Biography/Memoir

I Had Brain Surgery, What’s Your Excuse?: An Illustrated Memoir Books

Thursday, June 23, 2011
Suzy Becker

Remember that socially awkward classmate in grade school who confided in you those awful jokes? Recall laughing along because the kid’s attempts were so forlorn that it made you feel like a good person? Do not feel obligated to do so with this selection. I Had Brain Surgery, What’s Your Excuses is a mildly entertaining read about one woman’s comedic journey before, during, and post brain surgery. However, the only comedic element that holds this short read together is the cartoons that accompany each and every page. The majority of the “excitement “of the story happens while she is recuperating when the relationships and love with her family is challenged by the hardships of speech impediments and thought deterioration.

To be fair, the book is relatable in her honesty to the readers, explaining each up and down that happens in her day-to-day life. If I may sarcastically inject however, this is like saying, “I woke up this morning without too much of a headache and went downstairs to make some toast but I was breadless! What a crime!” *sigh* and so on and so forth goes the dry humor of the book…It is motivational in the same sense and power as a sticky note on the fridge, reminding you to take the dog on a walk tonight. Becker’s novel is heart warming and kooky and would be a fantastic book to read if you had a lot of stamina to push yourself to get to the end.

Kim C, Circulation

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Stories I Only Tell My Friends

Friday, June 17, 2011
Rob Lowe
Reading Lowe’s autobiography feels a little like hanging out with his earnest and lovable character on Parks and Recreation, Chris Traeger.  It’s an enjoyable way to take a break from reality. Isn’t that what summer reading is all about?
 
Lowe spent his first decade living in Dayton, Ohio. His mother moved the family to California when Lowe was a teen. Throughout his book he recounts the ways his Midwestern roots colored his views growing up in California in the 1970s and 80s. He frequently worried he’d be thought of as a Midwestern “rube.”  Living in California he had the good fortune of moving in a few doors away from Emilio Estevez and Charlie Sheen. Their family was exotic to him, they had a movie star father, a fancy pool and there was always lots of expensive ice cream being dished out.
 
A large portion of the book recounts his experience trying out for “The Outsiders.” I’d seen the movie a couple of times, but couldn’t really remember Lowe’s part in it. In reading the book I realized why. Many of his scenes in the original version were cut.   I read in Entertainment Weekly that the reviewer was disappointed that Lowe didn’t dish about his co-stars as much as he could have and didn’t give enough information about the aftermath of Lowe’s sex tape debacle. I thought he struck a good balance with the book. I wasn’t looking to learn all of the gossip, but I was fun to learn what a nerd Charlie Sheen was in high school and how intense and competitive Tom Cruise was from the moment Lowe met him.  I’d recommend this for anyone who’d like a peek into the movie-making business in the 1980s (Lowe is one of the Brat Pack) and the ups and downs in the life of a Hollywood star. Lowe’s had a front row seat for some of Hollywood’s biggest moments and go ahead, tag along.
 
Cyndi L., Reference
 
 
 

Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story (DVD)

Friday, June 17, 2011
Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story (DVD)
I really enjoyed this story of Ben Carson, staring Cuba Gooding, growing up in a broken home with never enough money and facing prejudice. His single mother kept the family together with her love, wisdom, and hard work. How Ben overcomes great odds to become the world’s leading pediatric neurosurgeon is an inspirational story. This is based on a true story.
 

Betsy H., Reference

 

 

In a Heartbeat

Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy

I’ll be honest - I didn’t expect to like this book. I enjoyed the movie the Blind Side and I thought it was a great story, but I didn’t feel the need to read any more about it. Then a few friends recommended this book, so I gave it a try.

If you are familiar with the film The Blind Side, or Michael Lewis's best-selling book, you will likely already know the inspiring story of how the Tuohys took future-NFL star Michael Oher into their home and adopted him. For anyone wondering what more there might be to say about it, the answer is: plenty. In a Heartbeat finds the Tuohys attempting to determine what it was that made them reach out to the homeless African-American boy they saw walking down the street in a t-shirt and shorts on a winter's day.

Leigh Anne and Sean had known tough times themselves and had put themselves on the lookout for troubled kids in need of help. As a white, southern, church-going family, they defy red-state/blue-state stereotypes. They write with humor about their quirks and the joy that Michael brought to their family, finally arriving at the belief that "we can all change people's lives by investing time in individuals."

This book is full of love, humor and inspiration. Each of their children contributes to the book, and my favorite is their youngest son S.J.s’ chapter. He discusses the advantages to getting free Taco Bell and sums up his attitude to the changes in their family that the film has brought – “when it comes to people who think negatively about my family, I take the mind-over-matter policy: I don’t mind and you don’t matter. Get over it.”

