Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Memoirs of Bibliophiles

 
Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

This week's Top Ten is a freebie, so I thought I'd go with memoirs with an overall reading theme.

1. Reading Lolita in Tehran: a memoir in books by Azar Nafisi

Every Thursday morning for two years in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Azar Nafisi, a bold and inspired teacher, secretly gathered seven of her most committed female students to read forbidden Western classics. Some came from conservative and religious families, others were progressive and secular; some had spent time in jail. They were shy and uncomfortable at first, unaccustomed to being asked to speak their minds, but soon they removed their veils and began to speak more freely–their stories intertwining with the novels they were reading by Jane Austen, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry James, and Vladimir Nabokov. As Islamic morality squads staged arbitrary raids in Tehran, as fundamentalists seized hold of the universities and a blind censor stifled artistic expression, the women in Nafisi’s living room spoke not only of the books they were reading but also about themselves, their dreams and disappointments.
2. The Reading Promise: my Father and the books we shared by Alice Ozma

When Alice Ozma was in 4th grade, she and her father decided to see if he could read aloud to her for 100 consecutive nights. On the hundreth night, they shared pancakes to celebrate, but it soon became evident that neither wanted to let go of their storytelling ritual. So they decided to continue what they called "The Streak." Alice's father read aloud to her every night without fail until the day she left for college.

Alice approaches her book as a series of vignettes about her relationship with her father and the life lessons learned from the books he read to her.
3. My Reading Life by Pat Conroy

In My Reading Life, Conroy revisits a life of reading through an array of wonderful and often surprising anecdotes: sharing the pleasures of the local library’s vast cache with his mother when he was a boy, recounting his decades-long relationship with the English teacher who pointed him onto the path of letters, and describing a profoundly influential period he spent  in Paris, as well as reflecting on other pivotal people, places, and experiences. His story is a moving and personal one, girded by wisdom and an undeniable honesty. Anyone who not only enjoys the pleasures of reading but also believes in the power of books to shape a life will find here the greatest defense of that credo.
4.  Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: my year of magical reading by Nina Sankovitch

Caught up in grief after the death of her sister, Nina Sankovitch decided to stop running and start reading. For once in her life she would put all other obligations on hold and devote herself to reading a book a day: one year of magical reading in which she found joy, healing, and wisdom.
With grace and deep insight, Sankovitch weaves together poignant family memories with the unforgettable lives of the characters she reads about. She finds a lesson in each book, ultimately realizing the ability of a good story to console, inspire, and open our lives to new places and experiences. A moving story of recovery, Tolstoy and the Purple Chair is also a resonant reminder of the all-encompassing power and delight of reading.
5.  Howard's End is on the Landing: a year of reading from home by Susan Hill

Early one autumn afternoon in pursuit of an elusive book on her shelves, Susan Hill encountered dozens of others that she had never read, or forgotten she owned, or wanted to read for a second time. The discovery inspired her to embark on a year-long voyage through her books, forsaking new purchases in order to get to know her own collection again.

A book which is left on a shelf for a decade is a dead thing, but it is also a chrysalis, packed with the potential to burst into new life. Wandering through her house that day, Hill's eyes were opened to how much of that life was stored in her home, neglected for years. Howard's End is on the Landing charts the journey of one of the nation's most accomplished authors as she revisits the conversations, libraries and bookshelves of the past that have informed a lifetime of reading and writing.
6.  The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop: a memoir, a history by Lewis Buzbee

In The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop, a Book Sense selection, Lewis Buzbee celebrates the unique experience of the bookstore—the smell and touch of books, the joy of getting lost in the deep canyons of shelves, and the silent community of readers. He shares his passion for books, which began with ordering through the
Weekly Reader
in grade school. Woven throughout is a fascinating historical account of the bookseller trade—from the great Alexandria library to Sylvia Beach’s famous Paris bookstore, Shakespeare and Co. Rich with anecdotes, The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop is the perfect choice for those who relish the enduring pleasures of spending an afternoon finding just the right book.
7.  Ex Libris: confessions of a common reader by Anne Fadiman

Anne Fadiman is--by her own admission--the sort of person who learned about sex from her father's copy of Fanny Hill, whose husband buys her 19 pounds of dusty books for her birthday, and who once found herself poring over her roommate's 1974 Toyota Corolla manual because it was the only written material in the apartment that she had not read at least twice.

