WE LOVE MEMOIRS DAY

TODAY, AUGUST 31ST IS WE LOVE MEMOIRS DAY!

Memoirs are not the same as autobiographies. They feature individuals writing about themselves, but not the story of their whole lives like an an autobiography; instead, a narrative of a period or moment or “season” of a persons life. Some writers have written several memoirs such as Diane Keaton or Jeanette Walls.

Memoirs capture memories of one’s life.

We Love Memoirs is a Facebook Group begun by Victoria Twead, NY Times bestselling author of Chickens, Mules and Two Old Fools, which she developed into a series, and Alan Parks, author of Seriously Mum, What’s an Alpaca, which also became a series. This took place in 2013 and continues today with membership open to both memoir writers and memoir readers alike.

The history of memoirs goes back to earliest times.

Perhaps the earliest memoir written was by Libantus, a teacher who lived from 314-394 AD. Another early memoir was The Confessions of St. Augustine written around 397 AD. It is still read by theological scholars today.

How can you celebrate We Love Memoirs Day?

  1. Start writing a memoir about yourself. Obviously, you can’t write a memoir in one day, but you can start by picking a “season” or period of your life you wish to write about, and write a short piece or scene to integrate as a chapter or event in your story.
  2. Join an online memoir writers/readers group.
  3. Start reading a memoir. My Advanced Writing students are reading a memoir and then reviewing it (according to my criteria for a good review) as a memoir “project” for credit toward their course grade. Had I not had so many writing assignments lined up, I could have assigned writing their own memoir as well. Hmmmmm, maybe I’ll offer extra credit or points for one.
  4. Go to Half Price Books or another bookstore and BUY a memoir. Here are a few suggestions:
I have only read three of these, but overall, I have read 71 memoirs since 2019.

Memoirs are special reading experiences where an author bares her/his soul to the reader. Celebrities often name drop and write “tell-all” memoirs that start feuds or solid relationships with other people. Do you think YOU could write a memoir? What type of person would enjoy reading it? Would it be sad and seek sympathy/empathy from the reader, or would it be joyful and zany, perhaps? Would you be brave enough to write a memoir in the first place? Answer these questions and make comments in the reply box below.

HAPPY READING–of MEMOIRS!

TODAY, Monday, August 29th is a day for celebration. I finished another reading challenge I took on for 2022, the “What’s in a Name?” challenge.

Hosted by Andrea at the Carolina Book Nook, “What’s in a Name?” Includes the following six prompts:

A title that has a compound word–

My choice for this book was a kids’ book, which teaches what a compound word is and has four of them in the title. I reviewed it on PWR under a “Saturday Morning for Kids” post.

Another kids’ book, one I finished today was for the prompt, a reference to speed in the title. For this one, I enjoyed

My great niece and her daughter, who is five, love sloths. Every time I see something like this book cover, I think of them and have a whole new respect for an animal I once only thought of as lazy.

The third prompt is to have in the title a person or group of people and their description. So, I read some time earlier this year…

The fourth prompt brought me back to another kids’ book, with a mythical being mentioned in the title, It’s Ok to be a Unicorn.

Again, I reviewed this one on a Saturday Mornings for kids post (type the title into the search box on the home page, and you’ll find the picture of the cover. I failed to save it for this post.

One of the earliest books I read in 2022 was for prompt number five of this challenge, a title that mentions a season. For that one, I read Eudora Welty’s Summer, and double dipped to count it for the Classics Club as well.

I may have even triple dipped because this one was on my TBR shelf for years, which would qualify it for the Mount TBR challenge.

The last prompt was for a title with a color in it. I started The White Gardinia, which started out interesting enough, but I put it back in my local library when I came across The Pink Suit. I have always been fascinated with Jackie Kennedy, and the story behind the pink suit (based on fact but embellished by the author’s imagination) she wore the day of JFK’s assassination was a recent, interesting read.

I believe I reviewed this on PWR. Check the search box for the title.

Pretty soon I’ll post a challenge catch up/evaluation and see just how I am doing for 2022.

THREE CHEERS FOR FINISHED CHALLENGES!

THANKS, EVIN FOR THE LOVELY SIGN-OFF.

A PERSONAL CHALLENGE UPDATE AND A REVIEW: Talking to Strangers by Malcom Gladwell

I started this book years ago, but for some reason, it didn’t catch my interest right away as did Blink or The Tipping Point. Whatever the reason, I gave up on it at that time. Recently it turned up in a box of donations for my LFLs and the possible bookstore. Because I had enjoyed Gladwell in the past, I gave it a second try, and voila! it “took.”

