Marathon County Public Library

learning • community • ideas • information

Staff Reviews: Biography And Memoir

Check out these "" reviews written by the staff of the Marathon County Public Library! (For reviews in all genres, visit our main Staff Reviews webpage.) Staff book reviews are also published at Goodreads.com; follow us for the latest updates.


'Year of Yes'  by  Shonda Rhimes

"Year of Yes" by Shonda Rhimes

★★★ Shonda Rhimes is the creative mind behind of some of the hottest shows on television, including Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder. Though Rhimes was thriving professionally, her personal life had devolved into a cycle of sleeping, eating, working and just getting by. After being told by her older sister that “You...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Biography, Biography And Memoir

'Lust & Wonder'  by  Augusten Burroughs

"Lust & Wonder" by Augusten Burroughs

★★★★★ After chronicling his extraordinarily unstable upbringing in Running with Scissors and his journey to become sober in Dry, Augusten Burroughs uses his latest book to explore the two romantic relationships that led to him meeting his husband, Christopher. The first section of this page-turner covers his 1990s-era relationship with Mitch, a successful-yet-...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Biography And Memoir

'My Two Elaines: Learning, Coping, and Surviving as an Alzheimer's Caregiver'  by  Martin J. Schreiber

"My Two Elaines: Learning, Coping, and Surviving as an Alzheimer's Caregiver" by Martin J. Schreiber

★★★★★ “My Two Elaines” is the perfect title for this book. Former Wisconsin Governor, Martin J. Schreiber fell in love with his wife, Elaine, when in high school. They married during college and pledged a lifelong commitment to each other. Together they raised a family and had successful careers. That is, until the “other Elaine” came into the story....

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Biography And Memoir

'The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit'  by  Michael Finkel

"The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit" by Michael Finkel

★★★★ For 27 years, Christpher Knight lived in complete solitude in the woods of Maine, becoming known by locals as the North Pond Hermit. Knight only encountered a handful of wayward hikers in his quarter century in isolation, tucked away in a large camp that he made into his own makeshift home. Year after year, Knight survived on his own, meticulously...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Biography And Memoir

'The Princess Diarist'  by  Carrie Fisher

"The Princess Diarist" by Carrie Fisher

★★★ Nearly everyone knows Carrie Fisher for her portrayal of Princess Leia Organa in the "Star Wars" film series. Being so strongly associated with this iconic character is something Fisher has struggled with virtually from the beginning of her career until she learned to embrace her alter ego later in life. The double-edged sword of a dilemma is the basis...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Biography And Memoir, Celebrities

'Why Not Me?'  by  Mindy Kaling

"Why Not Me?" by Mindy Kaling

★★★ As someone who was thoroughly entertained by actress Mindy Kaling's first memoir "Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?" I really looked forward to what she had to say in this follow-up. While this book didn’t quite match the humor and substance of its predecessor, it was still enjoyable to read. Known as the star of TV's "The Mindy Project" and for...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Biography And Memoir, Humor, Celebrities

'The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo'  by  Amy Schumer

"The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo" by Amy Schumer

★★★★ Celebrity memoirs almost always seem to promise to "bare it all" and give the reader an uncensored look at the star's life, but most only half-heartedly keep that promise. Amy Schumer, however, is not one of those stars. In her debut book, Schumer (perhaps best known for her Comedy Central sketch series or her semi-autobiographical comedy film "...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Biography And Memoir, Celebrities, Humor

'Lithium Jesus'  by  Charles Monroe-Kane

"Lithium Jesus" by Charles Monroe-Kane

★★★★ Charles Monroe-Kane is a Peabody Award winning producer at National Public Radio. Before earning that title he spent what seems like a lifetime acquiring the labels of youth preacher, faith healer, traveler, smuggler, environmental activist, record producer, circus manager, and more. During his childhood Monroe-Kane began hearing voices in his head....

