Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Biography for Book Lovers

For avowed bookworms, the next best thing to a shiny new paperback is a lively conversation with a fellow reader about the books they love -- and hate. The best of both worlds can be found in the reading memoirs we've rounded up here, in which bibliophiles share the books that shaped them.
~Joanna Scutts, "Read Me Like a Book: 7 Must-Read Memoirs for Book Lovers"

Azar Nafisi's Reading Lolita in Tehran is a classic of this genre - a tale that intertwines memoir with a discussion of literature. In Nafisi's cases, this "memoir in books" was a recounting of gatherings with her former students to talk about literature forbidden by a a repressive regime.  These gatherings became "forum[s] to learn to speak freely, not only about literature, but also about the social, political, and cultural realities of living under strict Islamic rule". Not all these memoirs carry such a weighty message - one celebrates father-daughter "reading-out-loud sessions every night before bed"; another is an account of a life of collecting books and setting up bookstores; another is a response to one author's writing crisis; yet another is an account of a quest to read the entire 50-volume set of the Harvard Classics. As Anna Quindlen says in How Reading Changed My Life,  “Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.”

Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading by Nina Sankovitch

My Reading Life by Pat Conroy

The Novel Cure: From Abandoment to Zestlessness - 751 Books to Cure What Ails You by Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin

The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared by Alice Ozma

Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading: Finding and Losing Myself in Books by Maureen Corrigan

So Many Books, So Little Time: A Year of Passionate Reading by Sara Nelson

Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel by Jane Smiley

What Makes This Book So Great: Re-Reading the Classics of Science Fiction and Fantasy by Jo Walton

The Whole Five Feet: What the Great Books Taught Me About Life, Death, and Pretty Much Everything Else by Christopher R. Beha

Books: A Memoir by Larry McMurtry  

Reading Jackie: Her Autobiography in Books by William Kuhn

My Life in Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead

Romance is My Day Job: A Memoir of Finding Love At Last by Patience Bloom

How Literature Saved My Life by by David Shields

Shakespeare Saved My Life: Ten Years in Solitary with the Bard by Laura Bates [eBook]

Judging a Book By Its Lover: A Field Guide to the Hearts and Minds of Readers Everywhere by Lauren Leto

Life Sentences: Literary Judgments and Accounts by William H. Gass

All Roads Lead to Austen: A Yearlong Journey with Jane by Amy Elizabeth Smith     

The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them by Elif Batuman 

1 comment:

LW said...

I loved The Possessed. And I'm looking forward to reading another, The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe, about he and his mother reading and discussing books, after she receives a cancer diagnosis, and they need to spend a lot of time sitting in waiting rooms and through treatments.