Biographies/Auto-biographies/Memoirs

I’m not one who enjoys reading biographies or autobiographies. I usually find them dry and boring. Hence, I don’t read them very often. Here are the one’s I’ve managed to get through:

Life and Death in Shanghai, Nien Chang

An excellent book on her life during the Cultural Revolution written by a woman who spent 7 years in prison because of false accusations during Mao’s time.

Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith, Linda King Newell and Valleen Tippets Avery

A well-written and accessible peace of scholarship. Newell and Avery are thorough in their research and very eloquent in their writing. It was quite an interesting and informative book. Though I have to admit, ever since I’ve read this book, I’ve been looking (though admittedly not very hard) for a decent biography on Eliza R. Snow.

Tender at the Bone, Ruth Reichel

Her autobiography as told through food. Yummy. She’s written a “sequel”, but I have yet to read that one.

Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez, An Autobiography, Richard Rodriguez

Challenging to read because of what he writes. Though, honestly, I read this so long ago that I don’t remember why.

On the Other Side of Heaven and In the Fire of our Faith, James Groberg

It’s been a while since I’ve read a Church book. I really enjoyed Heaven; his missionary experiences in Tonga were incredibly interesting and faith promoting. Fire was okay; it was about his experiences as mission president mostly. I enjoyed his take on being a single missionary in Tonga better than him being a mission president.

Broken Music, Sting

I’m a sucker for anything Sting, and I justified this one by checking it out rather than buying it. That said, he really is a good writer, and I found myself genuinely interested (rather than being interested for trivia’s sake) in the story he was telling.

A Hope in the Unseen, Ron Suskind

This was a well-written, objective (as possible), intriguing book on one boy’s journey from a terrible high school in Southeast DC to the Ivy League (he got into Brown). It opens ones eyes (without being preachy) to the ills of the public school system and, conversely, the triumphs of one person as he puts his mind to succeeding. It’s an challenging, and excellent, book.

The Lobster Chronicles, Linda Greenlaw

I thought this would be what I call a “place book”, but it turned out to me more of this woman’s memoir of one lobster season. Still, it was pretty fascinating. It made me want to read her other book about her experiences as a deep sea fishing boat captain. There’s also All Fishermen are Liars, which I didn’t like as much, but it had a couple of fascinating deep-sea fishing stories.

The Right Stuff, Tom Wolfe

I’m not sure if this really fits as “memoirs”, but since it’s about the early space flight program and the fly boys that were part of it, it’ll work. I’m not a huge fan of Tom Wolfe (I tried reading Bonfire of the Vanities but didn’t get very far, and haven’t attempted anything else of his), but I loved this book. It’s so totally over the top, and full of lots of little bits of triva and information about both the space program and the Air Force pilots, that it was a totally enjoyable read.

White Christmas, Jody Rosen

A fascinating look at Irving Berlin, his most famous song and the impact it had on both popular music (of the time) and the Christmas season.

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3 thoughts on “Biographies/Auto-biographies/Memoirs

  1. I also thought _Life and Death in Shanghai_ was very good. _Mormon Enigma_ was very interesting too- and I agree, I’d like to find a good birgraphy of Eliza R. Snow.

    Have you read _The Road from Coorain_ by Jill Ker Conway? It’s an autobiography about growing up in Australia.

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  2. I ran across this post today. Let me first say I love the challenge of “finding” things. I’ve never seen a biography of Eliza R. Snow. It looks like there’s not much out there on her.
    Keith and Ann Terry wrote a biography simply called <>Eliza<> published in 1981 by Butterfly Publishing (reprint in 1995, KenningHouse) but I have no idea what it’s like.
    It looks Maureen Ursenbach Beecher has done quite a bit of research on her. Some of her essays were collected in <>Eliza and Her Sisters<> (1991, Aspen Books).
    For *autobiographical* writing, the best bet looks like < HREF="http://www.usu.edu/usupress/individl/Eliza.htm" REL="nofollow"><>The Personal Writings of Eliza Roxcy Snow<><> (1995, USU Press).
    I haven’t read any of them.
    I have read some of <>Biography and Family Record of Lorenzo Snow<>, written and compiled by Eliza R. Snow. Some parts of it are interesting, but sometimes it’s hard to tell when she’s quoting something else or when it’s her own writing. (At least for me.)
    <>Life and Death in Shanghai<> sounds really cool. I’ll have to add it to my list 😉

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