Memoirs & Biographies

Check out these picks from our staff that offer a glimpse into people’s lives.

Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich, recommended by Roseann:
Be careful of volunteering ideas at work–you, not someone else,may wind up implementing them. This is what happens to Barbara Ehrenreich when in the aftermath of welfare law changes in 1998 she suggests actually living on the minimum hourly wage of $6-7. Great idea–says the editor–and you do it. Moving from Florida to Maine to Minnesota, working as house cleaner, cashier she learns even two jobs do not really a living make. Excellent choice for teenagers who may think college only delays their getting a start in the job world.
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A Woman of No Importance by Sonia Purnell, recommended by Roseann:
What an ironic title! Despite a poorly equipped background as a socialite and a self-inflicted gunshot wound that left her with a prosthetic leg, Virginia Hill worked for Winston Churchill’s intelligence sector as she became the first Allied woman deployed behind enemy lines, created spy networks and,of course, battled against deeply set male chauvinism that even extended to the paltry US government recognition that she received at the war’s end. As Mitch Mc Connell once said of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, “Nevertheless she persisted.”
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Yes Please by Amy Poehler, recommended by Barbara and Selena:
Fans of Amy Poehler will enjoy this behind the scenes look into Ms. Poehler’s life. There are sections that cover her time doing improv, when she was at SNL, as well as sections about Parks & Recreation and what she has been doing since Parks & Rec ended. There are funny and serious sections and it was an enjoyable read.
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Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson, recommended by Selena:
I loved this book. I thought it was hilarious and I laughed out loud throughout. I definitely recommend this book and I am looking forward to reading her next book. Note: The book does contain vulgar language on occasion.
Available Formats:
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Wild by Cheryl Strayed, recommended by Selena:
Wild tells the story of how after losing her mother, Cheryl Strayed solo hikes the length of the Pacific Crest Trail, from southern California to Washington state. Along the way she reflects on her life. This book was thrilling and well-written. Very enjoyable.
Available Formats:
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Other titles you may enjoy:

Ghosts of War by Ryan Smithson
Recommended by Leann
Available on Overdrive Ebook, Overdrive Audiobook, Hoopla Ebook, Hoopla Audiobook

Heavy by Kiese Laymon
Recommended by Catherine
Available on Overdrive Ebook, Overdrive Audiobook

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb
Recommended by Joelle
Available on Overdrive Ebook

Naturally Tan by Tan France
Recommended by Chrissy
Available on Overdrive Ebook, Overdrive Audiobook

Killing It by Camas Davis
Recommended by Catherine
Available on Overdrive Ebook, Overdrive Audiobook

Dear Fahrenheit 451 by Annie Spence
Recommended by Lauren
Available on Overdrive Audiobook, Hoopla Audiobook

Do you have any favorite Memoirs or Biographies? Let us know in the comments.

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

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Liane Moriarty is one of my favorite authors.  I love the way she writes, with a mixture of a good story and strong characters.  I was very much looking forward to reading this book when I heard of its release, and I was not disappointed.

Much of the story revolves around an afternoon neighborhood barbecue and the events that occurred there. The timeline switches between the day of the barbecue and several weeks afterward.  In the process, we see the points of view of Vid and Tiffany and their daughter Dakota, who are the owners of the home where the barbecue was held; Erica and Oliver, their neighbors; and Clementine and Sam (and their two young daughters), who are friends with Erica and Oliver.

What I enjoyed beyond the mystery of what happened that afternoon is the development of the characters.  Moriarty writes in such a way that you really get to know all of them, which leads to a better overall understanding of not only the events that happened that day, but the motivations of the characters.  It took me a few chapters to really get into the book, but once I did, I was hooked.  I look forward to reading Moriarty’s next novel.

The Ice Twins by S. K. Tremayne

The Ice Twins
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The Ice Twins is about a family that moves from London to a remote island in Scotland after the death of one of their twin daughters.  Shortly before the move, Sarah, the mother of the girls, begins to wonder if something is off about her surviving daughter, Kirstie.