Not my favorite Gladwell offering, but a good non-fiction book

Subtitled “What We Should Know about the People We Don’t Know,” this 2019 publication poses the question, “Why do our interactions with strangers so often go wrong?” As usual, Gladwell uses anecdotes and examples from current events, this time, the Sandra Bland case, Hitler’s ability to make people think he was a good guy and to hide his agenda to take over the world from them, how the US was fooled by double spies during the Cold War, how Bernie Madoff was able to fool so many people, and more. Interestingly enough, Gladwell pulls off a skillful writing technique of weaving unequal, seemingly unconnected events and things to get his point across: x happened because we failed to communicate with people we did not know, and thus, were fooled–often to dire results and consequences.

It is an interesting book, well-written, and even though the current events used for examples are now out of date, it gives the reader a cautionary warning that can be heeded in the present.

“Because we do not know how to talk to strangers, we are inviting conflict and misunderstanding in ways that have a profound effect on our lives and our world.

I had hoped to read 22 Non-fiction books in 2022. Strangers is number 21.

Challenge Update and a Review

Because I messed up, I have done the 2021 What’s in a Name challenge this year. Oh well….

I have one book left to complete the short, but interesting What’s In a Name Challenge. It needs to have some reference to speed in the title, like the quick_____ or the slow _______ or something like Racing in the Rain, which I’ve already read. Can you think of a good suggestion and help me out? Comment in the reply below.

Historical/Imaginary Fiction

In the meantime, I have completed a “book with a color in the title, The Pink Suit. Nicole Mary Kelby has written a beautiful, engrossing story which is sort of a historical novel and sort of an alternative history novel. In it, JFK orders this suit from Chez Ninon, a NY boutique. Kelby imagines the Irish immigrant seamstress who created the pink suit. It is a knock-off from a Chanel design, which was something Chez Ninon did often for Jackie Kennedy, whom they refer to as “The Wife.” Tidbits of historical fact permeate this novel from the fire in the neighborhood of Patrick’s (love interest) neighborhood to the fabrics and every stitch of the suit Jackie Kennedy wore on several occasions, finally on the day of his assassination.

The protagonist, Kate, is torn between the “excess and artistry” of Chez Ninon and the “traditional values of her insular neighborhood.” She loves Patrick, the butcher, but also loves her job, her opportunity to express her creativity and her skill. Critics has called this, “a novel about hope and heartbreak, and what became of the American Dream.”

At times I became impatient with Kate because Patrick was a really great guy, and he definitely loved her very much. However, I could understand her desire for a career in a creative industry as well. How Kate comes to make her choice and the compromise both young lovers make leads to a very satisfactory ending.

It is a darned good read.

SATURDAY MORNINGS FOR KIDS

KIDS’ BOOKS ARE REVIEWED ON PWR ON SATURDAY MORNINGS,
much like Saturday mornings were saved for TV cartoons in the 50s and 60s. Mom and Dad could sleep in while the kids sat down in front of the TV with a bowl of breakfast cereal.

Today’s recommendation is a picture book that will delight both boys and girls while teaching them a lesson about sharing.

Some think Pugs are so ugly they’re cute!

Pig was a Pug who was not only so ugly he was cute, he was selfish and greedy–a pig! He was piggy about his food, his toys, and didn’t want to learn to share. As he told his Trevor, his weenie dog housemates, “I know what your game is, you want me to SHARE!/But I’ll never do that!/ I won’t and I swear!”

Pig selfishly gathered all his things into a pile so high that when he went to the top of the pile, he tottered and fell out the window! Poor Pig the Pug.

What happened and how Pig finally learned to share is the rest of the story, and I guess you’ll have to check out the book from your school or public library to find out. While you’re reading this rhyming, silly story, enjoy the fantastic illustrations. Aaron Blabey is not only a good author, but a great illustrator who knows his Pugs.

FRIDAY FIRSTLINERS

READING IS MY SUPERPOWER DESIGNED THIS COOL MEME.

This week’s Friday Firstliner comes from William Kent Krueger’s This Tender Land:

“Prologue”

“In the beginning, after he labored over the heavens and the earth, the light and the dark, the land and the sea and all living things that dwell therein, after he created man and woman and before he rested, I believe God gave us one final gift. Lest we forget the divine source of all that beauty, he gave us stories.”

