kind of a true life revenge of the nerds, plus insights into some very interesting family dynamics and the effects the early days of the space race had on young people at that time.

message 10: by Angela (new)

Angela Burton | 1 comments I just finished reading a biography of Evelyn Waugh by Selina Hastings, which was wonderful--richly researched, well written, placed in historical context. I am currently reading "Walt Whitman: A Cultural Biography" by David S. Reynolds, which is wonderful so far.

message 11: by John (new)

John (jrw712) | 2 comments I'm currently reading Ann Wroe's Being Shelly, and I find it one of the most engrossing, beautifully written biographies that I've read in years. Right up there with Richard Holmes' Shelly: The Pursuit, one of my all time favorites.

message 12: by Rose Ann (new)

Rose Ann I just picked up Hypocrite In A Pouffy White Dress by Susan Jane Gilman, and plan to start it tonight.

I also picked up Audition by Barbara Walters (met her this past Saturday at her book signing at my local book store).

message 13: by April (new)

April | 3 comments Rose Ann, I read "Hypocrite" a few years ago and LOVED it.

message 14: by Rose Ann (new)

Rose Ann Thanks April! cant wait to get into it!

message 15: by Diane (new)

Diane  (dianedj) I have just started (and hated to put down) American Eve. It is the story of Evelyn Nesbit, Stanford White and Harry K. Thaw. It begins in late 1800's. Fascinating read, and very intriguing. This book has it all - and I love the writing style of the author, Paula Uruburu (who happens to be a goodreads author). Quite delish!

message 16: by April (new)

April | 3 comments Diane, if I'm not mistaken, those are the individuals noted in Doctorow's novel, "Ragtime," right?

message 17: by Diane (new)

Diane  (dianedj) Hi April - yes, you are right regarding Ragtime. I did not know anything about the story until I read the Times review.

message 18: by Paula (new)

Paula Uruburu (puruburu) | 7 comments Hi. thanks for the informal review -- and I'd be honored as a Goodreads author to have you write one for me when you finish. Actually, Ed Doctorow has been very supportive of me and my book -- he even had my book party at his place May 1st, the day the book came out officially. If you want to see more images than I could put in the book (and in color) go to my profile and YouTube (where there are two versions.)

Paula Uruburu

message 19: by April (new)

April | 3 comments Oh, I didn't realize we have the author among us :) Paula, I was intrigued by that love triangle story after reading "Ragtime" and look forward to reading your book.

message 20: by Paula (new)

Paula Uruburu (puruburu) | 7 comments Hi all. Thanks for putting me on your list. It was reviewed favorably in the LA Times May 11 and I am told it is going to be in the NY Times Book Review June 1st (the summer reading issue I believe.) Without giving anything away, I hope it will surprise people who think they already know the story. Although Stanford White was routinely called a "genius" and Harry Thaw "not quite an imbecile," the two men were eerily and uncannily similar in a lot of ways and motivated at times by the same dark impulses with Evelyn caught in between. It's really a hybrid -- memoir/history/biography/true crime with 50 great photos from the period to illustrate how Evelyn's hypnotic beauty "put one man in the grave and another in the bughouse."


message 21: by Anna (new)

Anna (libraryanna) I listened to the audiobook version of The Translator: A Tribesman's Memoir of Darfur by Daoud Hari a while back and it was heartbreaking and riveting and one of the most interesting memoirs I've ever come across. It was a great introduction to the conflict, which I didn't know nearly enough about, and the narrator was wonderful, if you're inclined to find the audiobook version.

message 22: by Tom (new)

Tom I've been meaning to buy Reynolds' Whitman bio for some time now. On a smaller scale, I have read The Better Angel: Walt Whitman in the Civil War, by Roy Morris, a particulary moving and insightful chronicle of W's experience working as volunteer aide in hospital for wounded soldiers during the war. Give a vivid picture of the experiences the eventually inspired some of W's most poignant poems -- Come Up from the Fields Father and The Wound Dresser.

message 23: by Carl (new)

Carl | 4 comments Hi there.

