Anyone who has grappled with mental illness (either personally or with a loved one) will find passages that not only resonate but have a healing, embracing effect, as Styron gracefully puts into words what so many find to be unspeakable pain. Elizabeth Gilbert had everything: A loving husband, a successful career, a house in the country. Ongoingness is a beautiful, meditative examination of life, beauty, aesthetics, and our (generally false) sense of continuity of identity. Here, we round up the best new memoirs of 2020, from Jessica Simpson's 'Open Book' to André Leon Talley's 'The Chiffon Trenches.' That gave us extra room for some underappreciated memoirs that we earnestly believe everyone should read. But what really makes this (admittedly sometimes bleak) memoir remarkable is Mantel's voice — her wry, pitch-black humor and ferocious intelligence shine from every page. – Jennifer H. In his slim but by no means slight memoir, William Styron stresses: “The disease of depression remains a great mystery.” What is striking about Darkness Visible is how clearly and eloquently Styron is able to describe such a perplexing disease. – Mary Jo S. To preface, I am an unabashed Sherman Alexie fan. In each place Wolff builds on his persona. Didion is especially effective at describing the emotional landscape of grief, its sudden depth charges and vortexes, as she calls those unexpected moments when loss sweeps in from yet another angle. While these encounters went on for five years, she examines how it impacted her in the years to come, and the shades of grey between her adolescent understanding of the relationship and the wisdom of her adult years. So much more than a self-portrait, they lay bare the stories we didn't even know we needed to hear. Adap. – Kate L. very nice and informative articles, thanks. – Renee P. Long before Animal Farm and 1984, George Orwell wrote about a time in his life when he was alternately barely scraping by and penniless. In this heartbreaking memoir, she recounts the year following her husband's death and her daughter's catastrophic injury and hospitalization. We chose Townie for our Indiespensable book club a few years ago, and every single person in our office who read it — which was quite a few — was blown away by its beauty and honesty. Offutt's memoir, moving and expertly written, is the tale of a single family, but the unhappiness endured, however singular, may well resound for anyone with a less-than-savory upbringing of their own. It is a gorgeous book brimming with intellectual curiosity, candid self-reflection, and, above all, deep love for family. She's one of the most celebrated actresses of our time, but once you read this tell-all, you'll question how much you really know about Sally Field. Nelson explores the course of her relationship with the transgender artist Harry Dodge, along with their attempts to get pregnant, her experiences with academia, and her roles as mother and stepmother. Their stories of living in a war-torn country are full of struggle and loss and hope as they escape to the United States, where they strive to start their lives over. But it also includes a hefty dose of life advice and plenty of moments that will have you nodding in recognition. But Walls relays their offbeat lives with beautiful sensitivity and grace. Verbally abusive and "maniacal," the greater the elder Offutt's reputation grew, the more distant he became to his family. – Rhianna W. Tobias Wolff is a writer’s writer known for tight sentences and inventive plots. From 1929 to 1931, Orwell ventured deep into the squalor of two very glamorous cities, revealing the appalling working conditions of a dishwasher in Paris and the realities of life as a tramp in London. In fact, some of the most popular memoirs describe a short period of time or specific, impactful life event. She walks in dual worlds as a grounded dreamer, a transparent enigma, but most of all as a truthful storyteller, and conveys these realities with an intimacy so powerful that it completely blew my mind. Our goal with every 25 Books to Read Before You Die list (this edition marks our fourth!) is to call attention to books that readers may have overlooked. They were totally isolated from society, but when her brother got into college, she decided to give the world a try. After an undiscovered mass in her brain ruptured when she was 30, Hagberg Fisher had to admit she was vulnerable. For reasons unknown, America chose to change the title for, I suppose, something clearer to its own citizens. Anyone who hasn't encountered poverty probably doesn't realize what it really takes to feed your family when you're living hand-to-mouth. Comments submitted on weekends might take until Monday to appear. – Renee P. Hilary Mantel's Giving Up the Ghost is one of the most unusual memoirs I've ever read. In Utah he becomes “Jack.” In Washington, he fakes achievement to secure a spot in an elite East Coast prep school. Fascinating list! They Told Us How We Can Help. The memoirists featured range from acclaimed poets to former slaves to humorists to rock stars. Serving as both a relic of its time and an enduring reminder of the trappings of class systems, Down and Out interweaves scathing social commentary with candid firsthand accounts of what hunger and poverty can do to a person. They leave Florida for Utah, and Utah for Washington. For me, this read was as impactful as Anne Frank's Diary of a Young Girl. He shows us that we can learn just as much about ourselves as those we grieve for. I have to admit, I wasn't expecting a book about poverty to be so enjoyable to read, but the author’s wonderfully animated writing style had me racing through his (mostly true) memoir. Part advice book, part essay collection, and all introduction to one of the funniest women on the big screen, this memoir will have you crying with laughter from the first page. Anyone who's ever struggled with body image should pick up this seminal book. This is the funniest sad book I have ever read. The 15 most powerful memoirs about addiction and recovery Leslie Jamison's lauded 'The Recovering' is only the latest brilliant entry in this popular subgenre – Mary Jo S. If this book was only what it is on the surface — a memoir of Ward’s experience watching four young men, including her brother, die before any of them turned 25 — it would be among the most deeply felt and moving memoirs I’ve ever read. The 10 Best Memoirs of the Decade And Then Some. Ahead are the best autobiographies and memoirs currently stacked at the very top of our to-be-read pile. The youngest of five siblings, Smith was a model child — sweet-tempered, ambitious in school, and eager to please her devoutly religious mother.
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