2010 – the year in memoirs & biographies

Looking back on the top memoirs and biographies is always interesting, as we see the lives and the themes that captured our attention. If you’re interested, compare it to 2009′s top biographies. But let’s get to the books you voted as the most popular by checking them out with your library cards! Here they are…

jacket 1. Spoken From the Heart

By Laura Bush

From the publisher: “With deft humor and a sharp eye, Laura Bush lifts the curtain on what really happens inside the White House, from presidential finances to the 175-year-old tradition of separate bedrooms for presidents and their wives to the antics of some White House guests and even a few members of Congress. She writes with honesty and eloquence about her family, her public triumphs, and her personal tribulations. Laura Bush’s compassion, her sense of humor, her grace, and her uncommon willingness to bare her heart make this story revelatory, beautifully rendered, and unlike any other first lady’s memoir ever written.”

jacket 2. Hitch-22: A Memoir

By Christopher Hitchens

“This memoir, bracing, droll, and very revealing, gives him yet another description: storyteller. He writes with a voice you can hear clearly, warmed by smoke and whiskey, and draws readers into his story, which proves as personal as it is political. As with many memoirs, it is not the public moments that are so fascinating, though there are plenty of those. Hitchens takes readers with him to Havana and Prague, Afghanistan and Iraq; tests himself by being waterboarded (he was disappointed in his early capitulation); and hobnobs with politicians and poets. He almost gets himself beaten up by defacing a poster in Iraq with a Hitler mustache. But the most intriguing stories are the personal ones, both from his early days, at home and at boarding school, and from his later life.”

jacket 3. Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace With Marriage

By Elizabeth Gilbert

“After her Brazilian boyfriend is denied re-entry at a border crossing, Gilbert must marry him if they want to continue living together in the United States. Despite her insistence in Eat, Pray, Love never to remarry, Gilbert comes to terms with the institution after several months of enforced exile abroad with her boyfriend.”

jacket 4. A Game of Character: A Family’s Journey from Chicago’s Southside to the Ivy League and Beyond

By Craig Robinson

“Robinson takes readers behind the scenes to meet his most important influences in his understanding of the winning traits that are part of his playbook for success.”

jacket 5. Dead-End Gene Pool: A Memoir

By Wendy Burden

“Burden’s acknowledgment that she is focusing her memoir on her father’s family (Vanderbilt heirs) because “rich people behaving badly are far more interesting than the not so rich behaving badly” reassures us at the outset that this will not be another standard-issue poor-little-rich-girl memoir. After her father’s suicide when Burden was six, she spends her childhood largely ignored, shuttling between the home of her self-centered, globetrotting mother and her eccentric Park Avenue grandparents. Burden offers fascinating and voyeuristic insights into a little-known segment of society, the mega-rich American plutocracy in decline.”

jacket 6. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future

By Michael J. Fox

“In his new book, he inspires and motivates graduates to recognize opportunities, maximize their abilities, and roll with the punches-all with his trademark optimism, warmth, and humor. Michael draws on his own life experiences to make a case that real learning happens when “life goes skidding sideways.” He writes of coming to Los Angeles from Canada at age eighteen and attempting to make his way as an actor.”

jacket 7. This Time Together: Laughter and Reflection

By Carol Burnett

“In her second book, comedy legend Burnett looks back fondly on her long and successful career in short, easily digestible chapters that part the curtain on her private life. Told in a chatty, intimate way, the stories encompass the star’s childhood; early days as an actress doing bit parts in New York City, appearing on game shows and various variety shows; her 11 years hosting The Carol Burnett Show; and life after the show ended its run. Readers will enjoy the comical reminiscences included, such as how she once used her famous Tarzan yell to disarm a mugger, funny interactions with fans who recognize her on the street, and the origin of famous scenes from the show, such as Scarlett O’Hara in a curtain-rod dress.”

jacket 8. The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee

By Sarah Silverman

“Comedian Sarah Silverman is an acquired taste. If you like orgasms, farts, and excrement, she is delicious. In her memoir, Silverman takes readers on a tour of the underground tunnel that is her mind, and believe me, it is as full of muck as the sewers of Paris. Only funnier. She comes by all this filth naturally. By the time she was three, her father had taught her every swearword known to man, and she quickly learned that spouting them on any occasion was adorable.”

jacket 9. Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated

By Alison Arngrim

“For seven years, Alison Arngrim played a wretched, scheming, selfish, lying, manipulative brat on one of TV history’s most beloved series. Though millions of Little House on the Prairie viewers hated Nellie Oleson and her evil antics, Arngrim grew to love her character and the freedom and confidence Nellie inspired in her. In Confessions of a Prairie Bitch, Arngrim describes growing up in Hollywood with her eccentric parents.”

jacket 10. Unfinished Business: One Man’s Extraordinary Year of Trying to Do the Right Things

By Lee Kravitz

“After losing his job, Lee Kravitz, a workaholic in his mid-fifties, took stock of his life and realized just how disconnected he had become from the people who mattered most to him. He committed an entire year to reconnecting with them and making amends. Kravitz takes readers on ten transformational journeys, among them repaying a thirty-year-old debt, making a long-overdue condolence call, finding an abandoned relative, and fulfilling a forgotten promise.”

Image credit: Biography Sign by herzogbr on Flickr

Posted by Lisa, a second floor librarian

One Comment

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Corvallis Library, Cynthia Spencer. Cynthia Spencer said: @corvallislib Thanks for the suggestions! RT The year in memoirs & biographies http://bit.ly/eyOuKf [...]

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