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If You Liked Hillbilly Elegy, Try...

 

If you're looking for a readable memoir, browse this list of suggestions for your next read.

Between the world and me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Also available in: e-book | audiobook | large print

For Ta-Nehisi Coates, history has always been personal. At every stage of his life, he's sought in his explorations of history answers to the mysteries that surrounded him -- most urgently, why he, and other black people he knew, seemed to live in fear. What were they afraid of?

This title can also be checked out in multiple copies for a book discussion.

When it came to her elderly mother and father, Roz practiced denial, avoidance, and distraction. But after her elderly mother's encounter with a ladder, the tools that had served Roz well through her parents' seventies, eighties, and into their early nineties could no longer be deployed. The themes here are universal: adult children accepting a parental role; aging and unstable parents leaving a family home for an institution; dealing with uncomfortable physical intimacies; managing logistics; and hiring strangers to provide the most personal care.

Also available in: audiobook

Queenan's deeply funny and affecting memoir about his great escape from a childhood of poverty in a Philadelphia housing project in the early 1960s.

Educated : a memoir by Tara Westover
Also available in: audiobook | e-audiobook | large print

Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, Tara prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her "head-for-the-hills bag." In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged in her father's junkyard. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education. As a way out, Tara began to educate herself, learning enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University. 

Meet Alison's father, a historic preservation expert and obsessive restorer of the family's Victorian home, a third-generation funeral home director, a high school English teacher, an icily distant parent, and a closeted homosexual who, as it turns out, is involved with his male students and a family babysitter. Through narrative that is alternately heartbreaking and fiercely funny, we are drawn into a daughter's complex yearning for her father. 

Also available in: e-book

In her thought-provoking voice, Tirado discusses how she went from lower-middle class, to sometimes middle class, to poor and everything in between, and in doing so reveals why "poor people don't always behave the way middle-class America thinks they should.

Also available in: e-book | audiobook | e-audiobook

Describes the life of the young Pakistani student who advocated for women's rights and education in the Taliban-controlled Swat Valley, survived an assassination attempt, and became the youngest nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Also available in: e-book | audiobook | e-audiobook

Here is a book as joyous and painful, as mysterious and memorable, as childhood itself. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings captures the longing of lonely children, the brute insult of bigotry, and the wonder of words that can make the world right. Maya Angelou's debut memoir is a modern American classic beloved worldwide.

Also available in: audiobook

Jenny Lawson realized that the most mortifying moments of our lives - the ones we'd like to pretend never happened - are in fact the ones that define us. 

The princess diarist by Carrie Fisher
Also available in: e-book | audiobook

The Princess Diarist is Carrie Fishers intimate, hilarious and revealing recollection of what happened behind the scenes on one of the most famous film sets of all time, the first Star Wars movie. 

Most people want to avoid thinking about death, but Caitlin Doughty--a twenty-something with a degree in medieval history and a flair for the macabre--took a job at a crematory, turning morbid curiosity into her life's work. Thrown into a profession of gallows humor and vivid characters (both living and very dead), Caitlin learned to navigate the secretive culture of those who care for the deceased.

Also available in: audiobook

Here is the riveting story of the Russian Revolution as it unfolded. When Russia's last tsar, Nicholas II, inherited the throne in 1894, he was unprepared to do so. With their four daughters (including Anastasia) and only son, a hemophiliac, Nicholas and his reclusive wife, Alexandra, buried their heads in the sand, living a life of opulence as World War I raged outside their door and political unrest grew.

The glass castle : a memoir by Jeannette Walls
Also available in: e-book | audiobook | e-audiobook | large print

Journalist Walls grew up with parents whose ideals and stubborn nonconformity were their curse and their salvation. Rex and Rose Mary and their four children lived like nomads, moving among Southwest desert towns, camping in the mountains. When the money ran out, the Walls retreated to the dismal West Virginia mining town Rex had tried to escape. 

This title is also available to check out as a book discussion kit.

Twelve years a slave by Solomon Northup
Also available in: e-book | audiobook | e-audiobook | video

12 Years a Slave is the harrowing account of a black man, born free in New York State, who was drugged, kidnapped, and sold into slavery in 1841. Having no way to contact his family, and fearing for his life if he told the truth, Solomon Northup was sold from plantation to plantation in Louisiana, toiling under cruel masters for twelveyears before meeting Samuel Bass, a Canadian who finally put him in touch with his family, and helped start the process to regain his freedom.

Wildflower by Drew Barrymore
Also available in: e-book | audiobook

Wildflower is a portrait of Drew's life in stories as she looks back on the adventures, challenges, and incredible experiences of her earlier years. 

A funny, book-obsessed kid, Josh Hanagarne was born to Mormon parents in rural Utah. Large for his age, Josh was playing the role of Tree in his elementary school play when he suddenly started twitching uncrontrollably. Turns out the tree had Tourette Syndrome. By the time Josh turned twenty, his tics had become too drastic to ignore. 

Comments

Loved "The Family Romanov"...actually I love anything to do with the Romanov dynasty.