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Posts Tagged ‘memoir’

shoes book harvard yard

(It’s not quite warm enough to lounge in Harvard Yard with a book. But it will be soon!)

I Don’t Care if We Never Get Back: 30 Games in 30 Days on the Best Worst Baseball Road Trip Ever, Ben Blatt and Eric Brewster
The subtitle says it all. Two best friends – one baseball nut and one baseball hater – embark on an epic (some would say completely insane) cross-country baseball road trip. Wryly funny (if repetitive at times). Recommended for baseball fanatics. To review for Shelf Awareness (out May 6).

Fingal O’Reilly, Irish Doctor, Patrick Taylor
A fun installment in Taylor’s Irish Country Doctor series, with all the usual colorful characters in the village of Ballybucklebo. I missed Barry, the young doctor who usually works with O’Reilly, but this was good comfort reading.

Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind, ed. Jocelyn K. Glei
This short book is packed with productivity tips from 20 authors. Further inspiration to create a schedule for myself and work on blocking out distractions. Recommended by Anne.

Scarlet, Marissa Meyer
This sequel to Cinder follows Cinder’s escape from prison but focuses more on Scarlet, a French farm girl on a search for her missing grandmother (accompanied by Wolf, an enigmatic street fighter). The storylines intertwine in surprising ways. Much darker and more exciting than Cinder. I can’t wait to read Cress (book 3).

Death in a Strange Country, Donna Leon
Commissario Guido Brunetti investigates the death of a young American sergeant stationed near Venice. Brunetti is likable and thoughtful, but the plot of this mystery dragged, and the ending was downright unsatisfying.

Catching Air, Sarah Pekkanen
I devoured this book in a day. Pekkanen tells a warm, relatable (but not predictable) story of two couples who move to Vermont to run a B&B. The men are brothers with a troubled history, but the story belongs to the women, who are each dealing with big questions about children, vocation and love. To review for Shelf Awareness (out May 6).

On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction, William Zinsser
I’ve been meaning to read this book forever. Zinsser’s practical, witty guide is packed with useful advice for journalists, memoirists and business writers – anyone who wants to (or has to) write nonfiction.

Links (not affiliate links) are to my favorite local bookstore, Brookline Booksmith.

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warwicks la jolla interior

A Presumption of Death, Jill Paton Walsh & Dorothy L. Sayers
I’m usually wary of authors adapting another author’s characters – but Jill Paton Walsh superbly continues the story of Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane. As World War II heats up, Peter goes abroad on a secret mission and Harriet takes the children to the country, where (of course) she has to solve a mystery. Full of familiar village characters (from Busman’s Honeymoon) and two truly wonderful bits of code-breaking.

Hoot, Carl Hiaasen
As the new kid at his Florida middle school, Roy is trying to stay under the radar. But a mysterious barefoot boy and his tough soccer-player sister introduce Roy to a group of tiny burrowing owls – which lead all three kids into a confrontation they hadn’t expected. Funny at times, but definitely aimed at middle-school boys.

What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast: And Two Other Short Guides to Achieving More at Work and at Home, Laura Vanderkam
I loved Vanderkam’s 168 Hours and enjoyed these three short, pithy productivity e-guides. Useful tips for making the most of your mornings, weekends and work hours. I’m paying more attention to where my time goes, and am planning to implement some of Vanderkam’s ideas. Smart and practical.

Mastering the Art of French Eating: Lessons in Food and Love from a Year in Paris, Ann Mah
When Ann Mah’s diplomat husband was posted to Paris, she began planning all the culinary adventures they’d have together. But when he was called to Iraq for a year – alone – she had to revise her plans. A lovely memoir of creating a home in a new place, with lots of French culinary history, mouthwatering recipes and nods to that other American diplomatic wife, Julia Child.

The Attenbury Emeralds, Jill Paton Walsh
Lord Peter Wimsey recounts his first case – the recovery of a stolen emerald – to his wife Harriet. Then the emerald’s current owner turns up, needing Peter’s help again. The retelling of the first mystery dragged on and on – it only got interesting when the second case started to pick up. Not nearly as good as Walsh’s other two adaptations, but still entertaining once it picked up steam.

