biography/memoir

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Margaret Fuller: A New American life by Megan Marshall

She counted among her best friends the literary giants of the nineteenth century yet few people really know her story. Megan Marshall’s suburb biography brings her story to a new audience who will enjoy discovering the life of this strong vibrant woman living in a paternal and masculine world yet forging her own path. Margaret was H. Waldo Emerson’s confidante, Thoreau’s editor and the first female war correspondent for the New York Tribune. She experienced firsthand the Italian revolution of 1848-49 while becoming romantically involved with an Italian soldier.

Dear Abigail by Diane Jacobs

The intimate lives and revolutionary ideas of Abigail Adams and her two remarkable sisters. We all know about “Remember the ladies” Abigail. This book delves into the other strong women in her world, sisters Mary Cranch and Elizabeth Shaw Peabody. Because the Adams were often abroad, much of what we know about Abigail and her sisters and the events happening in Boston are through their letters.

Charles Dickens in Love by Robert Garnett

Charles Dickens was the “celebrity” of the Victorian era. Well loved for his family oriented stories and novels, his life was a combination of romantic subterfuge, financial constraints and familial duty. This biography highlights the three intensely romantic interests in his life other than his wife, the mother of his ten children. The most interesting relationship with Ellen Tiernan, twenty seven years his junior, lasts until his death.

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh

The semi-famous blog Hyperbole and a Half has a book counterpart! If you've never read the blog, go there now and read away and then read her book, too. It is heartwarming and heartbreaking. Funny and at moments somber. Using crude, yet perfect, drawings that convey every range of emotion, Allie Brosh tells stories of her childhood, life with two crazy dogs, and dealing with social anxiety and depression.

My Heart is an Idiot by Davy Rothbart

Funny, outrageous stories from the personal life of the founder of Found magazine. Davy reminded me of a couple other Davids - Eggers & Sedaris - his writing is crystal clear and his grasp on reality is phenomenal. There's failed love for sure, but also incarceration, sex near a tarantula, death, music, a scam artist and 99 bottles of pee on the wall.

Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life by Steve Martin (audiobook)

Steve Martin narrates his own memoir of being a stand-up comedian, from learning magic tricks at Disneyland at the age of 15, many years of crafting his show, to enormous success, then walking away. This is a surprisingly touching story of an isolating career, much of the time spent on the road, and many years of struggling before he hit it big. There is humor in it, but it is not a comic book. Rather, a sweet and dark reminiscence.

Mo' Meta Blues by Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson and Ben Greenman

Questlove has achieved fame as the drummer for The Roots, a long-lasting instrumental hip-hop band that is also the incredibly virtuosic house band for the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon televison show.

Rapture Practice by Aaron Hartzler

It's like Aaron Hartzler was raised in an alternate universe. His memoir of growing up in a conservative Christian home was completely foreign to me, yet fascinating. No TV, no music except of the hymn variety, he was compelled to hide the fact that he was reading Neil Simon plays and listening to Amy Grant!   In his world a bad boy goes to the movies.  Hartzler presents his story in a straightforward manner that doesn't negate his parents beliefs, but illuminates his own burgeoning disillusion with them.

Stitches by David Small

In this graphic novel memoir, David Small chronicles his sickly childhood growing up in Detroit in the 1950s. Small is told he needs surgery to remove a cyst, but he wakes up without a vocal cord . . . and voiceless. He eventually learns he had cancer—a fact his parents kept a secret from him. The use of the images helps Small to capture his adolescent frustrations, his powerlessness, and his lack of voice better than just words can.

We Killed: The Rise of Women in American Comedy by Yael Kohen

I expected this to be an oral history of comedians so I was a little surprised at how much space was given over to improv and writing for sitcoms.  Not that it wasn't interesting but I kept wondering when we'd be getting back to the comedians.   A lot of the focus of the book is about women breaking into the largely male arena of stand-up comedy and the perception, by some people, that women aren't funny.  There is some rehashing of well-worn topics like how hard women had it on  Saturday Night Live, and other not so well known, like how supportive Janeane Garofalo was

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