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Memoir/biography recommendations please

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TryingForgivenes posted 10/28/2011 23:41 PM

Does anyone have any memoir or biography recommendations? I love reading about unconventional lives, or people who have been through tragedies. I have a lot of true crime, and natural disaster memoirs and also love reading about 'secretive groups' such as the Amish, or the LDS sects.

Thanks everyone!

authenticnow posted 10/29/2011 07:09 AM

Right now I'm reading Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand for my book club. She also wrote Seabiscuit. It's a WWII story focused on one particular hero.

Very good so far, and I'm not a fan of war stories.

Skye posted 10/29/2011 08:14 AM

You might enjoy "Just Kids" by Patti Smith. Not really a tragedy but a pretty unconventional life.

In Just Kids, Patti Smith’s first book of prose, the legendary American artist offers a never-before-seen glimpse of her remarkable relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in the epochal days of New York City and the Chelsea Hotel in the late sixties and seventies. An honest and moving story of youth and friendship, Smith brings the same unique, lyrical quality to Just Kids as she has to the rest of her formidable body of work—from her influential 1975 album Horses to her visual art and poetry.

Threnody posted 10/29/2011 09:57 AM

Favorites of mine:

Devil in the Details: Scenes from an Obsessive Girlhood
This book had me howling from cover to cover. I don't know when I've enjoyed a memoir more for its own sake.

Anything by Wade Rouse
It might be best to start with America's Boy, then move on to Confessions of a Prep School Mommy Handler. From there you can pick up just about anything, but those two are (IMO) crucial to understanding his "story." I've taken writing classes with him and he's really a wonderful man, and his partner Gary (wait til you read about the early days of their relationship ) is the sweetest man I've ever known. Even sweeter than Mr. T!

If you're into historical figures, anything by Alison Weir is highly recommended. I found The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn ( to be incredibly compelling.

[This message edited by Threnody at 9:58 AM, October 29th (Saturday)]

MixedUpMess posted 10/29/2011 11:04 AM

Here's an eclectic assortment of books I've read, and recommend.

The Seabiscuit book by Laura Hillenbrand is very good. I highly recommend it. Very inspirational. The story of a horse who knew his true potential!

Walt Disney - an amazing man. I've read An American Original.

The Story of My Life by Helen Keller.

These 2 by David G. McCullough were slower reads, but good:
-Mornings on Horseback (Theodore Roosevelt).
-John Adams.

The Heroin Diaries - by Nikki Sixx, bass guitarist for Motley Crue. Chronicles a year of his life while addicted to heroin. It's amazing he's still alive today. The album that goes with the book is excellent, too.

The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes

Alive - the story of the soccer team who's plane crashed in the Andes in the 70s. They had to resort to cannibalism to survive.

You didn't ask for natural disaster reads but I read a short book on the New Madrid earthquakes in the 1800s a few years ago which was fascinating. The Johnstown Flood is also good.

TryingForgivenes posted 10/29/2011 11:11 AM

Thanks everyone! I want to read ALL of these books now

I recently got an ipad2, and am headed online right now to get started with some of these.

Thanks again, I would have never thought of most of these on my own.

Fighting2Survive posted 10/29/2011 14:19 PM

I recently finished "Growing Up Amish" by Ira Wagler. It was a very interesting read.

ScribblingMum posted 10/29/2011 20:08 PM

-Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight
-Scribbling the Cat

Both by Alexandra Fuller (about her African childhood/she's white)
Fabulous writer! I went to her reading in S. Calif. a few years back.
Read them in the above order.
However, I didn't think her latest book was even close to as good as the first two.

-All Over but the Shoutin':Rick Bragg

-Angela's Ashes

:Frank McCourt

-Three Dog Life :Abigail Adams

-A Year of Magical Thinking: Joan Didion

...Memoir is my favorite genre...I could list you tons but here's a start.

NotDefeatedYet posted 11/6/2011 03:58 AM

The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors by James Hornfischer. It's about a small group of navy carriers during WWII. Many of the ships were sunk during the battle. Most of the survivors drowned or were eaten by sharks before rescue ships could arrive. It's a tough read.

Hope4TheFuture posted 11/6/2011 10:03 AM

Life - Keith Richards

These are on my list:

Spencer Tracy: A Biography by James Curtis

That Woman: The Life of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor by Anne Sebba


welcome14 posted 11/6/2011 12:31 PM

I'm re-reading "Kitchen Confidential" by Anthony Bourdain. He is wickedly funny, tough on himself and enjoys poking at others. It's very good. And he also gives some good cooking tips. He has also written a couple of others that I have but have not read yet. Hope you enjoy whatever you settle on!

[This message edited by welcome14 at 12:32 PM, November 6th (Sunday)]

Dance4Me posted 11/6/2011 12:51 PM

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls

meaniemouse posted 11/6/2011 14:38 PM

I just finished the book about Steve Jobs. It was great.

Cannaman posted 11/6/2011 14:53 PM

Memoirs of a Sword Swallower by Daniel Mannix

The true story, complete with photographs of Daniel's 3 year career with a real sideshow.

This is the opening line "I probably never would have become America's leading fire-eater if Flamo the Great hadn't happened to explode that night in front of Krinko's Great Combined Carnival Side Shows." How can you put a book down that starts like that?!

suddenlyisee posted 11/7/2011 07:37 AM

Just finished "Until Tuesday" by Luis Carlos Montalván. Inspiring read.

Amazonia posted 11/7/2011 10:17 AM

Wild Swans by Jung Chang is one of my all time favorites.

Bigger posted 11/7/2011 20:21 PM

The Real Frank Zappa

Excellent read and immensely funny and… educational.
Remember if you do buy this from Amazon then go to Amazon by clicking on Dr. Phil. I think SI gets some cash every time a purchase on Amazon originates here (correct me if I’m wrong admins).

kitticat posted 11/8/2011 02:25 AM

"Living in the Material World" about the late George Harrison.

toonces posted 11/11/2011 22:10 PM

I'm reading Steven Tyler's autobiography. He's the lead singer of Aerosmith and is currently a judge on one of those talent(?) TV shows.

I thought I wasn't going to like it but it's a decent book.

Ready_to_run posted 11/12/2011 15:15 PM

My all-time favorite biography is "Into The Wild" by John Krakauer. He retraces the path of a young man who after college donated his entire savings to charity, burned all the money in his wallet and set out on a 2 year journey across the western US and eventually turned up dead in the Alaskan wilderness.

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