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Biographies and Memoirs > Favorite Memoirs and Biographies

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message 1: by Chrissie (last edited Oct 08, 2010 10:19PM) (new)

Chrissie I adore memoirs and biographies! The following are some of my favorites. Some are "historical fiction", but they stick very close to the known facts.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
(see messages 6 and 7 below)
The Snoring Bird: My Family's Journey Through a Century of Biology
A Soldier of the Great War
War Trash
The Unwanted: A Memoir of Childhood
The Storyteller's Daughter: One Woman's Return to Her Lost Homeland
Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! Adventures of a Curious Character
The Seamstress
Skylark Farm: A Novel
Blue Boy
Saints and Villains
The House by the Dvina: A Russian Childhood
That Summer in Sicily: A Love Story
Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China
Sky Burial: An Epic Love Story of Tibet
The Bielski Brothers: The True Story of Three Men Who Defied the Nazis, Built a Village in the Forest, and Saved 1,200 Jews
The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey
Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl
Olga's Story: Three Continents, Two World Wars and Revolution--One Woman's Epic Journey Through the Twentieth Century
My Father's Paradise: A Son's Search for His Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq
The Painted Kiss
ArroganceThe Josephine Bonaparte Trilogy
Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire
No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II
By Fire, By Water

As you can see, the subjects covered are diverse. The list is not in any particular order. I have written reviews for practically all of these. IF you are interested in reading my reviews, maybe the easiest way is to go to my profile, click on reviews, and search by typing the title of the book you are interested in!

I could not split these into the funny versus sad types, so I added the subtopic "favorites" to the memoir and biography file! I hope that is OK!

message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

That's a great list Chrissie! I do want to read the Roosevelt biography one of these days. And a few others look really interesting to me, too. I'll be checking your reviews and adding a few to my tbr list.

message 3: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie Jeanette, I hope you find a few titles that interest you. The subject matter of those in the list is wide. The Roosevelt biography was NOT dry - absolutely the opposite. One can call it sopping wet to emphasize the opposite of dry!

message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

Great description, Chrissie! I've added a few titles to my list.

message 5: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks I will be adding some of these titles for sure; thanks for posting such a great list.

message 6: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Vegan (lisavegan) Great list, Chrissie. But isn't A Tree Grows in Brooklyn a novel?

message 7: by Chrissie (last edited Oct 08, 2010 10:30PM) (new)

Chrissie Lisa, you are absolutely right! I always thought that this was one of those novels that recounted past family experiences. It always felt so darn REAL to me! Oooops! I will correct the list..... Thanks for straigthening me out!!!!

I should add that I have also included "memoirs and biographies" that are sometimes historical fiction although based on the real peoples lives. "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" does NOT fit into this category, as I mistakenly thought! I will leave it here, but crossed out, so my error is visible. I want to encourage others to read it.

message 8: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Vegan (lisavegan) Chrissie, Good idea. It's one of my favorite books!

message 9: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie Lisa, me too, I just couldn't remove it totally from the list....... I want everyone to reread it. You know that is a book I should reread!

message 10: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Vegan (lisavegan) Chrissie wrote: "Lisa, me too, I just couldn't remove it totally from the list....... I want everyone to reread it. You know that is a book I should reread!"

I haven't read it for years, although I have read it a few times, but I'd like to read it again, but I'm so behind with my reading.

message 11: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks Lisa wrote: "Chrissie, Good idea. It's one of my favorite books!"

I really loved that book as well, and it would also be a good book to use in a high school English class to show what life like in bygone times, it could also be used in an American history class. Like Lisa, I want to read it again, but right now, it would scuttle the books I should be reading (I've read lots of new books since joining GR, but I've also gotten behind my reading).

message 12: by Dara S. (new)

Dara S. (dara85) Chrissy,
Great list! I have read The Seamstress and Eleni and enjoyed both books.
Another one I liked in the same vain isThe Hiding Place.

message 13: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie Dara, I hope you find several that are intersting to you! It is great that you started by adding on your favorites too. I will go check out "The Hiding Place".

message 14: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks Chrissie wrote: "Dara, I hope you find several that are intersting to you! It is great that you started by adding on your favorites too. I will go check out "The Hiding Place"."

