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Staff Reviews: memoir

Check out these reviews written by the staff of the Marathon County Public Library! (For reviews in all genres, visit our main Staff Reviews webpage.) Staff book reviews are also published at Goodreads.com; follow us for the latest updates.


Cover: 'Acid for the Children'

"Acid for the Children" by Flea

★★★★★ Flea, a musician and actor best known as the bassist for the rock/funk band Red Hot Chili Peppers, has written a memoir covering his early years growing up in Australia, New York City and eventually Los Angeles. His love of literature had a positive impact on Flea's own writing abilities, and his memoir is well-written, funny, sad, moving, poetic and...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, memoir, music

Cover: 'Unfollow'

"Unfollow" by Megan Phelps-Roper

★★★★ From the time she was five years old, Megan Phelps-Roper would stand alongside her parents, siblings and other members of the Westboro Baptist Church and protest various parks, government buildings and religious institutions around the city of Topeka, Kansas. As she got older, the church grew in notoriety thanks in part to its controversial picket signs,...

Audience: adults | Genre: memoir, nonfiction

Cover: 'Me'

"Me" by Elton John

★★★★★ If you’re an inhabitant of planet Earth, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of Elton John. Maybe you’re familiar with some of the wild outfits and costumes he’s worn over the years, or you know a couple of his (many) hit songs. Perhaps you know him from his work on Disney’s The Lion King, or you’ve seen the 2019 biopic Rocketman. If you know anything about...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, biography, memoir, biography and memoir, celebrities

Cover: 'Toil & Trouble'

"Toil & Trouble" by Augusten Burroughs

★★★★ Augusten Burroughs, well-known writer and memoirist of such books as Running with Scissors and Lust & Wonder, has been keeping a secret from almost everyone in his life. But in his latest work, Toil & Trouble, Burroughs finally comes clean and reveals a part of himself that he’s never shared with the world before – the fact that he’s a witch....

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, memoir

Cover: 'Hungry'

"Hungry" by Jeff Gordinier

★★★★ Step inside the restless, forward-thinking mind of one of the best chefs in the world with author Jeff Gordiner's account of years spent on-and-off with Rene Redzepi. Redzepi is the owner and head chef of Noma, the Copenhagen, Denmark restaurant consistently ranked one of the best (sometimes the best) restaurants in the world. It's difficult to...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, biography, memoir

Cover: 'Becoming'

"Becoming" by Michelle Obama

★★★★★ Would you like to learn how a little girl from the South Side of Chicago rose above her circumstances to attend Princeton, become a successful lawyer, and eventually the First Lady of the United States?  Michelle Obama did a great job writing her first book about her upbringing, who made her who she is today, and how she stays true to herself through...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, memoir, politics

Cover: 'Hillbilly Elegy'

"Hillbilly Elegy" by J.D. Vance

★★★ Author J.D. Vance grew up among what he refers to as “hillbillys” – white, working class (and mostly poor) folks in Appalachia. Vance spent his adolescence split between extended family in Jackson, Kentucky and in Middleton, Ohio, a town in a state of decline after its main source of local jobs closes, leaving thousands without a job. In this memoir,...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, memoir

Cover: 'Love Warrior'

"Love Warrior" by Glennon Doyle Melton

★★★ Since she was 10 years old, Glennon Doyle Melton didn’t feel at home in her body. Due to the pressures of society, she never felt she could be thin enough, pretty enough, accepted enough, or loved enough. So, she turned to bulimia, binge drinking and casual sex to mask her fears and insecurities. In her twenties, Glennon finds herself pregnant and at a...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, memoir

Cover: 'One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter: Essays'

"One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter: Essays" by Scaachi Koul

★★★★★ Scaachi Koul is the daughter of Indian immigrants. She was born and raised in Canada surrounded by western culture. She is also thoughtful and hilarious. All this comes together in “One Day We’ll All Be Dead And None Of This Will Matter,” a delightful collection of essays. Many of Koul’s stories clue us in on what it is like to bear the scrutiny of being a...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, memoir, essays, humor

Cover: 'The Last Black Unicorn'

"The Last Black Unicorn" by Tiffany Haddish

★★★★★ Stand-up comedian and actress Tiffany Haddish makes a living out of entertaining others and making people laugh. That might not seem like anything extraordinary, until you learn about all of the strife and setbacks Haddish faced in her life, especially before reaching adulthood. While growing up, Haddish had an absentee father, a mother who verbally and...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, memoir, celebrities, humor

Cover: 'The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl'

