Members of the library staff have been spending the last year reading books relating to various genres, so that we can help suggest the perfect books for you to read! This last month, members of the library staff read a variety of memoirs:
- Staff Pick: Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy
Hardcover, Paperback, Re-issued edition featuring afterward by Ann Patchett
When Lucy Grealy was nine years old, she was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a form of cancer, which resulted in several hospital visits and the permanent disfigurement of her face. Grealy had countless restorative surgeries, many of which were unsuccessful, and remained extremely unsure of her self worth. Grealy writes with harrowing and vivid detail about her cancer treatments, bringing the reader into the clinics with her. Despite her extreme insecurity, Grealy comes across as a funny and warm narrator. A good read for someone who likes to read medical memoirs or books about body image issues. The hospital scenes are extremely powerful, but can also be upsetting. Grealy, who died in 2002, became friends with the author, Ann Patchett, and was the main inspiration for Patchett’s 2004 memoir, Truth and Beauty.
readalikes: The Elephant Man: A Study in Human Dignity by Ashley Montagu, My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor, Still Alice by Lisa Genova
- Paula’s Pick: Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher
Hardcover, Audiobook, DVD
Princess Leia herself takes her one woman show into a funny and sardonic memoir about growing up with her famous parents, her personal life, life on the Star Wars set and her addictions. Listen to the audiobook to get the full effect of Fisher’s humor.
readalikes: Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs, Stories I Only Tell my Friends by Rob Lowe
- Anne’s Pick: My Gentle Barn: Creating a Sanctuary Where Animals Heal and Children Learn to Hope by Ellie Laks with Nomi Isak
As a child, Ellie Laks loved animals and constantly took in a lot of strays, to the chagrin of her parents. As an adult, she became horrified at the condition of animals in a petting zoo, and later founded Gentle Barn, an animal sanctuary that is home to mistreated animals and a volunteer refuge for children at risk. Laks also delves into detail about her personal life, including a failed marriage and a tense relationship with her parents.
readalikes: All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot, Wild by Cheryl Strayed
- Jeanette’s Pick: I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had: My Year as a Rookie Teacher at Northeast High by Tony Danza
Hardcover, Large Print, Audiobook, E-book
The actor recounts his year teaching high school English in Philadelphia. Danza’s teaching was also the basis for a reality show. Jeanette recommends listening to the audiobook.
readalikes: Among Schoolchildren by Tracy Kidder, Educating Esme by Esme Raji Codell
- Jeanette’s Pick: New Life, No Instructions by Gail Caldwell
Hardcover, Large Print, Audiobooks, Downloadable Audiobook
The former The Boston Globe book critic looks back on her life, which includes contracting polio as a young child.
Readalikes: The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion, Why I Wore Lipstick to my Mastectomy by Geralyn Lucas
- Jeanette’s Pick: The Second Mayflower Adventure by Warwick Charlton
Read the back story of the ship known as the Mayflower II in Plymouth and its journey from England in 1957 told through the point of view of the man behind it. Fun fact: Waltham teenager, Joe Meany, was a passenger on the 1957 voyage.
readalike: The Shining Sea by George C. Daughan
- Gerry C’s Pick: Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
Hardcover, Paperback, Large Print, Audiobook, Downloadable Audiobook, E-book
A sportswriter recalls his visits with his former professor, who was suffering from ALS.
readalikes: The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch, Driving Mr. Yogi by Harvey Araton
- Maureen’s Pick: Let’s Pretend this Never Happened by Jenny Lawson
Hardcover, Paperback, Audiobook CD, Playaway Audiobook, E-book
A blogger uses illustrations to tell the story of her life. Good read for someone who likes dysfunctional family memoirs.
readalikes: Sippy Cups are Not for Chardonay by Stefanie Wilde-Taylor, Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang by Chelsea Handler
- Maureen’s Pick: Ever by My Side by Nick Trout
Hardcover, Audiobook, E-book
With gentle humor, a veterinarian chronicles his life, using his pets as starting off points.
readalikes: A Dog Walks into a Nursing Home by Sue Halpern, Marley and Me by John Grogan
- Doreen’s Pick: The World’s Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne
Hardcover, Audiobook CD, Downloadable Audiobook
Hanagarne writes about his remarkable life, talking about his Tourette’s syndrome, being raised in the Mormon faith, his love of weightlifting, and his decision to become a librarian. Each chapter starts with an anecdote from his public library job which will make library staff and patrons alike laugh.
readalikes: Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen, The Autistic Brain by Temple Grandin, Running the Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian by Avi Steinberg
- Doreen’s Pick: Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett
Hardcover, Large Print, Paperback, Audiobook, E-book
Ann Patchett’s memoir details her friendship with Lucy Grealy. This is a great companion book to Autobiography of a Face. Read Lucy’s sister, Suellen’s reaction to both books.
readalikes: She Matters by Susana Sonnenberg, At Home in the World by Joyce Maynard
- Louise’s Pick: Etched in Sand by Regina Calcaterra
A New York attorney recounts her life in an abusive household and in the foster care system as she strives to not be separated from her brothers and sisters.
readalikes: The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, Dibs in Search of Self by Virginia Axline, Sybil by Flora Rheta Schreiber, Blackbird by Jennifer Lauck, Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
- Laura’s Pick: This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett
Hardcover, Large Print, Audiobook CD, Playaway Audiobook, Downloadable Audiobook, E-book
This is a collection of autobiographical essays, some of which have been previously published. A lot of essays detail the evolution of Patchett’s writing career.
readalikes: On Writing by Stephen King, High Tide in Tucson by Barbara Kingsolver, One Writer’s Beginnings by Eudora Welty
- Laura’s Pick: The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria Augusta Trapp
Read the whole story about the family that inspired The Sound of Music. Using her humor and faith, Maria writes about her integration into the Trapp family, their evolution as a singing group, the pre-World War II days of Europe, and the family’s move to the United States.
readalikes: Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott, Funny Woman: The Life and Times of Fanny Brice by Barbara Grossman