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Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Entertaining Biographies of Unfamous People

If you’re like me, autobiographies of living, famous people fail to thrill. Ghost-written, dry in places, axes to grind, reputations to uphold and all the juicy parts reported by the media anyway – they are not my cup of tea. But give me a memoir by someone who isn’t famous and who just happens to have led an interesting life, and I’ll devour it--often in one sitting. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Try one of these compelling titles, and I bet you won’t be able to put it down.

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness – Susannah Cahalan’s best-selling account of how a mysterious illness upended her promising life as a 24-year old reporter at a major New York City newspaper and found her instead strapped to a hospital bed, experiencing psychotic episodes and with no memory of the past month or how she wound up there.

Some Girls, Some Hats and Hitler: A True Love Story –Trudi Kanter was a fashionable, young hat designer when the Nazis invaded Austria in 1938. She was also half-Jewish. Her memoir tells the story of how she used her business contacts to flee Austria for England and later rescued her husband and parents. Though safe in England, life there also held great hardships as Trudi’s father and husband were sent to an internment camp.

The Boy Kings of Texas: A Memoir – Domingo Martinez brings a new voice to the memoir genre. Martinez grew up in the 1980s in the border town of Brownsville, Texas. His introspective stories about the zones where English-speaking/Spanish-speaking, white/person of color, American/Mexican co-exist will not only amaze you with their lyricism but will often have you busting out in laughter. One reviewer on Amazon accurately called it, “the Angela’s Ashes of the barrio.” Funny, touching and heartbreaking all in one memoir. HBO agrees. They just optioned the book.

Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality– Stay in hotels often? Even if you don’t, you might enjoy Jacob Tomsky’s entertaining look at the underbelly of the hotel service industry. Tomsky winds up there after graduating from college as a philosophy major, saddled with student loans. And he sticks with it. This memoir of his ten years in the industry is a sympathetic, earnest look at the people behind the scenes who make a hotel run smoothly, or not.

-Ginger Hawkins, Centreville Regional Library


Parnassa said...

The World's Strongest Librarian by Joshua Hanagarne is a gripping account of what it's like to grow up with Tourette's Syndrome. Hanagarne, who become a librarian, also has some interesting insights about our profession.

Ginger Hawkins said...

That's a great suggestion! And on my holds list at the library. Thanks!