07 June 2011

Don't-Miss Books to Read: Memoir and Biography

As you may remember, I'm thrilled to be on the voting board for the 2011 Indie Lit Awards. In case you missed my first announcement and don't know what these awards are, here's a brief description from the awards' blog:

Independent Literary Awards are given to books that have been recommended and voted on by independent literary bloggers. Nominations are open to all readers, and are then voted upon by a panel of bloggers who are proficient in the genre they represent. Each panel is led by a Director who oversees the integrity of the process.
I'm serving on the panel for the biography and memoir category. I know many of you share a love for these genres, and I hope you take the time to nominate outstanding memoirs and biographies as well as great books in the other genres included in the 2011 awards. To spark your interest, I thought I'd share some titles I haven't yet read or spotlighted but am looking forward to exploring.

Here they are in no particular order.

In The Long Goodbye (Riverhead Books), Meghan O'Rourke talks about grief, joy, and memory in the aftermath of her mother's death. Darin Strauss remembers a tragic incident from his high school days in Half a Life (Random House Reader's Circle) and explores his lingering feelings of guilt and loss. An Extravagant Hunger (Counterpoint Press) by Anne Zimmerman is a biographical study of the well-known food writer M. F. K. Fisher focusing on the years between the wars.

Reading Lips (Unbridled Books) is Claudia Sternbach's memoir of important kisses in her life--from parents to friends to lovers. Parkinson disease is at the heart of Zoe FitzGerald Carter's Imperfect Endings (Simon & Schuster), a memoir of her mother. In Reluctant Hero (Skyhorse Publishing), Michael Benfante recalls September 11, 2001, when he helped carry a wheelchair-ridden woman down sixty-eight floors of the World Trade Center, saving her just minutes before the tower collapsed, and how that hour and half changed his life forever.

If you've read any great memoirs or biographies published this year, please take the time to nominate them for an Indie Lit Award. If those aren't among your favorite genres, perhaps you can nominate titles in one of the following groups: literary fiction, GLBTQ, nonfiction, speculative fiction, and mystery.

What was the last memoir or biography you read?


Anonymous,  6/7/11, 10:39 AM  

I love a good biography/memoir. I will have to check these out!

Zibilee 6/7/11, 10:53 AM  

I am looking forward to Imperfect Endings as well, but a lot of these other ones sound very interesting. I hope that you enjoy them!

Melissa (Avid Reader) 6/7/11, 3:39 PM  

I really loved The Long Goodbye. It was so raw, but in a good way.

bermudaonion 6/7/11, 4:44 PM  

You know I love a good memoir! The last one I read was Radio Shangri-La by Lisa Napoli.

natalie @book, line, and sinker 6/7/11, 6:35 PM  

i'm a long-time fan of the memoir and am always trying to get others to read them. most of my friends and family are straight fiction people but i did manage to turn them on to some travel writing and a few others. the choices you have look terrific and i look forward to the end result of indie lit awards!

Jenners 6/7/11, 8:39 PM  

I read both The Long Goodbye and Half A Life. Both were worthwhile reads but I've give the nod to The Long Goodbye...mostly because it resonated with my own personal experience. Not sure if it was published in 2011 but I've heard Joyce Carol Oates's The Widow's Season is amazing. I hope to give it a read soon.

Anonymous,  6/8/11, 4:35 AM  

I haven't read any of these, but some of them look particularly interesting.

A memoir that has had a bit of a buzz too, is Tolstoy and the Purple Chair by Nina Sankovitch (my review), but I didn't like it as much as I expected.

I think we can only start nominating books on the Indielit website from September, though.

Susan Adcox 6/8/11, 9:03 AM  

I recently read Joyce Carol Oates' A Widow's Story, an unflinching account of what it is like to be suddenly widowed.

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks 6/8/11, 9:07 AM  

Well, HALF A LIFE is on my TBR, and I love a good personal memoir ... but what was the last one I read? You're catching me with only one cup of coffee in my system, and I'm drawing a blank!

Unknown 6/8/11, 8:42 PM  

I'm most interested in Imperfect Endings, my dad has PD. I enjoy a good memoir, the last I read was by Ruth Reichl, and it was about her mom.

Molly 6/9/11, 9:13 AM  

Many of these titles look SO interesting! I am becoming more and more interested in memoir (I think it has to do with my own stage of life).

The memoir that has resonated most with me is Joan Anderson's, A Year by the Sea.

Booksnyc 6/18/11, 8:18 PM  

I love memoirs but now that you ask I realize I haven't read very many this year. Thanks for the great suggestions!

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