This witty collection of essays recounts a lifelong love affair with books and language. For Fadiman, as for many passionate readers, the books she loves have become chapters in her own life story. Writing with remarkable grace, she revives the tradition of the well-crafted personal essay, moving easily from anecdotes about Coleridge and Orwell to tales of her own pathologically literary family. As someone who played at blocks with her father's 22-volume set of Trollope ("My Ancestral Castles") and who only really considered herself married when she and her husband had merged collections ("Marrying Libraries"), she is exquisitely well equipped to expand upon the art of inscriptions, the perverse pleasures of compulsive proof-reading, the allure of long words, and the satisfactions of reading out loud. There is even a foray into pure literary gluttony--Charles Lamb liked buttered muffin crumbs between the leaves, and Fadiman knows of more than one reader who literally consumes page corners.
8. Reading Women: how the great books of feminism changed my life by Stephanie Staal

 When Stephanie Staal first read The Feminine Mystique in college, she found it “a mildly interesting relic from another era.” But more than a decade later, as a married stay-at-home mom in the suburbs, Staal rediscovered Betty Friedan’s classic work—and was surprised how much she identified with the laments and misgivings of 1950s housewives. She set out on a quest: to reenroll at Barnard and re-read the great books she had first encountered as an undergrad.
From the banishment of Eve to Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble, Staal explores the significance of each of these classic tales by and of women, highlighting the relevance these ideas still have today. This process leads Staal to find the self she thought she had lost—curious and ambitious, zany and critical—and inspires new understandings of her relationships with her husband, her mother, and her daughter.
9. The Hemingway Book Club of Kosovo by Paula Huntley

A moving testimony to the power of literature to bring people together in even the most difficult of circumstances.

In the spring of 1999, the world watched as more than 800,000 Kosovo Albanians poured over Kosovo's borders, bringing with them stories of torture, rape, and massacre. One year later, Paula Huntley's husband signed on with the American Bar Association to help build a modern legal system in this broken country, and she reluctantly agreed to accompany him. Deeply uncertain as to how she might be of any service in a country that had seen such violence and hatred, Huntley found a position teaching English as a Second Language to a group of Kosovo Albanians in Prishtina.

A war story, a teacher's story, but most of all a story of hope, The Hemingway Book Club of Kosovo is the journal Huntley kept in scattered notebooks or on her laptop over the eight months that she lived and worked in Kosovo. When Huntley asked her students if they would like to form an American-style "book club," they jumped at the idea. After stumbling upon a stray English-language copy of Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea, Huntley proposed it as the club's first selection. The simple fable touched all the students deeply, and the club rapidly became a forum in which they could discuss both the terrors of their past and their dreams for the future. 
10. So Many Books, So Little Time: a year of passionate reading by Sara Nelson

Sometimes subtle, sometimes striking, the interplay between our lives and our books is the subject of this unique memoir by well-known publishing correspondent and self-described "readaholic" Sara Nelson. From Solzhenitsyn to Laura Zigman, Catherine M. to Captain Underpants, the result is a personal chronicle of insight, wit, and enough infectious enthusiasm to make a passionate reader out of anybody.


Well, that's ten. Have you read any of these? What did you think? Did you write a review? It would be great if you left a link to it.

Thanks so much for stopping by. Talk to you soon.
Happy reading,
Angela
 
 
 
 



20 comments:

  1. I loved The Reading Promise. It's probably the best-written memoir I have ever read. =) Here's a link to my review if you are intersted: http://a-librarians-library.blogspot.com/2012/01/reflections-reading-promise.html

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    1. What a beautiful review Jennifer. Thank you so much for guiding me to it.

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  2. Oh, this is an interesting list; The Reading Promise sounds really good!
    Thanks for stopping by at my blog. :)

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    1. My pleasure Milka. Jennifer's review (above) is lovely.

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  3. What a great TTT idea--I'm not sure I would have thought of this. I loved Reading Lolita in Tehran, and several other books you mentioned are on my TBR list!

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    1. Thank you Heather. I loved Reading Lolita too. Thanks a million for stopping by.

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  4. Great list! I read Tolstoy and the Purple Chair last year and loved it.

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    1. Thank you Denise. It sounds like a terrific read.

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  5. I'm going to have to check out Reading Women: How the Great Books of Feminism Changed My Life! I've read the Feminine Mystique and Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of the Raunch Culture and loved them.

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    1. Hi Brandi. It sounds like it would be right up your alley then. Thanks a million for stopping by.

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  6. Great topic! I have read Reading Lolita in Tehran and really enjoyed it. I like the sound of Reading Women, so I'll definitely have to try and hunt out a copy!

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    1. Thanks so much. I loved Reading Lolita too. I passed it on to my mother in law when I was finished. She enjoyed it as well.

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  7. What a great idea for a TTT post and what an awesome list of books for it. I also like Reading Lolita in Tehran.

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    1. Thank you Alex. It's so nice to see you.

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  8. What a wonderfully bookish list! I haven't heard of many of these. I will have to check them out!

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    1. Thank you so much! It was so nice of you to stop by :)

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  9. I have not read any of the books on the list! I must get reading. I especially want to read The Reading Promise. Thanks so much for sharing this list!
    ~Jess

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    1. You're quite welcome Jess. Thank you for stopping by. It's always so nice to see you. Congrats on all the buzz around your book. Success couldn't happen to two nicer people :)

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  10. Excellent idea - I really must find Reading Lolita in Tehran and Ex Libris, they sound wonderful!

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    1. Thanks a million for stopping by, meds. It's so nice to see you.

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