I just put "The Hiding Place" on my to-read list, it looks really interesting and has gotten some great reviews from GR friends whose judgement I value.

message 15: by Dara S. (new)

Dara S. (dara85) Chrissie,

I did add a few to my ever growing list. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is one of my favorites too.

message 16: by Elhara (new)

Elhara | 19 comments Audition: A memoir by Barbara Walters was an interesting read.

message 17: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie Audition: A Memoir is a totally new book to me.

message 18: by Maude (new)

Maude | 479 comments Chrissie, I loved The Hiding Place!

message 19: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie Maude, I put it on my wish list which means buying list......

message 20: by Lee, Mod Mama (new)

Lee (leekat) | 3959 comments Mod
Thanks for starting this thread Chrissie. Your contributions to the group in this genre are always terrific!

message 21: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie Lee, I was kind of worried about adding a thread, but I simply could not split them all up into funny versus sad.

Are you managing OK after the move? That is quite an ordeal particularly with a child and pet. Are you still living in boxes? Most of all I hope you are happy with the move!

message 22: by Lee, Mod Mama (last edited Oct 11, 2010 03:02PM) (new)

Lee (leekat) | 3959 comments Mod
The boxes are rapidly being emptied. I am a little stumped because I have filled my bookcases and there are still 3 or 4 full boxes. I don't know where I had those books before. I guess I'll have to get another little bookcase!

Oh and my daughter loves the house and the cat is having a ball.

message 23: by [deleted user] (new)

Hooray, Lee! You must have had a lot of books lying about the house, or stacked differently in the shelves. :)

message 24: by Lee, Mod Mama (new)

Lee (leekat) | 3959 comments Mod
I think they must have been piled on top or beside my bed. Now that they are all put away neatly I see how messy it must have been before.

message 25: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Vegan (lisavegan) Lee, Do you keep your cookbooks in the kitchen?

message 26: by Laura (new)

Laura | 294 comments Chrissie wrote: "Maude, I put it on my wish list which means buying list......"

Chrissie, I would add the following books:

The Lover by Marguerite Duras

The Mandarins by Simone de Beauvoir

The Age of Reason by Jean-Paul Sartre

Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Youcenar

message 27: by Laura (new)

Laura | 294 comments I forgot to mention Catherine the Great by Virginia Rounding.

message 28: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie Laura, I am going to check them all out!!! The one about Catherine the Great is tantalizing b/c I read interesting things about her in the book I recently finished concerning the Dust Bowl in the Texas and Oklahoma Panhndle during the 30s. The title escapes me....... The Worst Terrible Times, or something like that. I guess I should drink another cup of coffee and wake up! Thank you for adding more. i will check them out AFTER I take Oscar out. That way I can spend more time and do it thoroughly. :0)

message 29: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie Lee, I am so happy for you. Just don't try and do too much at once. When we moved to Belgium we lived with no furniture for 6 months...... OK we bought a bed, but we ate dinner on a teeny little straw porch table in an empty living room. I cannot remember why this happened. I guess I have repressed it! We had two dogs then - Victor and Skye.

message 30: by Chrissie (last edited Oct 12, 2010 09:54AM) (new)

Chrissie Laura, great titles. I have read The Lover. We studied it in French. What is most striking about it is the tone. The atmosphere is nothing I have seen in any other book. Very special. By some of other titles I can see you are intersted in Existentialism and favor the French authors. :0) I added the book on Catherine the Great. Now I remember the title I was searching for this morning. It was The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl that piqued my interest in her. She gave many benefits to the Germans to get them to colonize Russia around the Volga. Of course she was German. They didn't have to serve in the army either. When all of this changed they emigrated to the US. Very interesting stuff.

message 31: by [deleted user] (new)

As a side note, these same Germans were allowed to emigrate to Germany, with full rights after the Wall came down. It was interesting to meet Russian-speaking Germans in my German-language class.

message 32: by Laura (new)

Laura | 294 comments yes indeed Chrissie, since I have studied the French literature for a very long time. Duras, Yourcenar, Sartre and Beauvoir have a different approach to describe historical facts, and quite unique in my opinion. Malraux has also a very accurate criticism about political and historical facts.

message 33: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie Jeanette that is interesting. What ever happened with The Pure Land? Did you get side-tracked? That always happens to me.....