Diane, Administration

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Must You Go? My Life with Harold Pinter

Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Antonia Fraser
In January, 1975, Harold Pinter was 44, unhappily married to actress Vivien Merchant, with one teenaged son. At 42, Lady Antonia Fraser, the bestselling author of Mary Queen of Scots ( a book I really enjoyed!), was a noted beauty, the Catholic wife of Hugh Fraser, a Conservative MP, and the mother of six children. When Fraser went to say goodbye to Pinter at the opening night celebration for his play The Birthday party, he responded, "Must you go?" Mesmerized with each other, their night continued "with extraordinary recklessness" until dawn.

Their relationship was a scandal in the UK, "intensely romantic"—and long-lasting. They quickly moved in together, marrying five years later after Pinter's wife finally granted him a divorce.


Must You Go? is Fraser's account of their 33-year relationship, stitched together largely from excerpts from her diaries shortly after Pinter's death from liver cancer in December, 2008.


In addition to a passionate love story, Must You Go? is a record of Pinter's creative process—"a consequence of a biographer living with a creative artist and observing what went on first hand." Pinter, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005, wrote his plays in bursts of inspiration. Fraser's book reminds us that he was also an accomplished director, actor, and screenwriter—an activity he regarded as an important art in itself, "not just a 'my-house-needs-painting' exercise."

 
With the graciousness that no doubt earned her the Sunday Independent headline, "He's grumpy, she smoothes things over," Fraser captures Pinter's sometimes "savage melancholy," his often inflammatory outspokenness, and their remarkably productive lives, filled with work, political activism, family, and many famous acquaintances.
 
In their "last real conversation," Pinter asked Fraser, "'What are your plans,' pause, 'generally?'" She mentioned the support of family and friends. What she didn't mention was the solace of working on this moving, absorbing memoir.
 
Diane M., Administration
 

Lucky Girl: A Memoir

Thursday, September 30, 2010
Mei-Ling Hopgood*

When former Detroit Free Press reporter Mei Ling Hopgood was in her 20s she decided she was ready to learn about her biological family. Her parents introduced her to the nun who facilitated her adoption who then contacted Hopgood's birth family. The young woman was soon inundated with calls, e-mails and even faxes from her birth family in Taiwan. She learned that she had a mother, father, a brother and several sisters eager to meet her. Her biological father paid for a plane ticket to visit and soon she was part of the family.


Her fast-paced memoir explains how Hopgood was able to make up for lost time with her biological family and welcome them in to her life as they quickly welcomed her into theirs.One of my favorite parts of the book is when one of Hopgood's older sisters teaches her how to make dumplings,one of Hopgood's all-time favorites. Hopgood's website calls this book "a tale of love and loss, frustration, hilarity, deep sadness and great discovery that helps her understand the meaning of family."
 
Cyndi L., Reference
 
*This book is only available through MeL Interlibrary Loan

The Horse Boy (DVD)

Thursday, August 19, 2010
The Horse Boy (DVD)

I so recommend the DVD The Horse Boy. It’s a documentary filmed and narrated by the father and mother of a small autistic boy and their approach to healing by a Shaman in Mongolia after intense years of traditional medicine and procedures in the U.S. It is so exquisitely filmed – it’s not "smaltzy" or sad – just so profound. It really shows what extreme lengths parents will go to for their child. The scenery is truly breathtaking and the final outcome for the boy is very positive.

Check our catalog for this DVD.

Marilyn S., Circulation

 

All Creatures Great and Small

Thursday, August 12, 2010
James Herriot

I thought it was time I read this utterly charming book again about an English vet before all the wonder drugs came out. It has a lot of laugh out loud scenes too. Love it!



Sharon D., Circulation

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Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home

Thursday, August 12, 2010
Rhoda Janzen

A week after Rhoda’s husband told her he was leaving her; she was injured in a car crash.  She goes home to her Mennonite family to heal, and reflects upon her marriage, growing up in a Mennonite home and what the future will bring.  At times, this book is laugh-out-loud funny, and with her self-deprecating humor you can’t help but like her.   It’s a quick read, a little rambling at times but does contain some true nuggets of wisdom.



Margaret, Reference

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Heart in the Right Place

Friday, August 6, 2010
Carolyn Jourdan

It is so good! The characters are awesome -- The way the author writes about them ... They are so real!  For instance, there are three 90 year old ladies walking in ... all bunched up .. it's hysterical!  This is a memoir - she came home to help her father. It's heartbreaking in places and also very uplifting.



Sharon D., Circulation

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