After the family moves to the island, the feeling of isolation adds to the mystery of what is going on with Kirstie, whose behavior is becoming more and more erratic.  She begins to insist that she is her dead sister, Lydia, and that there has been a horrible case of mistaken identity.  As Sarah delves more deeply into what has happened, she wonders if they have in fact a horrible case of mistaken identity.  The novel is told in the alternating perspective of Sarah and of her husband, Angus, who is the father of the girls.

I found this novel very enjoyable and fast paced.  I’d recommend it to readers who enjoy a good mystery/thriller.  I’m looking forward to reading more of S. K. Tremayne’s books.


Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Maybe in Another Life
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Have you ever wondered how one decision can change your life? If you decide to cross the street at a certain time, does that affect your life? There was a lot of pondering about destiny and fate and what is or isn’t meant to be in this novel. Hannah is at club one night. She meets up with Ethan, a guy she had dated in high school. The book splits into alternating sections: one timeline where she decided to stay at the club with Ethan and one where she leaves with her friend to go home.

I really liked the premise. I enjoy the author and have read all of her books. I was very excited for this one to come out, and I finished it quickly. I would’ve preferred it to be a little less chick-lit-centric, but other than that, I enjoyed it. I like the idea of alternate universes, how each decision we make in life creates a different universe and that there are billions of possible universes where we are living different lives.

Swerve by Vicki Pettersson

SwerveSwerve is a dark and twisty novel.  We follow the story of Kristine, who is traveling across the desert with her fiance, Daniel, to a family gathering.  While stopped at an abandoned rest stop, Daniel is abducted.  Kristine must do whatever she can to get Daniel back, following the deranged kidnapper across the desert.

Swerve was definitely a page turner, and I finished it quickly.  It’s hard to say too much without giving away key plot points, but I found this to be well-written, engrossing, and hard to put down.  The characters were well written, and I look forward to reading more by Ms. Pettersson.

If I Could Turn Back Time by Beth Harbison

If I Could Turn Back Time
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The night before her birthday, 38 year old Ramie hits her head and wakes up in her bedroom two days before the last day of her senior year of high school.  She navigates through life as an 18 year old, exploring an old relationship with her high school boyfriend and also interacting with her father, who passed away a few years later.

I’m a sucker for books like this and I enjoyed all the passages on time and fate and who we are and how we are affected by events in our lives.  I liked this more than I thought I would.  I love time travel stories, and I was excited when I heard about this one. Enjoyable read.

The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams

The Secret Life of Violet Grant
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This novel tells the alternating stories of Vivian in 1964 and Violet in 1914.  One morning, Vivian receives a strange parcel in the mail that leads her on a path to finding more about her family’s past and a mysterious aunt named Violet.

Violet is working in 1914 as a female physicist in prewar Germany under the watchful eye of Dr. Grant, whom she ends up marrying.  The summer that she meets Lionel Richardson, a captain in the British army, Violet’s life changes forever.

Vivian is working as a journalist in 1964 and begins researching more about Violet’s life for a newspaper article.  She learns some family secrets along the way.

I enjoyed this book.  I love books about family secrets, and I enjoy the format, the switching between the past and present.

You by Caroline Kepnes

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You is a crazy fun read.  We have Joe, who is obsessed with Beck.  Joe will do anything to be with Beck, even kill.

The book is told in the second person, which took a bit of getting used to, but really worked for telling the story.  Joe is absolutely crazy, a stalker in the 21st century, finding out everything about Beck by hacking into her email, reading her twitter feed and her Facebook posts.  Beck, the object of Joe’s obsession is a self-centered post-grad living in NYC.  It’s hard to say more without spoiling the plot.

I recommend this if you’re looking for a fun read about a crazy guy who will do anything for “love.”

The Day We Met by Rowan Coleman

The Day We Met
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The Day We Met tells the story of Claire, a woman in her forties who is suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s Disease.  As she begins to lose more and more of her memories and her sense of self, she begins to write in her memory book so she will not forget the important people in her life.

The novel alternates between present day and sections written in the memory book, sometimes told from Claire’s point of view, and sometimes from her daughter, husband, and mother.

