Tag Archive: autobiography



Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear SugarTiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One day, in the last couple of months, my daughter kidnapped me so I could spend a week back in Reno. It was one of those serendipitous things that made me very happy. I got to spend time with her and with other family and friends.

My daughter loves to listen to podcasts on long trips. When she learned that I had read and watched Wild, by Cheryl Strayed, she pulled up the Dear Sugar podcasts and we enjoyed a long listen.

Once back at home I found the Dear Sugar websites and other books by Cheryl Strayed. I looked at the eBook/Overdrive local library copies. I found this copy but it was just an eBook with no text-to-speech and no audio version. I tried very hard to enjoy the book. There was wonderful advice given here.

I wanted to keep reading past the mid-point that I thought I got to, but with no way to listen it was hard to read. I will try to keep an eye out for the Audible or Kindle with TTS to read later. Besides, most of it was written for younger people. I played the kind of game I used to play with the Dear Abby advice column, see if I can give the same advice the writer does. I was pleasantly surprised that Ms. Strayed gave more personal answers and helped in deeper ways than Abby or her sister Ann Landers ever did.

I think this is a wonderful book for young people to have. I think Dear Sugar is a good podcast for those under forty. I hope to find this book again in an easier form for me to read.

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The Rules Do Not ApplyThe Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As a fan of fiction more than any other kind of reading, it is alway hard for me to “grade” an autobiography. It isn’t up to me to judge another’s life or path, so I feel I am invading a bit when it is time to review. Yet this book called to me from NetGalley as one I might like to read and review.

I have to admit it kept my interest. Many reviewers say the author’s emotions are raw in this memoir. That may be so. I just found them honest and refreshing. As a fertile-Myrtle, who had, as most of my generation, my children in my early twenties, I never heard that egg-timer to get pregnant or forget it. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be nice to have another?” and boom I was pregnant. So the despair of the author seems another reality I’ve not been close to. In that case, I think it right to go into the depth with her and see what her reality has been. Would my story of a baby every couple years and only at home ever be as interesting to her generation? So I find her lucky to have experienced so many things I never got to see. That she had the freedom to explore her sexuality after being an adult, who got to see the world I may never see, isn’t sad. Those were the parts of the story I truly enjoyed.

But I don’t want to demean or in any way put down her path and especially not the sad parts of it. That need to reproduce is very strong in many of us and to have that turn out so badly hurts my soul for her.

That is why I like to read autobiographies. I can lead many lives that way. I can see how things might have been had I made other choices or had nature played nasty tricks on my life. I think it helps to develop empathy to read another’s story. And this may be one you might like. Give it a try.

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I Am Nujood, Age 10 and DivorcedI Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced by Nujood Ali

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thank you, Yvensong, for suggesting this read.

I was able to pick up the Overdrive and Kindle versions from the e-library. I loved the narrator: Meera Simhan. She did a great job reading for what was supposed to be a 10-year-old.

This is a great book to open the discussion of how girls and women are treated worldwide. When we look at what this poor girl and other like her have gone through, we, here in America, think that could never happen. But we have not gone far enough here. There is so much more work to show that equality is what is needed for a better world for everyone.

Nujood Ali has written a book that is short and sweet. I do believe that it could be read by all ages, and should be read by males so they can move to better understanding.

What I loved about reading along on the Kindle as the Overdrive narrator read to me were the foreign words that were hyperlinked to definitions. Even so, there weren’t so many that one couldn’t guess by context as to what they meant. I suggest everyone read this treasure.

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The Diaries of Ethel TurnerThe Diaries of Ethel Turner by Ethel Turner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don’t know that any book of my entire life has taken me this long to read. But this wasn’t fiction. This was someone’s diary. It was the day by day mind meanderings of a writer who lived in Australia in the 1800s. No protagonist, no antagonist, no plot. Even so, far better than my own diaries in which I would eventually give up and write that I breathed in and out that day. So I doubt anyone will write anything about mine. They have probably begun to degrade into the earth like the trees the paper was made from.

Another reason it was such a slow read for me was the small font. Luckily the entries were kept short so I would only sit and read an entry and let it go.

Writers will find this interesting, seeing Ethel Turner’s passion for writing, especially for children. Those interested in history, this diary takes place before the first world war. She witnessed world happenings from the land down-under. As a young woman, she sees Women’s Suffrage. At first, she sees no sense in it but as she matures her writing reflects the need for social change for men and women for more equality.

I found that interesting in that in the home she grows up in as a teen, they have servants. No wonder she sees no need for equality. She was able to spend her time studying languages, piano, and singing. Her life was full of social amenities, dances, etc. But still, she spends most of her days working on writing. She was and for me is an inspiration.

Seven Little Australians, her book, I will be reading next.

This is worth the effort it took me to read. Maybe you will like it, too.
Oh, this is a BookCrossing book BCID 128-5141612. Not sure who is next for the read but I’ll mark the site accordingly.

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Bluewater Walkabout: Into Africa, Finding Healing Through TraumaBluewater Walkabout: Into Africa, Finding Healing Through Trauma by Tina Dreffin

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Just couldn’t get into this book. There were some adventures I enjoyed, but not the rest. Sorry, I couldn’t come up with more to say about the book. But maybe you’ll enjoy it more.

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Chasing Down the Dawn: Stories From The RoadChasing Down the Dawn: Stories From The Road by Jewel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In the ‘six degree from’ game, I feel fairly close to Jewel and her family. And since my cruise to Alaska in June over a decade ago I have a sacred place in my heart for that “Last Frontier”, and Kilcher family. So with the above in mind, when I saw this book on sale for $.99, I grabbed it.

