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_Liliya_'s avatar

What is the best 300+ memoir you have ever read?

Asked by _Liliya_ (287 points ) January 9th, 2010

I am going to write a book report for my class but, I am confused as to which book I should choose. I was thinking “Chalked Up” by Jennifer Sey because I love gymnastics and I think it would be an interesting read. However I am open to a lot of different genres and topics, so whatever you suggest is fine with me. Just as long as its appropiate for high school though. :)

P.S. I would really like to use a memoir though. As I have only read a few and I am looking to expand my reading base. So memoirs would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

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25 Answers

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

Pick a person in whom you are interested.
See if they have written a memoir.
If not, Rinse and repeat.

fundevogel's avatar

My favorite memoir is Childhood: Biography of a Place. It’s about growing up in backwoods Georgia in the 30’s I think. It’s pretty badass. Lots of terrible things happen but somehow, even after eating lye and getting polio Harry is never held down by his misfortune. This isn’t an inspirational story, its about tough people in a tough situation just living. And it’s amazing.

I learned how to to falsify your livestock’s teeth to get a better sale price from this book.

jonsblond's avatar

Soul Surfer.

The story of a young surfer that returned to surfing after losing her arm in a shark attack. Maybe not the best, but very inspiring!

StephK's avatar

“An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness” by Kay Redfield Jaminson is an intruiging, heartbreaking, fascinating, horrifying, honest account of a woman living with biopolar disorder. It’s a great read, though if that “300+” is referring to a page amount I’m afraid it doesn’t meet the criteria, as Amazon.com says it’s 240 pages. But certainly 240 of the best pages I’ve read.

January's avatar

Blood Done Sign My Name, by Timothy Tyson…a powerful memoir about growing up in the south during the Civil Rights struggle. Tyson is a gifted writer and most of the story is as enthralling as a good novel; he does wander off the path a little in the middle, but then he gets back on track and packs a wallop.

In paperback, 355 pages, $10.17, from Amazon Prime (free 2-day delivery) or $9.99 if you have a Kindle (with free instant delivery).

This is a great read, Liliya, whether for this assignment or just for the importance of understanding that piece of our history as Americans.

Jack79's avatar

I loved Joan Baez’s autobiography (don’t remember the title now) because it did not just talk about her own life, but gave an interesting insight into life in the 60s, and all those people, places, events and habits that are now part of western popular culture but I did not experience first hand.

HTDC's avatar

I don’t read memoirs, detailed descriptions of other people’s lives just don’t interest me one bit.

wonderingwhy's avatar

I’ve never really felt any interest in memoirs whatsoever, but maybe 10 years ago while walking past a book store I saw Have A Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks by Mick Foley. I had a brief period where I was enthralled by wrestling and couldn’t believe/conceive that this guy, who I’d watched get beat to hell in ways that were more like a train wreck than entertainment and didn’t exactly strike me as the literary type to be polite, had written a book. Needless to say, I snapped up a copy without thinking all the while hearing that little voice saying “yeah, this will last about 10 pages, why am I wasting my money.” Wow, was I wrong, ~750–800 pages later I was impressed, not simply by his story, which was certainly more interesting than I had credited, but with the fact that he had put it all to paper himself and the depth and insights he had discovered along the way.

IMO it’s definitely an “open mind” book because most would probably dismiss it as I almost did, but once you get started it’s hard to stop.

As an aside, the other two auto/biographies/memoirs on my pile right now are Hollywood Monster by Robert Englund because of my love for horror films and The Rommel Papers by Erwin Rommel because I’ve always found him to be one of the most fascinating figures of an era filled with innumerable tales. Having not yet cracked them, I can’t recommend them but I would certainly not hesitate in suggesting them.

What ever you choose, happy reading!

jf9434's avatar

Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah. Very interesting, though a bit short.

janbb's avatar

The Glass Castle by Jennifer Walls is a compelling read. Check out the pagination, should be about that.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

A tossup between “The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin” and “War as I Knew It” by George S. Patton Jr.

Cartman's avatar

This Thing of Darkness by Harry Thompson. About the captain of the Beagle (the ship of which Darwin voyaged).

fundevogel's avatar

I just remembered Bruce Campbell’s memoir If Chins Could Kill. It’s a humorous account of how Bruce became a B grade movie actor. Much of it focuses on his relationship with Spiderman director Sam Raimi from when they were kids together in Detroit up to the present. If you’re not familar with Bruce and Sam they got their start with a DIY camp horror film (Evil Dead) they scraped together not long after they became eligible to vote. The whole thing is full of wry humor and intersting details about DIY filmmaking. Sam Raimi provides a twisted intro for the memoir.

Of my books, this is the one I loan out the most. It’s gone out four or five times now. And unlike the first book I mentioned this one is actually over 300 pages, though it’s a shame you have that criteria.

UScitizen's avatar

General Kenney Reports, by George C. Kenney

aprilsimnel's avatar

Preston Sturges by Preston Sturges

Let’s just say people lived differently when their parents were bohemian, and some of them turned out to be great film directors who invented the screwball comedy.

LeopardGecko's avatar

Obviously Sarah Palin’s

CyanoticWasp's avatar

I like Augusten Burroughs’ memoirs. Dry is the most recent one that I’ve read. I’m not sure if Running With Scissors is memoir or fiction story (more the former, I think).

His books are horrifyingly, sadly and wickedly funny.

nope's avatar

Bubbles, by Beverly Sills. It’s a little old now, but she was an amazing operatic soprano in her day, and her autobiography was both interesting and entertaining. It’s the one I always think of first, when someone asks me if I’ve read biographies.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@CyanoticWasp I keep meaning to read one of his books.

nope's avatar

@CyanoticWasp Running with Scissors was a memoir of Burroughs as a young teenager, and it was a great book, very funny, and somewhat dark and disturbing at the same time. Read the book, don’t see the movie (which didn’t do the book justice at all).

Marie123's avatar

memoirs of a geisha

janbb's avatar

@Marie123 That’s a work of fiction.

WestRiverrat's avatar

The Personal Memoir’s of Ulysses S. Grant published shortly after his death in 1885.

It is a long read as it is in 2 volumes, if you don’t like history it may be tough to get through.

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