Photo: Borders

Wednesday morning, I sat at my desk telling myself I wasn’t dreaming. I had the phone number of my favorite author, Marya Hornbacher, 36, dialed on my phone. All I needed to do was press “send.”

Almost ten minutes later I was still sitting there, still holding my phone. It was 10:17 am and we had agreed I would call her at 10:15. I panicked that Hornbacher would think I had forgotten her. I pushed “send” before another minute could pass.

I don’t particularly like talking on the phone, especially with people I do not know. I still throw a fit every time my mom asks me to call my grandma to tell her we’re running late. Read the rest of this entry »

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Photo Illustrated and Provided by Juliette Borda

When I attended the free Gotham Writers’ Workshop almost two weeks ago, I sat next to a woman who caught my attention when she asked about writing a memoir for children. Juliette Borda, 42, an illustrator and Brooklyn resident, recently answered some questions for me about her views on memoir:

1. Define memoir.

One’s recounting of what they consider to be pivotal or transformative events in their lives; the story of the struggles that built their character. It’s the writer’s job to turn the random series of events in their life into a story and to find meaning in the events.

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Photo: Amazon

In my very first post, I mentioned that Marya Hornbacher‘s “Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia” is my favorite memoir and–although I still don’t believe it–she’s agreed to speak with me later this week.

What sets Hornbacher’s memoir apart from others I’ve read is her ability to share painful memories and raw details with her readers without appearing to over sensationalize them. “Wasted” was published in 1998, but even read in the post-James Frey world there is no doubt that Hornbacher is being honest in her writing.

Recently I’ve discovered a new world, a world that reminds me of Hornbacher’s. Mostly women (and a few men) with different psychological disorders and addictions are taking to blogging to aid in their recovery. Known as “recovery blogs,” people use these sites to write daily or every few days about the status of their recovery.

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Photo: Amazon

A few posts ago, I wrote about Jennifer Traig’s memoir, “Devil in the Details,” that I bought at the Strand for $11.50.

As a gift to myself because—as my mom made sure to point out earlier this week—the Easter bunny doesn’t come to college kids, I’ve been skipping my law readings this past week to read Traig’s memoir. Not quite an even swap, but I’ve convinced myself that since it’s a memoir I can consider it research for my blog.

I’m about halfway through “Devil in the Details” and I can’t put it down. Traig’s scrupulosity, a psychological condition often known as a religious form of obsessive compulsive disorder, has the potential to be an upsetting and even off-putting topic (for those unaware of Jewish traditions); however, Traig’s ability to reflect on her own ridiculous actions with candid humor and sarcasm makes the book an entertaining read in addition to an accurate look at a life-consuming disorder.

If you’re interested in reading “Devil in the Details” (which I hope you are), I suggest taking advantage of Amazon’s current low price of $3.25.


Photo: Kevin Scanlon for The New York Times

Although memoir is the genre I read most often, I hardly ever read memoirs by celebrities. Since I’m home for the holiday weekend, I’ve been searching my room for all the memoirs I’ve read, but not a single one was a celebrity memoir.

So I was surprised when I read Dave Itzkoff’s article, “A Touch for Funny Bones and Earlobes,” from Wednesday’s New York Times from beginning to end. Itzkoff interviewed legendary television actress, Carol Burnett, about her second memoir, “This Time Together: Laughter and Reflection,” which goes on sale this Tuesday.

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This weekend, my boyfriend and I took our weekly trip to the Strand. For you non-New Yorkers, the Strand is the greatest bookstore ever. 18 miles of books for low prices make it my favorite place to shop in all of Manhattan.

Photo: Wikipedia

Since we visit the store at least once each week, we try not to make a purchase every visit. Although I try very hard to follow our goal, I often have to go back the next day without my boyfriend to buy a book I was eyeing the night before (just don’t tell him).

On Friday, for a total of $12.50, I picked up two books—two memoirs—that I’ve wanted for quite some time:

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Memoirs are not new, but they’ve recently become quite popular.

In Ben Yagoda‘s “Memoir: A History,” Yagoda writes:

“According to Nielsen BookScan, which tracks about 70 percent of U.S. book sales, total sales in the categories of Personal Memoirs, Childhood Memoirs, and Parental Memoirs increased more than 400 percent between 2004 and 2008.”

In an April 15, 2008 article, “Everybody has a story — but is it worth telling?” for CNN, Todd Leopold wrote:

Photo: Wikipedia

Memoirs rose in popularity during the ’90s on the backs of such books as Frank McCourt’s “Angela’s Ashes.” Now they’re in such demand that, in 2007, more memoirs were accepted by publishers than debut novels, according to Michael Cader’s Publishers Lunch newsletter, reported USA Today.

Current memoirs in the top 10 of The New York Times’ hardcover list include Julie Andrews’ “Home,” David Sheff’s “Beautiful Boy,” Jose Canseco’s “Vindicated,” Tori Spelling’s “Stori Telling” and Valerie Bertinelli’s “Losing It.” The top two books on the Times’ paperback nonfiction list are also memoirs — Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin’s “Three Cups of Tea” and Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat, Pray, Love.” Both have been on the Times list for more than a year.”

Since Leopold wrote that article, not much has changed. Almost two years later, “Eat, Pray, Love” is sitting at number 4 on the Paperback Nonfiction Bestseller list. The movie adaptation of the book, starring Julia Roberts and James Franco, is set to be released this summer.

So why now, more than ever, are memoirs so popular?

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