Krueger is indeed a master story teller, and I am looking forward to the story he will tell in his latest novel.

I had to wait for this book to come available at my local library, but knowing it is by the author of Saving Grace, I am sure the wait will be worth it.

Right here in the Great State of Texas, this book festival is one I’ve wanted to attend. Maybe this year I’ll make it.

The Texas Book Festival takes place in Austin, the capitol, in early November. Gee, how I’d love to attend. This featured poster was designed to publicize the “bookish doings” of the weekend. I love it. I think it captures the spirit of the festival.

Does your state have a book festival? When is it? Have you ever gone? What advice to you have for this “newbie” if she attends?

I took a summer course on the essay during my graduate school work, studying Montagaine, Rousseau, Emerson, and the classic essayists, but it was not until the past ten years that I have come to appreciate contemporary essays. I have reviewed here before essay collections by Anne Lamott, Anna Quindlen, and Pat Conroy.

Last night I finished a lovely collection of essays,

Precious Days by Ann Patchett was a wonderful collection of timely essays.

I have read both Commonwealth and The Dutch House, two of Patchett’s NY Times bestsellers, so I had been exposed to her expertise as a novelist. Imagine my great pleasure to discover she is equally adept as an essayist. This large print edition’s cover, published in 2009 caught my eye at the local library. I took it home, and put it on my bedside shelf. The painting of the dog, with its post-impressionistic connotations, made me curious about the artist, whom was written about in the title essay, ” These Precious Days.” Had it been a short story, I would argue it was a novelette, judging from its length. However, it is non-fiction, reflecting a true experience of the author; so instead, it is a very long essay.

“Precious Days” chronicles the author’s friendship with a publicist/assistant of Tom Hanks named Sookie, who came to live with Patchett and her husband as she took on exhausting cancer treatments at a hospital in their town. The friendship that grew between the two women, actually, the three adults, was nothing short of amazing. And anyone would have liked to become a friend of the creative, courageous, paragon of a positive attitude as was Sookie. I was so relieved that Sookie was alive at the end of the essay (although her death date is given in the Epilogue) that I wanted to shout, “Way to go, girl!”

My second two favorites were “Eudora Welty, an Introduction” written for The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty, published in 1980, when Welty was 71. Interestingly enough, Patchett had met Welty as a young girl at a reading, at which Welty signed one of her books for her precocious reader, Patchett.

I also enjoyed “There Are No Children Here,” which recounts how Patchett appeared on the same platform as a fellow, unnamed author who contended that until one had children, they’d never experienced love. Because I wanted to be a teacher more than I wanted to be a mother, and felt I couldn’t do both and do them well, I chose not to have children, so, of course, I cheered Patchett on when she disagreed and said, ” …I have to tell you, people without children have known love , and we are [real] writers.” I couldn’t agree more.

This particular book of essays was nice for “picking up and putting down,” sporadic reading. I found myself reading an essay or two, then devouring a whole novel, or watching episodes of Netflix series in between essays. The structure of this collection was conducive to this, and it made for a variety of reading sessions for the four weeks I kept it from circulating at the library. It is a fine collection of literary essays by a fine writer, one of my new favorites–Ann Patchett.

Thanks to Reading Reality for the use of their meme.

This past week saw many new additions to my bookshelves:

A friend gave me a box of cookbooks as she was doing away with “clutter.” Her clutter, my treasures.

Some of these were put on the shelves of books destined for my bookstore, some went into my Little Free Library and other LFLs in Alvin, and three were saved for a friend who reads cookbooks like I read novels.

These three were my “holds” that arrived at the Alvin Library this week. I have begun The Maid, this month’s selection for my Third Tuesday book club.

I am really looking forward to the latest Krueger novel. His Saving Grace was a wonderful read. The fact that it was available in Large Print was a plus.

I ordered these for my bookstore. The shelves are filling up.

Ramona was one of my favorite series as a kid. I think I read ALL the books. Amber Brown series is one I discovered as an adult, thanks to a donation to my Little Free Library.

I am certainly set for some good reading and am further down the road toward establishing my bookstore inventory. Hmmmmm, maybe it’s time for another Readathon!

Labor Day weekend would be the perfect time for a little personal Readathon.

HAPPY READING! What did you add to your shelves this week? Post on your blog or tell me in the reply/comments area below.