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Memoir Love

journal loveI love stories and I especially love reading memoirs because they offer an intimate and vulnerable view of a person’s life. And for me, that is a beautiful and brave form of writing.

Below are three memoirs I recently read and loved.

1. “No Place Like Home: A Memoir in 39 Apartments

My friend Courtney recommended “No Place Like Home,” by Brooke Berman, and I’m so happy I bought a copy. I read the book after we got back from the east coast and before we moved to Chico. During my trip east, I had a lot of conversations about the meaning of home and Berman talked about this topic in her memoir. In addition to exploring the meaning of home, Berman talked about love, loss and grief. It was a meaningful and poignant read.

2. “Zen Under Fire: How I Found Peace in the Midst of War

In late May, I pre-ordered “Zen Under Fire,” by Marianne Elliott, and was so grateful when it arrived on my door-step! Marianne’s words kept me company on our trip east and I devoured her book quickly. Her memoir is an extraordinary day-to-day account of her experience as a human rights advocate in Afghanistan.

3. “Then Again

A few days ago, Marianne Elliott posted a photo of “Then Again,” by Diane Keaton, on her Instagram feed. I asked Marianne what she thought of the memoir and she said, “I’m really enjoying it. It’s a beautiful story of mothers, daughters, dreams, love & loss.”

Based on Marianne’s recommendation, I read a sample chapter of the book on my Kindle. I was immediately entranced by Keaton’s writing and bought the book. I’m a quarter of the way through and can’t put the book down. It’s an inspiring and touching story. For example, in the introduction Keaton described her mom’s love of writing and explained why she decided to write a memoir.

She said, “I’ve written not my memoir but ours. The story of a girl whose wishes came true because of her mother is not new, but its mine. The profound love and gratitude I feel now that she’s left has compelled me to try to ‘unravel’ the mystery of her journey . . . Thinking back to her scrapbooks and our mutual love of collage, I’ve placed her words beside mine, along with letters, clippings, and other materials that document not just our lives but our bond.”

As an avid journal keeper, I thought this was a beautiful way for Keaton to honor her mother’s memory. I’m looking forward to writing about the book in my journal this week!

More Memoirs

For the rest of the summer, I’ve decided to read memoirs and I’m looking for recommendations. If you’ve read a good memoir lately, please share the title name in the comments section.

Be well,

P. S. If you want to see my full reading list, check out my Goodreads profile.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Jo Anne Richardson July 8, 2013, 11:10 am

    Hi Tammy,

    Thank you for these great recommendations. I just finished Wild, by Cheryl Strayed – her memoir of a solo hike on the Pacific Crest Trail – and I really enjoyed it. It’s not just about hiking, but about overcoming loss, finding strength in yourself, and courage. She has a beautiful writing style, and it is a good read.

    All best,

    Jo Anne

    • Tammy Strobel July 8, 2013, 12:13 pm

      Hi Jo Anne – Ohhh I loved “Wild!” It was such an amazing book. I might read it one more time.


    • Sonya Forrest July 9, 2013, 6:14 pm

      I LOVE books… and love memoirs. Here are a couple I’ve loved recently;
      A Year of Magical Thinking – Joan Didion
      When it Rains – Maggie MacKellar

  • Joris July 8, 2013, 12:38 pm

    Hi Tammy, just reading your book Money Can Buy Happiness and I love the clear choices you make. What especially stuck me was the answer to all family objections when choosing a small house: ”….what if I do not want a mortgage”. Last year I finished my mortgage and really do not want a new one.

    Friends of me are on the brink to buy a camping ground in the Netherlands and the Tiny Houses Blog with your beautiful example was an inspiration to them. It would be great if they could replace the ugly caravans with tiny houses.

    May be you like the autobiography of W J Witteveen, The Magic of Harmony. He is a dutch man with tremendous brainpower and compassion who got to be head of the IMF and is now spending all his time and money on the Sufi Movement. You might enjoy it.
    All the best, Joris, The Netherlands

  • Christine July 8, 2013, 12:56 pm

    I recently listened to the audiobook of “Lessons in Becomming Myself” a memoir by actress Ellen Burstyn. I found it fascinating and full of spiritual insights.