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Biography And Memoir, Mental Health, Travel

'Born a Crime'  by  Trevor Noah

"Born a Crime" by Trevor Noah

★★★★★ Before Trevor Noah was an internationally known comedian and host of The Daily Show he lived a modest life in South Africa with his mother. The two made a remarkable “team,” as he calls them, constantly trying to get ahead at the center of a world attempting to keep them behind. Trevor Noah’s father is white, Swiss, and German. His mother is black and...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Biography And Memoir, Humor

'The Many Faces of Josephine Baker: Dancer, Singer, Activist, Spy'  by  Peggy Caravatnes

"The Many Faces of Josephine Baker: Dancer, Singer, Activist, Spy" by Peggy Caravatnes

★★★★★ Most people recognize Josephine Baker as that dancer in the banana skirt.  But Josephine Baker was a far more complex character than can be summarized in one sentence.  Starting life in the poorest slums of East St. Louis, Baker went on to gain international fame dancing and singing on stage and eventually on screen.  An extravagant dresser...

Audience: Teens | Genre: Biography And Memoir, Nonfiction

'Home is Burning'  by  Dan Marshall

"Home is Burning" by Dan Marshall

★★★★★ Dan Marshall had it made at 25. After being brought up in a privileged (some may say spoiled) home, he had a great job in Los Angeles, a devoted long-term girlfriend and no bigger problem than deciding where to vacation next. Then, while lounging in Palm Springs, that life instantly vanishes when Marshall gets a call from his parents telling him that his...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Biography And Memoir

'Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology'  by  Leah Remini

"Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology" by Leah Remini

★★★★★ Have you heard about Scientology but have no clue what it is about? This book gives us an inside view of the workings of this religion from the viewpoint of former Scientologist, Leah Remini. Leah Remini is a actress who is best known for her role in the television comedy "King of Queens". From a very young age she was brought up in Scientology when her...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Biography And Memoir

'Gratitude'  by  Oliver Sacks

"Gratitude" by Oliver Sacks

★★★★★ It is hard to write a review on a book this brief without spoiling the contents. What I can say is that this short collection of essays, written in the two years leading up to Dr. Sacks’ death, is deeply and beautifully human. These essays show us the depth of coming to terms with death and celebrating, with gratitude, the life that you have lived. There is...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Biography And Memoir

'Wildflower'  by  Drew Barrymore

"Wildflower" by Drew Barrymore

★★★★★ I loved this book! Reading it is like sitting down with a good friend over a cup of cocoa and listening to their stories. Drew writes with such emotion and honesty that you feel like she is in the room with you. This book made me laugh, it made me cry, and it made me realize what a beautiful soul she is. This book is written as a collection of stories from...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Biography And Memoir

'A Field Guide to Awkward Silences'  by  Alexandra Petri

"A Field Guide to Awkward Silences" by Alexandra Petri

★★★★ Washington Post columnist and twenty-something Alexandra Petri has never been afraid to embrace the awkward and to march to beat of her own eccentric drummer. This humorous memoir is composed of essays on a number of experiences that explore varying types and degrees of awkwardness. Experiences include participation in an international pun championship,...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Biography And Memoir

'You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)'  by  Felicia Day

"You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)" by Felicia Day

★★★★ For those of you out there who are wondering who Felicia Day is, once you see her picture you will wonder where you know her from. Many are familiar with her online presence from various geek-doms and others will know her from television and commercials. She reveals a lot about why she became a gamer and how she grew to love that culture. Let's get real...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Biography And Memoir

'Little Author in the BIg Woods: A BIography of Laura Ingalls Wilder'  by  Yona Zeldis McDonough, Jennifer Thermes

"Little Author in the BIg Woods: A BIography of Laura Ingalls Wilder" by Yona Zeldis McDonough, Jennifer Thermes

★★★★★ This new children's biography of perhaps Wisconsin’s most well known and loved author, Laura Ingalls Wilder, is a great addition for all her fans. Written in a plain, simple style it includes most of the facts we know about her and her family. The illustrations by Yona Zeldis McDonough are simple, warm and homey, reminiscent of the illustrations by Garth...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Nonfiction, Biography And Memoir

'Under the Same Sky: A Memoir of Survival, Hope, and Faith'  by  Joseph Kim, Stephan Talty

"Under the Same Sky: A Memoir of Survival, Hope, and Faith" by Joseph Kim, Stephan Talty

★★★ In this book Joseph tells us the story of his life in communist-ruled North Korea. In North Korea he starved for 10 years due to inflated prices of food and his country's inability to grow their own food. He tempts fate when he crosses the Tumen River during the day and is "free" in China. Once in China, where he could be exported at any time, he finds life...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Biography And Memoir

'My Organic Life'  by  Nora Pouillon

"My Organic Life" by Nora Pouillon

★★★★ It's easy to find organic produce and hormone-free meat now, but 50 years ago, that was not the case. Nora Pouillon is a Vienna-born chef and founder of Restaurant Nora, the first certified organic restaurant in the United States. When Nora came to Washington D.C. in the 1960s, she was horrified at the lack of seasonal produce and meat filled with hormones...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Biography And Memoir

'The Bite of the Mango'  by  Mariatu Kamara, Susan McClelland

"The Bite of the Mango" by Mariatu Kamara, Susan McClelland

★★★★ This memoir of Mariatu will draw you in. It is about Mariatu's life in Sierra Leone (an African country) and subsequent move to Canada. Mariatu lived though a civil war in her native country, but while she and many others have lived to tell their story they also lost their hands. It is a book about survival and overcoming a disability.

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Biography And Memoir

'Hope and Other Luxuries: A Mother's Life with a Daughter's Anorexia'  by  Clare B. Dunkle

"Hope and Other Luxuries: A Mother's Life with a Daughter's Anorexia" by Clare B. Dunkle

★★★★ This memoir is haunting, beautiful, and hard to forget. From the outside, Clare's life seems perfect. She has a great job as children's book author and is raising her two smart and talented daughters in Germany with her loving husband. Clare's story shows us that even when you think everything is perfect, something can happen that can turn your whole world...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Biography And Memoir

'Life from Scratch'  by  Sasha Martin

"Life from Scratch" by Sasha Martin

★★★★★ Blogger Sasha Martin may be best known for Global Table Adventure, the blog where she chronicled her culinary journeys cooking recipes from every country. Her memoir does discuss the blog, as well as her picky husband's foray into exotic foods, but the majority of the memoir focuses on the tragedies Martin experienced as a child, and how it affected her...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Biography And Memoir

'When Fraser Met Billy'  by  Louise Booth

"When Fraser Met Billy" by Louise Booth

★★★★ This is a true story about a struggling family, their autistic son, Fraser and a special grey shelter cat named Billy who brought them love, happiness and hope. With Billy in his life, gradually Fraser had less tantrums, was less anxious about changes, and less moody. Also diagnosed with hypotonia, a muscle condition, Billy also helped him learn to climb...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Biography And Memoir, Differing Abilities

'H is for Hawk'  by  Helen Macdonald

"H is for Hawk" by Helen Macdonald

★★★ Part memoir, part nature essay, and part biography of eccentric author T.H. White, this book is difficult to categorize. Helen Macdonald decides to train a goshawk after her father's unexpected death, and the experience allows her to deal with her loss. Macdonald also writes about the parallels between her goshawk training experience and the English author...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Biography And Memoir

'Stevie Nicks: Visions, Dreams & Rumors'  by  Zoë Howe

"Stevie Nicks: Visions, Dreams & Rumors" by Zoë Howe

★★★ As a Stevie Nicks fan, I enjoyed this new biography from British journalist Zoe Howe, but recommend it with some reservations. I was a bit disappointed that most of the material is sourced from published interviews and books, so I would not recommend this book for fans looking for "new" insights about Nicks, especially fans who have already read one of the...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Biography And Memoir, Celebrities

Pages