Culture August 9, 2016
Have you ever visualized having a drink with your favorite character or walking down the same streets they did? Perhaps you imagine conversing with the author – picking their brain over a cappuccino and delving into the who, what and why of their beautiful prose? This is all possible with memoirs.
With a memoir, you are privy to a collection of stories that actually happened and you can fall in love with real characters. With book tours, book signings or author lectures, you may happen upon a chance meeting with the author, who doubles as the main character. That cappuccino you wanted to share? That can be your poetic reality.
We are fans of the written word at ENTITY, so here are a few of our favorite memoirs penned by women we admire.
This memoir is excruciatingly funny, so funny that you’ll find yourself devouring the book within a few days. Jenny Lawson weaves the lunacy of her childhood and the antics of her adulthood into a wonderfully funny collection of stories. And she isn’t funny in a typical way; she is able to surprise the reader at every turn with pockets of unexpected hilarity. A review from The Washington Post describes “Let’s Pretend this Never Happened” as “a satisfying, blithe tale of a curious adulthood and curiouser childhood.”
It’s rare to meet a person who has not heard of Anne Frank, the young Jewish girl who recorded her years in hiding during the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands. Her diary, which was published by the only surviving member of her family, her father, details her extraordinary young life as a Jew in hiding during WWII. PBS says, “Her diary a tangible and remarkable record of a young woman’s first-hand observations of the Holocaust, and the innate goodness she still sees in people.”
Walls has the wonderful ability to transform even the saddest of childhood events into fond memories of family adventures. She is able to convey the pride, intelligence, and resilience of a family constantly on the move and living in poverty. Her memoir brings her characters to life, showcasing their best and worst qualities as seen by a child who has had to grow up very quickly. Check out this memoir if you’re interested in the story of a young girl who battles and wins the fight against generational poverty.
In an article for The New York Times, Laura Miller says of Beard, “She’s the sort of writer whose charm lies in the voice – a kitchen-table drawl entirely uncontaminated by sentimentality – with which she relates the events of a mostly ordinary life.” The way in which Beard tells her story is perhaps the best thing about this book. She explores the many layers of her youth, family life and eventual divorce in an effortless manner that still conveys the depth of her emotions. “The Boys of My Youth” is paced leisurely but full of character and heartwarming moments.
This extraordinarily detailed memoir describes the author’s life as a coffee plantation owner near Nairobi, Kenya. Karen Blixen, who wrote under the pen name Isak Dinesen, manages her farm from 1914 to 1931, after which she returned to her home country of Denmark. Setting this book apart from many are the details of African history and nature intertwined with descriptions of her native Kenyan farm workers and the diverse people living in the nearby town of Nairobi. She has the remarkable ability to tell stories, all the while “giving African characters a complexity and dignity not found in other colonial texts,” according to TIME.
Here’s to adding five more books to your already long to-read list!
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