Jane of Lantern Hill, L.M. Montgomery
I reach for this book every year when winter digs in its heels and it seems spring will never come. I love watching Jane discover the world of P.E. Island, but even better is watching her blossom into a confident, happy young woman. Charming and fun.

Cinder, Marissa Meyer
Linh Cinder, gifted mechanic, has a secret: she’s part cyborg. When the prince asks her to fix his personal android and her sweet stepsister falls ill, Cinder gets drawn into a web of politics, medical testing and the secrets of her own past. A slow start, but a really fun take on the story of Cinderella. First in a series – I can’t wait to read the sequel! Recommended by Leigh and Jessica.

Links (not affiliate links) are to my favorite local bookstore, Brookline Booksmith.

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tbr table books march 2014

Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, Mason Currey
A fascinating compendium of the daily routines of dozens of writers, artists, composers and other creatives. So many addictions and lots of creative torment, but a surprising number of these folks found that day jobs kept them sane (and enabled them to eat). As a writer with a day job, I get that. Recommended by Anne.

Mary Poppins, P.L. Travers
I’ve seen the movie many times but finally decided to read the book after seeing Saving Mr. Banks. The book contains some familiar incidents (Uncle Albert, the Bird Lady, etc.), but Mary Poppins herself is quite different from Julie Andrews’ character. Fun, but I honestly prefer the film version.

Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I read Adichie’s debut, Purple Hibiscus, in college and found it moving and troubling. Americanah is more sweeping, more powerful, sometimes wryly funny. It traces the journey of Ifemelu and Obinze, two Nigerians who fall in love as teenagers, move abroad (Ifemelu to the U.S. and Obinze to England), then are reunited years later. It asks big questions about race, class and love. After Leigh, Heather and Christie mentioned it on Twitter in the same week, I couldn’t resist.

The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing, Sheila Turnage
Mo LoBeau and her best friend Dale have a few new mysteries to solve: is there really a ghost at the ramshackle inn outside their town? What’s the new kid at school really up to? And can they scrape a passing grade on their history paper? Loved this story – hilarious and tender, just like Three Times Lucky.

My Accidental Jihad, Krista Bremer
A secular surfer girl from SoCal, Krista Bremer never imagined herself married to a devout Muslim. But then she met Ismail, a kind Libyan who captured her heart. Bremer recounts their love story and explores her discomfort with her husband’s culture in this memoir. Her writing is elegant, but I was astounded by her ignorance on certain issues. To review for Shelf Awareness (out April 22).

Biting Through the Skin: An Indian Kitchen in America’s Heartland, Nina Mukerjee Furstenau
This slim food memoir combines Indian recipes with flashes of memory from the author’s childhood, spent in Kansas with occasional visits to her Indian relatives. A slow start, but beautiful writing, though I wished some of the reflections had gone further. (I received a copy of this book from the publisher, but was not compensated for this review.)

Stay, Allie Larkin
When Savannah’s best friend marries the man she’s adored for years, she impulsively orders a dog off the Internet. Her new pup is cute, but he’s huge, and Van has to mend her broken heart while training her dog and dealing with grouchy neighbors and her newlywed friends. A fun novel about love, family, friendship and fresh starts. (Language warning.)

Links (not affiliate links) are to my favorite local bookstore, Brookline Booksmith.

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the bookstore lenox ma

Jennifer, Gwyneth & Me: The Pursuit of Happiness, One Celebrity at a Time, Rachel Bertsche
I loved Rachel’s first memoir, MWF Seeking BFF, about her quest to find friends in a new city. This book chronicles her attempts to make over her life á la celebrity role models: Jennifer Aniston’s workouts, Tina Fey’s work ethic, Julia Roberts’ brand of Zen. She also muses on the lure of celebrity culture and shares her struggle to have a baby. Funny, engaging and wise. To review for Shelf Awareness (out July 1).

A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True, Brigid Pasulka
Once upon a time (in the 1930s), a young man nicknamed “the Pigeon” fell in love with the beautiful Anielica. But war and hardship delayed their marriage and changed their journey in unexpected ways. Decades later, their granddaughter moves from her small village to Krakow after her mother dies, trying to find her way in life and love. Pasulka interweaves the two narratives masterfully. Moving and beautifully written. Recommended by Jaclyn.

