I had a lot of people respond to my earlier list of memoirs, and to the idea that books are most interesting to read when they are about someone else, and you run through them like a pale thread, holding the warp and weave together rather than dominating the pattern.
And it’s always fun to talk about what I’ve been reading – something that bookstore owners rarely get to do, funnily enough – so here are some more memoirs that made for ripping good reads. I call them you-you-you memoirs because… well, okay, sorry, but the fastest way to get that pun is to read my prior blog entitled “Me-me-me Memoirs.”
The $64 Tomato. I liked it not just because the guy writing it is funny, but because it’s one of several books that encapsulates the growing interest of Americans in our food sources, in handiwork, in taking care of ourselves for ourselves. He’s neither preachy nor preening, just fun to read and insightful without hitting you over the head with his thoughts about what it means to live off the land while holding down a “real” job.
Second Wind. Actually, it cracks me up that I left this off my first list, because the author, Cami Ostman, has been my friend since we were 18years old. That’s why I left it off, in reality; it was too familiar, too much a part of the social fabric of my life. Cami introduced me to my agent, who sold my memoir The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap so quickly and so well. As with many things in our lives, she went first. (That’s an inside joke; her birthday is the day before mine.) Cami’s book is very much about her fights with herself, mentally and physically, as she goes through a divorce, takes up running, and reinvents herself. And when I read her book – which got national publicity in Oprah’s magazine, and great media reviews, and literally changed some people’s lives – what I hear is her writing a letter. It’s so Cami, I can’t see it as a book. But I’m glad that thousands of other readers can. And I suspect she’ll have the same reaction to my memoir when it comes out this October. (St. Martin’s Press is the publisher, in case you’re interested! I’m in that euphoric stage where I think the whole world is interested; don’t mind me.)
Truth and Beauty. Ann Patchett’s friendship with her fellow author and Iowa Writers’ workshop attender Lucy Grealy (Autobiography of a Face) has ripples for any writing friends, but it’s also just a lovely read about what it means to need someone, to love someone, when neither of you can be on your best behavior. How does competition enter, end, or endure in friendship? Patchett’s book explores this. Plus, she’s my new hero since she logic-ed Stephen Colbert into silence by explaining why independent bookstores are better than and will last despite Amazon. If you haven’t seen the clip, google their names. Priceless!