Biography/Memoir

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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Stitches

Friday, August 6, 2010
David Small

David Small’s extraordinary memoir of his childhood and illness in Detroit in the 1960s is horrifying, haunting and sad. It’s not the kind of book one would expect to wile away an hour on a Sunday with, but I found myself doing just that.  I browsed its pages one afternoon at the counter in my kitchen, turning one page after the other until I finished it in one sitting. As a graphic novel, the book’s format is quick to read, but the subject matter makes it impossible to forget.
Stitches was a 2009 Finalist for the National Book Award and is a 2009 Michigan Notable Book. Small is a gifted storyteller and illustrator. He’s published many wonderful children’s books and his illustrations have appeared regularly in The New York Times, The New Yorker and Esquire.

His memoir reads a bit like a fairy tale complete with a pair of wicked witches played by his mother and grandmother, a bungling scientist played by his father and Small himself as the young hero who has us all rooting for his ultimate victory. Reading Stitches made me want to give Smalls a hug. Instead, I gave my own perplexed sons hugs.

Cyndi L., Reference

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Didn't I Feed You Yesterday? A Mother's Guide to Sanity in Stilettos

Friday, August 6, 2010
Laura Bennett

Laura Bennett was trained as an architect, but has since totally switched her life up by becoming a competing on Bravo’s Season 3 Project Runway while pregnant with her 6th child.  She lives in New York City with her husband and too many children.

Here is a sample of what you can expect:

I have a favorite child. I hear you gasping in horror. I actually believe every mother does, just won’t admit it. It’s the dirty little secret of motherhood. Why is it so horrible? It’s not Sophie’s Choice or anything. I’m not saying I don’t love all of my children, just that I don’t always like all of them, at least not every day (or week, or month, or year). I have favorite shoes, and movies and foods, why not a favorite child?  I’m not saying if you’re not my favorite, I won’t help with your homework, the task is just more enjoyable for me with some of my children than with others.  If you swear you have no favorite, and think you are fooling your kids, you’re fooling yourself.  Just because kids are short, they aren’t stupid.

Diane, Administration

 
**This book is currently on order

I'm Still Standing (from Captive U.S. Soldier to Free Citizen - My Journey Home)

Thursday, July 29, 2010
Shoshana Johnson with M.L. Doyle

In March 2003 Shoshana became the first African American woman POW in the U.S. She documents her 21 days of captivity and the details of her capture and finally her rescue. She was not allowed to discuss the incident when she first got home but now tells in great detail all the horror and pain she went through. An interesting piece of American history.

Sue N., Youth Services

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Girl, Interrupted

Thursday, July 22, 2010
Susanna Kaysen
Girl, Interrupted

Girl, Interrupted is a modern Bell Jar. It is an accurate and rather blunt portrayal of a teenage girl and her experience in an insane asylum. Susanna Kaysen’s memoir is terse, original and very memorable. I loved it.

One of my favorite parts of the book was the author’s reflection on her friends living in the asylum. Not only did she describe them truthfully, but she also tried to understand each girl’s mind and how it operated. Susanna Kaysen’s description of the asylum is equally memorable. It was not difficult to imagine the strict nurses or the room of solitary confinement.

Another unique aspect to this book is that many of Susanna Kaysen’s medical records are included. At the beginning of each chapter, the corresponding medical paperwork is shown. It was very interesting to read the nurse’s comments, then the author’s recollection of a particular event.

Girl, Interrupted is a wonderful memoir, and I definitely recommend it.

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Gabrielle M., Circulation

 

At Least in the City Someone Would Hear Me Scream

Thursday, July 22, 2010
Wade Rouse

As he turns 40, Rouse admits to becoming “the ultimate cliché.” He’s mentally and physically exhausted, hates his job, and realizes there is a void in his life that the city is no longer filling. He and his partner, Gary, take a vacation in Saugatuck, Michigan, “a Midwestern Martha’s Vineyard,” and on the spot decide to sell their home in St. Louis and move to the woods.   Of course, they visited in the summer.



Rouse vows to become a “modern-day Thoreau” and sets out to follow 10 life goals, roughly along the tenets espoused by Thoreau in Walden, Rouse’s favorite book. Aided by “I Love Lucy” reruns, Rouse chronicles the escapades of these “two neurotic urbanites” as they ensconce themselves in the woods without magazine subscriptions, malls, Trader Joe’s, HGTV, or lattes. Rouse feels like a Martian confronting the locals at the general store, and suffers extreme anxiety when attempting ice fishing and karaoke. Gay or straight, any reader who has tried to “fit in” somewhere outside his or her comfort zone will readily empathize with Rouse’s rousing and ultimately successful lifestyle change.



Diane, Administration

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Surviving the Angel of Death

Thursday, July 22, 2010
Eva Mozes Kor
This is the horrifying story of Eva Mozes and her twin sister Miriam who survived because they were twins and Dr. Mengele chose many pairs of twin so he could experiment with genetics. The descriptions of the tests, terrible conditions of the camps and the determination to survive makes for a great read for adults as well as young people.