You are Here: From the Compass to GPS, the History and Future of How We Find Ourselves, Hiawatha Bray
After working for millennia to map the world, humankind has solved the problem of location. Our smartphones, GPS devices and other transmitters can track our locations at any time – but at what cost? Bray summarizes the history of location technology and considers the issues surrounding modern tracking devices. Thought-provoking. To review for Shelf Awareness (out April 1).

The Sun and Other Stars, Brigid Pasulka
I loved Pasulka’s debut (see above) and loved her second novel even more. Set in a tiny Italian village, it’s a tale of family, love, grief and calcio (soccer). As Etto grieves the deaths of his mother and brother, he befriends a Ukrainian soccer star and his sister, who teach Etto a thing or two about calcio and about living with joy. Sharp, funny and beautiful. (My copy came from the publisher, but I was not compensated for this review.)

When the Cypress Whispers, Yvette Manessis Corporon
Daphne has always loved spending summers on the Greek island of Erikousa with her grandmother. But when she returns as a young widow struggling to raise a child and run a restaurant, she learns a few family secrets and meets an utterly exasperating man. A semi-predictable love story, given depth by the World War II events and enriched by mouthwatering descriptions of Greek food. To review for Shelf Awareness (out April 1).

Rooftoppers, Katherine Rundell
As an infant, Sophie was found floating in a cello case after a shipwreck. When the authorities threaten to take her away from Charles, her kind but eccentric guardian, Sophie and Charles flee to Paris in search of Sophie’s mother. Sophie meets a gang of “rooftoppers” – children who live on the roofs of Paris – who aid in her search. Whimsical and charming, though the ending felt abrupt.

The Collector of Dying Breaths, M.J. Rose
In the 16th century, a young Italian man becomes Catherine de Medici’s perfumer and co-conspirator in court intrigues. In the present day, Jac L’Etoile, perfumer and mythologist, is grieving her brother’s death and trying to solve several mysteries. The stories intertwine in surprising ways. Lush descriptions, but a bit creepy. To review for Shelf Awareness (out April 8).

Links (not affiliate links) are to my favorite local bookstore, Brookline Booksmith.

I participated in Leigh’s February Reading Challenge, trying not to buy books this month. Look for a report on Monday.

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blue-books

Some Nerve: Lessons Learned While Becoming Brave, Patty Chang Anker
A fun memoir (by a lifelong scaredy-cat) about facing fears – some of her own (water, death), some common to others (heights, public speaking). Anker wanted to become brave to set an example for her two daughters, but she was shocked at the transformation it wrought in her own life.

Ice Dancing, Nicholas Walker
British teenagers Samantha (a former ballet dancer) and Alex become ice-dancing partners. They’re good together, but Samantha’s parents don’t want her to skate. Will they triumph on the ice? A quick, fun reread from junior high – timely because of the Olympics.

The Blue Castle, L.M. Montgomery
Valancy Stirling has spent her life pleasing everyone but herself. But when she finds out she has a year left to live, she decides to begin living as she wants to. A sweet, slightly wacky story from the author of my beloved Anne books. Valancy is charming once she wakes up to herself.

Ice Princess, Nicholas Walker
In the sequel to Ice Dancing, Samantha gets sent to boarding school, but still meets Alex secretly to skate. Can they pull off another competitive win? More dramatic and more romantic than the first book – though Samantha is sometimes a real brat. Still a fun reread.

All Good Things: From Paris to Tahiti: Life and Longing, Sarah Turnbull
I loved Turnbull’s debut, Almost French, about how she fell in love with both Paris and her husband. All Good Things traces their move to Tahiti and their fraught journey toward parenthood. Beautiful descriptions of the island, though the IVF parts are painful to read.

Spy Mom: The Adventures of Sally Sin, Beth McMullen
This book is a two-in-one set, following the adventures of a top-secret spy turned toddler mom. I saw it at a Yankee Swap last year, kicked myself for not stealing it, then was so happy to find it on Cape Cod this summer. The narrator’s voice is so witty, though the supporting characters are a bit thin. Funny and engaging.

Links (not affiliate links) are to my favorite local bookstore, Brookline Booksmith.

I’m participating in Leigh’s February Reading Challenge, so I’ve only bought one book this month, though I’m still working on my library stack.

