Book Bingo: Memoirs

Join The Seattle Public Library and Seattle Arts & Lectures for our 2nd annual Summer Book Bingo for adults! Follow us throughout the summer for reading suggestions based on each category.

From gossipy tell-alls to the extraordinary lives of ordinary individuals, the popularity of memoirs endure. Here are some memoirs to consider for Book Bingo – and best of all, these should be readily available, so let’s get rolling!

Click here to view Do No Harm in the SPL catalogMedical memoirs have been incredibly popular for the past few years, with Paul Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air at the top of SPL’s list of popular nonfiction. If you’d like something on the shelves or with a short wait, check out Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery by Henry Marsh, an exceptionally candid memoir from a British neurosurgeon; Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan, about the rapid and inexplicable physical and mental decline of a young reporter; and The Shift: One Nurse, Twelve Hours, Four Patients’ Lives by New York Times columnist Theresa Brown, which spends a day in a hospital cancer ward.

Click here to view Fresh Off the Boat in the SPL catalogAre you a foodie with a comprehensive cookbook collection? Then a culinary memoir might be for you. Julia Child’s My Life in France and Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly are examples of a timeless and a contemporary classic, respectively. To go a little deeper, check out Delancey: A Man, A Woman, A Restaurant, A Marriage by Molly Wizenberg, owner of the beloved pizza restaurant in Ballard; Eddie Huang’s Fresh Off the Boat, about a chef’s coming of age as the hip hop-loving son of Chinese immigrants; and Blue Plate Special: An Autobiography of My Appetites by Kate Christensen, which documents the ups and downs of the author’s life, and the role food played in nourishing her body and spirit.

Click here to view Men We Reaped in the SPL catalogSome of the most powerful memoirs are by people of color or minority groups, shedding light on realities that many of us would not have experienced. In NegrolandMargo Jefferson recounts growing up Black and privileged in a Chicago in the mid-20th century; Jesmyn Ward’s Men We Reapedin which the author recounts the loss of five Black men – four friends and her younger brother – and the systemic forces that contributed to their early deaths; Take A Stand: Lessons from Rebels recounts the life and career of Mexican American journalist and Univision anchor Jorge Ramos; and Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identify, Love & So Much More by Janet Mock, which follows her journey as a girl born in a boy’s body to her role as a writer and transgender activist.

Click here to view Binge in the SPL catalogFinally, perhaps the unlikeliest of memoirs are coming fast and furious from YouTube and blogs. A Work in Progress by Connor Franta and Binge by Tyler Oakley write about growing up LGBT in the millennial generation; You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by actress and proud geek Felicia Day discusses her life, from her unusual childhood to gaming, acting and YouTube stardom; and Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Moran – host of the web series “Ask a Mortician” – which blends memoir with an honest discussion of how Americans generally fail to deal with death.

~posted by Frank

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