  • bethany July 8, 2013, 1:30 pm

    Oooh, your timing is perfect. I was googling for lists of “best” memoirs just a couple days ago because I was craving some memoir reading. It looks like you’ve already read most of the memoirs from my recent list, but here’s a couple more I would recommend:
    Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal? by Jeannette Winterson
    The Latehomecomer by Kao Kalia Yang

  • Jason Gardner July 8, 2013, 3:14 pm

    Hi Tammy —

    Next spring we’re publishing a new edition of a classic but little-known memoir by Jacques Lusseyran, a blind hero of the French Resistance during World War II, called And There Was Light. It’s a gripping read but also one of the most amazing and insightful descriptions of blindness ever written. I’ll send you a galley of it soon!

    Your editor, Jason

  • Carol July 8, 2013, 3:17 pm

    Hi Tammy,

    Thanks for your lovely posts – I really enjoy them.

    I just finished reading Brotherhood: Dharma, Destiny, and the American Dream by Deepak & Sanjiv Chopra. It is actually a double memoir by the 2 brothers, told in alternating chapters, and touches on the themes of brotherhood, culture, immigration & spirituality.

    It is a truly compelling read and I highly recommend it.


  • beverly July 8, 2013, 3:33 pm

    1. Gretel Erlich, A Match to the Heart, The solace of open spaces,
    2. Terry Tempest Williams: When women were birds
    3. (not strictly memoir, but so good.) Rebecca Solnit: a Field Guide to Getting Lost

  • Alyce July 8, 2013, 6:20 pm

    I particularly loved The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.

  • Ginger July 8, 2013, 6:58 pm

    Magical Journey, An Apprenticeship In Contentment by Katrina Kenison.

  • Marsha July 9, 2013, 12:14 am

    Tammy, There is a memoir that will absolutely knock your socks off. It’s set in California’s Central Valley. The book is called “The Lost Night: A Daughter’s Search for the Truth of Her Father’s Murder” by Rachel Howard. It sounds like some consuming crime thing and it’s not at all, it’s a memoir of overcoming, starting over, and coming to terms with life as it is and not how we *wish* it was. It was highly recommended by the NYT back in 2006 and I bought it from that glowing review. To this day it’s one of my two or three favorite memoirs. A must-read!

  • Margaret Stewart July 9, 2013, 5:42 am

    Sonia Sotomayor’s memoir, My Beloved World, is wonderful, especially in audio! She reads the introduction and Rita Moreno, another amazing woman, reads the text. Very interesting, charming, inspiring!

  • Kasey Mathews July 9, 2013, 9:35 am

    Tammy, not only can I recommend you a memoir, but I can send it to you, because it’s mine! Preemie: Lessons in Love, Life and Motherhood is the story of my daughter’s unexpected birth at 25 weeks. She weighed just over a pound and I thought my life had come to an end with her traumatic birth. But in fact, Andie’s birth was really just a catalyst for my spiritual awakening and transformation. While our daughter was still in the hospital, I met and energy healer who opened up an entire realm of alternative therapies that I hope everyone discovers! I’m on a continuous path of learning and discovery, and your book – Can’t Buy Happiness, was an incredible gift that has led to tremendous healing and life changes for me! Thank you! You can read reviews of my book on amazon, but I have a free chapter download on my website that will really give you a feel of my writing and the story. http://www.kaseymathews.com (Free download button is in the right sidebar) Thanks again for sharing your inspiring life with all of us and please let me know if you’d like me to pop a copy of Preemie in the mail to you! Happy Day!

    • Tammy Strobel July 9, 2013, 10:36 am

      Kasey – You are so sweet! I’d love to read your book. 🙂 I’ll send you my address shortly.


  • Jen July 9, 2013, 10:58 am

    You might really like The dirty life: A memoir of farming, food, and love by Kristin Kimball. It’s very good! 🙂

  • Alette July 9, 2013, 11:24 am

    Hi Tammy,

    I too love reading memoirs, particularly ones in which people write about their relationships to places and to the more-than-human world. Someone already mentioned Terry Tempest Williams. I’d second that, especially “Refuge”, though it can be rawly painful at times. Also, Linda Hogan’s “The Woman Who Watches Over the World”. Lisa Couturier’s “The Hopes of Snakes” is a series of autobiographical essays about connecting with nature in some of the most built up parts of the US: Washington DC and Manhattan. Finally, the late Roger Deakin’s “Wildwood: A Journey Through Trees”.