I think that my latest release, "Bader Field" published by Nightengale Press may have a far reaching and profound effect on a great many lives; at least that is my hope and my vision.

Check out the overview at in their store to get a sense of what I have written. Fair warning, it is a very emotional story which reads like fiction but is absolutely real. Having taken me well over twenty years of writing and rewriting and then finding the right publisher and editor, this book has been a true and exhausting labor of love.

It is currently only available through their website but it will be in,,, and others shortly and will be in the book stores in 2009.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I truly appreciate it.

Carl David

message 24: by Carl (new)

Carl | 4 comments Oh, I should have mentioned that it is a Memoir about a great art dealer, pilot, humanitarian and extraordinary father. The man was second to none and set the bar higher than humanly possible. This book needed to be written for all of the people who never had the fortune to have known him, but especially for my sons who have suffered the greatest loss and who will feel his soul within theirs but need to put the rest of the pieces of the puzzle together to fully understand the unique light that watches vigil over them. You may not have heard of Sam David but after you have read "Bader Field" you will swear you knew him and wish even more so that you had........

message 25: by Carl (new)

Carl | 4 comments BADER FIELD
[ISBN 1933449:] $15.95
Click to enlarge

Carl David is the third generation of a four-generation family art business in Philadelphia. He is the author of Collecting & Care of Fine Art published by Crown in 1981. His article about Martha Walter, an American Impressionist painter (1875-1976), was published in the American Art Review in May 1978 Mr. David's new book, Bader Field, embodies the emotional story of a son's loving relationship with his father—a legendary art dealer whose life is suddenly taken by a massive coronary at the young age of fifty-eight years. His death plunges the twenty-four-year-old man onto the front lines of the family art business, which he had entered a mere three years prior. Battling with his own grief while trying to help his adoring but fragile mother survive, David forges forward with all of the elemental tools his father imparted to him. His journey proves a difficult one, not having yet recovered from the horrific loss of his brother to suicide just eight years earlier when he was found dead on the fourth floor of the Rittenhouse Square townhouse, which was home to the prestigious David David Gallery. His self-imposed obligation is to successfully take the family art business to the next generation and to give his own children every bit of love, kindness, and wisdom bestowed upon him by the unique man whom they will never know other than the mark he left on everyone who knew him. Bader Field adds significant insight into the mysterious workings and dealings of the art world. David speaks from experience of having been immersed in it all of his life and having lived it from the inside out. There will be a tremendous crossover interest in this book as it combines the elements of an American family, its goodness and its tragedy interfaced with the multifaceted aspects of the art business and flying small airplanes. Bader Field in Atlantic City was the oldest airfield in the country. With little sophistication, its two asphalt runways juggled single and twin engine aircraft exuded a character and charm that created memories to last a lifetime. That is where this saga begins and where it ends as life comes full circle.

message 26: by Rose Ann (new)

Rose Ann I just finished Life Is So Good
I really really enjoyed this book! I borrowed it from the library, but I will defintely buy this book for my shelf! I dont read books more than once, but this one...I could!

message 27: by Meredith (new)

Meredith | 1 comments Hi, I am new to this group. I recently finished "A Twist of Lemmon" by Chris Lemmon. It is a tribute and memoir to his father, Jack Lemmon. I really enjoyed it


message 29: by Graceann (new)

Graceann (silentsgirl) I'm reading Eleanor and Franklin, by Joseph Lash. So far, it's excellent. It's a real investment of time and energy, but worth it. I love that when this book was released, all of their children who survived to adulthood, and Alice Longworth (TR's daughter) were still alive.

message 30: by Wild for Wilde (last edited Jul 02, 2009 09:36AM) (new)

Wild for Wilde (wildforwilde) | 1 comments I am listening to the new "Hit Hard" audiobook about Joey Kramer from Aerosmith. It was just released on audiobook this past week. So far, I am really enjoying it. I got my copy for a really good price at .

message 31: by Annette (new)

Annette | 1 comments I'm reading Identical Strangers, A Memoir of Twins Separated and United. I'm not really sure that I would want to meet a twin and dig things up. The book is written by both twins (alternating sections of the book) and shows their wavering emotions. It also contains lots of uncanny facts about other twins.

message 32: by Anna (new)

Anna (bookluvr_13) | 1 comments I am reading "Pill Head" by and about Joshua Lyon on eBook. So far, its good but intense and kind of sad.