Sue N., Youth Services

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Just when I thought I'd dropped my last egg: Life and other calamities

Thursday, July 22, 2010
Kathie Lee Gifford

The title attracted me – not necessarily Kathie Lee Gifford. But I enjoyed this book. It’s a quick read, the chapters are short, (really essays, or blog entries) and she’s saltier than I expected – which I also enjoyed.
 In the introduction, Gifford writes that she finds the humor in tragedy and the underlying sadness in laughter. And in all of it there is hope. Among the wacky stories and odd-servations, there is serious fare; for example, she touches upon her husband's infidelity, the sweatshop scandal that plagued her in the 1990s and her father's death. She also writes about her children, religion and various creative pursuits. That's where the title comes in: while Gifford notes she is no longer fertile in terms of reproduction, she is Fertile Myrtle in terms of her creativity and productivity.
Too Pooped To Peak


Recently Frank co-hosted with me on the Today Show when Hoda took a much deserved day off.
 Now, it’s important to understand for the purpose of this essay that this is the way Frank and I met. We were colleagues at Good Morning America in 1982. Frank used to sit in for David Hartman when he was gone and I used to sit in for Joan Lunden when she was either gone or having babies, which was often.
 Later, when I joined The Morning Show with Regis, we continued this arrangement. But now it’s 2009 and much has changed, although there’s no need to discuss my weight.
 The point is, instead of being “two marshmallows sitting by the fire” as a Washington Post critic called us when we hosted the 1988 nighttime Olympics, we can now best be described as “two old farts lucky to be anywhere.”
 In fairness, Frank has only visited me at the Today Show twice in the year since I joined, and has never co-hosted with me, so he’s not familiar with the daily routine, even though I have warned him profusely:
 1. We arrive at 7:30 a.m. at my dressing room
 2. We then proceed to hair and make-up
 3. At 8:15 a.m. we have a production meeting with the producers to go over the topics we all agree should be discussed during our Host Chat at the top of the 10 a.m. hour
 4. At 9 a.m. we return to the dressing room to dress for the show.
 5. At 9:45 a.m. we get our microphones and proceed to the studio


Well, we did steps 1 and 2 perfectly. In fact, I thought at the time that we had done step 3 perfectly too. It wasn’t until we arrived back at my dressing room and Frank began reading production notes, laughing and commenting on them, that I realized Frank had had no idea that the production meeting was for him, too. That is when I started sweating profusely. But I needn’t have worried. After all, Frank is an old pro and very comfortable in front of the camera. But this was different. This was us in front of the camera and America likes nothing better than a good marital train wreck. Well, the one thing that’s for sure about live television is that it starts when it’s supposed to whether you’re ready or not. Everyone agreed Frank looked adorable as we sat down. At 78, he still fills a pair of tight jeans better than any other tight end in history. And his crisp white shirt and blue blazer basically bellowed, “that’s right, I’m hip and I’m happening.”
 We began discussing Michael Phelps, the great Olympic swimmer, and the recent brouhaha over the published picture of him at the unfortunate end of a marijuana bong. Frank made some insightful comments about the temptations young world class athletes have to deal with. Then I asked him, “You’ve always told me that there is an optimum peak in an athlete’s career... what did you tell me it is? 26?”
 “Yeah,” Frank answered. “26 to 30. That’s when everything comes together physically, athletically, and psychologically. That’s basically when an athlete’s at his peak.”

Well, I couldn’t help myself.
 “You mean I missed your peak?”
 (The crew began to chuckle which is always an excellent sign that I’m on to something.)
 Frank blushed, “Well...”
 I interrupted, “I mean it sure looked like a peak... sure felt like a peak. What the hell was it?”
 “You are so bad,” Frank sighed, shaking his head in resignation.

I couldn’t agree with him more.
 P.S. I can’t tell you how many people have commented to Frank about his “peak” since that fateful day. Way too many told him that they had personally witnessed his peak many, many times. I thought that was funny. But it was the many others who told him, “Don’t worry, Frank, you missed Kathie’s too.” That really made us laugh. Sadly, laughing is all old farts are left with.


Diane, Administration

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Breakfast at Sally's

Thursday, July 22, 2010
Richard LeMieux
Breakfast at Sally's: One Homeless Man's Inspirational Journey
One Homeless Man's Inspirational Journey
 
 
This is a really great story about a homeless man who lived in his van with his dog and how he overcame his situation. "Sally’s" is a synonym for "Salvation Army."
 

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Marilyn S., Circulation
 

Half Broke Horses

Thursday, July 15, 2010
Jeannette Walls
Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel
A True-Life Novel
 
 
This book offers great insight into life in Arizona in the 1920s and 1930s spanning two generations. I really enjoyed it! Jeannette Walls is a quick, to-the-point, but extremely entertaining writer.
 
 

Marilyn S., Circulation

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