    I’ve written about the importance of memoirs in opening up our circles of compassion and ethical concern in the Animal Studies Journal: http://ro.uow.edu.au/asj/vol2/iss1/3

    Looking forward to checking out some of the books you and and others have recommended.

  • Brigitte Gleissner July 9, 2013, 4:00 pm

    Hi Tammy, I really love your posts and the snapshots of your daily life. Your book has inspired me to downsize and it’s been quite a “journey!” Among many other things, I’ve donated 2/3rd of my books, but I love books and that was hard. So I would love to ask you a question. You seem to buy them in paper (I tried digital, but prefer “real books” so much more!) What do you do with your books when you’ve finished reading them since your space is limited (and mine now too)? I would really appreciate your thoughts because I wonder if I should give electronic versions another chance or start buying books again. Best wishes, Brigitte

    • Tammy Strobel July 10, 2013, 12:09 pm

      Hi Brigitte – Thanks for reading my book and blog! I appreciate it. 🙂 Lately I’ve been sending old books to friends. I love creating care packages for loved ones! Also, I’ve given lots of books to the library.


  • Jean K July 9, 2013, 6:23 pm

    Hi Tammy – Here are a few not mentioned yet:

    1. Learning to Breathe: One Woman’s Journey of Spirit and Survival – Alison Wright
    2. Wave (very powerful) – Sonali Deraniyagala
    3. Shot in the Heart – Mikal Gilmore
    4. Elsewhere – Richard Russo
    5. An Unquenchable Thirst: Following Mother Teresa in Search of Love, Service and an Authentic Life – Mary Johnson

    Thanks – this post gave me some new ideas for reading!

  • Chelsea Gale July 9, 2013, 7:06 pm

    Hi Tammy!

    I still highly recommend, May I Be Happy: A Memoir of Love, Yoga, and Changing My Mind, by Cyndi Lee. I also loved the Chronology of Water by Lidia Yuknavitch.

  • Debbie Durham July 10, 2013, 12:26 pm

    Great suggestions Tammy! Your readers will provide enough suggestions for the next year! I have also been reading memoirs for the past few months, and must add to this list!

    Still Points North: One Alaskan Childhood by Leigh Newman, a poignantly told, sad and happy story of the author’s struggle to find self after spending her childhood between parents’ homes in Baltimore and Alaska. I loved it.

    I am currently reading Azar Nafisi’s memoir about growing up in Iran. She is the well known author of Reading Lolita in Tehran – perhaps you have read? This is called Things I’ve Been Silent About, and is a stimulating story of her family amidst the unrest in her country of birth.

    Last, Gail Caldwell’s Let’s Take the Long Way Home. So endearing and compassionate.

  • Kaylin Lydia July 10, 2013, 5:55 pm

    Great recommendations! I added the Zen book under my goodreads profile. I love that website! I just added these two books after listening to the author’s stories on “The Moth” podcast. “At Home In The World” and “Orange Is The New Black”. Also, if you do not already I believe you would love listening to “The Moth” podcast.

  • Christy July 11, 2013, 8:05 am

    I recommend the following:
    Kissed by a Fox: and Other Stories of Friendship in Nature by Priscilla Stuckey
    Long Quiet Highway by Natalie Goldberg
    100 Tricks Every Boy Can Do: How My Brother Disappeared by Kim Stafford

    Many thanks to Tammy for posing the question and to the commenters for responding. I have added some new titles to my own list for reading!

  • Tammy Strobel July 11, 2013, 8:16 am

    Thank you all for the book recommendations! I really appreciate it! I can’t wait to start reading more memoirs. 🙂

  • Millie July 11, 2013, 10:28 am

    If you haven’t read The End of Your Life Book Club, by Will Schwalbe, you really really need to! I read it a couple of weeks ago and since then I’ve been recommending it to everyone. The book catalogues Will’s experiences with his mother through the books they read together, as she dies from cancer. His Mother was one of the pioneers of women in work a few decades ago, and was a director and founder of several aid charities (she specialised in women and children refugees). It’s a real eye-opener, and despite the fact that death is ever present, it’s not a sad book. It’s a celebration of kindness and life.

    • Tammy Strobel July 11, 2013, 10:43 am

      Millie – I LOVED “The End of Your Life Book Club.” It’s such a beautiful book. xo.