Personal stories. We all have them. Some might be better than others, but that also depends on how you tell them.
Reading each other’s personal stories is one way we connect with one another. We’ll read someone else’s memoir and might find a nugget of fact that corresponds to our own lives. Suddenly we have a connection that ties us to that author.
One of my all time favorite memoirs is Maxine Hong Kingston’s ‘The Woman Warrior.’ I am not a Chinese American child of American immigrants. Nor was I born in California in 1940. I was however the child of immigrants living in a different country and am now an American immigrant. So when I read about Maxine’s parents struggling to adapt to their adopted home, I reminisce about my first years here in the states. Without even trying, I make comparisons from my experience as someone who moved here from Abu Dhabi for college in 2001, to those of Maxine’s father who came here from China in 1920 to search for better prospects.
Memoirs do this strange thing. They make us ask questions by answering them. A couple questions I had when reading ‘The Woman Warrior,’ are I wonder what it was like to grow up in the 1950’s, and I wonder what it is like to have such a strong faith in the existence of ghosts.
Whenever we ask questions that starts with ‘I wonder what it was/is like…’ whether out loud or in our head, we are comparing and connecting our personal story to someone else’s. It is what makes reading memoir so emotional. Essentially it is a way for us to place ourselves in another person’s experience. And after following that ride
of words to the last page, it is almost like we have lived someone else’s journey.
Through that slew of subconscious I wonder what it was like questions that have occurred while reading, we’ve formed many connections to our own life story. Sometimes that helps us remember parts of our own story that we’ve forgotten, like when long time cat owners read ‘Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover’s Soul,’ and bawl because they remember their own first cat cuddling in their lap. Other times those formed connections between reader and author give way to deep emotions that are absent in our own lives. Ever wonder what the crazy rockstar life is like? Try Keith Richards Life. Whatever ‘life not lived’ experience you are looking to discover, we have it here in the library.
Other recommendations that we have in our library collection aside from
The Women Warrior
Life and the
plethora of Chicken Soup books
Jeannette Walls ‘The Glass Castle’
Trevor Noah’s ‘Born a Crime’
Mike D’s ‘Beastie Boys Book’ and
Elizabeth Gilbert Eat Pray Love
If you want more recommendations, ask us. We have such a wide collection of memoir that we’re bound to have something that suits your taste. Although, stepping out of your comfort zone when stepping into someone else’s life won’t be something you regret either.
Let us know what some of your favorite memoirs are in the comments. We’d love to hear them.