Reading and Talking about Memoirs

51t9ns1kydl__sl160_1News this morning of the death of Frank McCourt reminded me of what a popular reading group choice Angela’s Ashes was a few years ago.  McCourt’s book is a classic example of the “nonfiction that reads like fiction” category of books. If your book group is one of the few that hasn’t taken on Angela’s Ashes, you can find a Reading Group Guide on the Simon and Schuster Web site.  If, on the other hand, your group wants to try other memoirs, there are plenty of great choices. Right now I’m reading Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s by John Elder Howard. I didn’t know until I started the book that  Howard is the brother of Augusten Burroughs, who wrote Running with Scissors,  and I’m going to read that next.  Having your group read them in tandem might make for an interesting 51qi2f1gfrl__sl160_discussion.

Memoirs that seem to be making the book group circuit right now are Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life,  David Small’s  Stitches: A MemoirJayanti Tamm’s Cartwheels in a SariA Memoir of Growing Up Cult,   Nathan Rabin’s The Big Rewind: A Memoir Brought to You by Pop Culture, and Azar Nafisi’s Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books.

If you can’t decide among all the memoirs that are out there, you can try what the Marengo-Union Library District in Marengo, Illinois is doing this month: Reader’s Choice for Memoirs invites  book group members to bring in their own selectons to discuss.  And though a book group devoted to memoirs might be too limiting,  you can expand the idea by adding biographies into the mix, as Torrance Public Library has done with its Biography and Memoirs Book Discussion Group.

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About the Author:

Mary Ellen Quinn is the author of the Historical Dictionary of Librarianship (2014), the former editor of Reference Books Bulletin, and a long-time contributing writer to Booklist.

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