I read tons of fiction—lots more fiction than non, in fact—but this week is all about memoir and essay. The truth is, I always have a novel going, and I love novels, but it’s nonfiction that really knocks my socks off. I love nothing more than an interesting person telling me their life story and giving me their thoughts about the world. A good nonfiction writer can make any subject interesting and can make me want to read about their life, no matter how uneventful it is. For me, the subject matter isn’t the point so much as the personality and the voice of the writer.
So, here’s what I’m into right now:
Inbox (Books Acquired)
Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover: I bought this for my husband, but we all know what that really means: you bet I’ll read it for myself. I’ve heard so many good things about this book. It’s a memoir about being the daughter of Idaho survivalists and living without doctors or hospitals or formal education. It’s the story of how she sets out to educate herself in order to create a new life.
After the Eclipse by Sarah Perry: I snapped this up when it appeared as a Book Riot Deal (if you want to own a ton of really awesome, cheap ebooks, subscribe to that email, I’m telling you). It’s true crime, a memoir about the murder of Sarah Perry’s mother when Perry was 12. I’ve never been much of a true crime reader, but that might be changing: I recently read The Fact of a Body and Killers of the Flower Moon, both of which I loved. Now I’m going to add this one to the list.
Outbox (Books Finished)
Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot: This short book packs a big punch. It’s sort of memoir, sort of essays, about abuse, mental illness, difficult parents, obsessive love, the power of stories, and more. She writes about growing up on the Seabird Island Indian Reservation and needing to leave to find an education and a way forward. The book is gorgeously written, emotionally difficult, and brilliant.
In the Country We Love by Diane Guerrero: I listened to this one on audio, narrated by Diane Guerrero herself. It’s a moving story of growing up the child of undocumented parents and having to wonder if one day they would be deported. At the age of 14, she is stunned to find that it actually happened. She’s left at the mercy of friends’ parents who kindly take her in and do their best, but her life is never the same. I loved this book and recommend the audio version—Guerrero is a wonderful reader.
In the Queue (What I’m Reading Next)
Feel Free: Essays by Zadie Smith: Zadie Smith is one of the best. I just love her fiction and nonfiction both, and her previous essay collection, Changing My Mind, was fabulous. I can’t wait to dive into this new collection, with essays on movies, art, books, and life. Honestly, it doesn’t matter what Smith writes about—I’ll read it happily.
Betwixt and Between: Essays on the Writing Life by Jenny Boully: A small press essay collection about writing and life? Yes, please. This one comes out in April, but I was lucky to get my hands on a copy early, and I’m excited to dive in.
I’m going to pick up a novel soon (I like to have both fiction and nonfiction going at all times), but I have no idea what it is. I’ll decide at the last possible moment.
So, what books are you acquiring/finishing/picking up this week?