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January reading roundup #2

book breakfast one good deed

For All of Us, One Today: An Inaugural Poet’s Journey, Richard Blanco
I love Blanco’s inaugural poem, “One Today,” and I was surprised and moved to hear him read his poem “Boston Strong” at Fenway Park this summer. This slim memoir traces both Blanco’s career as a poet and the process of writing the inaugural poem. Lyrical and lovely.

Dancing Through It: My Life in the Ballet, Jenifer Ringer
Ringer, a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet, chronicles her years in the highly competitive world of professional dance. She is honest about both her eating disorders and the Christian faith that helped her conquer them. The writing sometimes lacks polish, but her voice is warm and engaging. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Feb. 20).

One Good Deed: 365 Days of Trying to Be Just a Little Bit Better, Erin McHugh
On her birthday, McHugh resolves to do one good deed every day for a whole year. The deeds take many forms – giving money to the needy, promoting a friend’s work, being kind to grumpy customers or simply keeping her mouth shut. She writes about them with humor, wit and an earthy grace.

Dear Mr. Knightley, Katherine Reay
Orphan Samantha Moore has always taken refuge in her favorite books, but struggles to form relationships with people. When a mysterious benefactor (“Mr. Knightley”) offers her a full scholarship to journalism school, Sam pours out her heart in a series of letters to him. A heartbreaking, charming, modern twist on Daddy-Long-Legs, and a wonderful story of redemption.

The Rosie Project, Graeme Simsion
Don Tillman, brilliant but socially inept genetics researcher, develops an exacting questionnaire to help him find the perfect wife. Rosie, a whip-smart, fiery redhead who fails nearly all Don’s criteria, bursts into his life and upsets it utterly. A fast, funny, smart love story. Recommended by Anne.

Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking: A Memoir of Food and Longing, Anya von Bremzen
Anya von Bremzen, food writer and Soviet émigré, explores her country’s chaotic history as she and her mother cook their way through essential Soviet dishes of the 20th century. The history lessons dragged at times, but this was a fascinating and very different take on the food memoir trend.

I’ve been reading up a storm lately, so look for another reading roundup on Friday.

Links (not affiliate links) are to my favorite local bookstore, Brookline Booksmith.

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book breakfast tea the novel cure morning

The Invention of Wings, Sue Monk Kidd
When Sarah Grimké turns 11 in 1803, she receives an unwanted gift: a 10-year-old personal slave, Hetty “Handful” Grimké. Although Sarah tries to free Handful, the two girls are bound together for the rest of their lives. Drawing on historical accounts of Sarah Grimké’s life, Kidd has created a rich narrative of loss, love and bravery, narrated by both Sarah and Handful. I especially loved Handful’s mother, Charlotte, and the portrayal of the city of Charleston.

Trespassing on Einstein’s Lawn: A Father, a Daughter, the Meaning of Nothing, and the Beginning of Everything, Amanda Gefter
Since she was a teenager, Amanda Gefter has relished long discussions about physics and the nature of the universe with her father. But when the two of them crash a physics conference to get the inside scoop on the nature of reality, their hobby becomes an obsession. A smart, funny, highly readable memoir-cum-exploration of spacetime, reality and various physics theories. Gefter makes her subject accessible even to humanities geeks. To review for Shelf Awareness.

The Forgotten Garden, Kate Morton
A small girl arrives in Australia on a ship in 1913, carrying a small suitcase which holds a few obscure clues to her past. Taken in by a loving family and named Nell, she learns about her origins as an adult, and attempts to trace her biological parents. After Nell’s death, her granddaughter, Cassandra, takes up the quest, traveling to England to visit Nell’s childhood home. A multi-generational saga – part family history, part fairy tale, part Gothic mystery.

The Dirt Diary, Anna Staniszewski
Rachel Lee is so bummed to spend her weekends helping with her mom’s new cleaning business. But if she doesn’t, she’ll never make back the money she secretly took from her college fund. Cleaning the houses of all the popular kids in her grade, Rachel discovers some serious dirt – but is it ethical to use her newfound knowledge? A sweet, funny story with a likable protagonist. (A total impulse buy at the Booksmith and well worth it.)

Lord Peter: The Complete Stories, Dorothy L. Sayers
I can’t get enough of Lord Peter Wimsey, that bon vivant sleuth with a (long) nose for murder. These short stories featuring him were like a box of chocolate truffles – rich, varied and best savored one at a time. Bunter, that imperturbable valet, appears frequently and the last two stories include Peter’s wife Harriet, whom I adore.

