I picked up Bad Mother by Ayelet Waldman after learning about it in How to Raise an Adult. While not my favorite memoir, this had some good nuggets and was funny, honest, blunt and edgy with many risks taken by the author that ultimately I appreciated.
After continuing to hear how good it was, I picked up Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey and read it in a week. Even with the good reviews I was still skeptical about this one but man am I glad I read it. What a unique, well written, thought provoking and at times hilarious memoir. I loved everything about this book, and even if you're not a McConaughey fan, I'd give it a try.
I wanted to love The Beauty in Breaking by Michele Harper, but thought it was just okay. I've really been enjoying reading memoirs over the last few years, so maybe my expectations were too high and I think I was expecting something different from this. Overall I liked Harper's stories from the ER and some of her commentary about the nature of hospitals. But I was hoping to get more insight into her and read more about her personal story. For me that would have made this book more compelling.
Untamed by Glennon Doyle was my first introduction to this author. I really liked this book, it was compelling and had many highlight-worthy insights that I'm sure I'll return back to. This was intimate, honest, messy and hopeful. At times it felt a little preachy to me, but it was well written and her personal stories were interwoven nicely and I think I might have been feeling some of the immediacy and intensity of her words, which ultimately created an inspiring and incredibly empowering read. I put this book down feeling "zoomed out" - the world is messy - but the point isn't just to change that, the point is to pull deep down from your own soul and exist beautifully in it.
I started Searching For Sunday by the late Rachel Held Evans last year after learning about her through The Liturgists Podcast. It must've stopped feeling relevant to me, so I put it down but picked it up again recently and finished it. I'm glad I did, this was a good memoir about wrestling with organized religion and Evans' journey to ultimately rediscover her faith and find a place again in church. She realizes that none of it is clean and simple - it's messy and complicated, but that's sort of the point of it. Anyone who has been cynical about religion or wrestled with ideas of faith and community will connect with this one.
I actually started Man's Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl last year and just got around to finishing it. This book can be found on many must-read lists, and I wanted to be sure to read this one after reading The Choice, which was probably the best book I read last year (and an especially humbling read during the pandemic).
Frankl talks about his time in Nazi concentration camps and his exploration into what truly drives humans, which isn't pleasure, but meaning. Most people will be inspired by reading this book, it certainly stands the test of time.
After reading the book about President Biden, I figured I'd follow it up and learn more about VP Kamala Harris by reading her memoir The Truths We Hold: An American Journey. I also didn't know much about her so this was super informative.
This book came out before the 2020 election, and maybe because of that, much of it felt a little like a stump speech to me. I didn't mind too much though and I enjoyed this quick read.
I've spent the last 3-4 months reading about 3 books on and off and not finishing any of them. When Barack Obama's book A Promised Land released in November, I grabbed it and finally finished a book to wrap up 2020.
I loved this book and am so glad I took the time to read it (it was long, for me at least). This is the first volume of I think a two-part memoir by the former President. It was a beautifully written account of Obama's journey from his beginning interests in politics through his first term as President.
Obama is reflective and introspective, offering an intimate, 'day-in-the-life' view of the Presidency. His story is accessible, inspiring, funny and informative and is a great historical recount of his time in office and I look forward to reading part two.
It was hard not to grab Alex Trebek's memoir The Answer Is... - at the very least I was interested in some behind the scenes look at Jeopardy! I was pleasantly surprised, by the end of the book I felt like I knew Alex and wanted to give him a big hug. He came across so endearing, just a good guy. He didn't "tell all" and he didn't write in beautiful prose, but he warned everyone in the intro that he wasn't going to do either. What came after were some interesting stories and insights, some behind the scenes about the game show industry and Jeopardy! and a closer look at the personality and life of Alex Trebek, a beloved TV personality who (unfortunately) we will see leave us soon. If you've ever enjoyed catching Jeopardy! from time to time, this is worth the read.
I heard a lot of positive chatter about I'm Still Here: Black Dignity In A World Made For Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown and I wasn't disappointed. Brown wrote a beautiful memoir that offers a powerful perspective on race and sheds light on racial injustice and inequality. I went through all the emotions while reading this one, I couldn't put it down, I'm so thankful Brown wrote this.
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