This book is a local wanderlust machine! Caroline (a passionate Alaskan biologist) expertly catalogs her post-grad coming of age as she undertakes a human-powered trip to the Arctic Circle with her husband Pat (a self-taught builder from Bellingham). In the midst of decisions about family, work, and one's place in the natural world, there are raging rapids and cold winds, whales and chickadees, snow and sunlight. Hopefully it will teach you something new about the PNW, and comfort you with the knowledge that it's okay to change course.
I finished Pam Houston's Deep Creek in late November, the holiday season was in full swing, and my reading time was at a premium. Thank you Pam for this book. I read it swiftly and by the end I desired to flee to the mountains with Irish wolfhounds of mine own.
When is a body a house, a trap, an experience, a burden, a book, a treasure, or a betrayal? When is a body yours alone, and when, in its history, has it belonged in fact or in feeling to others? Elissa Washuta's memoir is a powerful confrontation of the ways in which sexual trauma, mental illness, catholicism, law & order, Indigeneity, settler colonialism, history, and instant messaging have informed her identity and relationship to her body. It's a raw, visceral, unflinching book with a wide streak of dark humor.
I picked this memoir up because I like the title. It's smart, and having sipped my share of Southern Comfort as a teenager in Tennessee, I decided to give it a try. Tena Clark's voice is sure, she tells it straight, and her writing is gutsy, funny, and self aware. She grew up in Mississippi during the Civil Rights Era, and writes about her broken family, about her nanny Virgie (the most caring adult in her life) and about coming out during those tumultuous times. If you like reading memoirs about difficult childhoods, this one's for you.
An incredibly touching memoir that explores family and race through the eyes of a Korean American adoptee on the brink of motherhood. Nicole Chung has written a geniune account of adoption and what it means to be a mother, a daughter, and a sister in a complicated family full of secrets. This is a beautiful, emotional book that would be great to share with a family member.
This book is somewhere between an essay collection and a memoir. It examines the criss-crossing lines of politics, literature, and art, and shares writing and financial advice (especially germane to writers!). It also shares, with profound generosity, a lot from Alexander Chee's life. As a writer, Chee is interested in the constructed self, how identity can be a mask that conceals and also reveals. His self-reflection on how his own identities have served, protected, and hindered him is also an persistent, gentle invitation to the reader to remember that "the ways you are human are not always visible to yourself." There's a lot to encounter within these pages, written in Chee's easy and luminous way, but if that seems like a message you need to hear I can't recommend this book enough. I read it in the way you drink a glass of water from the bathroom tap late at night - thirstily, greedily, and with need.
I read Priestdaddy when it came out last year. Normally this is a book I wouldn't have picked up, but it came highly recommended and now I'm so glad I did. Lockwood is a gifted writer that had me shamelessly laughing out loud in public. In Priestdaddy, she chronicles her time moving back in with her parents at her father's rectory. Lockwood covers an entire year living with her parents in an outlandish (and sometimes painful) collision of past and present. Her history also rang familiar to me and I found myself painfully relating to her own reckonings with faith and family.
This is not just another addiction memoir. But don't worry—that's the point. Jamison's own story is told in fragments, interspersed with the stories of many others (names you already know, others the world never will), brilliantly structured much like the AA meetings that ultimately helped her get sober. Each story is a drop in the bucket, a part of the whole. It is Jamison's voice—unflinching, self aware—and not necessarily her story that captivates. She is not tone deaf to the experiences of others, which serves her well as she presents so many stories alongside her own. I was so ready to dismiss this book, but I simply couldn't. I couldn't put it down; nor could I put it out of my mind.
Eat the Apple is a fierce, gut-wrenching memoir of Young's years as a Marine surviving not two, but three tours in Iraq. Fresh out of high school and heading towards disaster, Young enlisted in the Marines and Eat the Apple is his account of those booze drenched amped up times. Told in short chapters, some in play form, others in first person, others in third person, some accompanied by crude drawings his story is by turns gripping, hilarious, appalling and often heartbreaking. The toll of unending, senseless war is devastating. This is an incredibly honest and unforgettable book.
At the insanely young age of 21, Tillie Walden is already an incredible talent, and Spinning is exactly the kind of moving, insightful coming-of-age tale for girls that my wife is always complaining don't exist.