@ Jess, after reading your post, I checked out and found this book for a pretty good price. Thanks for sharing the link!

message 33: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm plodding through the official Dirk Bogarde biog and will then go onto the diaries; I'd read all his own isntallments years ago but never followed his advice to read the fiction, so will make a start on that - soonish. So far, not learnt a vast amount from the Coldstream book but it has filled in lacunae, I'll concede (in parsimonious mode this morning).

message 34: by Chrissie (last edited Aug 26, 2009 03:49AM) (new)

Chrissie I suggest reading The Pure Land by Alan Spence listed on my book shelf Japan. My review of why I so loved this book is to be found on the book's page. Silly to repeat it here.

message 35: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth (mum2two) | 3 comments I'm currently reading 920 O'Farrell by Harriette L. Levy. Her style of writing about growing up in 1870-80's San Francisco has totally captivated me. Even the introduction, which is a mini-biography of her life is amazing.

message 36: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie I am reading Amos Oz's A Tale of Love and Darkness and it is really good. Check it out!

message 37: by Sol (new)

Sol | 9 comments

Hi, everybody,

I would like to introduce myself and my memoirs. I hope you will like them

I am Sol (Solomon) Tetelbaum, a former Soviet nuclear engineer. Almost 20 years ago, at the age of 53, I, a father and a grandfather, non-English speaking, without money and possessions, left the USSR and immigrated to America where I started a new life. Our volunteers who helped us to start it were deeply impressed by stories I told them. They suggested writing my recollections, but I was too busy, struggling for surviving.
Twelve years later, I retired and decided to write my memoirs, of course in Russian. My son told me, “Daddy who will read it? You should do it in English.” “In English?” I thought I misheard. It was an incredible challenge for me. I worked hard and at age 71, I published my first book Family Matters and More (Stories of My Life in Soviet Russia) where I described the most memorable family events starting from my early childhood till the day we left Russia.
Year and a half later, I published my second book The Door Slammed in Ladispoli (Unknown Pages of the Soviet Immigration to America). The book narrates about numerous extreme situations that took place in the Italian refugee town of Ladispoli, explaining to the reader that, despite the happy end, our bumpy road to paradise wasn’t always a pleasure trip.
Now I am completing my third book that is also devoted to my life in Soviet Russia, my career, my fight for realization of my dreams, and for fairness in the mendacious unfair System.
During my writing marathon, many my American friends are encouraging and helping me. I am very grateful them all. It took several years to write my recollections. The readers will learn some things they will never be able to find in other books.
At times, opening Amazon books on Internet and seeing my two published books and nice reviews, I think: as recently as several years ago, I would never assume I could make it.
I am dreaming to write about my American experience.


message 38: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie Hi Sol, Is there anywhere I can read a small portion of this book. I did not find it on your profile here on GR or at Amazon. I like to check out writing styles. I wish the give-away had been available in Belgium! So few give-aways are available in Europe other than occasionally in GB! This practice really outh to change.

message 39: by Sol (new)

Sol | 9 comments Hi Chrissie

Thank you for your message.
Please, go to Amazon books and type Sol Tetelbaum
you will find a lot of information about the books
You also may go to Google, type Sol Tetelbaum They have even more information

message 40: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie Sol I had checked out Amazon. It is not possible to look inside the books to read a few pages. I would just like to read a small portion of the text in the books! Other authors have put such text on their profile page here at GR OR made it accessible on Amazon.Your experiences sound very interesting and I love reading about Russia.

message 41: by Sol (new)

