“Memoir is a window into a life.” – William Zinsser
I look forward to slipping away to a quiet place with a new memoir tucked under my arm. I settle down and escape to another life for a while, making the acquaintance of someone who lives a life very different from my own.
When we dive into a memoir, we swim with the author as they recount episodes from the river of their lives. We share their journey as they float peacefully on smooth water or struggle to stay afloat and battle powerful waves that threaten to pull them down.
A well-crafted memoir engages us, expands our world, and fosters empathy. We are whisked away and thrown into adventures that we will never come close to experiencing in our own lives.
In the hands of a gifted writer, the author’s voice is clear and their story is compelling.
We enter their world and begin to understand how they feel because we are right there with them in the most defining moments of their lives. We begin to see how their experiences and perceptions have influenced their views and influenced their choices.
I recommend four excellent memoirs. They contrast in time, place and experiences.
From light to dark, here they are:
My throat feels bad by Nora Ephron
Nora is the friend who makes you laugh out loud as she talks about the ups and downs of her life.
Lab girl of Hope year
Growing up, Jahren loved spending evenings working with his father in his science lab. She recounts these memories fondly and reflects on her parents’ very different personalities and how they influenced her choices as an adult.
A bookstore in Berlin by Francis Frenkel
In 1921, Frenkel fulfills a dream when she opens a bookstore. But Kristallnacht shatters that dream violently. She flees to the south of France and hides away to survive.
After the eclipse by Sarah Perry
When Sarah was twelve, she witnessed the brutal murder of her mother. She could not see the attacker’s face. The incident is graphically described. Many years later, Sarah reflects on her life in the wake of this tragedy and decides to discover the killer’s identity.
Connie Lavoie is the owner of The Book Loft inside the Vintage Loft in Dewey.