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Genre Challenge 2018-20 > Biography / Memoir - May 2018

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message 1: by Liz, Moderator (new)

Liz | 3564 comments Mod
Hi all,
The genre for May will be Biography / Memoir.

I have a lot of these tucked away on my to-read list, but I never seem to get around to reading them. Luckily, this month I will get the chance. But where to start...

I have dusty copies of The Life Of Thomas More by Peter Ackroyd and Jane Austen by David Nokes, which I was given when we were clearing out my mum's book collection. Definitely about time I tackled one of those.

But what will you read?

The Life of Thomas More by Peter Ackroyd Jane Austen by David Nokes


message 2: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 518 comments I’m in the planning stages of a novel about Fanny Burney so I think I will try to read all of Joyce Hemlow’s The History of Fanny Burney instead of just dipping into bits of it. Have already read a more recent biography, but I like they way Hemlow paints word pictures that really bring you into Burney’s life.


message 3: by Denise (new)

Denise Elliott | 4 comments Hello, I am new to this group but as I am about to start reading 'Somebody I used to Know, A memoir' by Wendy Mitchell I thought i might join you.


message 4: by Bill (new)

Bill | 2798 comments I think I might read, John Le Carré: the Biography by Adam Sisman


message 5: by Mercia (new)

Mercia McMahon (merciamcmahon) | 610 comments Maybe I could finally read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.


message 6: by Liz, Moderator (last edited May 24, 2018 01:55AM) (new)

Liz | 3564 comments Mod
Hi Denise, We're always happy to welcome newbies :)

Bill, I remember Le Carre's biography got excellent reviews when it came out, I'll be interested to hear how you get on.

Mercia, Henrietta Lacks is languishing somewhere on my bookcase too....!


message 7: by Em (new)

Em (emmap) | 2929 comments Mercia wrote: "Maybe I could finally read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks."

I've been hanging on to that book for quite some time too!


message 8: by Em (new)

Em (emmap) | 2929 comments I just read The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe - it would be a good fit for this month's genre and it would suit people who enjoy reading books and talking about reading books.


message 9: by Mercia (new)

Mercia McMahon (merciamcmahon) | 610 comments Amazon First Reads (nee Kindle First) have a memoir about a woman from Sweden who returns to the Brazilian favela she spent her first seven years in. None of the other free books enticed me and so thinking of this challenge I downloaded Never Stop Walking: A Memoir of Finding Home Across the World.


message 10: by Liz, Moderator (new)

Liz | 3564 comments Mod
Sounds interesting, Mercia.


message 11: by Kate, Moderator (new)

Kate | 1414 comments Mod
Ok, I've decided to read what could be a bit of a controversial choice at the moment! Ooh! What a Lovely Pair: Our Story is Ant & Dec's autobiography. Its been on my TBR shelf for sometime so I guess now is as good a time to get the lowdown as any!


message 12: by Em (new)


message 13: by Liz, Moderator (new)

Liz | 3564 comments Mod
I've started my book on Thomas More, but I'm making very slow progress. It's well-written and interesting, but I've got too much on my mind at the moment and I'm constantly distracted.


message 14: by Peter (new)

Peter | 16 comments For this month, I am going to read 'I Know Why TheCaged Bird Sings', by Maya Angelou.


message 15: by Kate, Moderator (new)

Kate | 1414 comments Mod
Just finished Ant and Dec's autobiography. Quite an amusing read but nothing out of the ordinary.


message 16: by Liz, Moderator (new)

Liz | 3564 comments Mod
I read that one last year, Peter. I hope you like it, I thought it was very good.


message 17: by Liz, Moderator (new)

Liz | 3564 comments Mod
I'm about a third of the way through Thomas More. It's quite a dense read: full of detail and not all of it interesting. He's finally entering Henry VIII's court, maybe things will pick up...


message 18: by Em (new)

Em (emmap) | 2929 comments Conversely, I’m flying through Me Talk Pretty One Day. Half way through already....


message 19: by Mercia (new)

Mercia McMahon (merciamcmahon) | 610 comments I've caught the Round the World bug again and finally started using my local Greenwich libraries, which means due back dates. I will have to pass up on the opportunity to finally read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks or peruse my recently downloaded Never Stop Walking: A Memoir of Finding Home Across the World.


message 20: by Rachel (new)

Rachel | 217 comments I'm struggling with Titus Groan at the moment - only able to read a few pages at a time- so may not get started with this challenge until later this month. Thinking about Up from Slavery or maybe The History of Mary Prince: A West Indian Slave Narrative. Not really into biographies...


message 21: by Em (new)

Em (emmap) | 2929 comments I know travel has its own genre but do you think travel writing might qualify for this genre too? I just accidentally started (and read a great big chunk) of In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin!


message 22: by Liz, Moderator (new)

Liz | 3564 comments Mod
If it's also a memoir, you could get away with it, Em. Although we'll be doing travel / exploration later in the year...


message 23: by Liz, Moderator (new)

