Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Memorable Memoirs Reading Challenge, 2011 (My Choices)

The Betty and Boo Chronicles is hosting the Memorable Memoris Reading Challenge again for 2011.

About the Challenge: If you enjoy reading memoirs or really haven't explored them as much as you'd like to, then this is the challenge for you.  Anything that in your mind qualifies as a memoir will meet the challenge requirements. Letters, diaries, autobiographies, books on writing memoirs ... in my book, they all count as Memorable Memoirs.  Books, e-books, audiobooks are all fine. 

Dates: January 1 - December 31, 2011.   You can sign up anytime from now and throughout 2011, but don't start reading until January 1, 2011. 

Requirements:  It's up to you!  I want this to be a fun and low-key challenge, yet one that will be worthwhile of your valuable reading time. If that means reading one memoir, that's great.  If that means reading three dozen, even better.  You decide what works for you.  Overlaps with other challenges are more than fine ... even encouraged. :)

My Contenders for 2011

I read The Glass Castle last year before I started blogging and was shocked how much I enjoyed it, I never even thought to try a Memoir before.  I read 2 more this year, one was ok and the other good.

Two of my favourite bloggers enjoy Memoirs and I respect their views, go check them out also: 
Christa at Mental Foodie and Missy at Missy's Book Nook

So my goal next year is to read a minimum of 3 memoirs.  Have you read any of the below and/or what is your favourite memoir?

No summary needed, right?  I will be starting with this one.

Motherless Child - stories from a life

Imagine you gave a baby up for adoption forty years ago, and after years of trying to find her, she finds you. Now come the hard questions. She's healthy, beautiful, and successful, but she wants to know why you gave her away and why you didn't marry her father. And there is also the unspoken question of "What kind of black woman gives her baby away?" How do you explain to her that giving her away was the best gift you could offer? This is Sarah Weathersby's first published work, a coming-of-age-in-the-sixties-single-black-pregnant and on the way to Germany, memoir.

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier
In A LONG WAY GONE: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, Beah, now twenty-six years old, tells a powerfully gripping story: At the age of twelve, he fled attacking rebels and wandered a land rendered unrecognizable by violence. By thirteen, he’d been picked up by the government army, and Beah, at heart a gentle boy, found that he was capable of truly terrible acts. At sixteen, he was removed from fighting by UNICEF, and through the help of the staff at his rehabilitation center, he learned how to forgive himself, to regain his humanity, and, finally, to heal.

This is an extraordinary and mesmerizing account, told with real literary force and heartbreaking honesty.

Perfection: A Memoir of Betrayal and Renewal

Julie Metz's life changed forever on one ordinary January afternoon when her husband, Henry, collapsed on the kitchen floor and died in her arms. Suddenly, this mother of a six-year-old became the young widow in her bucolic small town. But that was only the beginning. Seven months after Henry's death, just when Julie thought she was emerging from the worst of it, came the rest of it: She discovered that what had appeared to be the reality of her marriage was but a half-truth. Henry had hidden another life from her.
Perfection is the story of Metz's journey through chaos and transformation as she creates a different life for herself and for her young daughter. It is the story of rebuilding both a life and an identity after betrayal and widowhood, of rebirth and happiness--if not perfection.

The Tattoo Chronicles

The Tattoo Chronicles is an illustrated diary that offers an intimate look at a crucial year in the personal and professional life of Kat Von D, the charismatic, no-holds-barred tattooer and star of LA Ink.
When Kat does a tattoo, she writes an entry about it in her journal, reflecting not only on the significance of the tattoo for the person who is receiving it but also on how the experience of creating this tattoo affects her personally.
In these diary entries—some poignant, some hilarious, some confessional—Kat lays it on the line about how doing these tattoos influences her life and art. Here are the highs and the lows, the good, the bad, and the ugly—including her feelings about her fame, family, love life, friends, and fans.
Visually stunning, this graphically compelling diary is jam-packed with tons of Kat's images, from sketches of her tattoos to the finished works, and candid shots of her unusual personal collections—all photographed by Kat herself. Fans will love reading about her array of clients from all walks of life, including MotÖrhead's Lemmy Kilmister, Dave Navarro, and members of Metallica, Green Day, Kings of Leon, and the Eagles. Throughout The Tattoo Chronicles are captivating, color photographs of Kat that were taken specifically for the book, published here for the first time.

In Balanchine's Company: A Dancer's Memoir

Fisher danced for the great choreographer George Balanchine in the mid–20th century, when the New York City Ballet was still "exploding into being against all odds." Her era is that of Orpheus, the Nutcracker and Agon (she was one of its original dancers), when the company starred ballerinas Maria Tallchief and Tanaquil Le Clerq. Mr. B., as he was respectfully yet affectionately called by his dancers, was still young, still approachable, full of vigor and good humor. We see his "multi-dimensional alertness," and also his sense of whimsy and genuine affection for his dancers. Where else do we find a limerick written by Balanchine about his Vespa, his entreaties to Fisher to perform a questionable song written on tour at a big benefit and his defense of the author's right to read bad science fiction? Yet woven into these personal and telling recollections are wonderfully astute looks at Balanchine's artistic process and the place of his ballets in the canon of 20th-century art. Fisher eventually became a professor of English at the City College of New York, and her observations as both dancer and literary critic are unparalleled. This book is indispensable for lovers of ballet and theater. 48 b&w photos.


  1. I'm thinking of doing this challenge too.

  2. I really liked Running With Scissors--really out there & wacky sometimes, but I liked it!

  3. The Tattoo Chronicles! They showed it today on tv and I thought way too cool! :)

  4. I loved A Long Way Gone. Two others I strongly recommend are Truth and Beauty by Anne Patchett and Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy.

  5. I really liked Running with Scissors and I loved Long Way Gone. If Running With Scissors captures your fancy, Augusten Burroughs' brother has also written a memoir: Look Me In the Eye: My Life With Asperger's by John Elder Robison.

  6. There are so many good challenges out there -- I've only signed up for one so far, and this one is looking pretty interesting!

  7. I'd only read Running with Scissors (sparked my interest in memoir) and A Long Way Gone which is heartbreaking, and got me to read more war-related books. Good luck!

  8. I also loved The Glass Castle. If you are looking for a change of pace I really enjoyed Four Seasons in Rome by Anthony Doerr. Especially if you like Italy.

  9. I agree with several of the other commentors regarding A Long Way Gone, it was a really good and a great discussion book. I haven't read any of the others, although I do own Running With Scissors.

  10. This book is brilliantly written, impactful, and a real page-turner. A Long Way Gone prevokes the readers mind and shows them the side of war that we are natrually sheltered from. Not only do you as a reader realize the harsh realities that these young boys went through, but you feel the need to reach out and help.


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