This is not a fantasy book, this is not an adventure book. It is bits and pieces of someone’s life. To read that kind of thing I have to be in a certain mood. Having just moved north into the country into a slower lifestyle. I found I could probably enjoy a quieter books. I was not wrong. I don’t think I’ve read anything else by Jewel. And she’s not of my generation of music so I barely listen to her. So it was I found myself wandering in somebody else’s life through their writing. Much of it is poetic in nature, a lot of it feels like you’re reading her journal. I felt Jewel was very brave, with a lot of what she shared of her life in this book. Maybe she addressed these things in her other books, but as I said this is my first time reading her writing.

How could someone be judgmental about a person sharing a piece of their life? So I find giving it any kind of stars difficult. For being brave and being open, I give her five stars for this book. But I think the hard thing for me was how often the book went back and forth in time. And since I was listening on text-to-speech, I found it difficult to know, what part of her life she was speaking of. And though the book is now $3.99, I think it is well worth it. If only to teach the rest of us to start writing our journals.

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A Christmas Gift from the PastA Christmas Gift from the Past by S.A. Molteni
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am not a fan of schmaltzy Christmas stories. Having never had money at that time of year and having four kids that I hoped to buy something for and never could do much…. and other people, grandmothers and friends, had to supply that need (Yes, I am grateful others could gift my children—just wished I could!)… anyway, that time of year always makes me depressed and feeling very Scroogeish.

But since I was reading S.A. Molteni’s other books and this one was free, also, I thought I’d give it a chance. It was a story that warmed my heart and reminded me how great it is to make memories with loved ones. Those are the true gifts.

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Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She's Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned” by Lena Dunham

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

First may I say: I am not the target audience. AND I don’t want to judge another person’s journey.

Second: Sometimes a person with ADD can follow another’s train of thought better than others. Lean Dunham’s train never got near my tracks!

Needless to say, I am glad I borrowed it from the library rather than buy it. But there are those out there who will love it so I don’t want to discourage anyone from trying it out for themselves.

It is nice to see a younger ‘sister’ learning and leaning in toward her feminist life. Sorry for the troubles she has had along the way. I wish Lean the best in her continued careers.

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Desert Places: A Woman's Odyssey with the Wanderers of the Indian DesertDesert Places: A Woman’s Odyssey with the Wanderers of the Indian Desert by Robyn Davidson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Whew! I am glad to be finished reading this book. Not that the writing was poor or that I hated the author. Quite the opposite. Having just finished Robyn Davidson’s ‘Tracks’ about her trek across Australia, I wanted more. So when I saw this book was free with Kindle Unlimited I grabbed it. And as tortuous as the book was to read, I am glad I read it.

If someone were to ask me where I’d least like to go to visit, India would be at the top of the list. Too many people, too caste-set. But before you get on a high horse and tell me what for, I will allow that I never would have wanted to go to Alaska either. But I loved that trip so much! There isn’t a day I don’t think of the beauty and wonder of that cold world. So if the opportunity came, I think I would go to India. Just to see for myself if I could be won over.

But this book didn’t help my prejudices resolve. In fact, it all became worse. With each chapter, I was more and more depressed for the author. This was not her favorite trek. As a woman, a feminist, India isn’t a place to show your independence. Robyn is both and thereby found her way blocked at every turn.

Look, I wanted to give this book five stars. The writing is that good. But how can one rate highly a book that makes one miserable? The saving grace? Camels! I have learned to love these creatures through Ms. Davidson’s eyes. Okay, up from three to four stars. Let India’s rich, corrupted men see that lack of a star as a judgement of them. I challenge them to prove otherwise.

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Wake Up, I'm Fat!Wake Up, I’m Fat! by Camryn Manheim

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

‘Camryn Manheim. Isn’t she the beautiful woman with all those earrings on that legal show?’ That’s what I thought a long time ago when I didn’t quite know who she was. She still remains the one I remember. The others were men or skinny minnies. They all look and acted the same. Not much has changed since in Hollywood’s movies and television. For someone that has a hard time differentiating faces of actors and actresses (remember how I told you I had a hard time with Rob and Jon on Game of Thrones?) Give me individuals! Ms. Manheim is a grand individual. I have tried to catch her on every show on the big screen or small. I was sorry to see her leave Ghost Whisperer. But then again I did love Aisha in the friend role. She, too, is unique. Both these two friends were more interesting that the overly sexed main actress.

So when my friend, Michele, offered to let me read this gem I was excited. A couple years later I have taken it off the shelf and actually read it. Sorry it took so long, Michele.

Now to the meat of this book. Fat. I’ve been skinny, I’ve been–well the size I am now. But I always felt fat. In my family were folks of all sizes so I felt accepted no matter what size I was. But go to the store and I often couldn’t find my size or the styles were ugly. The worst was when my daughter wanted to go shopping together. She didn’t inherit my size or anything else. We were at opposite ends of the rack. We rarely could find a store with both our sizes. But she liked the younger looks so I would get relegated looking at jewelry or standing around doing nothing. We stopped shopping together.

Camryn had it worse. Her chosen profession was into the world of men who only love skinny actresses. Her parents didn’t accept her. Well, don’t let me tell her story. See what one of us has gone through. Watch how she handles her life and grows. If you didn’t love her from the beginning like I did, hopefully, you will love her at the end of the book. Even more, this should be required reading for everyone who doesn’t shop Lane Bryants, or the flowered muumuus at the XX end of the rack. You think skinnies are the norm? They’re not. If you think telling the larger person to diet is going to change things, you are wrong. How about love. What happened to kindness and love?

By the way, the reason this book took me so long to read was the font size. I had to take it in bits. But those bits with a bookmark and bright light got me through. Still I would have liked the Kindle version better.

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