3 August 2017

10 of our Favourite Memoirs

If there is one thing this blog is 100% on the same page about it's memoirs. We love, love, love them. Meagan veers more towards the celebrity type whereas Meghan reads more depression-inducing, psychological types. In any case, we've put together this list of 10 of our favourite memoirs (some of which we've already talked about way too much on this blog, but that's just how it goes when you love a book). Enjoy. 

I wrote a full review of this book that you can read for more details, but it is a fantastic memoir. It is so poetically written and Thomas makes you value the most simple things in life. Thomas' husband is hit by a truck and mentally impaired while walking their dog one day. The memoir deals with her grief and her life beyond her marriage, as well as caring for a relative with a disability. There are a lot of references to her dogs in this which is great if you love dogs, but not cheesy if you're not interested in hearing from a 'dog lady'. I think any female, critical thinker would really appreciate this memoir. If you're looking for a traditional story line and more 'action' I think this could be boring for you.

I mean, obviously. Right? Joan Didion is my absolute favourite author and she is best known for writing two of the greatest memoirs of all time. Blue Nights is one Meg and I talk about all the time. We are constantly debating the issue of having kids and whether or not our anxious-dog personalities would be suited to it. This book is about motherhood and loss. Didion recounts adopting her daughter Quintana and raising her in California with her husband John. She also details Quintana's time in the hospital and her eventual death. I remember crying reading the ending. It is so incredibly hopeful and positive. This book also contains my favourite Didion quote about memory which I cite in pretty much every review.

I sadly haven't read that much of Ephron's writing but I really, really loved this memoir. In this book Ephron talks a lot about society and how we get trapped into believing in a particular way of life, silly things we do because of it, and how this affects our well being. It is extremely funny, relevant, and filled with accurate observations about people WE ALL KNOW. There are also a lot of 'lists' throughout this book, including my favourite titled "Twenty-Five Things People have a Shocking Capacity to be Surprised by Over and Over Again". I think anybody would enjoy reading this and its a super easy read- you could sit down with it for an evening and finish it by bedtime. 

This book is incredibly short but is really beautiful. The reason the book is so short is because Jean-Dominique Bauby wrote it by blinking his left eye ~200,000 times. Bauby was a successful magazine editor who suffered a stroke in 1995 causing him to be completely paralyzed through locked-in syndrome. In the book he talks about his time in the hospital trapped inside his own body, and how he was able to unlock his imagination. The movie adaption is beautiful, and thinking back I should have included this on my list of best book to movie adaptations. Bauby's story is also what got me interested in studying linguistics. I remember finding it fascinating the way the speech pathologist worked with him and how she thought up rearranging the alphabet to make it easier for him to communicate. (Side note: Didion actually makes reference to her daughter's obsession with this book... Didion suggests that Bauby's involvement was exaggerated... it's a small, easily overlooked part of the book but it always makes me so sad to think about ... Quintana's positivity, her mother's gloomy pessimism.)

We've talked about this book a lot as well on this blog but that's because it's amazing, and I couldn't make a list of best memoirs that didn't include it. Meghan wrote an entire blog post on this book but for me, the most interesting thing to me about this memoir is that Davidson hikes across the Australian Outback really for no reason, other than she just wanted to. I really admire this. This made the memoir a lot different than Wild for example, because we weren't reading all the back story about the 'why', and instead we got to read a lot of technical details about how she trained the camels, what she packed, how she navigated, etc. I don't recommend this book a lot, because I think you need to be into expeditions to truly appreciate it. I'm not super into expeditions but I'm very into human relationships with animals. I would say, if you're interested in learning, this is a perfect memoir. 

This is the best memoir ever written. Do I even need to write more? Didion chronicles, and deals with, the unexpected death of her husband, fellow writer John Gregory Dunne, and then months later, the death of her 39-year-old daughter. Anyone who has dealt with loss of any kind should read this book. Michelle Williams famously told Vanity Fair that it helped her through the death of Heath Ledger. I bought this book for my supervisor during my M.A. and she told me she wanted to send it to her sister to read. I somehow feel like that explains the impact the book will have on you. You'll want to share it with anyone close to you. 

For the 7 millionth time, this is an amazing book. It's also one of the best memoirs I've ever read and I do read a lot of memoirs. You can read my full review of this here, so I won't go into a lot of detail now. Strayed connects her childhood, her mother's passing, her marriage, and her drug abuse, all to her 3 month hike on the Pacific Crest Trail. Its introspective, thoughtful, and it will absolutely change the way you think about dramatic events in your life. It will also make you want to go and do your own ridiculous hike, don't. I would recommend this memoir for any female, but especially females who are maybe going through something (a bad relationship, a battle with addiction, grief, etc.) because this book will undoubtedly help you.

I spent a long time hunting this book down. For some reason it never seemed to be available in stores. Emma Forrest is a British writer who talks about her life with bipolar disorder in Your Voice In My Head. The book also focuses a lot on the death of her psychiatrist (who she says saved her life) and her breakup with a famous movie star (COLIN FARRELL) who she refers to as "GH." The book has honestly kind of made me dislike Farrell, but I'm sure that wasn't her intention. I really like memoirs that deal with mental health and I had a hard time deciding which one I would include on this list, but Forrest writes so beautifully that her book stands out against the others. That being said, I would also suggest you check out Prozac Nation by Elizabeth Wurtzel and Brain On Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan.

And finally, another book I talk about allllllll the time. I truly believe this book is required reading for female. There are endless amazing life lessons in this book, it's like making every mistake with men possible and learning the best ways to recover from them, through another woman. Gilbert gets divorced after realizing she's not happy in her marriage, and proceeds to travel to Italy, India, and Bali to determine what her next steps are and recover from being "addicted to love". The writing is genius-level amazing, it will make you think of your whole life and all of your relationships differently, you just really need to read this.

The title is very typical tongue-in-cheek humour from Dave Eggers, but I believe it to be accurate. This book is so, so beautiful, and I still think about the ending OFTEN. This is a book that actually had me feeling the exact same way the author did. I felt pure rage and aggression in the final scenes, I hope you have a similar experience. In his memoir Eggers discusses how when he was in his early twenties both of his parents died within a very short time period of each other, and how he and his young-adult siblings had to raise their brother who is 13 years younger than Eggers. He talks about losing the freedom that usually comes with your twenties, and he also details how he started the McSweeny's. There is a very memorable scene where Eggers tries to spread his mother's ashes at Lake Michigan... He strikes this perfect balance between comedy and despair. I would recommend any 20-something guy read this book... It's what I always buy them for Christmas.

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