Memoirs and Biographies We Love discussion

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Anyone else reading biographies on people they don't like?

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message 1: by Kendra (new)

Kendra | 1 comments I'm not sure if I would want to read an autobiography of a person whom I'm pretty sure didn't write it (as Jennifer states is often the case)...I'm thinking of recent books by political folks who might wind up on the bookstore shelf entitled "Apparently, ANYONE can write one of these" (stolen shamelessly from Jon Stewart).

That said, a truly introspective memoir can definitely introduce aspects of a person that can change the way you feel about them. I have always loved Pablo Neruda, for example, and though I enjoyed the adventurous breadth of his memoir, came away from it feeling as if it was a beautiful, romantic, well-framed photograph with a gaping hole where he had cut all mention of his first wife. Indeed we humans are all narcissists who manipulate our story to suit us. And that is the crux of the memoir for me (and why I enjoy the genre so much) - learning about someone and finding where they are most human - oftentimes in the very same place where they are least willing to be honest.


message 2: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie Sure I can read books about people I dislike. Most often I am not sure how I feel about the person until I have read the book. I often read historical biographies, so I read to learn. I loved No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II and I must say that both of them were a bit "special". I cannot say that I liked all of Franklin's decsions, but by reading the book you understand why he perhaps made the decisions he made. A really good biographer will let you get beyond your dislike and put you in the person's shoes.


message 3: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Dutch wrote: "Precisely why I want to read Celine Dion's autobiography. I mean, I can't stand her, so how much worse can it get? I think it might actually let me hear her out anyway. LOL"

I can't either, Dutch! Maybe I should read it too...


message 4: by Melissa (new)

Melissa I sometimes pick up a biography of someone with a bad rap, thinking that I might see them in a better light if I read their side of the story... and it usually does work out that way.

The one time it didn't was when I read Open: An Autobiography by Andre Agassi. I actually liked him LESS after I read his own version of his career.

I'm hoping to have a change of heart after I listen to Decision Points by George W. Bush this month. I know people who have a great deal of respect for him, and I'd love to learn exactly why. I listened to Spoken from the Heart recently and gained a great deal(MORE) respect for his wife then I already had.


message 5: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Ooh, I think I'll stay away from Dolly Parton's then, because my impression of her is just like yours from before you read it...cute, spunky. I'll pass on the ego-trip.

Speaking of downers - have you read High on Arrival by Mackenzie Phillips? Wow, was that book tough to get through. I can't say that I liked or didn't like her to start with, but I will say the book made me understand her a little better. I read it about a year ago, but just recently saw an interview with her. Apparently, she's added a chapter to the paperback version coming out, and it sounds like she's finally found herself and some peace. I might have too go read that chapter, because I certainly didn't come away with that feeling from the original book.

Another one I have on my shelf, but haven't picked up yet is My Life in and out of the Rough: The Truth Behind All That Bull**** You Think You Know About Me by John Daly. I wouldn't say I'm a fan, but I do think that would be an interesting life to read about.


message 6: by Melissa (new)

Melissa LOL! I downloaded it on my kindle. Hopefully, no amazon.com employees know me! :)

The lifestyle was very interesting to read about, albeit extremely hard to imagine .. so unbelievable. And I really was more interested in reading about her getting through her addiction than the sordid relationship with her father.

Truly, the hardest part for me was that I just wanted to bop her on the forehead and tell her to stand up for herself. Of everyone that did her wrong, and obviously there was some severe wrongdoing in this woman's life, she always said "but I still loved him/her". I just wanted her to get angry, just once. It's one thing to take responsibility for your own actions, and to be forgiving toward others, but she never processed anything in order to come to a place of forgiveness. I'm sure that's part of the addiction. She really had no idea HOW to be angry, or even that she deserved to be, or SHOULD be.


message 7: by Melissa (new)

Melissa I saw that you rated that one pretty low, which was a relief because I was on the fence about reading it, and now I won't be in any hurry.

Have you read Why My Wife Thinks I'm an Idiot: The Life and Times of a Sportscaster Dad? If you like sports, or even if you don't .. laugh out loud funny.


message 8: by Melissa (new)

Melissa I hear ya!


message 9: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer (jhaltenburger) I read a good historical novel with a bad title (Gone with the Windsors) and walked away having thoroughly enjoyed the book and despised Wallis Warfield Simpson. I read a biography of her about 30 years ago and from what I remember from that, the book I just read was pretty on target about her personality.


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