Beach Reads – Memoirs

Once more, don’t forget to check out our Summer Reading page. Get your reviews in and you could win one of our Summer Reading tees or even an MP3 player!


For our last beach reads blog, we’ll take a look at biographies. The ones we’ve listed here are all recent (written within the last five years) and are about some of the most fascinating people you may meet in the pages of a book. Take a gander through some of these the next time someone tells you to “get a life”! (Annotations are courtesy of NoveList Plus.)


American on Purpose: The Improbable Adventures of an Unlikely Patriot By Craig Ferguson

  • Craig Ferguson delivers a moving and achingly funny memoir of living the American dream as he journeys from the mean streets of Glasgow, Scotland, to the comedic promised land of Hollywood. Along the way he stumbles through several attempts to make his mark–as a punk rock musician, a construction worker, a bouncer, and, tragically, a modern dancer.

Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction by David Sheff

  • The story of one teenager’s descent into methamphetamine addiction is told from his father’s point of view, describing how a varsity athlete and honor student became addicted to the dangerous drug and its impact on his family.

Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant by Daniel Tammet

  • An autistic savant with genius-level mathematical talents describes how he was shunned by his classmates in spite of his super-human capacity for math and language and offers insight into how he experiences the world.

Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert

  • Traces the author’s decision to quit her job and travel the world for a year after suffering a midlife crisis and divorce, a journey that took her to three places in her quest to explore her own nature and learn the art of spiritual balance.

Fat Girl: A True Story by Judith Moore

  • A memoir of one woman’s obsession with food sets the author’s love/hate relationship with food against her painful longing for a family, love, and a sense of belonging.

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel

  • An unusual memoir done in the form of a graphic novel by a cult favorite comic artist offers a darkly funny family portrait that details her relationship with her father, a historic preservation expert dedicated to restoring the family’s Victorian home, funeral home director, high-school English teacher, and closeted homosexual.

The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls

  • The child of an alcoholic father and an eccentric artist mother discusses her family’s nomadic upbringing, during which she and her siblings fended for themselves while their parents outmaneuvered bill collectors and the authorities.

The House at Sugar Beach: In Search of a Lost African Childhood by Helene Cooper

  • The author traces her childhood in war-torn Liberia and her reunion with a foster sister who had been left behind when her family fled the region.

I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced by Nujood Ali with Delphine Minoui

  • The true story of a Yemeni child bride describes her forced marriage to an abusive husband three times her age, her pursuit of the marriage’s dissolution, and the cultural factors that place girls at risk in Yemeni society.

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah

  • In a heart-wrenching, candid autobiography, a human rights activist offers a firsthand account of war from the perspective of a former child soldier, detailing the violent civil war that wracked his native Sierra Leone and the government forces that transformed a gentle young boy into a killer as a member of the army.

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home by Rhoda Janzen

  • A poet describes how, after her husband left her for a relationship with a man and she subsequently was seriously injured in a car crash, she returned home to her close-knit Mennonite family and came to terms with her failed marriage and her choices in life.

My Life in France by Julia Child

  • The captivating story of Julia Child’s years in France, where she fell in love with French food and found “her true calling.”

Open: An Autobiography by Andre Agassi

  • A candid memoir by the tennis champion covers his Grand Slam wins, establishment of a charitable foundation for underprivileged children, and marriage to Stefanie Graf.

Oprah: A Biography by Kitty Kelly

  • Presents the life of the African American talk-show host, describing her rise from poverty to her current status as one the country’s most financially successful television personalities.

Quiet Strength: A Memoir by Tony Dungy

  • A biography of the coach of the Indianapolis Colts and the first African American football coach to lead his team to a Superbowl victory concentrates on his religious life as well as his career in football.

Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography by David Michaelis

  • A portrait of the late creator of the “Peanuts” comic strip evaluates how his career was shaped by his midwestern working-class origins, family losses, and wartime experiences, offering insight into how familiar storylines closely reflected Schulz’s private life.

Strength in What Remains: A Journey of Remembrance and Forgiveness by Tracy Kidder

  • Presents the story of Burundi civil war survivor Deo, who endures homelessness before pursuing an education at Columbia and eventually returning to his native land to help people in both countries.

Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman by Jon Krakauer

  • Traces the controversial story of NFL player and soldier Pat Tillman, describing the military’s efforts to hide the truth about his death by friendly fire, in an account that draws on Tillman’s journals and letters as well as interviews with family members and fellow soldiers.

The Yankee Years by Joe Torre

  • The former Yankees manager offers a study of the Yankees organization, detailing the challenges of working for a team in which executives and the media question every decision and the concerns of managing a clubhouse of superstars.

Zeitoun by Dave Eggers

  • In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, longtime New Orleans residents Abdulrahman and Kathy Zeitoun are cast into an unthinkable struggle with forces beyond wind and water. In the days after the storm, Abdulrahman traveled the flooded streets in a secondhand canoe, passing on supplies and helping those he could. A week later, on September 6, 2005, Zeitoun abruptly disappeared– arrested and accused of being an agent of al Qaeda.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: