Marathon County Public Library

learning • community • ideas • information

Staff Reviews: Memoir

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


'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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, Memoir, Biography, 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, Memoir, Humor

'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, 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, 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, Memoir

'My Organic Life: How a Pioneering Chef Helped Shape the Way We Eat Today' by Nora Pouillon

"My Organic Life: How a Pioneering Chef Helped Shape the Way We Eat Today" 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, Memoir

'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, Memoir

'Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography' by Neil Patrick Harris, David Javerbaum, Antony Hare

"Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography" by Neil Patrick Harris, David Javerbaum, Antony Hare

★★★★★ Whether your favorite Neil Patrick Harris character is Barney Stinson, Doogie Howser, or Hedwig, this book is highly recommended. NPH models his autobiography after the "Choose Your Own Adventure" children's series, where readers make a choice at the end of each chapter that will change the outcome of the story. This book is full of humor and quirky details...

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

'Yes Please' by Amy Poehler

"Yes Please" by Amy Poehler

★★★★★ Are you ready to laugh, learn, and cry? Amy delivers all of this and more in her debut book. Anyone who is a fan of Amy from her television work and comedy will definitely appreciate her humor and stories about trying to make it in the business. She covers her childhood through her time on "Parks and Recreation." What I found to be the best part of this...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir

'A Street Cat Named Bob' by James Bowen

"A Street Cat Named Bob" by James Bowen

★★★★★ Wounded, hungry and full of fleas, a stray ginger-colored tom cat catches the eye of James Bowen, a street musician struggling to free his life from drug addiction. The two lost souls instantly form a bond. Even though James can barely get by himself on the money he earns performing on the streets of London, he knows that he has to take care of this cat....

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir