Give memoirs and biographies this holiday season
The impulse to tell one's life story doesn't come from vanity; it stems instead from a desire to leave more behind than an epitaph, to say "I was here" and to share the lessons learned over a lifetime.
Here are some quality memoirs and biographies for the storyteller in your life.
What does it take to be a man? Can a boy learn it from his father? In “Air Traffic” by Gregory Pardlo, the author looks at the legacy his father left him and how it made him the man he is today. And if your giftee loves to read about legacies left, wrap up “Jackie, Janet & Lee” by J. Randy Taraborerelli, a book about the former first lady, her mother and her younger sister.
For the teacher who’s most important in your child’s life, look for “Once a Professor: A Memoir of Teaching in Turbulent Times” by Jerry Apps. It’s a book about education — both of students in the 1960s and the teacher who watched them protest.
If the first thing your giftee turns to each morning is a weather forecast, he’ll love “The Man Who Caught the Storm” by Brantley Hargrove. It’s the story of Tim Samaras, who was a legend in storm chasing, until he and two others were killed by a massive El Reno tornado on May 31, 2013.
For the giftee who’s considering adopting, “Someone Has Led This Child to Believe” by Regina Louise could change the path. It’s the story of Louise’s life in and out of the United States foster care system and what happened to her after she “aged out.” Wrap it in tissues. Seriously. And for more current-events memoirs, look for “A Dream Called Home” by Reyna Grande, a story by a woman who immigrated to Mexico by herself at age 9 to find her parents who came here before her.
Here’s to the hobbyist: the car lover on your gift list will love to have “Driven” by Melissa Stephenson. It’s a memoir about loss, bittersweet memories and keeping them alive, all written with vehicles as backdrop. For the nostalgia lover (and Hollywood fan), “My Days: Happy and Otherwise” by Marion Ross (with David Laurell) will be a delight to unwrap. It’s all about “Mrs. C” and the woman behind her, and it’ll leave someone rocking and rolling all week long.
Another highlyanticipated (and muchdesired) gift to look for is “In Pieces” by Sally Field ,a book by the girl America has grown up with. It’s filled with behind-the-story stories and celeb names you’ll also recognize. Wrap it up with a “The Flying Nun” DVD or two, or a copy of “Smokey and the Bandit.”
If you’ve got someone on your gift list who’s a Kennedy watcher, they’ll love reading “Eunice: The Kennedy Who Changed the World” by Eileen McNamara. It’s, of course, about Eunice Kennedy Shriver, her life, and her times. Another celeb biography to try is “Marilyn Monroe: The Private Life of a Public Icon” by Charles Casillo. It’s for the giftee who only thinks she knows everything about MM that there is to know.