The Novel Cure: From Abandonment to Zestlessness: 751 Books to Cure What Ails You, Ella Berthoud & Susan Elderkin
A witty, ingenious compendium of novels to cure almost any ailment, from wanderlust to a stubbed toe, from the common cold to being disappointed in love. The only downside: some of the remedies (i.e. the novels) are depressing! Took me ages to finish because I read it in snatches, but highly enjoyable.

The Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles, Katherine Pancol
When Josèphine’s ne’er-do-well husband runs off to Kenya to work on a crocodile farm, she’s strapped for cash until her trophy-wife sister Iris makes her a deal: Josèphine will write a historical novel and pocket the royalties, but Iris will get all the credit. (Of course, it’s not that simple.) Frothy, a bit racy and très French, this novel was so much fun. I hope its two sequels get translated into English.

Links (not affiliate links) are to my favorite local bookstore, Brookline Booksmith.

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This time of year, the “Best Books of the Year” lists are everywhere you look: in all the major newspapers, on all the blogs. I read a lot of new releases, but I tend to skip the blockbusters, and I am always discovering (or rediscovering) great books from other years.

kramerbooks interior washington dc

I wrote a post about my mid-year favorites back in June, but I’ve read a lot of books since then (total for the year: 239 and counting). So here are the books I loved the most this year.

Not all these books were published in 2013, but I read them all for the first time (except Best Reread) in 2013. Links are to my reading roundups, which contain brief reviews.

What were your favorite books this year?

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tealuxe emily deep valley maud hart lovelace

Emily of Deep Valley, Maud Hart Lovelace
I discovered Emily’s story – a lesser-known classic by the author of my beloved Betsy-Tacy books – a few years ago, and now I hanker for it every fall. Emily feels stuck in Deep Valley, caring for her grandfather while her friends go off to college. But she “musters her wits” – starting a Browning Club, taking dancing lessons, befriending a few Syrian families – and gains some much-needed self-confidence. She’s a winning, quietly strong, utterly relatable heroine. I adore her, and I love seeing all my favorite Deep Valley folks (Cab Edwards, Miss Fowler, Betsy Ray herself) again.

Thirty Days to Glory, Kathy Nickerson
Kathy (a dear blog-friend) sent me the e-version of her debut novel (out Oct. 25) for review. It’s a heartwarming holiday story about Catherine, an elderly widow who longs to do something important with her remaining days on earth, and Elmer, a down-on-his-luck drunk who needs something good to happen to him. Their stories intertwine in surprising ways. Bittersweet but hopeful.

The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club, Dorothy L. Sayers
When an elderly general turns up dead in his easy chair at his favorite club, everyone supposes he simply died in his sleep. But Lord Peter Wimsey suspects foul play – especially since the distribution of a sizable inheritance depends on exactly when the general died. Wimsey is coming into his own as a detective (and Sayers as a writer) – this mystery was great fun, and satisfyingly plotted.

Emerald Green, Kerstin Gier
Since Gwyneth Shepherd found out she’s one of an elite circle of time travelers, everything has been going wrong – including her relationship with Gideon, a charming but cocky fellow time traveler. In this conclusion to the Ruby Red trilogy, Gwen and Gideon must hopscotch back and forth through time to avert a disaster and to find answers to some pressing questions. Witty, romantic and fast-paced – a fun conclusion to a wonderful trilogy. It had been a year since I read the second book, Sapphire Blue; I’d like to reread these books all in a row.

Still Writing: The Pleasures and Perils of a Creative Life, Dani Shapiro
I had the pleasure of meeting Dani when she read at Brookline Booksmith this month. Still Writing is a wise, quiet collection of musings, anecdotes and encouragement about the writing life. Divided into Beginnings, Middles and Ends, these short essays offer wisdom, guidance, humor and hope to those of us who return over and over again to the blank page. Lovely.

Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection, Debora Spar
I found an article by Spar via Lindsey’s blog and picked up her memoir-cum-dissection of feminism, its effects, and the relentless perfectionism under which many women still struggle. Spar is president of Barnard College and a former Harvard Business School professor; I appreciated her insights on the differences between male- and female-dominated workplaces. She explores the dizzying array of options (for careers, childbearing and relationships) available to women, but I wanted more practical ideas on how to balance them. Not quite as good as Lean In, but still thought-provoking.