Sol | 9 comments Chrissie For the book Family Matters... please go to the website
under Introduction you will find several first pages
For the book The Door Slammed... which has chapters about Russia I can send you a couple of pages if I have your email address.

message 42: by Sol (new)

Sol | 9 comments Hi Chrissie

For the book Family Matters... please go to the website
under Introduction you will find several first pages
For the book The Door Slammed... which has chapters about Russia I can send you a couple of pages if I have your email address.

message 43: by Chrissie (last edited Sep 15, 2009 11:33PM) (new)

Chrissie Sol, I went to the site and read the introduction text to your firts book - and I really enjoyed it. I like books that include humor. I am always saying - if you don't laugh well then you will cry! When times are really tough that is when the importance of laughing and seeing the humor in the bad stuff is so essential. I don't remember - is your first book available as a give-away here on GR? IF you ever offer this PLEASE do not limit it to those living in the US, GB and Canada! You know this is just bizarre! Europeans also want to read books in English. Actually, although I am born in the US my whole family emigrated to Sweden in the 70s. My grandmother of Russian/Polish background bthought we were moving the wrong way! Times and situations change. I will always love the US, but I also love the different cultures found in Europe too. Back to the point - I am currently reading A Year of Wonders by Brooks about the plague in GB in the 166os. It is grim and I cannot decide if I am weird in thinking that the horror of it all is just too much for me. I think I have no right to demand a little humor in such a situation. BUT life throws lots of trouble at people and STILL some choose to respond with humor - otherwise one simply sinks. It is a survival technique. So is it wrong to throw in humor in the darkest of times? I do not think so. Anyhow I enjoyed the little I read of your text and have added your first book to the books I would like to read. I thought I would tell you about another memoir occurring in the polar regions of Russia. It is called The House by the Dvina A Russian Childhood by Eugenie Fraser. I always think authors want to read what other author's write...... I also recommend A Tale of Love and Darkness by Amos Oz.

message 44: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth (mum2two) | 3 comments Sol wrote: "

Hi, everybody,

I would like to introduce myself and my memoirs. I hope you will like them

I am Sol (Solomon) Tetelbaum, a former Soviet nuclear engineer. Almost 20 years ago, at t..."

Thank-you for posting your memoirs. I have just finished 920 O'Farrel Street: A Jewish Girlhood in Old San Francisco by Harriet Levy. I have put your books on my TBR list, and look forward to reading them soon.

message 45: by Sol (new)

Sol | 9 comments Thank you, Elizabeth
I would be very thankful for any your comments
I am looking forward to hearing from you

message 46: by Sol (new)

Sol | 9 comments Thank you Chrissie,
for your kind words.
I hope you will share with me your thoughts after reading the book
both books were available as Give away on GR, one copy of each. I wish I could afford more. Over 600 people signed up for each book.
I am thinking to write a book about famous Odessa humor. I would like to do a lot of things but my ability is limited...

message 47: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth (mum2two) | 3 comments I finished 920 O'Farrell Street: A Jewish Girlhood in Old San Francisco by Harriet Levy and am starting Shadow of the Almighty: The Life and Testament of Jim Elliot by Elisabeth Elliot.

Elizabeth - who or what is "Three Cups of Tea" about?

message 48: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (lisarosenbergsachs) | 69 comments Recently Craig recommended that we all read The Strength of What Remains by Tracy Kidder. I have just gotten it from the library and hope to finish it in the next week or so. I'm new to this group and I'm wondering how you decide what book we read and how we all get to discuss it.

message 49: by Marty (new)

Marty (martyweil) I just finished the The Forgotten Memoir of John Knox: A Year in the Life of a Supreme Court Clerk in FDR's Washington. An extremely interesting and entertaining book. Recommended.

message 50: by Michael Thomas (new)

Michael Thomas Angelo (mtasf) | 1 comments You can Run, by Jesse Archer-- it's a zany memmoir in its truest form as it takes place within in a specific time frame when the author traveled through South America

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