Memoirs About Moms

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Mother’s Day is just around the corner and the library has some great reads for the occasion. Check out one of these memoirs about mothers, written by their children:

Mom & Me & Mom by Maya Angelou – The celebrated author shares the intimate story of her relationship with her mother, relating the events that prompted her mother to send young Angela to Arkansas to live with her grandmother and the complicated fallout that shaped their family life.

Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel – Depicts the author’s mother as a voracious reader, music lover, and passionate amateur actress who quietly suffers as the wife of a closeted gay artist and withdraws from her young daughter, who searches for answers to the separation later in life.

The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe – Recounts how the author and his mother read and discussed books during her chemotherapy treatments, describing how the activity involved a wide range of literary genres, furthered their appreciation for literature, and strengthened their bond.

I’m Supposed to Protect You From All This by Nadja Spiegelman – The daughter of Maus creator Art Spiegelman and New Yorker art director Francoise Mouly describes the coming-of-age discovery of her mother’s complicated childhood, her investigation into four generations of family women and her own efforts to reinvent herself.

Unforgettable by Scott Simon – A moving meditation on the NPR host’s relationship with his mother, inspired by the popular tweets he shared during her final days, traces their shared love of family while profiling his mother’s work as a dedicated single parent.

Mother, Daughter, Me by Katie Hafner – Documents the author’s efforts to promote family bonds and healing during a haphazard year spent sharing a home in San Francisco with her complicated octogenarian mother and teenage daughter.

Hey Mom by Louie Anderson – The actor and stand-up comedian presents a loving tribute to his late mother that shares the wisdom he gleaned from her throughout his life, his ongoing struggles with food and dysfunctional home dynamics, and how he learned to laugh at the absurdities that shaped their family.

The Lives Our Mothers Leave Us by Patti Davis – A collection of stories from prominent women such as Angelica Huston, Lily Tomlin, Whoopie Goldberg, and more, all about their complex, humorous, and ultimately loving relationships with their mothers.

Celebrity Memoirs

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Have you ever wondered what kind of life lessons you could learn from a famous person? Try one of these celebrity memoirs available in the JMRL catalog:

We’re Going to Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union – A powerful collection of essays on gender, sexuality, race, beauty, Hollywood and the realities of modern women also includes the author’s wrenching experiences as a survivor of sexual assault, in a volume that seeks to raise awareness about the needs of victims of sexual violence.

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah – The host of “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” traces his wild coming of age during the twilight of apartheid in South Africa and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed, offering insight into the farcical aspects of the political and social systems of today’s world.

Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick – A collection of whimsical autobiographical essays by the actress and star of “Up in the Air” recounts memorable milestones, from her New England upbringing to the blockbuster films that have made her one of Hollywood’s most popular actresses.

Nevertheless by Alec Baldwin – The actor highlights parts of his life that he’s long kept private, from his troubled childhood and efforts to make it as a young actor to his struggles with addiction and his failings as a husband and parent.

This is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare by Gabourey Sidibe – The star of “Precious” and “Empire” shares details about her childhood with a polygamous father in Harlem, her gifted mother who supported them by singing in the subway, and her own unconventional rise to fame.

I Can’t Make This Up: Life Lessons by Kevin Hart – The actor and comedian presents a memoir on the importance of believing in oneself, sharing stories about the addiction and abuse that marked his childhood and how his unique way of looking at the world enabled his survival and successful career.

The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer – A collection of personal essays by the comedienne reflects on her raucous childhood antics, her hard-won rise in the entertainment industry, and her struggles to maintain the courage to approach the world in unstintingly honest ways.

Recovery: Freedom From Our Addictions by Russel Brand – The British comedian and radio host shares the story of his personal struggles with addictions ranging from drugs and alcohol to food and fame, offering compassionate advice about the programs that most helped him.

The Magnolia Story by Chip & Joanna Gaines – The husband-and-wife stars of the popular “Fixer Upper” television program share the story of their life together, from how they met in Waco, Texas to their success as entrepreneurs and television personalities.

Memories

RAFridays

This past weekend, I attended my 45th high school reunion and I’ve been reading memoirs lately.  I seem to be having a nostalgic summer and it’s been lovely!   The books recommended this week are interesting, enlightening, well written and very different from each other.  Hopefully, you’ll find something to suit your mood.

You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me  by Sherman Alexie

Award-winning author Alexie has long been one of my favorites.  An honest voice for modern-day life on American Indian reservations, many of his poems, stories and novels have had bits of autobiography in them.  Recounting the complicated relationship he had with his mother, this full-fledged memoir could not have been written until after his mother had passed away.  She was a quilter and was 78 years old when she died in 2015.  Alexie has constructed this book as a quilt, built of 78 poems and 78 essays.  It’s a difficult story, because life on the rez is difficult and because their relationship was difficult, too.  As usual, though, Alexie tells it all with openness, heartbreak, and humor.

On the Move: a Life  by Oliver Sacks

Neurologist and accomplished author, Sacks is well known for his collections of case studies such as The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, An Anthropologist on Mars and Seeing Voices: A Journey into the World of the Deaf.  His bestseller, Awakenings, was made into a feature film starring Robin Williams and Robert DeNiro.  This final autobiography (he died in 2015 at the age of 82) recounts a life well lived and shares intimate details which had not been made public before.  At once extremely shy and quite daring, he moved from his native Britain to California and eventually to New York City, collecting a wealth of  friendships and adventures along the way.  And yes, that is him on the cover of the book.  He had always had a love of motorbikes and spent the early ’60’s on Venice Beach (CA) as a body builder!  Listening to the audio, I found it easy to absorb the medical terms and phrases.

Here If You Need Me: a True Story  by Kate Braestrup

The first in her series of memoirs was published in 2007 and after having read it, I wanted to be her when I grew up!  (Never mind that I’m probably ten years older than she is.)  In Here If You Need Me, Braestrup recounts how her husband, and the father of their four children, was killed in the line of duty as a Maine State Trooper. To help deal with her tremendous grief, she chose to pursue his dream – to become a minister. Enrolling in divinity school, caring for her grieving family, and trying to keep the day-to-day together, Braestrup persevered and became a Unitarian Universalist minister. She then found her calling as the first chaplain for the search-and-rescue teams across the state of Maine. It’s a moving, inspirational story that reminds us that it’s the small miracles that happen every day.  An accomplished writer, Braestrup continued to relate her journey with two more books: Marriage and Other Acts of Charity in 2010 and the most recent, Anchor and Flares: a Memoir of Motherhood, Hope and Service, in which she faces her eldest son’s choice to join the military.  Beautifully done.

A Girl Named Zippy: Growing Up Small in Mooreland, Indiana  by Haven Kimmel

Born in 1965  in quintessential small-town America, Kimmel was nicknamed Zippy for the way she raced around the house.  Growing up in the tiny hamlet of Mooreland – where neighbors helped neighbors, people went to church on Sundays,  and everyone knew everyone else – Kimmel shares glimpses of life in a gentler time.  Laced with humor and wonderful 3rd-grade insights, A Girl named Zippy is a love letter to Kimmel’s home town.