Memorable memoirs – Glimpses of ordinary and extraordinary lives |

Memorable memoirs – Glimpses of ordinary and extraordinary lives

Compiled by Kim Carrow and Jim Dunkel

“Truth and Beauty” by Ann Patchett. “Bel Canto” author Patchett’s deeply moving story of her friendship with Lucy Grealy. Lucy, disfigured by childhood cancer, lived a short life haunted by the demons of depression and self-doubt, yet she was also a brilliant, talented writer with a larger-than-life personality. “Truth and Beauty” is a tribute to friendship and to Lucy but is also an enlightening book about the creative writing process.

“Songs of the Gorilla Nation” by Dawn Prince-Hughes, Ph.D. After living with a form of undiagnosed autism for years, the author found solace and inspiration through observing and working with gorillas. Through her connection with the primates, she was able to learn how to communicate and participate in the often-confusing world of human beings. This acclaimed memoir casts a new light on the misunderstood condition of autism.

“Three Weeks with My Brother” by Nicholas and Micah Sparks. A warm, fuzzy memoir of two brothers who embark on an around-the-world adventure. While traveling to exotic locations such as Machu Picchu and Ayers Rock, they revisit childhood memories and discover a greater appreciation for life.

“Don’t Lets Go to the Dogs Tonight” by Alexandra Fuller. A touching memoir that follows the childhood of a white, African girl born into the racial and political hotbed of the Rhodesian Civil War. Despite the hardships of war and farming in an inhospitable territory, the story is told with humor and an honest perspective.

“Living to Tell the Tale” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. In this powerful, intriguing memoir, the revered author of “One Hundred Years of Solitude” and other classics begins his three-part biography. In his vivid style, Marquez tells the fascinating story of his early life, the beginnings of his writing career, people, places and passions.

“The Art of Eating” by M.F.K. Fisher. For the armchair gourmet or serious chef, this 50th anniversary collection of Fisher’s best food essays and memoirs is an epicurean delight equal to a plate of Umbrian truffles. Newcomers to the musings of M.F.K. will find her lavish appetites and frank observations on food, dining and cooking to be delightful and intelligent reading.

“A Million Little Pieces” by James Frey. At the age of 23, author Frey hit absolute bottom, finding himself filthy, horribly wounded and on a plane with no idea where he was going. In deadpan detail, he describes the horrors of his addiction to alcohol and drugs. His gut-wrenching recovery is brutal yet inspirational.

“The Child That Books Built” by Francis Spufford. As the title infers, this book is the charming memoir of a writer who traces his transformation from a non-reader to an avid reader. Spufford reveals his deep appreciation of classic children’s literature and how books encourage a child’s imagination.

“The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio” by Terry Ryan. The story of the author’s mom, who managed to keep her family of 12 afloat by entering (and winning) hundreds of contests throughout the ’50s and ’60s. Many of her winning entries were jingles for product advertisements. This uplifting story celebrates a woman’s indomitable spirit and uniquely humorous approach to life’s problems.


Compiled by Kim Carrow and Jim Dunkel of Odyssey Books, 11989 Sutton Way, Grass Valley. Hours are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays. The phone number is 477-2856.

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