Your Favorite Memoir~and a Giveaway

In this post, I mentioned my attraction to reading memoirs.   I especially enjoy memoirs of other writers, but I’ll also read about dysfunctional families, heroic teachers, struggling actors, women in other cultures…just about anything except stories of people and their pets (I’m way too tenderhearted when it comes to animal tales).

Fortunately (or unfortunately for my ever growing tbr pile) it seems everybody under the sun is writing a memoir these days.  I recently read Hungry Hill, a (dysfunctional family) memoir by Carole O’Malley Gaunt.  Hungry Hill  is a fascinating portrait of a family, but it’s also a portrait of a time and place – an Irish Catholic working-class neighborhood in the early 1960s. Gaunt sees it for what it really is with all its limits and prejudice, a time when problems weren’t discussed aloud, when everyone was expected to “deal with it,” whatever “it” might be, without help from anyone.  You can read my complete review at Curled Up With a Good Book.

If Hungry Hill  sounds like something you’d like to read, enter to win a copy by leaving a comment here with the title of your favorite memoir.  A winner will be chosen on May 30, 2008. 


16 thoughts on “Your Favorite Memoir~and a Giveaway

  1. I have read a lot of memoirs and autobiographies..mainly of Indians.

    However, one book who has always stayed with me is Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E Frankl. I do not know if it can be called a memoir or not. Whenever I am totally down in depths, this book helps me in coping. Maybe the feeling that nothing can be worse than a concentration camp sustains me.

    I suppose you can consider me for the book, if you don’t mind sending it out to me to Delhi, if I win!


  2. I don’t want to be entered in the contest, but I’ve read a few memoirs this year that I really enjoyed.

    Crawling, which I reviewed for, was an author/illustrator’s memoir of his first year of fatherhood. It was really cute, and seemed very true-to-life (I live with my toddler niece, so I have some experience with babies!).

    Almost French by Sarah Turnbull, which I’m going to review on my blog today, is about how she, an Australian, adapted to her new life in Paris.

    The Bone Woman by Clea Koff: Koff is a forensic anthropologist, and when she was a grad student she worked for the UN exhuming mass graves in the Balkans and Rwanda. It was a bit sad, but very interesting!

    Wild Swans by Jung Chang took about a hundred pages to get going, but after that it was great! It’s a memoir of the author’s experience growing up in Communist China, as well as a biography of her mother and grandmother.

    Ok-that’s quite a few! But there you go. 😀

  3. One that I really loved because I have always loved her movies is Tis Herself by Maureen O’Hara. She has had an extraordinary life and she is very truthful about Hollywood and the people she came in contact with. Enjoyed it. Toss this one into your pile.

  4. Hugo Hamilton’s “The Speckled People” – Growing up the son of a German mother and a fanatical Irish-speakig father. A beautifully-written memoir of a strange hybrid childhood, and the isolation of being “different”. I haven’t read a lot of memoir, but it’s a very satisfying genre, and one I’d like to read more of.

  5. I loved Margaret Forster’s Hidden Lives, about the lives of her grandmother and mother and how they influenced her own choices. I’m always interested in the matriarchal perspective!

  6. I also really liked “Wild Swans” by Jung Chang. I will never think of China the same way again. I haven’t read very many memoirs but I also enjoyed “Inside the Kingdom: My life in Saudi Arabia” by Carmen bin Ladin. She was married to one of Osama bin Ladin’s brothers and her story is very interesting.

  7. It’s been a long time since I’ve read it, but I still think of “Harpo Speaks,” by Harpo Marx, as being my favorite (or at least high on the list. I was always enchanted by this silent Marx brother (well, entertained and delighted by all, but enchanted by Harpo!). So, hearing his family stories and his life so unlike his character was endearing and remains a favorite. (Oh, and do enter me!)

  8. It’s hard to pick a favorite memoir . . . but if I HAD to choose, I would say A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway. I’m reading The Gathering right now, so Hungry Hill would fit right in with the Irish Catholic theme. Thanks for having a giveaway!

  9. Yes, I have begun to really appreciate memoirs, or life writing, and it’s difficult to pick one out. A very well written one is Blake Morrison’s Things my mother never told me. He actually never knew that his mother was one of a very large Irish family, because she was vaguely embarrassed about this and it did not seem to fit with her coming into the ‘middle classes’ in England…. Another one, not yet mentioned above, is Lorna Sage’s Bad Blood, which won the Whitbread Prize for Biography. And yes, of course Margaret Foster and Jung Chang and…….. 🙂

  10. Sounds like a good book. My favorite memoir thus far–and I don’t read too many–is “The Paths We Choose” by Sully Erna, who is the frontman for the band Godsmack. It was great to see how dedicated he was to his music at a young age and how tough it was for him to get to where he is now.

  11. I haven’t been able to give this as much thought as I should have but I guess I would say ‘A Child Called It’ by Dave Pelzer. I was teaching at the time so it hit home for many reasons but also my four children were all teens when I was reading it and they ALL read it – even my youngest who is not a reader 😦 Mu husband also read it so we had some wonderful family book discussions which was a wonderful experience – and a warm memory.

  12. Such good suggestions – now I have several more memoirs to add to my list. I’m particularly interested in Wild Swans, because several of you mentioned it. I will also check into Margaret Forster’s Hidden Lives – I’ve read several of her other books and quite enjoyed them.

    As for the giveaway – my custom random number generator chose comment #9 – Seachanges, as the recipient of Hungry Hill.

    Thank you all for your contributions 🙂

  13. Pingback: Small Pleasures « Bookstack

  14. I am nicely surprised and as I have not got Hungry Hill on my bookshelves am very pleased to accept – I’ll e-mail you my detais separately. Please sign the copy 🙂

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