As I mentioned here, I'm posting three of these columns each week until I'm caught up.
Booklists: Meet Amazing People Through Reading
In my last column, I suggested ten travelogues that might tempt you. Today I’m highlighting ten memoirs – great writing by fascinating people with a unique view of the world.
Title: Just Kids
Who’ll you’ll meet: Patti Smith, poet, musician, storied pioneer of punk rock
What you’ll find: The art and music scene in 1970s New York City; a warm and loving portrait of friendship; not a “tell-all” – a love letter.
Title: Coming to My Senses: The Making of a Counterculture Cook
Who You’ll Meet: Alice Waters, chef, restaurateur, food activist. Founder and owner of the first restaurant to feature organic, locally grown ingredients.
What you’ll find: The story behind the woman who changed the way we eat and how we think about food. Wonderful details of her food and the famous people who ate it.
Title: A Mind Spread Out on the Ground
Who You’ll Meet: Alicia Elliott, award-winning Indigenous author and editor
What you’ll find: An exploration of how trauma, colonialism and Indigenous identity intersect with depression and mental illness. Heartbreaking and important.
Title: Born To Run
Who You’ll Meet: Bruce Springsteen, musician, poet, thinking person
What you’ll find: Honesty, self-awareness, every day struggles; great writing looking into an intelligent and thoughtful mind.
Title: Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic
Who You’ll Meet: Alison Bechdel, pioneering LGBT cartoonist.
What you’ll find: An exploration of coming of age, and a complicated relationship with a parent, told in graphic (comics) form by a masterful artist. If you’ve never tried a graphic novel, this is a great place to start.
Title: A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier
Who You’ll Meet: Ishmael Beah, former child soldier, acclaimed writer, human rights activist
What you’ll find: Tough, gritty, disturbing – but also a story of redemption and hope. Powerful, moving, beautifully written.
Title: Not My Father’s Son: A Memoir
Who You’ll Meet: Alan Cumming, actor, comedian, singer, writer, filmmaker, and activist.
What you’ll find: Honest insights into the forces that shaped an award-winning actor; a search for clarity; how early family secrets and trauma echo through our lives.
Title: Down and Out in Paris and London
Who You’ll Meet: George Orwell, English novelist, essayist, and journalist, known for his social criticism and opposition to authoritarian regimes.
What you’ll find: A classic by one of the greats; an unsparing view of life in the margins.
Title: Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things
Who You’ll Meet: Jenny Lawson, journalist, columnist, blogger; outspoken about her own mental illness
What you’ll find: Raucous, silly humour about a very serious topic; an author who finds joy through the pain.
Title: You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me
Who You’ll Meet: Sherman Alexie, acclaimed Indigenous author and filmmaker, author of the YA classic, “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian”.
What you’ll find: A complicated relationship between mother and son; deeply felt, intense, powerful.