Liz | 3564 comments Mod
Rachel, 'Titus Groan' is certainly very wordy! I remember taking a while to get into it, but once I got used to the convoluted style I was ok. I eventually read the whole trilogy - the first two are the best.


message 24: by Denise (new)

Denise Elliott | 4 comments I have just finished "Somebody I used to know" A memoir by Wendy Mitchell. An amazing book. Wendy a non medical professional in the NHS was diagnosed with Young onset Alzheimers at the age of 58 and shocked by the level of understanding of the disease, not least by healthcare professionals she set out on a journey of change. Her story is inspiring, thought provoking, of course it's sad but she is rarely that in the book. I was moved to tears but also feelings of admiration and I now have a better understanding. The written word can be a powerful tool and whilst Wendy often finds the spoken word difficult to hang onto, her ability wth the written word still remains. It was written in partnership with a ghost writer but it is Remarkable, I would recommend this one.


message 25: by Mercia (new)

Mercia McMahon (merciamcmahon) | 610 comments I got stuck in a situation where I did not want to read my library book (while eating something sticky) and so decided to start Never Stop Walking: A Memoir of Finding Home Across the World on my Kindle.


message 26: by Liz, Moderator (new)

Liz | 3564 comments Mod
A very good reason, Mercia ;)

I'm still trudging through Thomas More, but at least he's finally getting into hot water over Henry's divorce. We know this is not going to end well...


message 27: by Rachel (new)

Rachel | 217 comments Liz wrote: "Rachel, 'Titus Groan' is certainly very wordy! I remember taking a while to get into it, but once I got used to the convoluted style I was ok. I eventually read the whole trilogy - the first two ar..."

Liz, after a slow start I loved it. Looking forward to the next in the trilogy.


message 28: by Andrew (last edited May 19, 2018 12:55PM) (new)

Andrew | 1010 comments I bought When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi ast year so today decided to start it so i could join in this month but suspect it could be a traumatic read.


message 29: by Rachel (new)

Rachel | 217 comments Would be interested in your take on it - I read it earlier this year.


message 30: by Mercia (new)

Mercia McMahon (merciamcmahon) | 610 comments Never Stop Walking A Memoir of Finding Home Across the World by Christina Rickardsson
Christina Rickardsson's Never Stop Walking: A Memoir of Finding Home Across the World ostensibly tells the story of her return to Brazil to look for the mother she was taken away from at the age of 8 to be adopted by a Swedish couple. Interspersed among the story of the return home are recollections of live growing up in a cave and as a street kid in a brutal favela. This allows slow reveals of a lot of details and is a cleverly put together and compelling memoir. Unlike most Amazon Crossing books it is also translated well.

I'm busy with work for the rest of the month so The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks will have to wait yet another year.


message 31: by Liz, Moderator (last edited May 24, 2018 01:57AM) (new)

Liz | 3564 comments Mod
Well, I have finally finished Peter Ackroyd's The Life of Thomas More and of course the most interesting things about him are the reasons for his death, which took a looong time coming!

I persevered because I'd enjoyed other books by him and I am fascinated by the period, but although he writes well, the flow gets bogged down by the copious detail.

Thomas More wore a hair shirt all his life and reading this book has felt like a form of penance itself...

The Life of Thomas More by Peter Ackroyd


message 32: by Peter (new)

Peter | 16 comments I have finished 'I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings' by Maya Angelou. Before starting this book, my only concern was that it might prove to be somewhat grim given the subject matter includes poverty, racism and sexual abuse of a black child growing up in the USA during the 1930s and 40s. However , whilst these subjects are dealt with in an open and forthright manner, the author never wallows in self pity, but manages to give a positive and hopeful account of growing up in which the human spirit triumphs over adversity. I would recommend this book wholeheartedly.


message 33: by Liz, Moderator (new)

Liz | 3564 comments Mod
Glad to hear you enjoyed it, Peter. I completely agree with your assessment. Great book.


message 34: by Rachel (new)

Rachel | 217 comments I decided on The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir for this month. It was ok - interesting insight into the subject matter which was very dark.


message 35: by Bill (new)

Bill | 2798 comments I finally finished my biography for this challenge; John Le Carré: the Biography by Adam Sisman. I enjoyed for the most part, it was a nice refresher on his many books. Now what will be the genre for July?


message 36: by Liz, Moderator (new)

Liz | 3564 comments Mod
I'm glad it was good, Bill, but it looks like a long one.

I read another: 'A Positively Final Appearance' - the later diaries of Alec Guiness - good, but not as good as his first memoir 'Blessings in Disguise'.


message 37: by Bill (new)

Bill | 2798 comments Liz wrote: "I'm glad it was good, Bill, but it looks like a long one.

I read another: 'A Positively Final Appearance' - the later diaries of Alec Guiness - good, but not as good as his first memoir 'Blessing..."


It was interesting but, as you say, a long one and easy to put down, but also easy to take up again.. :)


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