"The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl" by Issa Rae

★★★ Issa Rae is the creator, head writer and star of Insecure, a dramedy on HBO about the lives of a group of African American millennials. Watching that highly-entertaining series is what me aware of this book and Rae’s semi-autobiographical web series Awkward Black Girl (on which Insecure is based). This book, chapter by chapter, outlines the various ways...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, memoir, humor

Cover: 'Lust & Wonder'

"Lust & Wonder" by Augusten Burroughs

★★★★★ After chronicling his extraordinarily unstable upbringing in Running with Scissors and his journey to become sober in Dry, Augusten Burroughs uses his latest book to explore the two romantic relationships that led to him meeting his husband, Christopher. The first section of this page-turner covers his 1990s-era relationship with Mitch, a successful-yet-...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, memoir

Cover: 'My Two Elaines'

"My Two Elaines" by Martin J. Schreiber

★★★★★ “My Two Elaines” is the perfect title for this book. Former Wisconsin Governor, Martin J. Schreiber fell in love with his wife, Elaine, when in high school. They married during college and pledged a lifelong commitment to each other. Together they raised a family and had successful careers. That is, until the “other Elaine” came into the story....

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, memoir, mental health

Cover: 'The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo'

"The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo" by Amy Schumer

★★★★ Celebrity memoirs almost always seem to promise to "bare it all" and give the reader an uncensored look at the star's life, but most only half-heartedly keep that promise. Amy Schumer, however, is not one of those stars. In her debut book, Schumer (perhaps best known for her Comedy Central sketch series or her semi-autobiographical comedy film "...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, memoir, celebrities, humor

Cover: 'Born a Crime'

"Born a Crime" by Trevor Noah

★★★★★ Before Trevor Noah was an internationally known comedian and host of The Daily Show he lived a modest life in South Africa with his mother. The two made a remarkable “team,” as he calls them, constantly trying to get ahead at the center of a world attempting to keep them behind. Trevor Noah’s father is white, Swiss, and German. His mother is black and...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, memoir, humor, celebrities, television

Cover: 'Home is Burning'

"Home is Burning" by Dan Marshall

★★★★★ Dan Marshall had it made at 25. After being brought up in a privileged (some may say spoiled) home, he had a great job in Los Angeles, a devoted long-term girlfriend and no bigger problem than deciding where to vacation next. Then, while lounging in Palm Springs, that life instantly vanishes when Marshall gets a call from his parents telling him that his...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, memoir, health

Cover: 'Troublemaker'

"Troublemaker" by Leah Remini

★★★★★ Have you heard about Scientology but have no clue what it is about? This book gives us an inside view of the workings of this religion from the viewpoint of former Scientologist, Leah Remini. Leah Remini is a actress who is best known for her role in the television comedy "King of Queens". From a very young age she was brought up in Scientology when her...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, memoir, celebrities, television, spirituality

Cover: 'Gratitude'

"Gratitude" by Oliver Sacks

★★★★★ It is hard to write a review on a book this brief without spoiling the contents. What I can say is that this short collection of essays, written in the two years leading up to Dr. Sacks’ death, is deeply and beautifully human. These essays show us the depth of coming to terms with death and celebrating, with gratitude, the life that you have lived. There is...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, biography, memoir

Cover: 'Wildflower'

"Wildflower" by Drew Barrymore

★★★★★ I loved this book! Reading it is like sitting down with a good friend over a cup of cocoa and listening to their stories. Drew writes with such emotion and honesty that you feel like she is in the room with you. This book made me laugh, it made me cry, and it made me realize what a beautiful soul she is. This book is written as a collection of stories from...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, memoir, celebrities

Cover: 'A Field Guide to Awkward Silences'

"A Field Guide to Awkward Silences" by Alexandra Petri

★★★★ Washington Post columnist and twenty-something Alexandra Petri has never been afraid to embrace the awkward and to march to beat of her own eccentric drummer. This humorous memoir is composed of essays on a number of experiences that explore varying types and degrees of awkwardness. Experiences include participation in an international pun championship,...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, memoir

Cover: 'You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)'

"You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)" by Felicia Day

★★★★ For those of you out there who are wondering who Felicia Day is, once you see her picture you will wonder where you know her from. Many are familiar with her online presence from various geek-doms and others will know her from television and commercials. She reveals a lot about why she became a gamer and how she grew to love that culture. Let's get real...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, memoir

Cover: 'Under the Same Sky'

"Under the Same Sky" by Joseph Kim, Stephan Talty

★★★ In this book Joseph tells us the story of his life in communist-ruled North Korea. In North Korea he starved for 10 years due to inflated prices of food and his country's inability to grow their own food. He tempts fate when he crosses the Tumen River during the day and is "free" in China. Once in China, where he could be exported at any time, he finds life...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, memoir

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