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argo bookshop interior montreal quebec canada

The Vintage Teacup Club, Vanessa Greene
When Jenny finds the perfect vintage tea set at a car boot sale in Sussex, there’s just one problem: two other women have fallen in love with it, too. They agree to share the tea set, using it for Jenny’s wedding, Maggie’s event planning business and Alison’s home craft business. Along the way, they become friends and help each other through a few rough patches. A sweet, heartwarming (if slightly predictable) debut novel. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Nov. 5).

Home: The Story of Everyone Who Ever Lived in Our House, Julie Myerson
Curious about her London home’s history, Myerson sets out to track down as many of its previous owners and tenants as she can. She digs through tenancy records, wills, photos and family correspondence, unearthing a trove of odd, poignant stories from several eras. She also weaves in memories of her own peripatetic childhood and musings on what makes a home. Could have been much shorter, but still interesting.

Clouds of Witness, Dorothy Sayers
When a dead man turns up outside his brother’s hunting retreat, Lord Peter Wimsey hurries in to do a spot of sleuthing and clear his brother’s name. But their sister Mary, who was engaged to the dead man, may be hiding something. With the help of his unflappable manservant and clear-headed policeman friend, Wimsey solves the case. A fun introduction to Wimsey’s wacky family, and an interesting (if slightly far-fetched) solution.

Divergent, Veronica Roth
In futuristic, dystopian Chicago, everyone must align themselves with one of five factions based on a single virtue: honesty, bravery, intelligence, etc. Beatrice Prior has grown up in Abnegation (which values selflessness), but chooses to leave her family and join Dauntless. During the intense initiation process (think Hunger Games training), she makes a few friends and meets an exasperating, fascinating boy. The plot is interesting, as are some of the characters, but the violence felt over-the-top, and I couldn’t see the reason for it. Not sure if I’ll read the next book, Insurgent.

The Gallery of Vanished Husbands, Natasha Solomons
When Juliet Montague’s husband disappears, she lives as a widow in her Jewish community near London, working to support her two children. But when a young artist offers to paint her portrait, Juliet is thrust into London’s art world. As London enters the 1960s, Juliet becomes a gallery curator and owner. I loved Solomons’ The House at Tyneford, but this book disappointed me. I appreciated Juliet’s struggle to define herself outside her strict community, but her choices didn’t always make sense. I found her self-focused to the point of egotism – she didn’t really have meaningful relationships with the other characters.

Unnatural Death, Dorothy Sayers
Lord Peter Wimsey and his policeman friend investigate the (seemingly) natural death of an elderly lady. What starts out as an entertaining, almost hypothetical, problem becomes knottier as several people close to the case (including Wimsey himself) are threatened. It’s a long, meandering path to the solution (shot through with legal jargon), but Wimsey and Parker solve the case, of course. Entertaining.

Handling the Truth: On the Writing of Memoir, Beth Kephart
I read and loved Kephart’s memoir Into the Tangle of Friendship years ago. This book on writing memoir is lyrical, practical, brave, straight-up honest, and lovely. Kephart shares her hard-won wisdom and explores the pitfalls and joys of the genre. The appendix is a rich annotated list of classic memoirs on various subjects – a great reading list. Every chapter made me want to pick up a pen. Recommended by Becca.

Al Capone Does My Homework, Gennifer Choldenko
I loved the first two books in this series, and this third installment was just as much fun. Moose Flanagan lives on Alcatraz in the 1930s with his parents (his dad is the associate warden) and his autistic sister, Natalie. When a fire starts in their apartment, Natalie is blamed, and Moose and his friends must find out who set the fire to clear her name. Meanwhile, the convicts may be targeting Moose’s dad, according to a cryptic warning from – who else? – Al Capone. Fun and fascinating.

The Situation and the Story: The Art of Personal Narrative, Vivian Gornick
A short, direct primer on writing personal narrative (split into two sections on essay and memoir). Gornick illustrates her points with long passages from memoirs, ranging from Oscar Wilde to Beryl Markham to Loren Eiseley. Narrowly focused, and often arrogant, but I do appreciate the distinction between situation (what happens to a writer; the context) and story (the larger meaning the writer makes of it).

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