What to Read: 3 Memoirs to Add to Your Bookshelf

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

I cannot overstate how much I enjoy reading memoirs. It's probably the closest I can get to reading a book containing a collection of blog posts (and I love blogs - how predictable am I?)

I also love ice cream, yoga pants, the Beatles, and my friends' puppies that I don't have to take care of. I love, apparently, everything that everyone loves. 

Excuse me while I take a minute to revel in my ordinariness.

If you love reading but have never read a memoir, you're not necessarily doing it wrong, but you could be doing it better. Here are three memoirs I recently read which I highly recommend: 

 1. OPEN by Andre Agassi
image from amazon
For athletes and non-athletes alike. The story of little Andre growing up in a poor Las Vegas family (with an arguably crazy dad) and turning into a high-profile professional tennis player (and fashion icon?) is a real-life rags to riches narrative.

My favorite part? He constantly talks about how much he hates tennis. Can't we all relate to sometimes hating aspects of our jobs? ;)

My only gripe? I skimmed over some of the passages that detailed the matches themselves. Now that all the tennis fans out there have collectively rolled their eyes, I'll confess:  I still have no idea how tennis score keeping works. Was the scoring system designed with the sole goal of being convoluted? 

Even with my pathetically limited tennis knowledge (didn't know who Sampras was before this book - the shame!) I still thoroughly enjoyed Andre's story, and recommend it to anyone who has a general appreciation for sports.

For you non-sporty folk: Brooke Shields and Barbara Streisand both make appearances, and he now runs an awesome charity in Las Vegas - so I'm betting you'd enjoy it as well! 

image from amazon
As if I didn't need another excuse to pack up my suitcase and travel the world for months on end - Kristin Newman gives me a whole book of reasons in the form of trans-continental adventures. Successful TV writer and travel aficionado Newman takes us on international journeys to places I've always wanted to go (Brazil, Amsterdam, Paris, New Zealand) and surprising spots I've never before considered (Russia, Israel, Iceland, Argentina), that I found myself adding to my must-see list.

This book is more than a list of glistening destinations. She includes fascinating tidbits about working as a TV writer in LA (she wrote for That 70's Show and How I Met Your Mother) as well as a poignant depiction of her parents' relationship, and thought-provoking accounts of her more serious relationships. She also hilariously masters the "vacation-ship."

I consider this is a must-read for any girl at any age but especially for those who are single throughout their 20's and 30's.  As an aspiring writer, I only wish she gave more glimpses into the LA-TV writer world, since I found it so incredibly fascinating (since I'm a Midwest never-stepped-foot-in-LA girl). Here's hoping that's the basis for her next memoir! ;)

I judge a book by how emphatically I recommend it to friends, and this one is taking the cake this year! I read it in 2 days (on flights, appropriately), and will definitely be gifting it come this Christmas. 

3. EVERYTHING THAT REMAINS by the Minimalists
image from amazon
Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus are two friends living ostensibly successful lives - lavish vacations, high-paying jobs, and every object you could ever wish to own. Why have one living room in your one-person condo when you could have two?

When one day it clicks: even with all this stuff, they still aren't happy. So, after years of letting consumerism drive their habits, they start downsizing. Through examining (and purging most of) their possessions, they start examining their relationships. And evaluating how they spend their time. They vouch for minimalism - claiming it has allowed them to live more meaningful lives.

I found this the most intriguing memoir, because we have grown up in an age where, from the time we start counting our Christmas presents under the tree, we are trained to associate more with BETTER. They boldly challenge this assumption. I actually started following their blog at www.theminimalists.com because the topic continues to fascinate me. Could I be happier if I was pursuing less instead of more? Although I doubt I'll stop buying Essie nailpolish anytime soon, I'm thinking of trying some minimalism experiments - stay tuned!


Next on my reading queue is Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walters  which I picked up in the airport, mainly because the cover boasts a breath-taking painting of the coast of Italy. I would read a book about a no-carb diet and poisonous spiders if it had a picture of the Amalfi Coast on the front. (And I love carbs almost as much as I hate spiders.)

Next on my memoir queue? I'm searching! Any memoirs I should definitely pick up? Would love to hear your recommendations in the comments.

I'll leave you with a thought-provoking quote from Agassi:

Happy reading!

1 comment:

  1. I highly recommend both Bossypants by Tina Fey and Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mina Kaling, if you haven't already read them.
    But are gust-bustingly hilarious as well as incredibly smart and courageous. Who doesn't love reading hilarious accounts from highly successful women who you want to be best friends with?
    I would say Bossypants is the more sophisticated (and better) of the two, and I agree with the assessment that Mindy Kaling's book is the "little sister" of Bossypants. But I ate up both with equal fervor!