I found this book a little difficult to read at times, because of the reality of Alzheimer’s that is presented.  However, I thought the book was well written and that the characters were all well developed.

The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick

The Good Luck of Right Now tells the story of Bartholomew Neil and his group of eccentric but sweet friends as they take a spiritual journey in the wake of the death of Bartholomew’s mother.  The novel is written in a series of letters to the actor Richard Gere, as his mother was a huge fan.  I feel like it’s hard to provide a description that demonstrates how great this book was.  It was uplifting, it was funny, it was sad.

I loved this book. There were so many great things about it: the characters, the plot, the overall quirkiness, the fact that the spirit of Richard Gere coaches Bartholomew at various times.  There are also quotes from the Dalai Lama used as Bartholomew tries to navigate how to interact with people he encounters.

I highly recommend this book. Matthew Quick is such a great writer. I loved Silver Linings Playbook, and I’m going to check out his YA books also.

Replay by Ken Grimwood

Have you ever wished for a do-over?  Or wanted to relive your life with the benefit of hindsight?  In Replay, Jeff Winston gets the chance to do just that.  At age 43, he drops dead of a heart attack.  An instant later, he wakes up his 18-year-old self, with the knowledge and memories of his 43-year-old self.

He gets the chance to live his life over, making different decisions, changing the course of his life trajectory.  Everything is going great for Jeff, until he reaches age 43 and dies again, and then once again wakes up in his 18-year-old body, with the knowledge of both lives he’s relived.

I found this book to be well written and enjoyable to read.  The characters were well developed, and the premise is great.  I enjoyed this book and would love to read more with a similar premise.


Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton

Humans of New York

In 2010, Brandon Stanton set out with his camera to capture the spirit and images of the people he came across while walking through the streets of New York City.  Humans of New York is filled with beautiful pictures of the humans that inhabit the city and the stories they share.  I loved this book.  I have always liked portrait photography.  There is something about looking at someone’s photograph that shows you something deeper about a person.  Stanton has a way of getting people to open up to him and share their stories.  Ranging from humorous to serious, we, the reader, get a keen insight to the wide range of emotions that human beings possess.  This book will make you laugh on one page and shed a tear the next.

N0S4A2 by Joe Hill


NOS4A2 tells the story of  Vic, a girl who has a special ability to find lost things using her red bicycle and a covered bridge that leads her to whatever’s lost.  Her gift works great until she encounters a man with a similar ability, Charles Manx, who uses his “gift” to kidnap children.

Vic was the only child ever to escape from Manx and his Wraith, the car he uses to travel to his own special realm, an awful place called Christmasland.  As an adult, she puts aside the whole awful memory of what happened with Manx until her own son is in danger.

I loved this book.  I thought it was very well written.  Not only was there great character development, but the plot reeled me in from the very beginning.  What an amazing concept, that these characters are able to travel to a realm beyond our own.  Hill creates quite the villain with Charles Manx.  Whenever I see one of those classic cars that Manx drives, I get a little bit of a chill.  Vic is a spunky, loveable and at times stubborn protagonist.  I also have to note that Joe Hill is Stephen King’s son.  I think he definitely inherited his father’s talent.


Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Doctor Sleep

The long-awaited sequel to the Shining has arrived!  This novel follows an adult Danny Torrance (now known as Dan) as he navigates through life battling alcoholism while working at various hospitals and hospices around the country.  He still has a bit of the Shine, which he uses to help others.  Along the way, he meets a young girl named Abra who has the same Shining that he does, only her abilities are much more powerful than Dan’s ever were.

Dan and Abra encounter a group called the True Knot who attempt to harness the power of children who have the shining.

The book doesn’t pack quite the punch of the original as far as scariness goes, but it is a well-written book.  What I enjoyed was following up on Dan, who experienced all these horrors when he was a child.  I’ve often wondered about these fictional characters who have experienced these horrible things.  What becomes of them after?  Do these events impact their lives? This book answers those questions.

If you read the Shining, I recommend this book.  However, if you haven’t, it is still an enjoyable read.  There is nothing in this book that requires knowledge from the first book to understand.

I almost always enjoy Stephen King novels, and Doctor Sleep is no exception.