Laura, I really apprecitae knowing of these titles. I wish I had more time.

message 34: by [deleted user] (last edited Oct 12, 2010 11:08AM) (new)

I just didn't care for the writing style of The Pure Land. Having read a few similar stories just recently, I didn't feel up for it. I would still like to read Mao's Last Dancer. Have you read that one, Chrissie?

message 35: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie I am so sorry that The Pure Land did not appeal to you! Darn it all. I have Mao's Last Dancer. I want to read it. Please send me a little time and untired eyes.

message 36: by Kathryn (new)

Kathryn | 375 comments I absolutely love Our Hearts Were Young And Gay: An Unforgettable Comic Chronicle of Innocents Abroad in the 1920s about two best friends who travel through Europe after they graduate from college. It's a complete delight and so very funny!

message 37: by Kathryn (new)

Kathryn | 375 comments Lee wrote: "Oh and my daughter loves the house and the cat is having a ball. "

So happy to hear that! :-)

message 38: by Diane (new)

Diane  (dianedj) I have just started reading: A Ticket to the Circus A Memoir by Norris Church Mailer . What first got me interested was a review that said it was a real looking into the New York literary world because of Norman Mailer; I'm really enjoying it so far, althought just started.

message 39: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie Diane let us know what you think. However Norman Mailer isn't one of my favorite authors.

message 40: by Diane (new)

Diane  (dianedj) Hi Chrissie, I've never read anything by him, but the story seems good anyway. It's about Norris' life and it's told in her voice. She hasn't met Norman yet.

message 41: by Chrissie (last edited Oct 18, 2010 07:53AM) (new)

Chrissie Hi Diane, I wonder if the book will center on her or Norman? I have been following a discussion concerning Life with Picasso. That seems to be more about her than him, of course you do learn of him too. He really seems to have been one s*i#! Please keep us informed as you go along.

message 42: by Diane (new)

Diane  (dianedj) Will do, Chrissie. Norris was Mailers 6th (!) and last wife!

message 43: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie Thank you Diane!

message 44: by [deleted user] (new)

I just posted these two under a different thread, but they belong here:

Cheaper by the Dozen and Belles on Their Toes. A very funny read about a fascinating family!

message 45: by Kathryn (new)

Kathryn | 375 comments Oh, I LOVE those books, Jeannette! Wonderful suggestions!

message 46: by [deleted user] (new)

I still need to read the second book, and re-read the first. :)

message 47: by Karol (new)

Karol Chrissie, I've read "The Worst Hard Time" by Egan - great book.

Jeannette, I really enjoyed "Cheaper by the Dozen".

A couple of my favorites are Home: A Memoir of My Early Years by Julie Andrews Edwards, and The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography by Sidney Poitier. Actually, I've listened to both as audio books read by the author and was thoroughly engaged.

message 48: by Kathryn (new)

Kathryn | 375 comments I like Julie Andrews and have read some of her children's books (Mandy is wonderful!) so I may have to check that out. Sidney Poitier is one of my favorite actors, too!

message 49: by Diane (new)

Diane  (dianedj) I finished A Ticket to the Circus: A Memoir. I gave it 3 stars, but would have given it 3 1/2 if I could have. I liked the tone of Norris' writing, simple, as if she is conversing with you. I also liked how she was extremely open, sharing good and bad times. She and Norman shared many interesting encounters with many different well-knowns. A good read!

message 50: by Chrissie (last edited Nov 19, 2010 04:44AM) (new)

Chrissie I just finished Not Even My Name. Here follows a link to my spoiler-free review:

Give it a chance. In the beginning I was a bit disturbed by the varying prose styles. It is NOT just about the massacres of Greek Pontians in Turkey after WW1. It is also a biography of one woman who, having lived through these horrors, came ot singing, loving life. It has a large emotional impact.

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