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biography/memoir

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The Lost: A Search For Six of Six Million by Daniel Mendelsohn

As a boy, Daniel Mendelsohn was fascinated by his maternal grandfather’s stories and compelled by the mysterious absence of the single great-uncle (of seven siblings) who was “killed by the Nazis” along with his wife and four daughters. As an adult, the author doggedly pursued the truth about what happened to these “six of six million” in an attempt to know who they were as individuals caught up in the larger holocaust of history.

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson

Born to a single mother and adopted by Pentecostal parents, acclaimed British novelist Jeanette Winterson's childhood was extraordinary by any measure.  In this raw, fiercely honest and deeply affecting memoir, she remembers growing up with a monstrous mother and a passive father in a very specific time and place: the 1960s and 1970s in the small North England industrial town of Accrington, where some of the poorer children brought dog biscuits to school for their mid-day meal and everyone Jeanette knew was as skinny as a ferret.

The Book of Drugs: A Memoir by Mike Doughty

As in most books I've read about addicts, Mike Doughty's doesn't really wallow for long in how awful it must be but his is the only one I've ever read in which the author says: "If heroin still made me feel like I did the first time, and kept making me that way forever -- kept working -- I might've quite happily accepted a desolate, marginal life and death."  Although sobriety is surely the better choice, he's seems to have traded desolate and marginal for bitterness and self loathing.

Soccer Men by Simon Kuper

Euro 2012 has kicked off in Poland and the Ukraine.  This is one of the world’s largest soccer tournaments, featuring sixteen of Europe’s top flight clubs.  Will Spain continue their dominance, or will Germany restore order? To get you in the mood, try Simon Kuper’s Soccer Men.  This book contains essays on some of the great players and managers of today and the recent past. The profiles explore what makes a truly great player or soccer strategist. You can dig a little deeper and check out Kuper’s older book, Soccernomics, which explores the who wins and why.

My Cross to Bear by Gregg Allman

As is typical in most autobiographies, Gregg Allman tries to put the best spin on years of bad behavior.  Of course he's been married 6 or 7 times, but it was never his idea.  He's just a pawn in the game, man.   Too drunk and drugged up to participate in his own life, he presents himself as so passive that it's a miracle he could write a song on his own or tour with the band.  Written in conversational style, the book is filled with entertaining side notes, such as his belief that the Grateful Dead had fans because they dosed them with acid.  He also asserts that

Then Again by Diane Keaton

Diane Keaton's memoir is far from being a Hollywood tell-all. While she does talk about certain films and boyfriends (Annie Hall and Woody Allen, Reds and Warren Beatty, The Godfather trilogy and Al Pacino), the heart of the story is her mother and Alzheimer's, her decision to adopt at age 50 and her lifelong struggle with self-confidence. Portions of her mother's 85 journals are juxtaposed with Diane's own story, and the book includes photos of Diane and family, as well as scanned images from her mother's journals.

Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness by Alexandra Fuller

In her profoundly moving second memoir, Fuller returns to capture a lifetime of loss and failure in southern Africa experienced by her parents. Only somewhat forgiven by her mother for writing the excellent "Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight" (that Awful Book) we are the beneficiares of a ruthlessly lucid love story of a daughter for a mother who has Lived Life in Capital Letters.

Bossypants by Tina Fey

Tina Fey is a great comedy writer, and this book is no exception. While there are plenty of laugh out loud moments, what made this book so enjoyable was the insightful, behind the scenes look at working for SNL, and Fey's Sarah Palin transformation, juxtaposed with Fey's struggle to be a woman in the male dominated comedy world and a working mother. Fans will enjoy this book, but it will appeal more to female readers.

It's So Easy: And Other Lies by Duff McKagan

If you're looking for a racy, behind the scenes rock n' roll chronicle this isn't it.  This engaging memoir by Guns N' Roses bassist Duff McKagan is more of a reflection on his substance abuse, and overcoming it, with his life in music as a background.

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© 2011 Thomas Crane Public Library

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