Memoirs - 2021

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A curated booklist by your favorite SPL librarians!

Memoirs 2021


In the Dream House In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado

The author's engrossing and wildly innovative account of a relationship gone bad, and a bold dissection of the mechanisms and cultural representations of psychological abuse. Tracing the full arc of a harrowing relationship with a charismatic but volatile woman, Machado struggles to make sense of how what happened to her shaped the person she was becoming.

M Train M Train by Patti Smith

The queen of rock and poetry and philosophical musings, Smith reflects on everything from poetry to her beloved late husband in this mesmerizing non-linear memoir.

Out East Out East: Memoir of a Montauk Summer by John Glynn

John escapes Manhattan for summery weekends in Montauk by the sea, where he reflects on who he is and who he may be attracted to, and ultimately comes to terms with both.

Sounds Like Titanic: A Memoir Sounds Like Titanic: A Memoir by Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman

This memoir has a very entertaining tale at its core, but the book goes well beyond the confines of the jacket blurb! As she moves from her time as a "performer" to subjects such as anxiety, the anorexia epidemic, teen pregnancy, and growing up in Appalachia, a more complete picture of what it means to be a woman in the 21st century emerges. Very well told and beautifully written.

What Remains : A Memoir of Fate, Friendship, and Love= What Remains: A Memoir of Fate, Friendship, and Love by Carole Radziwill

On a clear summer night in July 1999, a small plane plunged into the Atlantic Ocean, carrying John Kennedy, his wife, Carolyn, and her sister Laura. Three weeks later, John's cousin Anthony Radziwill died of cancer. In this moving and candid memoir, Carole Radziwill, Anthony's widow, tells her story.

Becoming Becoming by Michelle Obama

Take a trip into the soul of a groundbreaking figure in history as she challenges us to think about who we are and who we want to become. Obama struggled with the same challenges many people of color or marginalized groups face, including self-doubt—at times asking, “Am I good enough?” (She answers, “Yes I am!”) Michelle’s courage, determination, and resolve—molded by her parents, extended family, and friends—lifted her to rise to the top while navigating issues of race and gender in this warmhearted inspiring memoir.

When Breath Becomes Air When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalinithi

This small but powerful book is an unforgettable, life-affirming reflection on the challenge of facing death and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a brilliant writer who became both. Kalanithi was a neurosurgeon who spent years working with patients facing death until he himself became a terminally ill patient. He writes about his a terminal diagnosis, and how he still wanted to have a child, to nurture a new life as his own faded away. He said that although the fact of death is unsettling, there is no other way to live. Philosophical, beautiful, moving, difficult, heartbreaking.

Furiously Happy Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

From publisher summary: "This is a book about embracing everything that makes us who we are - the beautiful and the flawed - and then using it to find joy in fantastic and outrageous ways. Because as Jenny's mom says, "Maybe 'crazy' isn't so bad after all." Sometimes crazy is just right."

Autobiography of a Face Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy

This powerful memoir is about the premium we put on beauty and on a woman's face in particular. It took Lucy Grealy twenty years of living with a distorted self-image and more than thirty reconstructive procedures before she could come to terms with her appearance after childhood cancer and surgery that left her jaw disfigured. As a young girl, she absorbed the searing pain of peer rejection and the paralyzing fear of never being loved.

Another Bullshit Night in Suck City Another Bullshit Night in Suck City by Nick Flynn

Another Bullshit Night in Suck City is a memoir by playwright and poet Nick Flynn, describing Flynn's reunion with his estranged father, Jonathan, an alcoholic resident of the homeless shelter where Nick was a social worker in the late 1980s.

Empty Empty by Susan Burton

An editor at This American Life reveals the searing story of the secret binge-eating that dominated her adolescence and shapes her still.

Eat a Peach Eat a Peach by David Chang

From the chef behind Momofuku and star of Netflix's Ugly Delicious--an intimate account of the making of a chef, the story of the modern restaurant world that he helped shape, and how he discovered that success can be much harder to understand than failure.

Rise Rise: How a House Built a Family by Cara Brookins

After escaping an abusive marriage, Cara Brookins had four children to provide for and no one to turn to but herself. In desperate need of a home but without the means to buy one, she did something incredible. Equipped only with YouTube instructional videos, a small bank loan and a mile-wide stubborn streak, Cara built her own house from the foundation up with a work crew made up of her four children.

Memorial Drive Memorial Drive: A Daughter's Memoir by Natasha Trethewey

Memorial Drive is a compelling and searching look at a shared human experience of sudden loss and absence but also a piercing glimpse at the enduring ripple effects of white racism and domestic abuse. Animated by unforgettable prose and inflected by a poet's attention to language, this is a luminous, urgent, and visceral memoir from one of our most important contemporary writers and thinkers.

I'm Supposed to Protect You from All This I'm Supposed to Protect You from All This by Nadja Spiegelman

A heartbreaking foray into generational trauma between mothers and daughters, Spiegelman breaks down her own family history to understand her tense relationship with her mother; then her's mother's relationship with her grandmother, and so forth.

The Best We Could Do The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui

Thi Bui left Vietnam as a child in 1978, but she can’t escape the sense of imminent collapse. Her sparse language and muted colors contrast with her meticulous research and inventive illustrations. A sweeping family saga circling around in time, Bui weaves a compelling tale that makes the pages turn quickly.

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